In a wide-ranging speech earlier this week, the Justice Minister for Northern Ireland, David Ford MLA, argued that many of the problems faced by those in the prison system – mental health, educational difficulties and addiction issues – 'are not criminal justice issues... they are matters of social justice'.
During his speech, Mr Ford also endorsed our assessment of criminal justice developments across the UK, set out last year in our review: The coalition years.
Mr Ford said:
'I gave a speech in March last year at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies in which I noted that we live in a devolution era. In that speech, I agreed with the proposition put forward by the Centre: that the three UK systems were being driven by different motivations.
'For England and Wales, market building; for Scotland, nation building; and for Northern Ireland, a community building approach. Our justice system belongs to us, and the justice agenda can be developed alongside other functions of our government, with our unique history and our own future potential in mind.'