In March 2010 the then-Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins announced a “comprehensive review , including a full public consultation” of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 provisions for non-jury trials “before it next falls to be renewed in July 2011” – those provisions had previously been extended in 2009.
Today the NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, announced that he is “laying before Parliament an Order to extend the Non-Jury trial provisions for a further period of two years”. From the NI Secretary of State’s statement.
The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, which provides for trial on indictment without a Jury is temporary and renewal [renewable?] and will expire at the end of the period of two years unless extended.
Whilst the use of Non-Jury trials has reduced significantly in recent years, it is necessary to renew the powers in order to protect jurors from any potential risk posed by paramilitary groups.
It is always the hope and intention to return to Jury trial in all cases in Northern Ireland. However, having considered the views of stakeholders and conducted a detailed analysis of the current threat, I believe it is necessary to extend the Non-Jury Trial system at this time for use in a very small number of cases to ensure justice is administered fairly.
Therefore I am laying before Parliament an Order to extend the Non-Jury trial provisions for a further period of two years.
I will of course keep the situation under review. Government remains committed to a return to Jury trial in all cases as soon as it is deemed appropriate.