Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 06 June 2013

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 2.07 p.m. in public session.

The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, congratulated Mr Jim Wells on the birth of his first grandchild.

The recent tragic drownings of two men in a disused quarry in Annalong, Co. Down was raised.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Chief Constable regarding why the Mourne Underwater Search Team had been turned away from the scene of the drownings.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 30 May 2013

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 30 May 2013.

3. Matters Arising

i. The Committee noted an up-dated Forward Work Programme for the period 6 June to 4 July 2013.

Agreed: The Committee agreed a number of actions relating to the Work Programme discussed at the informal Committee planning meeting earlier in the day.

ii The Committee considered a copy of the 2010 PSNI draft business case and the 1996 correspondence between Sir David Fell, the then Head of the NI Civil Service, and NIPSA in relation to equal pay for PSNI support staff and NIO staff and further correspondence from a Mr Hammond on the equal pay issue.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to keep a watching brief on the matter following the commitments made by the Minister of Justice during the recent Assembly debate on equal pay.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the Hansard of the Committee evidence session on 23 May 2013 on the equal pay issue to Mr Hammond and the other individuals who had written on the matter.

4. Briefing by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland on the proposal to add the PSNI to the list of organisations to which guidance is issued under Section 8 of the Justice (NI) Act 2004

The Attorney General for Northern Ireland, Mr John Larkin QC, Maura McCallion, Division Head, and Mairead Bunting, Senior Legal Officer, Office of the Attorney General, joined the meeting at 2.16 p.m.

The Attorney General outlined his proposal to add the PSNI to the list of organisations to which he issues guidance on human rights standards under Section 8 of the Justice (NI) Act 2004.

2.20 p.m. Mr Patsy McGlone joined the meeting.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: what consultation had taken place on the proposal; whether any discussion had taken place with the PSNI; any particular reasons why the PSNI was not on the original list of organisations covered by the Act; whether the Chief Constable could veto the proposal; the likely implications of the proposal on how the Policing Board holds the PSNI to account; and whether any other organisations could potentially be added to the list.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the Attorney General and his officials and they left meeting.

The Committee briefly discussed the proposal.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Chief Constable indicating that the Committee was minded to support the proposal that the PSNI is added to the list of organisations to which the Attorney General issues guidance under Section 8 of the Justice (NI) Act 2004 and request any comments the PSNI might have in relation to the matter.

5. Prison Reform Programme – Briefing by the Prison Officers' Association

Mr Finlay Spratt, Chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, Mr Paul Hardy, Vice Chairman and Ms June Robinson, Area Secretary, Prison Officers' Association joined the meeting at 2.31 p.m.

Mr Spratt outlined a range of issues regarding the Prison Reform Programme.
A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the available budget for NIPS; the impact the Target Operating Model (TOM) is having on staff numbers and morale; the work carried out by profilers from outside the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) who were tasked with producing the TOM and the associated costs; the review of the TOM now being carried out by NIPS staff; the effect of the TOM on the periods of time that prisoners are locked up in their cells; how a reduction in lock up times could be achieved; the scale of temporary promotions within NIPS and the implications for staff and the management of the Service; the promotional prospects for NIPS staff and the use of external recruitment exercises for a number of recent posts; the cost of recruitment exercises; the position in relation to the payment of an Environmental Allowance; the pay scales for NIPS staff and prison staff in other jurisdictions; the various regimes in the prison and how prisoners progress; the ratio of prison staff to prisoners under the TOM and safety issues, particularly relating to female officers; the effect the design of a prison has on operational requirements and the number of staff needed; the relationship between existing officers and new recruits; the proposed increased role for Probation Board staff within prisons, particularly in relation to Offender Behaviour Management programmes and its impact; leave arrangements for NIPS staff; how the POA relates to the Change Management Programme and whether the Programme has been successful in effecting change; the delivery of education programmes and the role of prison officers; a proposed Garden of Remembrance for Prison Officers and their families; and the position in relation to a new NIPS museum.

3.25 p.m. Mr William Humphrey left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the representatives of the Prison Officers' Association and they left meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that a briefing paper on the key issues raised during the oral evidence session with the representatives of the Prison Officers' Association should be prepared for the meeting on 13 June when the Independent Members of the Prison Review Oversight Group will attend to discuss their Annual report.

Agreed: The Committee would request a response from the Department of Justice on the issues raised.

6. SL1: Guidance by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland for the State Pathologist's Department on the exercise of its functions in a manner consistent with international human rights standards

The Committee considered a proposed Statutory Rule to bring into operation, on 22 July 2013, guidance by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland for the State Pathologist's Department on the exercise of its functions in a manner consistent with international human rights standards.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the proposed Statutory Rule.

7. SL1: Guidance by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland for Forensic Science Northern Ireland on the exercise of its functions in a manner consistent with international human rights standards

The Committee considered a proposed Statutory Rule to bring into operation, on 22 July 2013, guidance by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland for Forensic Science Northern Ireland on the exercise of its functions in a manner consistent with international human rights standards.

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

8. Programme for Government 2011-15 – End Year Progress Report

The Committee noted information on the first year progress and the delivery of milestones for 2012/13 for each of the seven Department of Justice Programme for Government commitments.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request further information from the Department of Justice on how much of the G8 expenditure that will fall to the NI Executive to fund will come from the Department of Justice budget and what will be the impact on other services.

9. Access to Justice Review – Six-Monthly Update on the Implementation of the Recommendations

The Committee considered a six-monthly progress report, covering the period January to May 2013, on the implementation of the recommendations of the Access to Justice Review and the 38 projects in the Departmental Action Plan.

Agreed: Given that the progress report was in a different format to the previous one, the Committee agreed to request a revised update from the Department of Justice to enable a meaningful assessment of progress to be made.

10. Update on the Development of the New Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy

The Committee noted the current position and revised timescales for the new joint Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy which the Department of Justice is developing in conjunction with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

11. Correspondence

i. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice regarding the limited consultation time to properly consider EU opt-in decisions and the procedure and timescales for the consideration of such decisions.

ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice advising that the Minister of Justice will issue a G8 Requisition Authorisation, under Section 29 of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, for a section of the Lough bed at Lower Lough Erne for the period 16 until 18 June 2013.

iii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice advising that the Minister of Justice had approved a G8 Road Closure Order, under Section 32 of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, for a section of the Lough Shore Road, Enniskillen for the period 1 June until 25 June 2013.

iv. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding a request from the PSNI to the Minister of Justice to make a 'Sunday Courts Order' in accordance with section 13 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013, for the period of the G8 Summit.

v. The Committee noted a copy of the Department of Justice response to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding leave arrangements for local competitors in the 2013 World Police and Fire Games.

vi. The Committee noted the Department of Justice Research and Statistical Bulletin 4/2013 'Views on Alcohol and Drug Related Issues: Findings from the September 2012 Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey'

vii. The Committee noted a response from the Committee on Procedures to its request that the Procedures Committee considers clarifying the jurisdiction and powers of Assembly Committees, particularly with regard to private organisations where the matter under consideration relates to a transferred matter.

viii. The Committee noted the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland report: A follow-up review of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland's Community Service Scheme.

ix. The Committee noted the Youth Justice Agency 2012 Stakeholder Survey Findings.

x. The Committee noted the Northern Ireland Law Commission Report on Apartments.

xi. The Committee noted the Youth Justice Agency Corporate Plan 2013 – 2016.

xii. The Committee noted information on a 2013 G8 Pre-Summit Conference organised by Queen's University School of Politics on 14 June 2013.

xiii. The Committee considered an invitation from NIACRO to a 'Human Trafficking – The Tip of the Iceberg' seminar sponsored by Lord Morrow on 11 June 2013 in Parliament Buildings.

Agreed: Members agreed to advise the Clerk if they wished to attend the seminar.

12. Chairman's Business

The Chairman updated Members on a useful informal meeting that took place with representatives of the Solas Trust, an organisation which intends to provide refuge, restoration and rehabilitation for women who have been rescued out of human trafficking.

13. Any Other Business

None.

14. Date and time of next meeting

The next Committee meeting will take place on Thursday 13 June 2013 at 2.30 pm in Room 30, Parliament Buildings. The Committee will visit the Public Prosecution Service and Witness Care Unit prior to the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 4.00 p.m.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
13 June 2013

Find Your MLA

tools-map.png

Locate your local MLA

Find MLA

News and Media Centre

tools-media.png

Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

tools-social.png

Keep up to date with what’s happening at the Assem

Find out more

Contact information

tools-newsletter.png

Contact us for further information about our work.

Contact us