Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 25 October 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

Agreed: The Committee agreed to commence the meeting in closed session.

The meeting commenced at 2.03 p.m. in closed session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to bring forward agenda item 3, Matters Arising.

1.      Matters Arising

Hugh Widdis, Assembly Director of Legal and Governance Services joined the meeting at 2.03 p.m.  Mr Widdis updated the Committee on engagement with the Office of the Attorney General in relation to the letter on the Marie Stopes private clinic and answered Members’ questions.

The Chairman thanked Mr Widdis for the update and he left the meeting.

The meeting moved into public session at 2.20 p.m.

2.      Apologies

None.

3.      Draft minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 18 October 2012 subject to two amendments to add the words ‘and legal advisers’ after ‘Assembly officials’ in the third and fourth agreed action points under Chairman’s Business.

4.      Matters Arising (continued)

2.23 p.m. Raymond McCartney joined the meeting.

The Chairman advised Members that a letter inviting representatives of the Marie Stopes Clinic to attend a meeting of the Committee to outline how it will comply with the criminal law in relation to abortion in Northern Ireland had issued.

2.26 p.m. Rosaleen McCorley left the meeting.

Members discussed a number of issues relating to how the Attorney General for Northern Ireland could assist the Committee on the matter.

5.      Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland Reports

The Management of Life and Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners in Northern Ireland

Brendan McGuigan, Acting Chief Inspector and Tom McGonigle, Lead Inspector, Criminal Justice Inspection joined the meeting at 2.34 p.m.

The Chairman congratulated Mr McGuigan on his appointment as Acting Chief Inspector.

Mr McGuigan outlined the key findings and recommendations in the report on the Management of Life and Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners in Northern Ireland.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the circumstances in which life prisoners are recalled to prison and the reasons for recall; the purpose of the Probation Board’s serious case reviews; the importance of rehabilitation services; the approaches adopted by the Prison Service and the Probation Board in relation to the provision of psychology services and facilities; how to achieve better integration of Prison/Probation psychology services;  the impact of non-implementation of the report recommendations; the role played by Magilligan Prison; collaboration with the Health Service; and training for Prison Service and Probation Board staff.

The Chairman thanked Mr McGonigle for the briefing and he left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

Policing with the Community: A Follow-up Review of Inspection Recommendations

Bill Priestley, Lead Inspector, Criminal Justice Inspection joined Brendan McGuigan, Acting Chief Inspector at the table at 3.00 p.m.

Mr McGuigan outlined the key findings and recommendations in the report on Policing with the Community: A Follow-up Review of Inspection Recommendations.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the PSNI call management strategy; the requirement for good management of calls and the targets set; the use of civilian staff as call handlers; how the unsuccessful management of calls impacts upon community confidence; the position in relation to Community Support Officers;  the role of neighbourhood officers and the necessity for continuity; career opportunities and recognition for neighbourhood police officers; and the role of the Policing Board in influencing delivery of policing in the community.

The Chairman thanked Mr Priestly for the briefing and he left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

Anti-social behaviour: An Inspection of the Criminal Justice System’s Approach to Addressing Anti-Social Behaviour in Northern Ireland

Rachel Lindsay, Lead Inspector, Criminal Justice Inspection joined Brendan McGuigan, Acting Chief Inspector at the table at 3.29 p.m.

Mr McGuigan outlined the key findings and recommendations in the report on Anti-Social Behaviour: An Inspection of the Criminal Justice System’s Approach to Addressing Anti-Social Behaviour in Northern Ireland.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: whether the use of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) have been effective; reasons why ASBOs have not been widely used in Northern Ireland; the experience of the use of ASBOs in England and Wales; the processes involved in obtaining an ASBO; the variations in numbers of applications for ASBOs between council areas; the difference between criminal behaviour and anti-social behaviour; the role of the PCSPs to educate on issues around anti-social behaviour and in delivering the community safety strategy; early youth intervention and available funding; and the need for a multi-agency approach to tackling anti-social behaviour.

The Chairman thanked Mr McGuigan and Ms Lindsay for the briefing and they left the meeting.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a copy of the responses to the recommendations contained within each of the three reports from the Department of Justice.

AgreedThe Committee agreed to schedule a briefing by the NI Prison Service and the Probation Board on the management of Life and Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners into the work programme in due course.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to give further consideration to a briefing by the PSNI in relation to addressing anti-social behaviour.

6.    Update on Delivery of Prison Reform

Sue McCallister, Director General, Mark Adam, Strategic Change Manager, Ronnie Armour, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development and Max Murray, Director of Offender Services, Northern Ireland Prison Service joined the meeting at 3.56 p.m.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing an update on recent developments within the Northern Ireland Prison Service in relation to Prisoner Escorting and Court Custody Service and Custody Officer Recruitment Statistics.

The officials provided an update on the delivery of Prison Reform.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: progress on the consultation on the Prison Estate Strategy; the future of Magilligan Prison and the likely impact of any decision to close it; issues relating to the implementation of the new Target Operating Model; the availability of illegal drugs and prescription drugs within prisons and actions to address this; technological alternatives to full body searching and the effectiveness of these; the role of the South Eastern Trust in the management of health care in prisons; prisoner escorting and court custody service; statistics relating to the custody officer recruitment competition; the process of awarding the recruitment contract; how the Prison Service intends to encourage applications from the Catholic community; the training and support available to new recruits; and progress on the exit scheme for serving Prison Officers.

4.25 p.m. Alex Easton left the meeting.

4.25 p.m. William Humphrey left the meeting.

4.35 p.m. The Chairman left the meeting and the Deputy Chairman took the Chair.

4.40 p.m. The Chairman rejoined the meeting and took the Chair.

4.52 p.m. Patsy McGlone left the meeting.

The officials agreed to provide further statistical information in relation to a previous recruitment competition.

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

7.    Briefing on the Consultation Responses on the Code of Practice on the Exercise of Functions by Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and District Policing Community Safety Partnerships

SL1: Policing and Community Safety Partnerships Designation Order: Appointment of Designated Organisations to Policing and Community Safety Partnerships

Declan McGeown, Head of Community Safety Unit, Department of Justice, Nichola Creagh, PCSP Implementation Project Manager, Department of Justice, Sam Pollock, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Policing Board and Amanda Stewart, Acting Director, Planning, Performance and Partnerships, Northern Ireland Policing Board joined the meeting at 4.52 p.m.

The officials outlined the consultation responses on the Code of Practice on the exercise of functions by Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and District Policing Community Safety Partnerships and a proposed Statutory Rule to appoint designated organisations to Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including: the proposed designated organisations; additional suggested designated organisations; voting rights of designated organisations; guidance for designated organisations; the obligations of designated organisations; how the PCSP and DPCSPs will work together; and the review arrangements in place to monitor the effectiveness of the Code.

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

The Committee noted the draft Code of Practice on the exercise of functions by Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and District Policing Community Safety Partnerships.

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

8.    SL1: Draft Juries (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered a proposal to make a Statutory Rule under powers conferred by Article 30(1) of the Juries (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 to up-date prescribed forms.

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

9.    SL1: The Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (Amendment) Regulations 2012

The Committee considered a proposal to make a Statutory Rule under powers contained in section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 in relation to firearms and ammunition except in relation to prohibited weapons and prohibited ammunitions to enable a person resident in Northern Ireland applying for a Visitor’s Firearms permit on behalf of another person to produce to the Chief Constable a copy of the European Firearms Pass as an alternative to the original document. 

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

4.52 p.m. Raymond McCartney left the meeting.

10SL1: The Draft Rules of the Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) (Amendment No.3) 2012

The Committee considered the Draft Rules of the Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) (Amendment No.3) 2012 which amend the Rules of the Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Rules 2012 to address a technical issue.

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that it was content with the proposed Court Rules.

11.  Consequential Amendment to Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1979

The Committee considered a proposal by the Minister of Justice to facilitate an amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1979 by Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT).

Agreed:     The Committee agreed that it was content with the planned course of action.

12.  Correspondence

i      The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding its planned action in response to the recently published Northern Ireland Law Commission Report on Bail in Criminal Proceedings.

ii     The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister of Justice providing further information requested in relation to a compensation claim.

iii    The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing a copy of a response to a Ms Harkin in relation to why the courts accepted a public case from a private citizen.

iv    The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding a High Court Application in relation to Court Funds Practice and Procedure.

v     The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister of Justice in relation to the appointment of serving councillors as independent members to the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) and welcomed the Minister’s acceptance that the intent of the Department’s Code of Practice for the appointment of independent members to PCSPs is that councillors should not normally be appointed as independent members and his commitment to consider the matter in greater detail as part of the broader review of the Code due to commence in 2013 with any necessary legislative amendments to be taken forward following the consultation process.

vi    The Committee considered correspondence from a Mr Barbour, OSCE Mission in Kosovo, regarding assistance with a study visit to Northern Ireland by members of the Kosovo Police Service to observe the PSNI’s delivery of Community Policing.

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to refer the letter to NIGAG regarding possible sources of funding for the visit.

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to meet with the delegation during the visit to Northern Ireland.

vii   The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety requesting information from the Department of Justice on programmes that tackle inequalities across the social gradient in the early years.

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department of Justice for a response on the issues raised.

viii  The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment providing an overview of the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s role in relation to the proposals contained in the proposed Private Members Bill on Scrap Metal Dealers.

ix    The Committee considered correspondence from the Department of Justice providing details of the key issues for discussion at the Police Negotiating Board meeting on 25 October 2012.

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to request further information on the terms and conditions for police officers in Northern Ireland that the temporary working party will examine.

13.  Chairman’s Business

The Chairman informed Members that he and the Deputy Chairman had received an invitation from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Officer for the Probation Board, Youth Justice Agency and the Prison Service to an awards presentation on Thursday 8 November 2012.  The Chairman advised that as this event clashed with the Committee’s regular weekly meeting a letter of apology would be sent explaining the reason why a representative of the Committee was unable to attend.

14.  Any other business

None.

15.  Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 8 November 2012 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

5.25 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
8 November 2012

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