Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 11 October 2012

Venue: Room 30

The meeting commenced at ­­­­­­­­­­­2.02p.m. in closed session.

The Chairman welcomed Mr William Humphrey to his first meeting of the Committee for Justice and Ms Rachel McBride who recently joined the Committee team.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to commence the meeting in closed session.

1. Briefing by the Assembly Bill Clerk on the scope of the Criminal Justice Bill

Eilis Haughey, Assembly Bill Clerk, joined the meeting at 2.02pm. Ms Haughey briefed the Committee on the scope of the Criminal Justice Bill and answered Members’questions.

The Chairman thanked Ms Haughey for the briefing and she left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer a copy of Mr McCrea MLA’s letter regarding a miscellaneous provision for inclusion in the Criminal Justice Bill to the Department of Justice for a response on the proposal.

 2. Legal Advice on the Criminal Justice Bill

Tara McCaul, Assembly Senior Legal Advisor, joined the meeting at 2.10pm. Ms McCaul briefed the Committee on her updated legal advice in respect of the Criminal Justice Bill.

The Chairman thanked Ms McCaul for the briefing and she left the meeting.

The meeting moved to public session at 2.22pm.

 3. Apologies

None.

4. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 4 October 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 4 October 2012.

5. Matters Arising

Members noted a copy of the evidence submitted by the UK Government in the case of S and Marper which the Human Rights Commission had provided to assist consideration of the Fingerprint and DNA retention clauses and schedules of the Criminal Justice Bill.  

6. Criminal Justice Bill: Oral evidence sessions on trafficking people for exploitation

Evidence session with CARE in Northern Ireland  

Members noted that the Department of Justice had provided a copy of its response to Lord Morrow’s consultation on his draft Private Members’ Bill on human trafficking and CARE had provided a supplementary paper on the human trafficking offences for the oral briefing.

Dr Dan Boucher, Director of Parliamentary Affairs and Mark Baillie, Public Affairs Officer, CARE in Northern Ireland joined the meeting at 2.23p.m.

The representatives outlined the key issues in CARE in Northern Ireland’s submission on the clauses and schedule of the Bill relating to human trafficking and the EU Directive.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the extent to which the Bill meets the obligations of the EU Directive; the complexity of the legislation; the need for an independent national rapporteur; the need to reduce demand for sexual services; the definitions that have been omitted from the Bill and the reasons why they should be included; and, the merits of the provisions in Lord Morrow’s Private Members’ Bill on human trafficking.

The Chairman thanked Dr Boucher and Mr Baillie for the briefing and they left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

Evidence sesion with the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities

Helena Macormac, Strategic Advocacy Project Manager and Karen McLaughlin, Legal Policy Officer, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities joined the meeting at 2.56p.m.

The representatives outlined the key issues in the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities’ submission on the clauses and schedule of the Bill relating to human trafficking.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the importance of taking a human rights-based approach to human trafficking legislation; whether there is consensus on the criminalisation of paying for sexual services; the definitions that have been omitted from the Bill and the reasons why they should be included; the dangers of a piecemeal approach to human trafficking legislation; and, the extent to which the Bill meets the obligations of the EU Directive.

The Chairman thanked Ms Macormac and Ms McLaughlin for the briefing and they left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

3.12pm Mr Wells left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the issues raised in both the oral and written evidence received in relation to trafficking people for exploitation to the Department of Justice for a written response.  

7. Criminal Justice Bill – Issues for consideration

The Chairperson reminded Members that NIACRO had been unavailable to attend the Committee meeting on 4 October to give evidence on the retention of Fingerprints, DNA profiles etc. clauses and schedule of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the Hansards of the previous oral evidence sessions on the retention of Fingerprints/DNAto NIACRO for consideration of whether all the relevant issues had been fully covered by previous witnesses. If not, arrangements would be made for NIACRO to attend the meeting on 18 October.

The Committee considered a proposal by the Department of Justice to bring forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to make additional legislative provision in relation to the Registered Intermediaries Scheme.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request the wording of the proposed amendment by mid-November to allow full consideration to be given to the matter before the conclusion of the Committee Stage of the Bill.

Members considered a response from the Department of Justice to the Committee’s request for information on the proposals contained in the Criminal Justice Bill which might have an impact on the Legal Aid Fund.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the Department’s response to the Legal Services Commission for comment.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to move agenda item 8 to the end of the meeting.

8. SL1: The Legal Advice and Assistance (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered a proposal to make a Statutory Rule under Article 5 of the Legal Advice and Assistance Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1981. The Statutory Rule would provide for assistance by way of representation in a Magistrates’ Court for Declarations of Parentage, put on a statutory footing issues currently provided by Authorisations by the Minister of Justice in relation to Non-Molestation Orders, assistance for representation at the Mental Health Review Tribunal and assistance for proceedings before the Care Tribunal for individuals deemed to be unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults, and enable the Legal Services Commission to make interim payments to solicitors in respect of disbursements in the Magistrates’ courts under the assistance by way of representation scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the proposed Statutory Rule.

9. Human Trafficking: Summary of consultation responses and proposed way forward on the provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill and engagement with NGOs

Members considered a summary of responses to the Department’s two part consultation on human trafficking. The first part of the consultation covered the legislative amendments required to allow Northern Ireland to comply with the criminal aspects of the EU Directive and the second part invited views on how the Department of Justice engages with non-governmental organisations and others in relation to human trafficking.

Members noted the Department’s intention to give further consideration to the issue raised by the Committee regarding increasing the sentence for a summary conviction from 6 months imprisonment to 12 months imprisonment for human trafficking offences only and that it would respond to the wider issues raised by respondees in relation to the EU Directive in due course.

Members also noted an invitation from the Department of Justice to the Tackling Trafficking Together event on 18 October.

10. Correspondence

i. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice on the legal aid costs for the R-v-Haddock and Others case.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek details from the Department of Justice of how much the legal aid costs would be under the new costing regime.

ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing further information on the reasons for the delay in publishing conviction and prosecution data and the planned timescales for the publication of 2009 and 2010 data.

iii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding concerns raised by Coleraine Borough Council in relation to the proposal in the Northern Ireland Prison Service’s Outline Estate Strategy to close HM Prison Magilligan.

iv. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing copies of the Framework documents for Forensic Science Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

v. Members noted correspondence from the Department of Justice enclosing correspondence from a Mr Pantridge, which he had asked to be brought to the attention of the Committee, in relation to the further review of the Judicial Appointments and Removals system which the Committee had indicated it would undertake.

vi. Members noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding Mr Morris’s enquiry about the status of psychosema.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the response to Mr Morris.

vii. Members noted correspondence from the Department of Justice in relation to Ms Davidson’s concerns on the handling of Wills/Probate by the Law Society, current arrangements for solicitors and the need for a Legal Ombudsman.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer Ms Davidson’s correspondence to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

viii. The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Ringland regarding his complaint against Lisburn Technical College in relation to the provision of basic education training.

Mr Alex Easton declared an interest.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward Mr Ringland’s correspondence to the Committee for Employment and Learning, and to the Department of Justice for a response.

ix. The Committee noted  the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland report: An Inspection of the criminal justice system’s approach to addressing anti-social behaviour in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to take evidence from the Chief Inspector on the key findings/recommendations contained in the report when he attends the meeting on 25 October 2012.

11. Chairman’s Business

The Chairman advised Members that both he and the Deputy Chairman had been invited by the Attorney General to participate in a Colloquium on Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights on 9 November. Members noted that the Chairman was unavailable to attend the event however the Deputy Chairman would attend.

12. Any other business

None.

13. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 18 October 2012 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

14. Briefing on the results of the consultation on the future operation of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Peter May, Safer Communities Directorate, Department of Justice; and Mandy Morrison, Safer Communities Directorate, DOJ joined the meeting at 3.31p.m.

The officials outlined the key themes that emerged from the results of the consultation on the future operation of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the then Police Ombudsman’s Statutory Five Year Review Report on the working of Part VII of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: the nature of the consultation; how the consultation stakeholders were selected; the method by which submissions would be circulated/published; how the Minister intends to move forward on this issue, and in particular, how he would engage with the political parties; and the likely timescale for proposed changes.

3.35pm Mr Humphrey left the meeting.

The Chairman thanked Mr May and Ms Morrison for the briefing and they left the meeting.  

3.40 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
18 October 2012

 

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