Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 28 June 2012

Venue: Room 29

The meeting commenced at ­­­­­2.05p.m. in public session.

1. Apologies

None.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2012.

3. Matters Arising

i. The Committee noted a revised Forward Work Programme.

ii. The Chairman reminded the Committee that the motion on the Committee’s Report on its Inquiry into the Criminal Justice Services available to Victims and Witnesses of Crime would be debated on Tuesday 3 July 2012. 

iii. The Committee noted that the Minister of Justice had given notice of his intention to make an oral statement to the Assembly on Monday 2 July 2012 in relation to the Access to Justice Departmental Plan.

2.08 p.m. Patsy McGlone joined the meeting.           

4. Minister of Justice’s response to the Youth Justice Review

 The Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA, Paula Jack, Chief Executive, Youth Justice Agency, Brian Grzymek, Deputy Director, Reducing Offending Division and Tony Kavanagh, Head of Youth Justice Unit, Department of Justice joined the meeting at 2.08 p.m.

2.13 p.m. Tom Elliott joined the meeting.

The Minister outlined his response to the Youth Justice Review and how he intended to implement the recommendations.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: whether it is necessary to legislate to prevent holding under 18 year olds in the Young Offenders Centre given the practice is already moving in that direction; the proposal to increase the age of criminal responsibility; the need for an implementation plan which details milestones and outcomes; how the impact of some of the recommendations would be measured; the youth conferencing system and the pitfalls of repeat youth conferencing; how to maximise victim partcipation in youth conferencing; the resources that are available to deal with those with special needs; the role of the Early Intervention Unit and the need to reprofile spend for early interventions; the level of inter-agency and inter-departmental working; and, potential oversight mechanisms.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the Minister and officials for their attendance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request details of which projects and work streams associated with the Youth Justice Review will require primary or subordinate legislation, and/or Executive approval, before changes can be implemented.

5. Criminal Justice Bill: Principles

David Hughes, Head of Policing Policy and Strategy Division, Amanda Patterson, Criminal Policy Branch, Debbie Pritchard, Human Trafficking Branch and Ian Kerr, Police Powers and Custody Branch, Department of Justice joined the meeting at 3.04 p.m.

The officials briefly outlined the principles of the recently introduced Criminal Justice Bill and in what areas policy had changed since the Committee was briefed on the final policy proposals.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the Sexual Offences Register and the appeals process; the current position in England and Wales regarding changing the sex offender notification requirements; the new human trafficking clauses; the scale and content of the DNA database; the application process to have DNA profile information removed from the database; the retention of photographs; the extent to which the legislation complies with or exceeds the requirements of the EU Directive; and whether the DNA/fingerprint provisions go further than the EU Court Ruling requires.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

6. Mental Capacity Legislation and the Criminal Justice System: Draft Consultation

Gareth Johnston, Head of Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Michael Kelly, Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Tom Haire, Head of Criminal Law Branch and Peter Philip, Criminal Law Branch, Department of Justice joined the meeting at 3.30 p.m.

The officials briefly outlined the proposed consultation paper on extending mental capacity legislation to the criminal justice system and the joint Bill.

3.30 p.m. Raymond McCartney left the meeting.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the reasons for the delay in implementing the Bamford recommendations; special arrangements for compulsory treatment; the methods by which the legislation has been taken forward in other jurisdictions; the timescale for the legislation; the proportion of the legislation that will relate solely to the criminal justice system; and whether the proposals deviated in any way from the Bamford findings.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the consultation on the proposals to extend the mental capacity legislation to the Criminal Justice System to take place.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that a paper setting out the options for joint scrutiny of the legislation by the Committee for Justice and the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety should be prepared for consideration.

3.50 p.m. Patsy McGlone left the meeting.

7. SR 2012 No.226: The Police and Criminal Evidence (1989 Order) (Codes of Practice) (Temporary Modification to Code A) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 

The Committee considered Statutory Rule 2012 No.226: The Police and Criminal Evidence (1989 Order) (Codes of Practice) (Temporary Modification to Code A) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 which makes provision for temporary modifications to the Police and Criminal Evidence (NI) Order 1989 Code of Practice A (exercise by police officers of statutory powers of stop and search) to facilitate the electronic recording of a search of a person or vehicle by a police officer.

Agreed: The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2012 No.226: The Police and Criminal Evidence (1989 Order) (Codes of Practice) (Temporary Modification to Code A) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the Rule.

8. SLIs: Amendments to legislation relating to safeguarding arrangements for children and vulnerable adults

The Committee considered a proposal to make two Statutory Rules to preserve current safeguarding arrangements for children and vulnerable adults and to ensure that safeguarding levels are not diminished.

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

9. SLI: Costs in Criminal Cases in Magistrates’ Courts

The Committee considered a proposal by the Magistrates’ Courts Rules Committee to make a Court Rule in relation to costs in criminal cases in magistrates’ courts.

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

10. Legal Aid Reform: Recovery of Defence Costs Orders

 The Committee considered further information provided by the Department of Justice on its proposal to make a Statutory Rule to regulate the circumstances where convicted defendants in the Crown Court, who are in receipt of criminal legal aid, will be required to pay some or all of the costs of their defence, where the court considers that they have the means to pay such costs.

Agreed: The Committee noted the further information provided and agreed that it was content with the proposed Statutory Rule.

11. Department of Justice draft Disability Action Plan

The Committee considered the results of the Consultation on the Department of Justice draft Disability Action Plan and a revised Plan.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the revised draft Disability Action Plan.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek clarification of the reasons for removing recommendations 4, 9 and 22 entirely from the draft Plan rather than amending or adjusting them, and how/whether these actions will be taken forward.

12. Review of Community Sentences – Proposed Way Forward

The Committee considered information from the Minister of Justice on the Review of Community Sentences and his proposed way forward which he intends to announce shortly. The Committee noted that the proposed introduction of a statutory presumption against custody of 3 months or less would require primary legislation.

13. Proposed UK–wide consultation on the methodology to be used in setting the Statutory Discount Rate

The Committee noted an embargoed copy of the UK-wide consultation document on the methodology to be used in setting the Statutory Discount Rate and that the Department of Justice would provide information on the results of the consultation exercise in due course.

14. Correspondence

i. The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the implementation of Departmental Savings Delivery Plans for 2011-12.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the report to the Department of Justice for clarification/comment in relation to the achievement of its saving targets.

ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister of Justice regarding the Office of Fair Trading’s market study report on the cost of private motor insurance.

iii. The Committee considered correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding concerns raised by the Old Warren Community Association in relation to an appointment to the new Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek further information from the Policing Board on the matter.

iv. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice on the commencement of Articles 19 and 20 of the Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008 indicating the Minister is considering the issues raised by Members.

v. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the Social Security Advisory Committee’s Review of Passported Benefits.

vi. The Committee noted correspondence from the Interim Chief Executive of the Office of the Police Ombudsman regarding its handling of the disclosure of information in relation to the retention of human tissue samples.

vii. The Committee noted correspondence from the PSNI providing follow up information in relation to the oral briefing on 17 May 2012 on the retention of human tissue samples.

viii. The Committee noted correspondence from the PSNI regarding the development of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at Antrim Area Hospital.

4.16 p.m. Jim Wells left the meeting.

ix. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice advising that the Minister of Justice had exercised the Agency arrangements and issued a Land Requisition Authorisation for the InvestNI site at Forthriver Business Park.

x. The Committee noted the Criminal Justice Inspection Report ‘Answering the Call - An Inspection of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Contact Management Arrangements’. 

15. Chairman’s Business

i. The Chairman reminded Members of the launch of the Organised Crime Task Force Annual Report and Threat Assessment for 2012 on Wednesday 4 July 2012.

Agreed: Any Member wishing to attend the event would advise the Clerk who would make the necessary arrangements.

ii. The Chairman informed Members that arrangements were being made for an introductory meeting with the new Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service which both he and the Deputy Chairman would attend.

iii. The Committee considered a draft press release on the Committee’s Report on its Inquiry into the Criminal Justice Services available to Victims and Witnesses of Crime

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the draft press release.

16. Any other business

None.

17. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 5 July 2012 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.23 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
5 July 2012

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