Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Thursday, 20 October 2011
Venue: Room 30
The meeting commenced at 2.07 p.m. in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2011
The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2011 .
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted that the final report on the Review of Prisons would be provided to Members on Monday 24 October 2011 prior to the oral statement to the Assembly on Monday by the Minister of Justice.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that given the size of the report and the complexity of the issues it would cover, the Department should be asked to provide the report to Committee members by Friday 21 October 2011.
4. Briefing on the Community Safety Strategy consultation responses and development of a final strategy
Declan McGeown, Head of Community Safety Unit, Steven McCourt, Head of Operations, Protection and Organised Crime Division, Mark Goodfellow, Head of Partnership Development Branch, Community Safety Unit and Eamon Jones, Acting Head of Strategy, Implementation and Research Branch, Community Safety Unit joined the meeting at 2.10 p.m.
The officials briefed the Committee on the responses received to the consultation on a new Community Safety Strategy and how the draft Strategy would be developed.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 2.35 p.m.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 2.43 p.m.
A question and answer session followed covering issues including the differing consultation responses on the use of Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs); the need for the buy-in of other Departments to deliver the Strategy; the role of the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships in delivering the strategy; how local community safety initiatives would be funded; how best practice on tackling community safety issues could be identified and rolled out; the perceptions in relation to the level of crime compared to the statistical evidence; the use of pilot projects; and the need to ensure actions in one area did not just shift the problem to a different area.
The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting
Agreed: The Committee agreed to highlight to the Department of Justice the need to build in appropriate time for the Committee to consider the draft strategy and, given the intention for it to be cross-cutting and cover a range of Departments, to consult with relevant Statutory Committees.
5. Briefing on the Equality Scheme and Action Plan consultation responses
Moira Doherty, Deputy Director, Central Co-ordination Division, Brendan Giffen, Head of Central Management Unit and Mark Higgins, Department of Justice Equality Officer joined the meeting at 2.50 p.m.
Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at 2.50 p.m.
The officials briefed the Committee on the results of the consultation on its Equality Scheme and associated Action Plan.
A question and answer session followed covering issues such as the detailed work that had been undertaken in relation to the Equality Scheme and action plan; the likely cost of implementation; the relationship between the Equality Scheme and the DoJ Disability Action Plan, and how the impact of the scheme would be measured.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 3.08 p.m.
The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request detailed information on the implementation costs associated with the Equality Scheme and Action Plan.
6. Briefing on Collaborative Working in Disadvantaged Areas
Declan McGeown, Head of Community Safety Unit, Department of Justice, Mark Goodfellow, Head of Partnership Development, Community Safety Unit, Department of Justice, Henry Johnston, Director, Urban Regeneration Strategy, Department for Social Development and Superintendent Alan Skelton, Head of Community Safety, PSNI joined the meeting at 3.13 p.m.
The officials briefed the Committee on the background to, recent progress on, and next steps in relation to the Collaborative Working in Disadvantaged Areas initiative.
Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at 3.17 p.m.
A question and answer session followed covering issues such as the background and origins of the initiative; the lack of community involvement in the initiative to date; how the pilot areas were chosen; the mapping exercise carried out; the role of the PCSPs and the linkage with this initiative; and how the effectiveness of the initiative would be evaluated.
The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule an update briefing on the Collaborative Working in Disadvantaged Areas initiative into the work programme.
7. Prison Service Pay Review Body for NI - policy and draft consultation document and regulations to allow NI to use existing pay arrangements
The Committee considered a proposal by the Department of Justice to make Regulations to allow it to make directions to the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) as to the consideration’s to which they are to have and to require the PSPRB to send any report made by them to the Department of Justice and lay it before the Assembly.
Mr Givan declared an interest as a family member is an employee of the NI Prison Service.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request clarification on why there is a specific Prison Service Pay Review Body for Northern Ireland.
Agreed : The Committee agreed it was content for the Department of Justice to consult on the matter as outlined and to give further consideration to it at SL1 stage.
8. Proposals for a policy consultation on the EU Framework decision on mutual recognition of judgements and probation decisions
The Committee considered a proposal by the Department of Justice for a policy consultation on how a European Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgements and probation decisions could be legislated for in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request information on the consequences that the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgements and probation decisions would have for Northern Ireland and in particular the number of offenders likely to transfer in and out.
Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content for the consultation document to be published and to consider the issue when the results of the consultation were available.
9. SL1 in relation to S.48 of the Justice Act (NI) 2011 to prescribe persons in addition to the Chief Constable who should be sent copies of any football banning order
The Committee considered a proposal to make a Statutory Rule under powers conferred by section 48 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011to specify the prescribed persons who would be given copies of Football Banning Orders.
Agreed : The Committee agreed that it was content with the proposed Statutory Rule.
i. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice outlining the action it intended to take in relation to the two strategic recommendations contained in the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland on their Governance Inspection of the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland.
ii. The Committee noted an invitation from the Department of Justice to the opening of the Learning and Skills Centre and Donard Centre at HM Prison Maghaberry.
Agreed : The Committee agreed that any Members wishing to attend would advise the Committee Clerk who would make the necessary arrangements.
iii. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to the Committee’s request for further information on new fees which had been introduced for Crown Court Work.
iv. The Committee considered correspondence from the Assembly and Executive Review Committee regarding a Review of the Initial Ministerial provision in relation to the Department of Justice and recommendations relating to the arrangements from 1 May 2012.
Agreed : The Committee agreed to request a copy of the Department of Justice response to the Review for information.
v. The Committee considered the Criminal Justice Inspectorate follow-up inspection report of prisoner resettlement by Northern Ireland Prison Service.
Agreed : The Committee agreed to consider the report findings in the content of the scheduled briefing on the final report of the Review of the Prison Service.
11. Chairman’s Business
i. The Chairman reminded Members of the Include Youth Annual Conference on Thursday 27 October 2011 which he would attend during the morning.
ii. The Chairman reminded Members that an informal lunch with departmental officials was scheduled for Thursday 27 October in Parliament Buildings before the Committee meeting.
12. Any Other Business
The Committee discussed oral evidence given by the Police Ombudsman at the Committee meeting on 8 September 2011.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to place the matter on the agenda for the next meeting on 27 October 2011 for discussion.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to request information on the timescale and timetable for the recruitment of the next Police Ombudsman.
13. Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 27 October 2011 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.
4.10 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.
Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
27 October 2011