Lord Morrow MLA (Chairman)
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA (Deputy Chairman)
Mr Jonathan Bell MLA
Mr Tom Elliott MLA
Mrs Delores Kelly MLA
Mr David McNarry MLA
Ms Carál Ní Chuilín MLA
Mr Alastair Ross MLA
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)
Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mr John O’Dowd MLA
The meeting commenced at 2.03 p.m. in public session.
Agreed: The evidence sessions on the Policing and Community Safety Directorate, agenda item 4, Justice Policy Directorate, agenda item 5 and Justice Delivery Directorate, agenda item 6 should be recorded by Hansard.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 22 April 2010
Agreed: The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 22 April 2010.
2.06 p.m. Mr Elliott joined the meeting.
3. Matters arising
i. The Committee considered a proposal that Departmental officials who would be providing briefings and information on policing and justice matters should outline brief details of their background, experience and expertise.
Agreed: Such information would be helpful and at the beginning of each departmental briefing session officials would be invited to introduce themselves and provide a brief outline of their background, experience and expertise.
ii. The Hansard of the briefing by the Minister of Justice and the Permanent Secretary on 22 April on the main areas of responsibility and the key issues facing the Department of Justice had been circulated. The Committee noted that since the beginning of January 2010, 24 police officers had been forced to move home due to the threat from dissident republicans.
Agreed: The Chairman should write to the Minister of Justice seeking an assurance that appropriate resources are available to ensure that police officers forced to move home due to terrorist threats receive the full support and assistance necessary for their future protection and the protection of their families.
iii. The Committee noted an updated entry in the Registry of Members’ Interests relating to Mr Jonathan Bell MLA.
iv. The Committee noted copies of correspondence agreed at the meeting on 22 April 2010.
v. The Committee considered a proposal from the Minister of Justice to hold an informal meeting at an early opportunity to discuss the proposed Justice Bill.
Agreed: An informal meeting would provide an early opportunity to engage on the various elements that could potentially be including in a Justice Bill and arrangements should be made for this to take place.
vi. The Committee considered a revised forward work programme which highlighted several changes to the briefing sessions scheduled for 20 May 2010.
Agreed: The Committee agreed the revised work programme.
4. Overview briefing on the Policing and Community Safety Directorate and related NDPBs
Peter May, Director of Policing and Community Safety, Mark Goodfellow, Head of the Community Safety Unit, David Hughes, Head of Policing Policy and Strategy Division and Ronnie Armour, Head of Policing and Organised Crime Division, joined the meeting at 2.12 p.m.
The officials provided a briefing on the role and responsibilities and the key issues and challenges facing the Policing and Community Safety Directorate and answered questions from Members on a range of issues including: trends in rates of crime; policing resources; the proposed amalgamation of Community Safety Partnerships and District Policing Partnerships; funding of Community Safety Partnerships; AccessNI checks and vetting and barring arrangements; levels of antisocial behaviour; tackling organised crime; the role of the department in public order issues and use of less lethal weaponry; Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigations; and cross-departmental working arrangements.
During the question and answer session officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a range of issues.
The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
2.56 p.m. Mrs Kelly joined the meeting.
3.02 p.m. Mr McNarry left the meeting.
3.06 p.m. Ms Ní Chuilín left the meeting.
The Chairman thanked the Director of Policing and Community Safety and the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.
5. Overview briefing on the Justice Policy Directorate and related NDPBs
Carol Moore, Director of Justice Policy, Gareth Johnston, Head of Justice Strategy Division, Brian Grzymek, Head of Criminal Justice Services Division and Chris Matthews, Justice Development Divison joined the meeting at 3.20 p.m.
The officials provided a briefing on the role and responsibilities and the key issues and challenges facing the Justice Policy Directorate and answered questions from Members on a range of issues including: improving services for victims; sentencing policy; the future transfer of Civil Justice functions; progress to remove avoidable delay from the Criminal Justice System; a proposed offender levy; regulation of lawyers; and proposed changes to the law relating to sex offenders from other jurisdictions living in Northern Ireland.
During the question and answer session officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a number of issues.
The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
3.55 p.m. Mr Ross left the meeting.
4.05 p.m. Mr Ross rejoined the meeting.
4.06 p.m. Mr McCartney left the meeting.
The Chairman thanked the Director of Justice Policy and the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.
6. Overview briefing on the Justice Delivery Directorate andrelated NDPBs
Anthony Harbinson, Director of Justice Delivery, Karen Pearson, Head of Personnel and Office Services, Glyn Capper, Head of Financial Services and Ray Murray, Head of Information Systems joined the meeting at 4.07 p.m.
The officials provided a briefing on the role and responsibilities and the key issues and challenges facing the Justice Delivery Directorate and answered questions from Members on a range of issues relating to the budget and staffing for the Department of Justice.
The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
4.15 p.m. Mr McCartney rejoined the meeting.
4.16 p.m. Mrs Kelly left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that a briefing session on the Department of Justice budget and potential pressures should be scheduled prior to summer recess.
The Chairman thanked the Director of Justice Delivery and the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.
7. Chairman’s Business
i The Chairman advised members that he had accepted an invitation, as Chairman of the Committee, to speak on the role and work of the Committee in scrutiny, policy development and consultation with stakeholders with an interest in the criminal justice sector, at a conference on ‘Policing and Justice: Practical implications for the future’, organised by Agenda NI in partnership with the Law Society.
ii. The Chairman informed the Committee that the Chairman of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee, Mr Jimmy Spratt, was hoping to convene a meeting with the Chairmen of the Committee for Justice, the Committee on Procedures and the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to discuss outstanding issues relating to the reporting arrangements for the Attorney General and his/her accountability to the Assembly. Members would be kept informed of any discussions that took place.
i. The Committee noted a briefing paper by the Welcome Organisation on homelessness issues that had been referred by the Committee for Social Development.
ii. The Committee considered an invitation from Mr Michael Stitt QC to a reception in Stormont on 16 June 2010 for visiting US members of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to accept the invitation and members who wished to attend would advise the Clerk to the Committee.
iii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel seeking clarification of the position regarding the Northern Ireland Civil Service Equal Pay Settlement and staff in the Northern Ireland Office.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the Committee for Finance and Personnel’s letter to the Department of Justice for comment.
iv. The Committee noted correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister regarding a consultation paper on Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: The Clerk would consider what aspects of the consultation document may be relevant to the Committee for Justice and the matter would be discussed at a future meeting.
v. The Committee considered a request from the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) to brief the Committee on its ‘Programme for Prosperity’ document which identified a number of policy recommendations relation to policing and justice.
Agreed: The Committee agreedthat an informal lunchtime meeting with NIIRTA should be arranged to which all members of the Committee would be invited to attend.
Agreed: It was also agreed that, to ensure groups and organisations had an early opportunity to speak to the Committee, this approach should be adopted for other requests from organisations to brief the Committee on various policing and justice related issues.
vi. The Committee considered correspondence from the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee on the Board’s role and inviting the Committee to visit and meet with Board members and staff.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that a visit to the Probation Board to receive a briefing and meet Board members and staff should be scheduled into the work programme.
vii. The Committee noted information on a seminar entitled ‘How best should we deliver excellence in Policing and Justice’ to be held in Belfast on 21 May 2010.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that any member interested in attending the seminar should contact the Clerk to the Committee.
9. Any Other Business
10. Date and Time of next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 13 May 2010 at 2.00 pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.
4.23 p.m. The Chairman adjourned the meeting.