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Live Reporting

Tori Watson and Robin Sheeran

All times stated are UK

  1. Good evening

    Stormont at night

    The committee chair adjourns the meeting.

    That concludes our coverage of the assembly for this week.

    We’ll be back, however, with more political action from the House on the hill on Monday.

    Until then, you can keep up to speed with the latest political developments on BBC The View which will air this evening at 22:35 on BBC One NI.

  2. Protection from Stalking Bill

    Mervyn Storey, the committee chair, thanks the justice minister and her officials for their time this afternoon.

    The DUP MLA directs members through a number of items of business, including a draft report on the Protection from Stalking Bill.

  3. Police support staff and the ombudsman

    Doug Beattie

    Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie says the Police Ombudsman "is asking to include support staff and service providers within their remit".

    Would that mean an external service provider to the PSNI could fall under the remit of the ombudsman?

    "I think it's to do with those who are providing policing functions," the justice minister replies.

  4. Why are only executive parties on the Policing Board?

    Rachel Woods

    Rachel Woods of the Green Party asks about the Policing Board membership and make up.

    Who decides that it’s just the executive parties that are on the board.

    Naomi Long responds that it’s not just executive party members, but at this time that’s how it’s worked out.

    The justice minister adds that membership is divided up by the d’Hondt system.

  5. 'Overly contentious issues'

    Sinéad Bradley

    SDLP MLA Sinéad Bradley asks whether the justice minister has taken a reading into what may prove to be contentious issues and has gone "into this consultation with those issues you feel are not overly contentious".

    Or is it a matter that everything is in the consultation and she will take a reading on the outcome.

    Naomi Long outlines two categories of proposals that were relatively uncontentious "and then I suppose there's another category that we recognised were contentious, where there were directly oppositional views coming forward".

    "Some have been included in the consultation on the basis that the department wants to take wider views," the minister adds.

  6. 'Not content with the inclusion of a police covenant in consultation'

    Jemma Dolan of Sinn Féin says “I’m absolutely not content with the inclusion of a police covenant in the consultation document”.

    She adds that she doesn’t “understand the need” for it to be included.

    Naomi Long responds that a covenant has been established at Westminster, under the Policing Bill in England and Wales, and “it would be odd, given it is a live issue” not to ask the public of committee about it.

    Ms Dolan asks if the consultation document will be going out in its current form.

    Minister Long says she’s listening to members’ concerns, adding “there is no requirement for the committee to rubber stamp” the document.

  7. Ombudsman 'most certainly isn't above scrutiny'

    Mervyn Storey

    Committee chair Mervyn Storey asks about a consultation for a separate police covenant for NI.

    The DUP MLA asks the justice minister if she thinks that "it would have prevented the very sad situation that we saw played out on our TV screens in relation to the two police officers on the Ormeau Road" and the subsequent decision by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) not to bring assault charges.

    Naomi Long says it would be inappropriate for her to comment on individual cases.

    "There is due process involved," she adds.

    Mr Storey refers to long delays in the work of the Police Ombudsman and asks when there is going to be "scrutiny of the efficiency and the effectiveness of the ombudsman's office".

    Mrs Long outlines some of the figures for the output of the office.

    "It most certainly isn't above scrutiny," she adds.

  8. 'Police Ombudsman’s powers have remained unchanged since 1998'

    Naomi Long says last month marked the 20th year of the Police Service of NI (PSNI) and the Policing Board.

    The minister outlines that when she took on the justice brief, she thought it would make sense to “take stock of the current policing oversight arrangements”.

    Mrs Long adds that “independent oversight and accountability is widely accepted and supported”.

    “There are differing perspectives on the Police Ombudsman’s (PONI) powers and what these should be,” says the justice minister, adding that she’s happy to take onboard views around this.

    Justice Minister Naomi Long

    “PONI’s powers have remained unchanged since 1998,” says Mrs Long, adding “it is expected that PONI will no longer deal with cases that pre-date 1998”.

    “There is merit in looking at the proposals” contained in the draft consultation which is hoped to be launched next week, explains the minister.

    She adds that there will be no legislative change in this area until the next mandate.

  9. Police oversight briefing

    The committee's now going to the delayed first briefing.

    Justice Minister Naomi Long gives a presentation on a stocktake of policing oversight and accountability arrangements and the Police Ombudsman's five year review.

    She's accompanied by two officials, Maura Campbell and Lisa Boal.

  10. 'It doesn’t currently at this time'

    Rachel Woods

    Green Party MLA Rachel Woods asks the Justice Department officials about the “discretionary nature of support” to victims of human trafficking contained within the Justice Bill.

    Could that extend to those appealing a negative decision?

    Alison Redmond responds that “it doesn’t currently at this time”.

    The official adds that the department “provides support if they’re in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) or are about to be in the NRM”.

    She adds that if this could be changed in the future if it was deemed to need to be changed.

  11. 'The first stage in what is a much bigger process'

    Committee room

    SDLP MLA Sinéad Bradley says the argument for Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) was "forcefully and correctly made".

    She expresses her disappointment that they have not been included in the Justice Bill.

    Ms Bradley asks if there is anything in the bill regarding someone moving across the border and subsequently being re-trafficked.

    Justice Department official Brian Grzymek says the department isn't intending to add any further amendments.

    In terms of trafficking he says "this is only the first stage in what is a much bigger process".

  12. 'Not feasible'

    Jemma Dolan has issues with “Fermanagh broadband”, so she joins the committee by audio link.

    She asks why Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPOs) and Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) haven’t been included in the Justice Bill.

    Will these come about through amendments?

    Brian Grzymek responds that “we had the opportunity to put some elements in that could be done in reasonable pace”.

    The Justice Department official adds that these would require consultation and “it was not feasible” to get them into the Justice Bill in the current mandate timeframe.

  13. Movement within the UK

    Robin Newton

    Robin Newton of the DUP asks how the support offered under the Justice Bill would be affected "if someone moved within the UK".

    Alison Redmond says NI service providers would liaise with GB support providers in such cases.

    They wouldn't lose their right to support, Cathy Galway explains.

  14. 'Very clear on where responsibility of Justice Department lies'

    Mervyn Storey

    Mervyn Storey, the chair of the committee, asks the officials if there’s been any discussion to ensure “there are no blurred lines” in terms of departmental and Home Office responsibility.

    Brian Grzymek responds that “our expectation is that engagement will be an enormous part of value”.

    The Justice Department official says NI “often actually punches above our weight” with an understanding of how things work on the ground.

    Ronnie Pedlow takes over from his colleague and reiterates the strong collaboration the department has with the Home Office.

    “We are very clear on where the responsibility of the Department of Justice lies and the responsibility of reserved matters,” he adds.

  15. 'Everything possible to support victims and pursue offenders'


    Brian Grzymek opens the briefing.

    He says they are the officials are here to discuss the part of the Justice Bill that relates to trafficking victims.

    Mr Grzymek explains that the bill "extends statutory assistance and support to adult potential victims of slavery, servitude and forced compulsory labour" where this involves trafficking.

    He says some people would like to see the scope of the bill extended.

    The minister very much recognises these concerns and has undertaken to consider extending support requirements, Mr Grzymek says.

    He says the department has set up a separate dedicated modern slavery team in addition to the organised crime branch in recognition of the workload across both areas of work.

    "Our aim is to ensure that we are doing everything possible to support victims and pursue offenders," the senior official concludes.

  16. Justice Bill briefing

    There's a change of plan as the justice minister has been detained at a meeting of the executive.

    The members turn to what should have been the second briefing.

    They're joined by officials from the Justice Department who discuss the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Bill - Part 2 – Trafficking and Exploitation.

    The witnesses are Brian Grzymek, Ronnie Pedlow and Alison Redmond.

  17. Committee opens to public

    Committee room 30

    Mervyn Storey, the chair of the Justice Committee, opens the meeting to the public.

    The DUP MLA directs members through some generic items of business before turning to the first item on today’s agenda.

    It’s a briefing from the Justice Minister, Naomi Long, on a stocktake of policing oversight and accountability arrangements and the Police Ombudsman's five year review.

    She’s joined by two departmental officials:

    • Maura Campbell, DoJ
    • Lisa Boal, DoJ
  18. What's on at the Justice Committee?

    We're back from lunch in time for the Justice Committee meeting.

    Here's what you can expect to hear during this afternoon's session.

  19. We'll be back shortly


    Colm Gildernew thanks Carol Picton-Lynas, for her assistance.

    He then takes the committee into closed session for a discussion of the Autism Bill.

    We'll leave the members to their deliberations but we'll be back at 14:00 with live coverage of the Justice Committee.

    Do join us after lunch.

  20. 'The cost to the public is a matter for Treasury'

    Colin McGrath

    Colm Gildernew, the committee chair, says “it’s a welcome step we’re going back to what appears to be more robust PCR testing”.

    Colin McGrath of the SDLP asks the official when exactly you can take the “PCR Day Two test”. Could you take it on the first day you arrive?

    Carol Picton-Lyons responds that “it’s an on or up to Day Two test”.

    Pam Cameron

    Pam Cameron, the deputy chair of the committee, raises concerns about the affordability of PCR tests for international travellers.

    Ms Picton-Lyons says “the cost to the public is a matter for Treasury” and the Department for Health and Social Care.

    The committee then formally considers each of the regulations which the official outlined.