An Inspection of the role Base 2 in threat verification

Publication: 11/03/20
Inspectorate publishes findings of inspection of threat verification project

An independent inspection by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) has found a project managed by a charity which verifies threats made against individuals and families by paramilitary and community sources, is operating with integrity to deliver clear humanitarian outcomes.

The report published today (Wednesday 11 March 2020) looked at how Base 2 operated, how it engaged with statutory organisations including the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (Housing Executive) and the steps taken to validate threats made against individuals and families living in public housing.

“The Base 2 project was established in 1990 to deal with the extreme consequences of paramilitary violence and community control.  Since then it has been managed by the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO) to effectively verify threats on request and support people who are in crisis,” said Jacqui Durkin, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

“As part of this review Inspectors looked at Base 2’s governance arrangements, undertook case file reviews and spoke with a wide range of stakeholders,” she said.

They found the overall working of the project was sound and that Base 2 engaged with over 60 community representatives and groups in loyalist and republican areas to develop and maintain community contacts.

These connections enabled Base 2 staff to advise the Housing Executive if a threat was real.

“The Housing Executive brings together the information received from Base 2, the PSNI and its own local knowledge to help its decision makers determine a person’s re-housing priority level and if they are eligible to be awarded additional intimidation housing points,” said the Chief Inspector.

Ms Durkin said that during the review Inspectors were made aware of localised concerns held in some areas of Northern Ireland, that people may have sought to misuse the threat verification process undertaken by Base 2, to secure intimidation housing points and gain a higher priority on the housing waiting list above other applicants.

“While Inspectors found no evidence to support perceptions that Base 2 staff were working for the benefit of particular individuals or groups, I recognise the risk that the threat verification process could be misused cannot be completely removed.

“However, as a result of governance arrangements in place, the records reviewed and views expressed to the Inspection Team in conjunction with the experience of the Base 2 staff, it is our view that allegations of widespread misuse of the scheme were unfounded and a systematic abuse of the public housing system was unlikely,” stated the Chief Inspector.

Ms Durkin said she welcomed the fundamental review being carried out by the Department for Communities which proposes to remove intimidation points from the Housing Selection Scheme.

“Progress towards a more shared society presents an opportunity for Base 2 to further develop its community engagement and restorative justice work. 

“To support this aim the review makes two recommendations which, if implemented, would enable Base 2 to link with the proposed centre of excellence for restorative justice and the Northern Ireland Executive Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime Action Plan” concluded the Chief Inspector.

Relevant Links

NIACRO