The Isle of Man has continued to demonstrate its commitment to international engagement by leading a discussion on criminal justice reform with representatives of the UK’s Overseas Territories.
Senior officers from the Isle of Man Government recently attended an event in London, organised jointly by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Justice. Mark Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Home Affairs, and Dan Davies, Programme Director Government Transformation, were invited to share their experiences of developing the Island’s flagship criminal justice modernisation strategy.
They highlighted proposals to achieve significant improvements in the Isle of Man by streamlining administration processes and reducing the number of low-level offences appearing before the Manx courts. Governors from seven of the UK’s Overseas Territories were given an overview of the Island’s Criminal Justice Strategy, which was received by Tynwald in December 2012 after gaining broad support during a public consultation.
The strategy sets out a clear direction of travel for the Isle of Man’s criminal justice system in line with Government’s priorities of rebalancing public finances, growing the economy and protecting vulnerable members of the community. Measures are aimed at improving key policy areas in respect of crime prevention, sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders, and exploring alternative approaches to custody, such as restorative justice and the extended use of fixed penalties.
A commitment to ensure the criminal justice system focuses more on assisting victims of crime is also an important part of the strategy. The workshop in London provided an opportunity for Governors of the Overseas Territories to discuss directly with the Isle of Man officers the work and challenges involved in developing the strategy.
It formed part of a programme promoted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to strengthening good governance, public financial management and economic planning, as set out in the FCO’s white paper on the Overseas Territories. The UK Ministry of Justice had previously highlighted the Isle of Man’s criminal justice modernisation strategy to the Overseas Territories as an example of best practice.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK, who is responsible for criminal justice modernisation, said:
‘The Isle of Man has a strong track record of international cooperation and we were pleased to take this opportunity to engage positively with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Justice and Overseas Territories. The invitation to attend the event in London recognises the quality of the work we are undertaking to make the Island’s criminal justice system faster, simpler and more cost efficient. Many countries around the world are facing common challenges in terms of delivering more for less, and the Isle of Man’s experiences in driving forward its modernisation strategy really struck a chord with the Overseas Territories. Our low crime rate and innovative approach have made the Isle of Man the role model for others, as we have seen from the interest others outside the Island have shown, such as Baroness Newlove, the UK Victims and Witnesses Champion.’
Mark Kelly commented:
‘It was extremely gratifying to see the level of interest from the Governors of the Overseas Territories, both during the presentation and in the margins of the workshop. Jurisdictions such as Bermuda, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands have all approached the theme of criminal justice reform but recognise the Isle of Man is already well advanced in this area. A number of Governors expressed their interest in visiting the Isle of Man to consider at first hand the progress achieved to date in our programme of change.’
Of the UK’s Overseas Territories, the London workshop was attended by the Governors from the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Bermuda, St Helena, Anguilla, Montserrat and the Falkland Islands.