Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 02 June 2011

Venue: Room 30

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

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2011

The Committee agreed the minutes of the meeting of 26 May 2011 with one amendment .

3. Matters Arising

The Committee considered a Department of Justice Briefing Paper on a proposed Strategic Framework for a Reducing Offending Strategy.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that an oral briefing on progress on developing the Reducing Offending Strategy should be scheduled into the work programme for the Autumn.

4. Overview briefing on the Policing and Community Safety Directorate and related NDPBs

Peter May, Director of Policing and Community Safety, David Hughes, Deputy Director of Policing Policy and Strategy, Simon Rogers, Deputy Director, Protection and Organised Crime and Declan McGeown, Deputy Director, Community Safety joined the meeting at 2.10 p.m.

The officials provided a briefing on the role and responsibilities and the key issues and challenges facing the Policing and Community Safety Directorate and answered questions from Members. Issues covered included the consultation process on the new Community Safety Strategy and the budget for implementation of it; actions to address domestic violence and minimum pricing of alcohol; the resourcing of the Policing Board; proposed changes to regulation of the Private Security Industry; the current position on the Part-Time Reserve Gratuity Scheme payments; the plans for the introduction of the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and transition arrangements; proposed changes by AccessNI to the vetting system; proposals for initiatives in Interface areas; and the current situation regarding PSNI Support Staff Equal Pay Claims .

Mr Givan declared an interest as a family member had applied for the Part-Time Reserve Gratuity Scheme.

Mr Dickson declared an interest as a former member of a District Policing Partnership.

Mr Anderson declared an interest as a former member of a District Policing Partnership and Community Safety Partnership.

2.49 p.m. Mr Weir left the meeting.

During the question and answer session officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a number of issues.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

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

3.09 p.m. Ms McCann left the meeting.

5. Overview briefing on the Justice Delivery Directorate andrelated NDPBs

Anthony Harbinson, Director of Justice Delivery, Ray Murray, Deputy Director of Information Services, Mark McGuckin, Deputy Director of the Reform Programme and Karen Pearson, Deputy Director of Personnel and Office Services joined the meeting at 3.09 p.m.

The officials provided a briefing on the role and responsibilities and the key issues and challenges facing the Justice Delivery Directorate and answered questions from Members on issues including the part played by the Causeway IT system in the erroneous release of a prisoner.

3.13 p.m. Mr Weir rejoined the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked Karen Pearson, Mark McGuckin and Ray Murray for the briefing and they left the meeting.

6. Briefing on the Department of Justice Budget

Glyn Capper, Deputy Director Finance and Sean Laverty, Head of Financial Planning and Control joined the meeting at 3.25 p.m.

Mr Harbinson provided a briefing on the Department of Justice Budget. A question and answer session followed covering issues including the timescale for the detailed savings delivery plans; the current valuation of the sites transferred from the Ministry of Defence; the review of the Department’s Arm’s Length Bodies and quangos; the 4 year budget for the Compensation Agency; the budget for the Probation Board and the likely implications of delivering required savings; and the likely cost implications arising from the need to change the policy on the Retention of DNA and Fingerprints.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that a briefing by the Chief Constable and senior officers on the PSNI spending and savings plans would be useful, given the proportion of the overall Department of Justice budget allocated to the PSNI, and the Chairman should meet the Chairman of the Policing Board to discuss the arrangements.

7. June Monitoring Round Return

Anthony Harbinson, Director of Justice Delivery, Glyn Capper, Deputy Director Finance and Sean Laverty, Head of Financial Planning and Control outlined the key points of the Department of Justice June Monitoring Round Return and answered questions from Members on a range of issues including potential equal pay costs and the timescale for reaching an assessment of the extent and quantum; the ability to meet the pressures on legal aid spending in this financial year from within the existing budget; and the funding for PSNI hearing loss claims.

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

3.58 p.m. Mr McCartney left the meeting.

8. Committee Handling of Court Rules

The Committee considered a paper outlining options on how it could handle Court Rules.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that a short synopsis of what each Court Rule would cover should be provided to enable the Committee to decide, on a “case by case” basis, what consultation should take place in relation to each Rule.

9. Draft Court Rules for the EU Regulation 4/2009 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and co-operation in matters relating to maintenance obligations

The Committee noted a proposal for Court Rules to support the implementation of EU Regulation 4/2009 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and co-operation in matters relating to maintenance obligations in the Magistrates’ Courts. The Regulation was intended to ensure the effective recovery of maintenance between family members within the EU and make the procedures more efficient.

10. Correspondence

  1. The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister of Justice regarding pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Committee on the Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extensions) Bill and its request for the views of the Executive.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a copy of the substantive reply to Lord Armstrong from the Minister of Justice.
  2. The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister of Justice providing an update on the reconstitution of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
  3. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice enclosing the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime launched on 21 March 2011.
  4. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice outlining the main areas to be included in the Victim and Witness Annual Action Plan 2011-12.
  5. The Committee noted the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission Annual Report and Accounts 2008/09.
  6. The Committee considered correspondence from the Big Lottery Fund requesting an opportunity to provide the Committee with an update on its work in Northern Ireland.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to request further information on the justice aspects of the Big Lottery Fund work.
  7. The Committee considered correspondence from the Iron John Project requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee to discuss its work.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule an informal meeting with representatives from the Iron John Project.
  8. The Committee considered a Criminal Justice Inspection Report on Securing Attendance at Court which was published on 2 June.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to give further consideration to whether an oral briefing on the report should be scheduled into the work programme at the next Committee meeting.
  9. The Committee noted correspondence from the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission (NIJAC) regarding the appointment of Dr Kenneth Mullan to the office of Chief Social Security Commissioner and Chief Child Support Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

11. Chairman’s Business

The Chairman advised Members that he and the Deputy Chairman had received an invitation from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to participate in an EU issues discussion forum on Monday 20 June and they intended to accept the invitation dependant on their availability nearer the time.

12. Any Other Business

None.

13. Date and Time of next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 9 June 2011 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.16 p.m. The Chairman adjourned the meeting.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
9 June 2011

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