Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 17 January 2013

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

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

1.Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2013

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2013.

3. Matters Arising

i) The Committee noted correspondence from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission supporting its proposed amendment to repeal the offence

of scandalising the court for inclusion in the Criminal Justice Bill.

The Committee considered correspondence from the Speaker indicating that the proposed amendment to abolish the offence of scandalising the

court is admissible.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Chairman should submit the Committee amendment for the Consideration Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill. 

ii) The Committee noted a further amendment that the Minister of Justice intends to bring forward at Consideration Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill in relation to the definition of ‘DNA sample’. 

iii) The Committee noted an up-dated Forward Work Programme which included a briefing on the scanners in prisons pilot project on Thursday 14 February and a briefing by the Prisoner Ombudsman on Thursday 24 January 2013.

4. Briefing on the Mental Capacity Bill: Consultation Responses and Proposed Way Forward

Gareth Johnston, Head of Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Tom Haire, and Michael Kelly, Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Department of Justice joined the meeting at 2.10 p.m.

The officials updated the Committee on the proposed Mental Capacity legislation including the results of the consultation on the criminal justice aspects and the proposed way forward.

2.15 p.m. Ms Rosaleen McCorley joined the meeting.

2.19 p.m. Mr Stewart Dickson joined the meeting.

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

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: the rationale for requiring the consent of a person with capacity to be transferred between a prison and a hospital and how this would operate in practice; the reasons why the Department decided not to carry out an EQIA on the consultation proposals; why the statutory presumption of capacity only applies to those aged 16 or over; how the application of the statutory presumption of capacity to those aged under 16 could impact on parental responsibility; the community options available to the courts and who would have responsibility for a person subject to a community order; the arrangements for mentally disordered people who have capacity; the need for clarity around the roles of ‘third parties’ envisaged in the Bill and on an individual’s legal adviser; the concept of a ‘set aside’ arrangement; the resource implications for the Department of Justice; and the pathways available for those aged under 16.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials and they left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the departmental briefing papers and the Hansard of the evidence session to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety for information.

2.44 p.m. Mr Tom Elliott left the meeting.

5. Mental Capacity Bill: Consideration of options for committee scrutiny of the Bill

The Committee considered the possible options for joint scrutiny of the Mental Capacity Bill by the Committee for Justice and the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed that its preferred option was the establishment of an ad hoc joint committee consisting of members of the Justice Committee and the Health Committee in accordance with Standing Order 64C in October 2013 to undertake the scrutiny of the results of the consultation on the draft Bill and then the Committee Stage of the Bill. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman would meet with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to discuss the matter further and agree the way forward.

6. Tribunal Reform: Draft Consultation Paper

Siobhan Broderick, Deputy Director, Civil Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Naomi Callaghan and Kelly Hanvey, Civil Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Department of Justice and Mandy Kilpatrick, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service joined the meeting at 3.00 p.m.

3.01  p.m. Mr Jim Wells joined the meeting.

3.02  p.m. Mr Tom Elliott joined the meeting.

The officials updated the Committee on a proposed draft consultation paper on the future administration and structure of tribunals in Northern Ireland.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: the extent of the Lord Chief Justice’s role under the proposed new structure; whether the Lord Chief Justice would require additional resources under the proposed new structure; the removal of Ministerial involvement in appointments; the rationale for the proposal to allow tribunals to review their own decisions; earlier dispute resolution; the use of court venues for tribunals; the ambition to transfer the small claims court to the new structure; the reasons why some tribunals are not within the scope of the current proposals and why they cannot be included at this stage; and the position in other jurisdictions. 

The Chairman thanked the officials and they left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the draft consultation paper on tribunal reform to issue and to consider the matter further when the results of the consultation are available.

7. Reducing Offending Strategy: Consultation Responses and Draft Strategy

Brian Grzymek, Head of Reducing Offending Division, Gary Wardrop, Reducing Offending Division, Department of Justice, Mark Dennison, Detective Inspector, Police Service of Northern Ireland and Paul Doran, Deputy Director, Probation Board for Northern Ireland joined the meeting at 3.32 p.m.

The officials updated the Committee on the results of the consultation and on the draft Strategic Framework for Reducing Offending and the final version of the Framework.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: the importance of early intervention; tackling behavioural problems; the need for cross-departmental/agency working; how the Department of Justice can influence other Departments to deliver the necessary interventions; what action can be taken if a Department/Agency does not deliver; the need to put prison education requirements on a statutory footing; effective ways to deal with prolific offenders; the mechanisms that are in place to monitor effectiveness and efficiency and ensure that targets are met by the reducing offending partnerships; and when the efforts to reduce avoidable delay are likely to deliver results.

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

4.01 p.m. Mr Raymond McCartney left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials and they left the meeting.

4.02 p.m. Mr Stewart Dickson left the meeting.

8. SR 2012/431: The Rules of the Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) (Amendment No. 3) 2012

The Committee considered Statutory Rule No. 2012/431: The Rules of the Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) (Amendment No. 3) 2012 which amends Statutory Rule No. 2012/272 to make it clear that the High Court may, where it decides to exercise its jurisdiction, enforce a breach of compassionate bail granted by the Magistrates’ Courts.

4.04 p.m. Mr Patsy McGlone left the meeting.

Agreed:    The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2012/431: The Rules of the Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) (Amendment No. 3) 2012 and has no objection to the Rule.

9. SR 2012/446 The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered Statutory Rule No. 2012/446 The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 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 considered Statutory Rule 2012/446 The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the Rule.

10. Compensation Agency Strategic Review Update

The Committee noted the findings and recommendations of a Review of the Compensation Agency to assess the scope for enhancing the delivery of compensation schemes to victims of crime

11. Community Safety Strategy Action Plans 

The Committee noted the Community Safety Strategy Action Plans for each of the eight strands of the Strategy and the intention of the Department of Justice to provide a written report on progress made against delivery of the action plans on an annual basis.

12. Correspondence

i The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice in relation to the Small Business Research Initiative.

ii The Committee noted additional information provided by the Department of Justice in relation to Magilligan prisoners’ home locations.

iii The Committee considered a response from the Department of Justice regarding Community Rescue Services.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Community Rescue Service for information.

iv The Committee considered a response from the NI Law Commission in relation to the consultation which is taking place by the Law Commissions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland entitled ‘Regulation of Health Care Professionals’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the matter back to the Law Commission for a response on whether social workers in Northern Ireland could/would be included in the consultation exercise.

v The Committee noted an invitation from the Minister of Justice to the launch of the Crimestoppers ‘Read the Signs’ campaign on Monday 21 January 2013 in Parliament Buildings.

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

13.  Chairman’s Business

The Chairman reminded Members that the Department of Justice had commenced a public consultation on proposals to reform publicly funded legal representation in civil and family cases with the aim of reducing legal aid expenditure in these areas and proposed that a research paper should be commissioned to assist the Committee’s scrutiny of this matter.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to commission a research paper on the position and issues in relation to civil legal aid in other jurisdictions including comparative information on legal aid expenditure.

14.  Any other business

None.

15. Date and time of next meeting 

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 24 January 2013 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.11 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
24 January 2013

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