Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 08 September 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber

The meeting commenced at 2.02 p.m. in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft minutes of the meetings held on 28 June and 30 June 2011

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meetings held on 28 June and 30 June 2011 .

3. Matters Arising

(i) The Committee noted an update from the Department of Justice on the Legal Aid Dispute and the ending of the withdrawal action by solicitors.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Justice seeking information on the projected costs of the proposed new fees.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Bar Council and the Law Society regarding the intention to undertake a formal review of the fees in the normal way, after 2 years, rather than the earlier review that had been considered.

(ii) The Committee noted the entry in to the Register of Members’ Interests of each Member of the Committee.

(iii) The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to its request for clarification of how the Minister of Justice would advise the Committee each time he intends to exercise his functions under sections 29 and 32 of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 on transferred matters.

(iv) The Committee noted a response fromthe Department of Justice to its request for clarification of issues raised by a Mr Hammond regarding Equal Pay Claims for PSNI support staff and delays in NICS pay awards to PSNI civilian staff.

Agreed:The Committee agreed towrite to the Department of Justice requesting an update on the outcome of the 5 August meeting between departmental officials and the PSNI on the Equal Pay Claims.

Agreed:The Committee agreed to send a copy of the correspondence from the Department to Mr Hammond and to other individuals who had written to the Committee on the Equal pay Claims.

(v) The Committee noted a response fromthe Department of Justice to its request for information regarding the Proposed Commencement Order: Corporate Manslaughter: Custody/Detention.

(vi) The Committee notedMs Sunita Mason’s Report, A Managed Approach: Part One – A Review of the Criminal Records Regime in Northern Ireland.

(vii) The Committee noted a response fromthe Department of Justice to concerns it had raised regarding a proposal to make a Statutory Rule to amend Access NI regulations to improve its operational service.

4. Briefing on final legislative proposals for the retention and destruction of DNA and fingerprints in Northern Ireland

David Hughes, Deputy Director of Policing Policy and Strategy Division and Alan Tipping, Ian Kerr and Gary Dodds, Police Powers and Custody Branch, joined the meeting at 2.10 p.m.

The officials briefed the Committee on the final legislative proposals for the retention and destruction of DNA and fingerprints in Northern Ireland .

A question and answer session followed covering issues including why the destruction of photographs had not been included in the legislative proposals; the differences between proposals and the Scottish system and the timescale for the subordinate legislation setting out the proscribed circumstances; the rationale for proposing a single two year extension rather than a rolling extension as in Scotland; how the proposals impact on the presumption of innocence in the legal system; and issues relating to the storage and overall reliability of DNA evidence.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

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

5. Committee for Justice Draft Forward Work programme

The Committee considered a draft work programme for September and October 2011. The Chairman advised Members that the Minister of Justice would provide an embargoed copy of the Access to Justice Review report on Monday 12 September 2011 prior to the publication of it on Tuesday 13 September 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the programme for September and October 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to request information on the timescales for consideration of the draft Programme for Government.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to take agenda item 9 Chairman’s Business, Agenda Item 10 Correspondence and Agenda Item 11 Any Other Business next.

6. Chairman’s Business

(i) The Chairman informed Members that he had met with representatives of Cruse Bereavement Care to discuss the delivery of the Cruse Prison Support Service across the three prisons in Northern Ireland and a proposed reduction in funding by the Prison Service.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice regarding the possible 20% reduction in funding.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite representatives of Cruse to attend the next Committee informal event to brief Members on its work.

(ii) The Chairman informed Members that he had met with representatives from the Consumer Council and the issue of the high cost of car insurance for consumers in Northern Ireland was discussed.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice regarding what actions he intended to take in response to the issues raised by the Consumer Council.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Law Society seeking information on the issues raised and initiatives it had taken to improve the handling of car accident claims.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to commission a research paper on relevant justice issues relating to car insurance for consumers in Northern Ireland.

(iii) The Chairman advised Members that he had received a number of complaints from individuals regarding issues surrounding the administration and handling of the RUC part-time gratuity payments and he intended to schedule a briefing with departmental officials on the matter into the work programme.

(iv) The Chairman informed Members that he and the Deputy Chairman had a meeting with the Minister of Justice on Monday 5 September to discuss the timing of key work items including the 3 major Reviews and the proposed Justice Bill.

(v) The Chairman raised the issue of the filming of court proceedings.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice regarding what consideration he was giving to the filming of court proceedings in Northern Ireland and the likely parameters.

7. Correspondence

(i) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the Magistrates’ Courts (Civil Jurisdiction and Judgements Act 1982) (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2011.

(ii) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the Rules of the Court of Judicature (Amendment No.2) (Northern Ireland) 2011.

(iii) The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to its request for clarification on why the Department was commencing section 98 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 rather than waiting for the outcome of the High Court proceedings.

(iv) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the development of a consultation paper by the NI Courts and Tribunals Service on the closure of Hearing Centres.

(v) The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to its request for information on the likely timescale for the tidying up Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions Order

(vi) The Committee noted Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) Statistical Bulletins for April to June 2011.

(vii) The Committee noted a response from the Department of Justice to its request for information on compensation for victims of sexual abuse.

(viii) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the Appointment Process for an “Appointed Person” under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

(ix) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the intention to formalise DNA Database Governance Arrangements.

(x) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing a copy of the revised version of guidance for agencies on public protection arrangements.

(xi) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice advising of the re-appointment of the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice.

(xii) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the attendance of Department of Justice officials at the meeting of the Committee for Social Development on 8 September on the Collaborative Working in Disadvantaged Areas Initiative.

(xiii) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice regarding the publication of the Youth Justice Agency Statistical Bulletin No 4/2011: Provisional Quarterly Workload Statistics: April-June 2011.

(xiv) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing a copy of the Department of Justice Resource Accounts 2010-11.

(xv) The Committee considered correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for the Environment enclosing a letter to the Department of Justice regarding Gorse Fires.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department of Justice.

(xvi) The Committee noted correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister regarding actions arising from the European issues event on 20 June 2011 and providing a copy of the Executive’s European Priorities paper.

(xvii) The Committee considered correspondence from a Ms O Neill regarding Victim Support Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the correspondence to the Department of Justice with a request that it responds direct to Ms O’Neill regarding her concerns and provides the Committee with a copy of its response.

(xviii) The Committee considered a response from the Northern Ireland Policing Board regarding Proposals to Reform the Police Injury (IOD) Pension Scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Policing Board requesting further comments in due course when it had considered the new draft scheme.

(xix) The Committee considered correspondence from a Ms Douglas regarding the situation at Roe House.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the correspondence 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.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request an update on the current position with regard to the agreement.

(xx) The Committee considered correspondence from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People regarding the 2011 Participation Awards.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to send the information to the Department of Justice.

(xxi) The Committee noted the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report for the Department of Justice – August 2011.

(xxii) The Committee noted the Criminal Justice Inspection Report: A follow-up review of the Community Restorative Justice Ireland community restorative justice schemes.

8. Any Other Business

(i) The Committee considered a proposal from a member to visit to the Forensic Science Laboratory

Agreed: The Committee agreed that a visit to the Forensic Science Laboratory should be scheduled into the work programme.

(ii) The issue of Non-Molestation Orders being issued by civilian organisations instead of the PSNI was raised.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Justice to request information on this issue

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the PSNI seeking its views on the matter.

9. Briefing by the Chief Inspector, on the Criminal Justice Inspectorate report on the independence of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection NI, Brendan McGuigan, Deputy Chief Inspector and Bill Priestley, Lead Inspector, joined the meeting at 2.56 p.m.

Dr Maguire briefed the Committee on the findings and recommendations of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate report into the independence of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Mr McCrea declared an interest as a previous Chair of the Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee for the Policing Board which had interaction with the Ombudsman and his staff on a professional basis.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including the conclusions and recommendations reached in the report; the handling of historical cases by the Ombudsman’s Office including influence exerted by different bodies; how public confidence in the Office of the Police Ombudsman could be ensured and the level of confidence in the handling of current cases.

The Chairman thanked Dr Michael Maguire , Brendan McGuigan and Bill Priestley for the briefing and they left the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

10. Briefing by the Police Ombudsman on the findings of the CJI Report

Mr Al Hutchinson, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Olwen Laird, Acting Chief Executive and Peter O’Sullivan, Acting Senior Director of Investigations, Office of the Police Ombudsman, joined the meeting at 4.22 p.m.

Mr Hutchinson briefed the Committee on his response to the findings of the CJI Report and other recent reports into his office.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including the conclusions and recommendations reached in the CJI report; the handling of historical cases by the Ombudsman’s Office including the influence exerted by different bodies; the relationships between senior officials in the office; the Ombudsman’s timescale for leaving office; whether there was a need for a body to oversee the Ombudsman’s Office and the need to ensure public confidence in the office and how this could be achieved.

The Chairman thanked Al Hutchinson, Olwen Laird and Peter O’Sullivan for the briefing and they left the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The meeting was suspended at 5.50 p.m.

The meeting resumed at 6.05 p.m. in public session.

Present:
Mr Paul Givan MLA (Chairman)
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA (Deputy Chairman)
Mr Sydney Anderson MLA
Mr Stewart Dickson MLA
Mr Sean Lynch MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Ms Jennifer McCann MLA
Mr Basil McCrea MLA
Mr Peter Weir MLA

In Attendance:
Mrs Christine Darrah (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Roisin Donnelly (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Vincent Gribbin (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Joe Westland (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Kevin Marks (Clerical Officer)

11. Briefing by the Minister of Justice on the CJI report

The Minister of Justice, David Ford, Peter May, Director of Policing and Community Safety and David Hughes, Deputy Director of Policing Policy and Strategy Division, joined the meeting at 6.05 p.m.

The Minister of Justice briefed the Committee on his response to the findings of the CJI report and provided an up-date on the work being taken forward as a result of the findings of the Tony McCusker report.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including the conclusions and recommendations reached in the CJI report; the need for consideration to be given to a public debate on dealing with the issues of the past; where responsibility sits for the appointment of a Police Ombudsman; the need to ensure public confidence in the office and how this could be achieved; and how long cases would remain on hold.

6.51 p.m. Mr Wells joined the meeting.

The Chairman thanked the Minister of Justice, Peter May and David Hughes for the briefing and they left the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

12. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 15 September 2011 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

7.05 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Deputy Chairman, Committee for Justice
15 September 2011

Find Your MLA

tools-map.png

Locate your local MLA

Find MLA

News and Media Centre

tools-media.png

Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

tools-social.png

Keep up to date with what’s happening at the Assem

Find out more

Contact information

tools-newsletter.png

Contact us for further information about our work.

Contact us