Justice report highlights need to be joined-up
IT IS something of a challenge to understand what exactly the Committee for Home Affairs is hoping to achieve with its Justice Framework, before the States next month. Not because the aims are not laudable, but it takes a fair amount of work to understand its report to deputies.
If islanders are aware or interested at all in the justice side of the committee’s work, they will probably reference its review of sentencing policy in relation to the possession of small amounts of drugs – but it is not the hot topic of this report to States members.
The report focuses on the need for the States to be collegiate in backing the seemingly-interchangeable justice policy/strategy/framework.
‘All of government has a responsibility to keep our community safe and secure and to ensure there is fair and equal access to justice, to support victims and act early to prevent crime,’ is how it opens.
The end game is to secure agreement on priorities and funding for the same to allow Home Affairs – and, importantly, other interlinked committees – to play their part in developing various workstreams.
So if this appears a rather inward-looking report, why does it matter to islanders? It matters because we care – really care – about crime in the island. ‘The community has a relatively high fear of crime and perceive that it is a medium-sized problem, which does not correlate to the levels of crime,’ says the report.
President Deputy Rob Prow, a former law enforcer, understands. He said: ‘Justice is a matter of great importance for every civilised community and we live in a community which rightly has high expectations to maintain a low-crime rate.'
The cross-committee work on justice shows this issue is not just about law enforcement and dealing with criminal activity, but also linked to social and health factors – poverty, education, substance use, rehabilitation. Tackling crime and the causes of crime, and maintaining a safe and fair, just and inclusive society, are much broader than we might have thought.
Given our desire to live in a crime-free society, this issue will be treated with significant importance. What’s crucial now is that it receives buy-in from all parties involved.