April - June

An inspection report on the Northern Ireland Resettlement Strategy has been published by Criminal Justice Inspection.  The report looked at the work that has been undertaken by the Prison Service, Probation Service and other statutory and voluntary agencies since the strategy was launched in 2004.  The inspection found good work is being done to prepare prisoners for settling back into the community on their release from prison and reduce their likelihood of re-offending, but it has urged the Prison Service to strike a greater balance between security and resettlement work.
The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 has received Royal Assent. CJI’s inspection remit under the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 has been extended to include the Northern Ireland Courts Service, Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission and Life Sentence Review Commissioners.  It will consult and work with the Lord Chancellor as it undertakes inspection work involving the Courts Service and Legal Services Commission, but will not be inspect people making or exercising judicial decisions.   CJI has also been given statutory powers under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 in relation to its inspection of community based restorative justice (CBRJ) schemes.  Under the legislation, CBRJ schemes seeking accreditation under the Government Protocol for Community Based Restorative Justice Schemes, must co-operate with the Chief Inspector and all CJI reports on community based restorative justice schemes must be laid before Parliament.
Criminal Justice Inspection has published its follow-up review of the Compensation Agency.  The review examined progress made by the organisation against 10 recommendations made in the Inspectorate’s initial inspection report published 18 months ago.  The review has shown half of the recommendations have already been achieved and the Compensation Agency is committed to implementing the outstanding recommendations.  Copies of the review and the original inspection report can be downloaded from this website.

An inspection report on Human Resource Management in the PSNI which CJI made a contribution to has been published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).  Copies of the report can be downloaded from the HMIC website http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/

 

Further information on the findings of the inspection can be obtained from HMIC North of England Region on (01924) 237700.

Kit Chivers spoke of the challenges to devolution presented by governance and accountability, resources and competing demands and need to change the culture of the criminal justice system when he addressed stakeholders attending the annual Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland conference at the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast. Other speakers who addressed the conference included Criminal Justice Minister Maria Eagle, the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, PSNI Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde and Olwen Lyner of NIACRO.  Representatives of the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP, Alliance Party, and PUP who also attended the one-day event, gave their views on both the challenges presented by devolution and the possible devolution of policing and justice powers next year.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice has welcomed the commitment given by the Attorney General to reduce the average time it takes for cases to be brought before the courts over the next three years.  Kit Chivers said he welcomed the announcement made by Lord Goldsmith at the Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland Conference in Belfast. The new targets mean for example the time for Crown Court cases to move from charge stage to when a decision is taken to prosecute will drop by 30% from 201 days in 2006 to 140 days by 2010/11.
HH Judge Dermot Kinlen and Governor Jim Woods from the Republic of Ireland’s Inspectorate of Prisons and Places of Detention met with Kit Chivers and Tom McGonigle at CJI’s Belfast headquarters. During the meeting they discussed their respective methods of working.  The Inspectorate of Prisons and Places of Detention became statutory with effect from 1 May 2007.
Kit Chivers gave a presentation to participants on the 2007 Common Purpose Crime Challenge Day who were examining the issue of how to re-integrated sex offenders into the community.  As part of the event, participants visited Maghaberry Prison and met with stakeholders involved in the assessment and management of sex offenders.  The challenge day concluded with a panel discussion involving the Chief Inspector and Tom McGonigle from CJI as well as William McCauley, Strategy and Policy Co-ordinator with the Northern Ireland Sex Offenders Management Committee and Andrew Rooke, Assistant Director with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland.
 
The Government agreed to accept in principle an amendment suggested by Lord Trimble, giving CJI statutory powers to inspect community-based restorative justice schemes.  The Commons agreed to a re-drafting of Lord Trimble's amendment, and it is now for the Lords to consider whether they can accept the re-draft, which forms part of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill.
Kit Chivers gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee hearing on Prisons in Northern Ireland.  He was joined for the session by Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales
CJI has published its initial inspection of four community-based restorative justice schemes supervised by Northern Ireland Alternatives.  The Inspectorate was asked to inspect the schemes by Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson, MP.  The report assessed whether or not the schemes had the potential to meet the standard required for accreditation under the Government Protocol.  The report has been presented to the Minister for his consideration.

Paul Mageean has co-authored an essay examining Article Two of the European Convention of Human Rights.  The essay is included in a new book entitled Judges, Transition and Human Rights (OUP, 2007) edited by Professors John Morison, Kieran McEvoy and Gordon Anthony from the School of Law at Queen’s University, Belfast.
 

The book was published in memory of Prof. Stephen Livingstone, a former Professor of Law at QUB who died in 2004. Paul was asked to contribute to the book because of his personal understanding of Article Two and the cases he was involved in during his time with the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

CJI’s Paul Mageean represented the Inspectorate at a two-day conference on the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.  The international conference hosted by the University of Bristol School of Law, was attended by representatives of organisations from around the world which may be designated as National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) to ensure torture or ill-treatment does not occur in places of detention in their jurisdiction.
CJI has published its Business Plan for 2007-2008 which includes a timetable for inspections due to be carried out in the current financial year.  It also contains a list of the Action Plan Reviews the Inspectorate will conduct during the next 12 months.