Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 28 November 2011
Venue: Room 29
The meeting commenced at 12.06 p.m. in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
12.07 p.m. Mr Weir left the meeting.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2011
The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2011.
3. Matters Arising
i. The Committee noted an up-dated forward work programme for December 2011.
ii. The Committee noted the programme for the visit to Victim Support NI on Thursday, 1 December 2011 which was part of the Inquiry into the experiences of Victims and Witnesses of the Criminal Justice System.
4. Briefing on SL1 – Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008:Unduly Lenient Sentences
Gareth Johnston, Deputy Director of Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation, Tom Haire, Head of Criminal Law Branch and Amanda Patterson, Head of Public Protection Unit, Department of Justice, joined the meeting at 12.07 p.m.
The officials briefed the Committee on proposals to make a Statutory Rule to ensure that certain sexual offences introduced by the Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008 could be referred by the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Court of Appeal if the sentence passed appeared unduly lenient.
12.08 p.m. Mr Weir rejoined the meeting.
12.09 p.m. Mr McCartney joined the meeting.
12.11 p.m. Mr McCartney left the meeting.
12.14 p.m. Mr Weir left the meeting.
A brief question and answer session took place which clarified that the proposed Statutory Rule did not change the policy but was making a consequential amendment to bring the law back to the way it was in 2008 and that approving this proposed Statutory Rule would not constrain any changes to the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions that may arise from the current consultation on the Governance and Accountability of the PPS.
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 was content with the proposal for the Statutory Rule.
5. Statutory Rule No 2011/396 The Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (Costs) (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2011
The Committee considered Statutory Rule No 2011/396 which transferred responsibility for the determination of the costs payable under the Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 1992 Rules from the appropriate authority to the Legal Services Commission.
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 considered Statutory Rule No 2011/396 The Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (Costs) (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2011 and had no objection to the Rule.
6. NI Criminal Records Regime Review – Consultation on Part One
The Committee considered proposals by the Department of Justice to undertake a consultation exercise on some of the recommendation arising from the report on Part One of the NI Criminal Records Regime Review.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the consultation document to be published and to consider the issue further when the results of the consultation were available.
7. Tribunal Reform Discussion Paper on the Future Administration and Structure of the Tribunals in Northern Ireland.
The Committee noted a discussion paper from the Department of Justice on proposals for the reform of tribunal structures and systems and on which it intended to seek the views of organisations, groups and individuals. Policy proposals would be brought to the Committee for consideration in due course.
8. Proposal to Introduce an Early Removal Scheme for Foreign National Prisoners
The Committee considered a proposal from the Department of Justice to introduce an Early Removal Scheme for Foreign National Prisoners in NI prisons.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that detailed proposals should be drawn up and it would consider the issue further when they were available. >
i. The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to its request for further information on the cause of delay in agreeing new pay and conditions arrangements for the administrative staff working in the Probation Board for Northern Ireland.
ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding Home Office proposals to bring forward regulations to reduce the Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence fee and the annual Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) registration fee.
12.20 p.m. Mr Wells joined the meeting.
iii. The Committee noted a letter from Sir Leigh Lewis, Chairman of the Commission on a Bill of Rights regarding the recent meeting with the Commission on 9 November 2011
iv. The Committee considered correspondence from Kevin R Winters & Co. Solicitors regarding an issue raised by a client.
Agreed: The Committee noted that the issue did not fall within its remit and agreed to request a copy of any response issued by the Minister of Justice to the correspondence.
v. The Committee noted a statistical press release from NI Courts and Tribunals Service, providing statistics for writs and originating summonses issued, cases disposed and orders made in respect of mortgages in the Chancery Division of the Northern Ireland High Court for the second quarter of 2011.
vi. The Committee noted the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report for the Department of Justice – November 2011
vii. The Committee noted an invitation from Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland (PPANI) to the launch of the New PPANI Website. The date of the event had been changed to 15 December 2011 which was the date for the Committee Inquiry Evidence Event in Derry/Londonderry
viii. The Committee noted a copy of a letter from the General Secretary of NIPSA to the Speaker regarding the Public Service Strike Action due to take place on 30 November 2011.
10. Chairman’s Business
The Chairman informed the Committee that he had attended the launch of two NSPCC policy and research reports on: children as victims of abuse in the Criminal Justice System, and an analysis of PSNI statistics on children and young people as victims earlier in the day and commended NSPCC for its work and the PSNI for making available its statistical information. Both reports would provide valuable information for the Committee Inquiry.
11. Any other business
12. Date and time of next meeting
The Committee was undertaking a visit to Victim Support NI in Belfast on Thursday 1 December as part of the Inquiry into the experiences of Victims and Witnesses of the Criminal Justice System therefore the next meeting will be held on Thursday 8 December 2011 at 2.00p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.
12.23 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.
Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
8 December 2011