Committee Looks Forward to Challenges Ahead

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 22 April 2010

Reference: Jus01/09/10

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Justice met today in Parliament Buildings for the first time.

Committee Chairman, Lord Morrow MLA, welcomed the Minister of Justice, David Ford, and the Permanent Secretary, Nick Perry, to the meeting where they briefed members on the key strategic issues and challenges facing the Department.

Speaking after the meeting Lord Morrow said: “The Committee will play a vital role in advising the Minister of Justice on the development of policies and plans for the Department of Justice. The Committee will scrutinise the work of the Department, proposed legislation and the overall budget allocations and we now have the opportunity to introduce transparency and accountability across the new Justice Department.

The Committee found this initial briefing useful as a means of informing our work programme up to the summer recess. The Department of Justice has a broad range of responsibilities and it is clear that there are a number of key issues such as addressing delays in the criminal justice system, improving services for victims, Legal Aid reform and prison issues including the cost of keeping a prisoner, that need to be addressed urgently. The Committee therefore welcomes the intention of the Minister to initiate an early review of the regime at Maghaberry Prison as part of a wider review of the conditions of detention, management and oversight of all prisons.

Lord Morrow also highlighted that the Committee had raised with the Minister the current security situation and in particular the threat from dissident republicans.”

The Committee will meet weekly on Thursdays at 2.00 p.m. in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

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