David Ford to seek intruder force guide

David Ford

Farmers fearful of their machinery being stolen may soon be offered guidance on how forceful they can be with intruders.

The justice minister said he was not going to change the law to give all householders in Northern Ireland more latitude to use force, but he told the Assembly that he would consider developing guidelines on exactly what was permitted.

David Ford was responding to an Assembly debate on agricultural crime and a call for perpetrators to be handed heavy sentences.

Under the current legislation, a person may use reasonable force to prevent a crime or to assist in the lawful arrest of offenders. This includes protecting property or acting in self-defence.

Mr Ford insisted that sentencing was a matter for the judiciary.

However, the Alliance minister said that he wanted “to explore if producing guidance on the use of reasonable force, based on the current legislation, would be beneficial to the rural community”.

Mr Ford said he would write to the justice committee to seek its views on the proposal.

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/david-ford-to-seek-intruder-force-guide-16158810.html#ixzz1uvfB1I6z

David Ford ‘actively’ pursuing alternatives to prison strip-searching

Justice Minister David Ford
David Ford again defended his decision not to publish a report into strip-searching
 
The justice minister has said he is actively pursuing other alternatives to full body searching in Northern Ireland prisons.
David Ford said his department was “actively following up on what the alternatives are”.

He again defended his decision not to publish the findings of a Prison Service study into other options to strip-searching at Maghaberry Prison.

He said the report contained sensitive material relating to security issues.

“If we were to publish it, it would have to be so heavily redacted that it really would be absolutely meaningless,” he added.

Mr Ford’s decision has been criticised by Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney and the SDLP‘s John Dallat.

Mr McCartney has urged the justice minister to find alternatives to the “humiliating and degrading” searches.

Mr Ford admitted the process was “not particularly pleasant for either the officers carrying it out or for the prisoners”.

But he said the searches were necessary until a suitable alternative was found.

Mr Ford said the use of an x-ray system was one of the options being considered.

Prison reform campaigners have argued that full body searches are fuelling support for dissident republicans.

Last year, a group calling itself “the family and friends support group for republican prisoners Maghaberry” protested about strip-searching at the jail.

The minister denied claims by those protesting against the searches that the external arrangements had been relaxed.

“An agreement was made and it related to the issues of searching within the prison,” he said.

“It did not cover the issue, which applies to every prison in the UK, that there must be full body searching on entry to and exit from prison.”

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WITH MANY THANKS TO : BBC NEWS NI.

Maghaberry searches report not published

David Ford
Mr Ford said publishing the report would compromise prison security
 
Justice Minister David Ford has refused to publish the findings of a Prison Service study into alternatives to body searches at Maghaberry.

He said the report contained sensitive security and commercial information.

But this has been dismissed as a feeble excuse by the SDLP‘s John Dallat.

“As an ordinary backbencher who asked the question on behalf of a constituent, I feel I have not been given the service I’m in entitled to,” he said.

However, the minister has insisted it would be irresponsible to compromise prison security.

WITH MANY THANKS TO BBC NEWS

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DAVID FORD VISITS PORTLAOISE PRISON IN BID TO END ROW

Ford visits jail in bid to end row
Press Association – 3 hours ago
Stormont’s Justice Minister is to visit Portlaoise Prison in the Republic as efforts continue to defuse a long-running jail dispute in Northern Ireland.Around 30 dissident republican prisoners in Maghaberry jail in Co Antrimare involved in a so-called no wash or dirty protest against the jail’s regime.Objections to full body searches when leaving or entering the prison have sparked calls for the use of a special hi-tech chair, similar to that used in Portlaoise, to help prison staff to check for contraband without physically searching inmates.David Ford said, however, that prison staff had adhered to agreements at Maghaberry and he doubted if the technology existed to entirely replace searches.

After a meeting of justice ministers from Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and Scotland at Stormont, Mr Ford revealed he will visit Portlaoise within weeks to examine how it handles top security prisoners.

“As far as I am concerned the prison service is adhering to the agreement that was made with the separated prisoners in August of 2010,” said Mr Ford.

“But there are clear issues around controlled movement which remain to be resolved which cannot be resolved while the difficulties are happening. There are also issues about technology to avoid full body searching. That is an issue that I am concerned we will make progress on for the whole of the Northern Ireland prison service estate.

“And if there are opportunities which develop, that maintain dignity for prisoners and prison staff, and also security for prison and prison staff, then we are willing to implement them.”

Mr Ford said he would explore the possibility of employing new technologies. But the minister added: “At the moment I have no evidence that there is any technology as yet licensed for use within Northern Ireland that would meet all our needs.”

The Republic’s justice minister Alan Shatter said he had full confidence that Mr Ford was dealing with the prison protest appropriately.

 
With Many Thanks To :  Press Association – 3 hours ago
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