In August 2015 Judith was appointed by the First and Deputy First Ministers as Commissioner for victims and survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland. This role was established by legislation in 2006 and its principal aim is to promote the interests of victims and survivors. Judith’s commitment to promoting the interests of victims and survivors of conflict and trauma is based on more than 30 years working in various roles within Justice organisations and in communities.
Originally from Stockport in England Judith completed her first degree at the University of Manchester and then a Master’s Degree at the University of Leicester where she met her husband Paul, who originates from Northern Ireland.
Judith came to Northern Ireland in 1984. In her early years as a community-based probation officer in North Belfast Judith saw at first hand the impact of the conflict both on families and on communities. On a number of occasions she was responsible for supporting and securing services for those who had suffered violence and trauma.
Later, while working as a probation officer in Northern Ireland’s prisons she supported prisoners – particularly young women – who had experienced serious violence and abuse. She was responsible for helping them to manage the impact of this on their lives.
From 2000 to 2004 Judith was the NI Manager of the Community Justice National Training Organisation, leading skills and qualifications development for work with victims and survivors as well as community safety and work with offenders. She worked with the Home Office on a new Probation Officer Qualification for England and Wales and with the Probation Inspectorate to monitor its delivery. She also led the development of a Government endorsed qualification framework for Community Safety in NI.
Prior to taking up her role as Commissioner Judith worked for over 10 years with Skills for Justice, leading the work of the organisation in Northern Ireland and in Scotland. She developed standards for work with victims and survivors as well as helping those who work with victims and survivors to obtain qualifications. Judith also worked closely with the Police Service for Northern Ireland to support police reform and in reviewing and developing its response to victims of crime. She has been responsible for making sure the standards and competence frameworks for policing within the community are fit for purpose in Northern Ireland.
Judith is married with two grown-up daughters.