Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 26 January 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

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

1.  Apologies

None.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2012.

3. Matters Arising

i.  The Committee noted an update on the consultation exercise with key stakeholders for the Committee’s response to the Department of Justice key commitments in the Programme for Government.

The Chairman informed the Committee that its response to the consultation on the Programme for Government 2011-2015 will be considered at next week’s meeting. 

ii. The Chairman informed the Committee that two Freedom of Information requests had been received for information considered by the Committee on the Police Injury on Duty Scheme.

2.06 p.m. Mr Weir joined the meeting.

4.  Briefing by representatives of the Security Industry Authority

Baroness Henig, SIA Chairman, Bill Butler, Chief Executive, Sir Desmond Rae, SIA Board Advisor and Dave Humphries, Director Compliance, Intelligence & Communication, joined the meeting at 2.08 p.m.

The officials briefed the Committee on the work of the Security Industry Authority.

A question and answer session followed covering issues such as the implications for Northern Ireland of the Home Office proposals; the views of the SIA officials on the need for the burden of licencing to be shifted from the individual to the organisation; and the views of the SIA on the Department of Justice consultation on future regulation of the Private Security Industry in Northern Ireland. 

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

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

5.  Discussion on Draft pre-consultation document on future regulation of the Private Security Industry in Northern Ireland

The Committee considered and was content with Department of Justice proposals to consult on the future of the private security industry in Northern Ireland.

6. Briefing on Legal Aid Reform - Recovery of Defence Cost Orders (RDCOs)

Robert Crawford, Deputy Director of Public Legal Services Division and John Halliday, Public Legal Services Division, joined the meeting at 2.44 p.m.

The officials briefed the Committee on proposals to introduce a defence costs recovery scheme in relation to defendants in Crown Court cases.

A question and answer session followed covering issues such as the financial savings envisaged by the introduction of the proposals; whether the proposals will apply to the Crown Court and the Magistrate’s Court and whether the Court of Appeal will be included; and the point in a court case where the process would begin to recovery costs.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

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

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it is content with the Department of Justice proposals to introduce Recovery of Defence Cost Orders

3.42 p.m. Mr Wells left the meeting.

7.  Briefing on the draft consultation paper on the future operation of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

David Hughes, Head of Policing Policy and Strategy Division and Mandy Morrison, Policing Policy and Strategy Division, joined the meeting at 3.45 p.m.

The Chairman advised that, during the briefing, the Committee may wish to refer to the Police Ombudsman’s Statutory Review of his Office at the next agenda item.

The officials briefed the Committee on the draft consultation paper on the future operation of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

A question and answer session followed covering issues such as the options for the future accountability of the Police Ombudsman; the officials views on why questions have been included in the consultation document about the Police Ombudsman having a police background but none on whether he should have a judicial background; consideration of whether the consultation document should include questions on the future of the Historical Enquiry Team in the Police Ombudsman’s Office; the officials views on how options for the future operation of the Police Ombudsman would work; and whether the consultation report should refer to the previous reports into the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

4.13 p.m. Mr McCrea left the meeting.

4.26 p.m. Mr Wells rejoined the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

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

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Justice for clarification on issues raised during the briefing.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice seeking a copy of the legal advice received by the Police Ombudsman.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a briefing from the acting Chief Executive of the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

8. Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Statutory Review Report 

The Committee considered the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Statutory Review Report.

9. The Secretary of State’s Direction Under Section 1A(7) of the Prison Act (NI) 1953 as amended by schedule 4 of the Northern Ireland Act (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010

The Committee considered a briefing paper by the Department of Justice detailing the nature of the direction under Section 1A(7) of the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953 as amended by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice seeking the legal advice received on this matter.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a briefing from Prison Service officials on this matter.

10.  The High Cost of Car Insurance in Northern Ireland

The Committee considered correspondence form the Minister of Justice regarding the High Cost of Car Insurance in Northern Ireland. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for the Environment for a copy of the Hansard of its consideration of this matter. 

11.  Review of Judicial Appointments in Northern Ireland

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider the Review of Judicial Appointments in Northern Ireland at its meeting on 2 February 2012.

12.  SL1 – PSNI and PSNI Reserve (Injury Benefit) (Amendment) 2012

The Committee considered proposals to insert a new definition of adult survivor into the PSNI and PSNI Reserve (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that they are content with the proposal for the Statutory Rule.

13.  Statutory Rule No 2011/428 The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Review of Sentencing) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Committee considered a response from the Department of Justice regarding the 28 day time limit for referral of a case to the Court of Appeal.

The Committee considered Statutory Rule No SR 2011/428 which ensures that certain sexual offences introduced by the Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008 can be referred by the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Court of Appeal if the sentence passed appears unduly lenient.  The Statutory Rule also revokes certain  provisions from the Criminal Justice Act 1998 (Reviews of Sentencing) Order (Northern Ireland) 1996 which were re-enacted as part of a consolidation exercise in the Criminal Justice Act 1998 (Reviews of Sentencing) Order 2006 but remained listed in the 1996 Order.

Agreed: The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule No 2011/428 The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Review of Sentencing) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 and had no objection to the Rule.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice asking if he had any plans to review the legislation for the 28 day time limit for referral to the Court of Appeal.

14.   Correspondence

 

i. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to the Committee’s request for the level of awareness of the Children’s and Young People’s strategy outcome model.

ii. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to the Committee’s request for information on the Educational Courses at Maghaberry Prison.

iii. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to the Committee’s request for information on the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland report on the use of Legal Services.

iv. The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Office of First Minster and Deputy First Minister regarding the Recruitment Process for the next Police Ombudsman.

v. The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Monitoring of Departmental Saving Delivery Plans.

vi. The Committee considered the 2011-2012 January Monitoring Round Statement to the Assembly by the Minister for Finance and Personnel.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Public Prosecution Service for clarification on the £2.6 Million pay pressure in the monitoring round.

 vii. The Committee noted correspondence from Skills for Justice, requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee on its work.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite Skills for Justice to brief the Committee as part of its Inquiry.

viii. The Committee noted correspondence from a Mr Hammond regarding delays in NICS pay awards to PSNI civilian staff.

 ix. The Committee considered correspondence from an Ms Sharon Douglas regarding conditions within Northern Ireland Prisons.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the letter to the Department of Justice with a request that it responds direct to Ms Douglas regarding her concerns and provides the Committee with a copy of its response.

x. The Committee noted the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report for the Department of Justice – January 2012.

xi. The Committee considered a report from the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland on the Retention and Disposal Schedule.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Prisoner Ombudsman seeking further information on the Retention and Disposal Schedule.

xii. The Committee considered correspondence from a retired injured Member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary regarding an Injury on Duty Award scheme raising issues about evidence received by the Committee from officials who briefed the Committee on the police injury award scheme. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed to the Department seeking further information on the issues raised.

15.  Chairman’s Business

None.

16.  Any other business

None.

17.  Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 2 February at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.54 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
2 February 2012

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