Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Thursday, 16 May 2013
Venue: HM Prison, Magilligan, Limavady
The meeting commenced at 2.03 p.m. in public session.
The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee for Justice, thanked the Governor of HM Prison Magilligan and his staff for hosting the lunch and meeting and facilitating the tour of the facility.
Apologies are listed above.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 9 May 2013
The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 9 May 2013.
3. Matters Arising
There were no matters arising.
4. Briefing on the Delivery of the Prison Reform Programme
Sue McAllister, Director General, Mark Adam, Strategic Change Manager, Ronnie Armour, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development and Max Murray, Director of Estates, Northern Ireland Prison Service, joined the meeting at
The Director General outlined the current position regarding progress on the delivery of the prison reform programme including the Northern Ireland Prison Service Corporate Governance Arrangements, the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme, the draft Employability Strategy, the Estates Strategy, stakeholder engagement and the Target Operating Model (TOM).
A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: what action needs to be taken to complete the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme; the number of staff, including Governor Grades, retired in the first tranche of the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme; whether the evaluation of the TOM would take account of feedback from the Prison Officers’ Association; the capital required for the proposed new builds in the Estates Strategy and the likely availability of the full amount; the proposed education model; what steps will be taken to ensure that the provision of education will not just be results driven and that those with literacy and numeracy difficulties will be catered for; the need for education provision to be flexible; the future role of prison officers in relation to engaging with prisoners on education issues; the training, including prison based training, provided to new recruits and the support/mentoring role for experienced staff; whether there is a need to run another recruitment exercise and the level of recruitment required; how the impact of new staff will be appraised; the lack of jobs/activities for some prisoners in HM Prison Magilligan and how this is being addressed in the short-term; the high percentage of prisoners on remand in Northern Ireland compared to other jurisdictions; the possible implications of reduced staffing levels under the TOM and the possibility of changing the configuration in particular areas depending on the need; the mechanisms to consult with staff on the design of the new prison at HM Prison Magilligan; what steps will be taken to ensure that the new design of the prison will stand the test of time; the role of the Councillors’ Forum in relation to employment for prisoners; the need to maximise the number of prisoners in Foyleview; the timeline for the installation of x-ray technology; the adequacy of health service provision, in particular, mental health and suicide services; the extent of the drug problem in HM Prison Magilligan; the criteria used to determine whether a drugs test is carried out; and the implications in relation to home leave for prisoners who test positive for drugs.
The briefing was recorded by Hansard.
The Chairman thanked officials for the briefing. Sue McAllister remained at the table and the other officials left the meeting.
5. Briefing on the Northern Ireland Prison Service and Probation Board implementation of the recommendations in the Criminal Justice Inspection Report on the Management of Life and Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners in Northern Ireland
Brian McCaughey, Director, Probation Board Northern Ireland joined Sue McAllister, Director General, Northern Ireland Prison Service at 3.09 p.m.
The officials outlined the current position in relation to the implementation of the recommendations in the Criminal Justice Inspection Report on the Management of Life and Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners in Northern Ireland and in particular the delivery of psychology services.
A question and answer session followed covering issues including: what work had been taken towards integrating the prison and Probation Board Psychology Services; which organisation would have the lead responsibility for the delivery of psychology services and when the decision would be made; which organisation would have responsibility for funding the delivery of psychology services; how to target the psychology service to best effect the extent to which psychologists should deliver programmes as well as carry out risk assessments; which organisation will have responsibility for the delivery of offender programmes in prisons; the need to ensure that any new work taken on by the Probation Board does not have a detrimental effect on the other services it provides in the community; progress on reestablishing the Prisoner Assessment Unit (PAU); the plans for a new Working Out Unit; the role envisaged for HM Prison Magilligan in relation to life sentence prisoners under the new plans; and the timescale for the full implementation of the action plan to implement the CJI recommendations.
3.15 p.m. Ms Rosaleen McCorley left the meeting.
3.15 p.m. Mr Tom Elliott left the meeting.
The briefing was recorded by Hansard.
The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.
6. SR 2013/102: The Attorney General’s Human Rights Guidance (Protection of Life) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013
The Committee considered SR 2013/102: The Attorney General’s Human Rights Guidance (Protection of Life) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 to bring into operation guidance by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland for the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland; Probation Board for Northern Ireland; Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service; Northern Ireland Prison Service; Youth Justice Agency; Forensic Science Northern Ireland; State Pathologist’s Department and the Compensation Agency on the exercise of their functions in a manner consistent with international human rights standards relating to the protection of the right to life.
Agreed: The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2013 No.102: The Attorney General’s Human Rights Guidance (Protection of Life) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 and agreed that it was content with the Rule.
i. The Committee noted responses from the Department of Justice and the Office of the Lord Chief Justice to a request by the Committee for information on the circumstances surrounding the granting of compassionate release to a prisoner.
ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Attorney General for Northern Ireland advising that his Guidance on Human Rights Standards for Forensic Science Northern Ireland had been laid before the Assembly.
iii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Attorney General for Northern Ireland advising that his Guidance on Human Right Standards for the State Pathologist’s Department had been laid before the Assembly.
iv. The Committee noted correspondence from the Big Lottery Fund advising of the appointment of the Space and Place Consortium, led by the Community Foundation Northern Ireland, as the Award Partner responsible for the delivery of a £15 million capital programme aimed at helping bring communities together by making better use of local spaces and places.
v. The Committee noted correspondence from a Mr Harkness of Country Sports and Tackle to the Firearms and Explosives Inspectorate regarding the PSNI Security Specification for Firearms Dealers (July 2012).
vi. The Committee noted the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland report entitled ‘Finding the Balance: matching human resources with priorities in the Police Service for Northern Ireland.’
vii. The Committee noted further correspondence from a Mr McMaster regarding his complaint in relation to the Office of the Police Ombudsman.
viii. The Committee considered further correspondence from a Mr Hammond regarding Equal Pay Claims by PSNI civilian staff, the issue of PSNI civilian staff not being eligible for Environmental Security Allowances and the continued non-payment of the NICS 2012 Pay Award.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to advise Mr Hammond that it would discuss the issues raised in his correspondence with departmental officials at the oral briefing on Equal Pay Issues which was scheduled for the meeting on 23 May 2013.
8. Chairman’s Business
The Chairman advised Members that both he and the Deputy Chairman had received invitations from the Department of Justice to an event on Thursday 13 June 2013 to launch the new five year Victim and Witness Strategy and that he would attend.
9. Any other business
i. The potential benefits of the judiciary visiting prison establishments was raised.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Office of the Lord Chief Justice regarding the benefits to be gained from visiting prison establishments and recommending that a programme to enable the judiciary to acquaint itself with prison establishments should be developed.
ii. The findings of recent court cases challenging fine default and imprisonment and PSNI Stop and Search procedures was raised.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request briefings from the Department of Justice on the legal and financial implications of the judgements in relation to both the fine default procedures and PSNI Stop and Search procedures.
10. Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting will take place on Thursday 23 May 2013 at 2.00 pm in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.
The meeting was adjourned at 3.44 p.m.
Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
23 May 2013