Oral Answers to Questions — Justice

Part of the debate – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 17th February 2020.

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Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance 2:45 pm, 17th February 2020

I thank the Chair of the Committee for his question. First, the review that was undertaken was of tariffs for mandatory life sentences, so that has already gone ahead. On the issue of wider sentencing, there is an issue of aggravated offences that needs to be considered. There are a number of different ways that people can be judged for murder, because some are whole-life sentences, some are indeterminate, some are determinate and some have tariffs applied.

If the Member would like more detail, I am happy to write to him with more information about how it is applied. However, I do not want anyone to go away from the Chamber feeling that, in any way, there is a huge disparity between the sentencing in Northern Ireland and sentencing elsewhere. It has to be borne in mind that we have a very small number of such offences in any one year. Therefore, the much larger pool of offences in England and Wales means that very small changes in Northern Ireland can produce big anomalies in the comparative analysis. People need to be careful about drawing the comparison out too far.