Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 20 September 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at ­­­­­­­­­­­2.05p.m. in public session.

1.     Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2.     Draft minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2012.

3.    Matters Arising

i    Members noted information from Assembly Research Services on the percentage of cases in Scotland which needed to be extended beyond the 140-day statutory time limit.

ii   Members noted an updated forward work programme which reflected the briefings agreed by the Committee at its meeting on 13 September 2012.

iii Members noted that the motion to extend the  Committee Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill had been scheduled for the Plenary sitting on Monday 24 September 2012.

iv  The Chairman informed Members that the Central Committee Office would provide details of Members’ attendance figures to individual party whips and highlight that the Committee for Justice and the Committee for Regional Development had expressed concern that the figures, in their current state, did not accurately reflect the full picture and that a footnote should be inserted highlighting reasons for non-attendance. The Chairman advised that the intention was to proceed to publish the figures without the footnote unless the party whips indicated otherwise and Members should therefore raise the matter with them.

4.    Briefing by Assembly Researcher: EU Directive on Human Trafficking

2.07p.m. Jim Wells and Tom Elliott joined the meeting

2.08p.m. Raymond McCartney joined the meeting

2.12p.m. Alban Maginness joined the meeting

Fiona O’Connell, Assembly Researcher, joined the meeting at 2.07 p.m.

Ms O’Connell outlined the key points in her research paper on the issues raised by respondents to the Department’s legislative proposals on human trafficking in order to comply with the EU Directive and answer Members’ questions. Ms O’Connell agreed to provide the Committee with further information on the level of prostitution in those countries where stringent legislation is in place and the associated impacts.

The Chairman thanked Ms O’Connell for the briefing and she left the meeting.

5.    Criminal Justice Bill: Human Trafficking Clauses  

Simon Rogers, Deputy Director, Protection & Organised Crime Division, DOJ; Debbie Pritchard, Head of Human Trafficking Branch, DOJ; and Ian Kerr, Criminal Justice Bill Manager, DOJ joined the meeting at 2.19p.m.

The officials outlined the nature and purpose of clauses 5 and 6 of the Criminal Justice Bill which relate to trafficking people for exploitation.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the reasons why the proposed sentence in the Bill under summary conviction for the new offences was lower than that proposed in the consultation document; whether it was possible for a person convicted of the new offences to receive only a fine; the reasons why the Department has not introduced a minimum custodial sentence for the new offences; the merits or otherwise of introducing a single piece of legislation or a legislative guide; legal redress for unduly lenient sentences; the circumstances which would determine whether a case is taken to the Magistrates’ or Crown Court; the areas of the Bill that go beyond that which is required under the EU Directive; the progress of legislation in the Republic of Ireland to implement the EU Directive; and trafficking outside the UK for sexual exploitation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer any outstanding issues in relation to clauses 5 and 6 to the Department for a written response.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked Mr Rogers, Ms Pritchard and Mr Kerr for the briefing. Ms Pritchard and Mr Kerr left the meeting.

6.    Criminal Justice Bill: Organised Crime Task Force Immigration and Human Trafficking Sub-Group

Simon Rogers, Deputy Director, Protection & Organised Crime Division, DOJ was joined by Detective Superintendent Phil Marshall, PSNI, Chair of the Immigration and Human Trafficking Subgroup; Mike Golden, UK Border Agency; and Dawn Harmon, Community Safety Unit, DOJ at 2.56p.m.

The officials outlined the position of the Organised Crime Task Force Immigration and Human Trafficking Sub-Group on issues raised in relation to human trafficking as part of the Department’s consultation on the proposed legislative amendments and additional work being taken forward.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: how effective the PSNI is in arresting and convicting traffickers; the support services that are available to victims of trafficking; the range of actions that are taken at borders and points of entry including national profiling; joint working with the Republic of Ireland; and access to legal aid for victims of trafficking.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked Mr Rogers, Detective Superintendent Marshall, Mr Golden and Ms Harmon for the briefing and they left the meeting.         

7.    SL1: PACE Code C, E, F and H Revisions       

David Hughes, Head of Policing and Strategy Division, DOJ; Coleen Doak, Policing Policy and Strategy Division, DOJ; Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum, District Commander, PSNI; and Yvonne Cooke, Head of Custody Healthcare/Reducing Offending, PSNI joined the meeting at 3.37p.m.

The officials briefed the Committee on the proposed Statutory Rule which seeks to bring into operation revised PACE Codes of Practice C, E, F and H.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the reasons for introducing guidance for 28 days detention when the maximum period for pre-charge detention is 14 days; the introduction of post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects; the definition of an appropriate healthcare professional and who makes the decision on which healthcare professional is appropriate; the practical application of a secure digital network for digital audio recording of police interviews with suspects; the practicial application of a secure digital network for the digital video recording with sound of police interviews with suspects; and the risk of legal challenge if the Codes do not reflect current statute.

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that it was content with those areas of the revised PACE Codes that would enable the wider use of other appropriate healthcare professionals in police custody suites to complement the role of the Forensic Medical Officer, and those that covered the use of a secure digital network for digital audio, and video recording with sound, of police interviews with suspects and operational requirements for the handling of recordings.

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that departmental officials should return to the Committee with further proposals on the other areas based on the Committee’s discussions.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked Mr Hughes, Ms Doak, Chief Superintendent McCrum and Ms Cooke for the briefing and they left the meeting.

8.    Criminal Justice Bill: Delegated Powers 

The Committee considered a report by the Examiner of Statutory Rules on the Department’s Memorandum on Delegated Powers contained in the Criminal Justice Bill, and the issues he raised in relation to new Article 63D(5)(c) and (13) of PACE as inserted by Schedule 2.

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to request a briefing from the Department on the reasons for the proposed use of delegated legislation in relation to Article 63D(5)(c) and the issues highlighted by the Examiner of Statutory Rules.

9.    S.R. 2012/318 Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered Statutory Rule 2012/318 Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 which seeks to ensure existing safeguarding arrangements and levels for people working with children or vulnerable groups; to facilitate the provision of enhanced disclosure certificates to those providing advocacy services to vulnerable adults; to update outdated references to health care professionals; and to close gaps in the law relating to the Financial Services Authority’s ability to take account of spent convictions for those working in specified positions in the financial services industry and to make a technical adjustment to maintain existing arrangements.

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no issues to raise with regard to the technical aspects of the Statutory Rule.

Agreed:    The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2012/318 Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the rule.

4.10p.m. Tom Elliott left the meeting.

10.  S.R. 2012/231 The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Tom Clarke, Access NI General Manager, DOJ joined the meeting at 4.12p.m.

The Committee considered Statutory Rule 2012/231 The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 which seeks to ensure existing safeguarding arrangements and levels for people working with children or vulnerable groups; to facilitate the provision of enhanced disclosure certificates to those providing advocacy services to vulnerable adults; and to change the definition of a relevant police force as it applies to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the Police Act 1997 Criminal Record (Disclosure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008.

The Committee noted that there had been no changes to the policy content since the SL1 had been referred by the Department however the PSNI had raised some concerns about the  iPLX database searched by AccessNI to determine whether information on an individual was available.

A question and answer session followed during which Mr Clarke covered issues including the safeguards that are in place to ensure that enhanced checks would be carried out where necessary; the flexibility that exists within the legislation to allow the old system to operate while the new system is being tested; and the possibility of reversion to the old system if errors are uncovered.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no issues to raise with regard to the technical aspects of the Statutory Rule.

Agreed:    The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2012/231 The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the rule.

The Chairman thanked Mr Clarke for his attendance and he left the meeting.

11.  S.R. 2012/235 The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Prescribed Police Stations) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered Statutory Rule 2012/235 The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Prescribed Police Stations) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 which seeks to make minor changes to the list of PSNI police stations where convicted sex offenders can attend, in order to notify their personal details to police, as required under the statutory notification arrangements of the 2003 Act.

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no issues to raise with regard to the technical aspects of the Statutory Rule. 

Agreed:    The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2012/235 The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Prescribed Police Stations) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and has no objection to the rule.

12.  Automatic Enrolment Draft Consultation Paper: The Police Pension (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013

The Committee noted a copy of the draft regulations to make amendments to the Police Pension Regulations 2009 on which the Department intends to consult between 24 September and 6 December 2012.  

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to consider the SL1 on the draft proposals when the results of the consultation exercise are available.

13.  County Court (Amendment) Rules – Time Limits for Compromise Agreements in Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunals 

The Committee considered the County Court (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2012 regarding time limits for applications in relation to compromise agreements in Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunals.

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that it was content with the County Court (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2012.

14.  Draft guidance for the PSNI on temporary closure of licensed premises and registered clubs

The Committee considered draft guidance for the PSNI on the temporary closure of licensed premises and registered clubs and noted that the Committee for Social Development was content with it.

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that it was content with the draft guidance for the PSNI on temporary closure of licensed premises and registered clubs.

15.  Correspondence

i      The Committee noted that the Minister of Justice would make a Statement to the Assembly on the Youth Justice Review on 23 October 2012.

ii     The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the ratification of the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children.    

iii    The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the publication of the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) assessment of the measures being taken by the United Kingdom to implement the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking.

iv    The Committee noted correspondence from the Women’s Aid Federation NI providing its views on the Department of Justice’s proposed joint ‘Tackling Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Action Plan 2012-13’.

v     The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister regarding the Executive’s European Priorities 2012-13 Implementation Plan.

vi    The Committee noted correspondence from the Northern Ireland Policing Board regarding the Rebecca McKeown case.

vii   The Committee noted corrrespondence from the Bar Council in relation to Very High Cost Cases.

viii  The Committee noted correspondence from the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission regarding the appointment of two County Court Judges.

ix    The Committee noted an invitation from the Minister of Justice to an  event ‘Tackling Trafficking Together’ which seeks to mark EU Anti-Trafficking/Anti-Slavery Day on Thursday 18 October 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that any Member wishing to attend the event should contact the Committee Clerk.

x     The Committee noted an invitation from the Probation Board to the launch of the PBNI DVD explaining the work that it does within the justice system on Thursday 4 October.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that any Member wishing to attend the event should contact the Committee Clerk.

16.  Chairman’s Business

The Chairman informed Members that he would attend the Law Society Council dinner on Friday 28 September in his capacity as Chairman.

Members noted that a meeting to discuss the formation of an All-Party Group on Motor Insurance had been scheduled for Tuesday 9 October. The formation of an ad-hoc committee to consider the issue may not therefore be required.

The Chairman informed Members that he had attended a BASC Firearms Dealers evening to discuss the proposed changes to firearms fees and licensing during which a large number of issues were raised

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that there would be an opportunity to consider the issues when the results of the Department’s consultation and its proposals on the way forward are available.

17.  Any other business

None.

18.  Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 27 September 2012 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.36 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
27 September 2012

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