March 01 2012

There are 5,200 outstanding arrest warrants in Northern Ireland, including 50 people suspected of sex crimes, police have revealed.

Around 4,000 of those were issued prior to 2009 before a new computerised filing system – Causeway – was introduced within the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Policing Board was told.

Warrants are typically ordered by a judge when an individual fails to turn up for a scheduled court appearance.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton acknowledged that the number outstanding was “too high”.

“I am not suggesting that our management of warrants has been to the standard that we would have hoped for or would have expected,” he said. “We are where we are with this, the 5,000 figure is too high, we are dealing with that in a proactive way and in a prioritised manner, we now have the technology in place around Causeway and so on.”

Mr Hamilton said there were no outstanding warrants for individuals wanted for murder or attempted murder.

He said those wanted in relation to serious assaults was “small”.

However he added: “We have about 50 people outstanding on warrants that pertain to sexual offending, we are not complacent about this.”

He explained those individuals would not be on the sex offenders register as they had yet to go through the court process.

The police had been quizzed about the issue of warrants by independent Policing Board member Brian Rowntree.