Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 29 November 2012

Venue: Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre, Bangor

The meeting commenced at. 3.29 p.m. in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2012.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee discussed a letter from the Marie Stopes private clinic in response to its request for representatives to attend a committee meeting to outline how the clinic is complying with the criminal law in relation to abortion in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the clinic should be invited to attend the Committee meeting scheduled for 13 December 2012.

The Committee considered a letter from Donaghy Carey Solicitors, who act on behalf of Precious Life, regarding the meeting with the Marie Stopes private clinic.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that a response should issue to Donaghy Carey Solicitors advising of the date of the meeting, which will be held in public session, and the procedure regarding the provision of written information.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to move the briefings scheduled at items 5 and 6 of the agenda to the end of the meeting.

4. SL1s: The County Courts (Financial Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and the County Court (Amendment No. 2) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered information from the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission regarding the likely impact on judicial capacity of the proposed County Courts (Financial Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and the County Court (Amendment No. 2) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2012 which are required to accommodate changes as a consequence of the proposed increase in the civil jurisdiction of the County Court from £15,000 to £30,000 and the general jurisdiction of district judges in the County Courts from £5,000 to £10,000.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the President of the Council of County Court Judges and request a copy of their written submission and invite them to give oral evidence to the Committee on the matter if they so wished.

5. SL1: Amendment of the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Record) (Disclosure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008

The Committee considered a proposal for a Statutory Rule under powers conferred by sections 113A (6), 125 (1) and 125 (5) of the Police Act 1997, as modified by section 126A of the Act, which would make a technical change necessary as responsibility for the Police National Computer, which AccessNI checks as part of the public protection arrangements in Northern Ireland, has transferred from the National Policing Improvement Agency to the Home Office.

Agreed: The Committee for Justice agreed that it was content with the proposal for the the Statutory Rule.

6. Up-date on the Department of Justice Programme for Government Delivery Plans

The Committee noted up-dated Department of Justice Programme for Government Delivery Plans for its seven commitments which indicated that all were on track or broadly on track for delivery.

7. Draft public guidance on the use of reasonable force to protect against crime

The Committee considered information provided by the Department of Justice on the issue of whether there is a need for public guidance on the use of reasonable force to protect against crime.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to request the views of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development on the matter given that the Minister of Justice gave a commitment to consider the need for public guidance on the use of reasonable force to protect against crime during an Assembly debate on Agri-crime.

8. Correspondence

i   The Committee noted an invitation from the Minister of Justice to the Committee to the Youth Justice Agency’s annual carol service and presentation of achievement awards which will take place at Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre on 20 December 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would advise the Clerk if they wished to attend this event.

ii  The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service providing a response to issues raised by Families Against Supergrass Trials (FAST).

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the responses to FAST for information.

iii The Committee noted further correspondence from Mr William McMaster regarding his complaint against the Office of the Police Ombudsman and his request for a full inquiry into the matter.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it had taken what action it could in relation to the matter and did not intend to take any further action.

iv The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment inviting Committee Members to an event to launch a process of stakeholder engagement on a Financial Capability Strategy for Northern Ireland on Monday 3 December at Stormont.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would advise the Clerk if they wished to attend this event.

v The Committee noted information on a public lecture by Dame Anne Owers, Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, on “Protecting Human Rights in Places of Detention” on Thursday 6 December in the Great Hall, Queen’s University.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would advise the Clerk if they wished to attend this event.

9. Chairman’s Business

The Chairperson advised Members that he had met with representatives of the Community Rescue Service, at their request, to discuss the work the organisation undertakes and other issues.

Agreed:     The Committee agreed to request information from the Department of Justice on the timeframe for the PSNI to transfer the budget for rescue services to the Department and whether it intended to carry out a review of rescue services.

10. Any Other Business

None.

11. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 4 December 2012 at 3.00 p.m. in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

12. Oral briefing by Include Youth on the Youth Justice Review

Koulla Yiasouma, Director, Paula Rodgers, Policy Co-ordinator and Mat Crozier, Young Voices Co-ordinator, Include Youth, joined the meeting at 3.55p.m. The representatives outlined a number of key issues relating to the Youth Justice Review and the implementation plan.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: early intervention and whether it should be delivered at community level backed up with support from Departments and agencies; good practice in early intervention in other jurisdictions; the importance of targetting specific areas for early intervention; the youth reoffending rate; the age of criminal responsibility; concerns in relation to the proposed approach to introducing Statutory Time Limits; the priority areas for funding; community and societal attitudes towards young people involved in crime; the impact of drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues; the impact of child poverty; and how to manage the transition of young people from Woodlands back into their communities and the support required.

4.07p.m. Stewart Dickson left the meeting.     

4.28p.m Jim Wells left the meeting.

4.34p.m. Rosie McCorley left the meeting.

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

13. Oral briefing by the Youth Justice Agency on Key Issues and Priorities

The Chairman thanked the Chief Executive of the Juvenile Justice Agency and the staff of Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre for hosting the lunch and meeting and facilitating the tour of the Centre.

Paula Jack, Chief Executive, Youth Justice Agency joined the meeting at 4.48 p.m.

Ms Jack outlined outlined the key issues and priorities for the Youth Justice Agency.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: the work that is carried out with young people after they leave Woodlands and the agencies involved; the transfer of young people from Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre to Woodlands; instances where Woodlands would be unsuitable for young people; the education facilities at Woodlands and the length of the school term; managing the transition of young people from Woodlands back to the community; the impact of speech and communication difficulties; the methods used to help young people develop self worth; and the development of a bail support scheme.

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

5.12 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
6 December 2012

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