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Statement by the President of the Committee for Home Affairs

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Wednesday 17 July 2019

General Update

Sir

I am grateful for the opportunity to update the States and the wider community on the more significant matters which have been progressing within Home Affairs since my last update, although I am mindful I covered many aspects of CHA last month during the P&R Plan update.

Justice Review

First I will talk of the Justice Review. 

The scale and potential impact of this work cannot be overstated. 

Justice touches every life in various ways.  As a community we are well served but there is a lot of fragmentation within what might be described as 'Justice'. 

It is for example more than the offender being apprehended by police, it is more than the sentence handed down by the Court; it is more than the time in Prison.

Rather it is about the whole society, our common values and expectations. Protecting victims of crime and keeping the Island Safe and Secure. It is about delivering Justice and doing so in a way that reduces the number of offences committed; it is about helping dysfunctional families. It is about helping those who have been within the criminal justice system to reintegrate into society and not offend again.

If we can get this right we will not only see fewer people in the Prison but we will see children growing up in more stable environments, we will see a reduction in demand for Health and Social Care services, the positive impact will be felt in our schools, the employment prospects of those affected will improve. The outcomes we all seek are going to be dependent on true cross-Committee working which is something we can and will build upon to ensure as a society we can be proud of what we deliver in terms of justice, fairness and equality.

At this time the Justice Review is focussing on the "core criminal justice institutions" but it is impossible to separate justice and social policy.   The Review recognises the relationship and interdependencies and the need to ensure, in the fullness of time, that the justice roadmap delivers in partnership with social policy initiatives.  

In this period the Review team is engaging with criminal justice related agencies both within government and the third sector, with the aim of understanding the effectiveness of existing criminal justice provision.

The final stage is to seek wider public engagement and also input from States Members as the concepts and opportunities start to firm up. This will then feed into the Committee's deliberations in the latter part of the autumn, which still means we remain on track to submit a Policy Letter outlining proposals for a future Justice policy by the end of this year.

Governance

Next we move to the topical matter of Governance. 

The events of recent weeks and months have proved to be an unwelcome distraction from the important work of Home Affairs. 

This speech is not the right place to dissect the process of the Governance Review.  Suffice to say it has been neither pleasant nor productive.

Despite the questions that continue to arise over the whole process the Committee is not, as some might suggest, in denial. 

Rather we have knuckled down and started working through the recommendations.  Neither I nor the other Members of the Committee profess to be the perfect politicians or the deliverers of text-book governance. 

Not at all. 

We accept there is room for improvement. I would also challenge any in this Assembly to identify a States Committee which is faultless. 

The Committee fully understands the challenges and pressures of Home Affairs including, Law Enforcement, Justice, Prison, Probation, Population Management, Fire and Rescue, Brexit, etc.  The inescapable truth is that there is an important and sometime unpopular job to be done and we take this responsibility very seriously.

Throughout this period the Committee has kept its focus on those things that really make a difference to residents of the Bailiwick.

Nonetheless the Home Affairs Team is proud of what it has achieved.

Data Protection

It was just over a year ago the States agreed to the commencement of the new Data Protection Law. This has ensured the Bailiwick stands alongside the very best in providing a strong and proportionate and independent Data Protection regime.

Importantly the EU continues to regard us as effectively having 'Adequacy' but this will be subject to a formal assessment in due course. 'Adequacy' is the technical term for saying that the legislation and the way it is being implemented are of a sufficiently high standard such that businesses in the jurisdiction can have seamless interaction with counterparts in the EU and other countries which operate to equivalent high standards.

Cyber Security

Through the Policy and Resource Plan the Committee was tasked with developing and implementing a Cyber Security Strategy. This we have done and the next stage is to introduce, jointly with Jersey, a Computer Emergency Response Team, commonly referred to as a CERT...

Cyber-crime, targeted at both business and personal users, is a rapidly evolving threat which is now becoming the illegal activity which has the greatest cost on society.

National and international examples abound of where a failure to recognize and respond to the threat has cost governments and businesses dearly.

There are over 400 Computer emergency response teams serving countries internationally and it is important for the Channel Islands with its finance sectors and other businesses to be able to demonstrate an appropriate line of defence.

To deliver the CERT, business cases for the release of the necessary funds are currently being considered by the Treasuries in each Bailiwick, with the aim for it to be fully operational by June 2020.

HMIC Report

The Committee is well advanced in its implementation of the HMIC Recommendations from last autumn.

The report made 8 Recommendations and identified 26 Areas for Improvement.

Nearly all but one of the areas for improvement were for Law Enforcement to progress and were largely operational in nature. The one where the Committee has a role is the modification of the Police Complaints Law and the possibility of Border Agency staff being made subject to it.

That aside I am assured by the Head of Law Enforcement that the majority of the Areas have been completed or are nearing completion.

Of the 8 actual Recommendations, 4 included actions for the Committee where good progress is being made:

It has also been suggested to us by the Scrutiny Management Committee that the requirement to have inspections should be enshrined in Law. Our Delivery Plan recognises the need to update the Police Law and it will make sense for this to be considered at the same time.

Prison

Members will note that the 2018 Prison Annual Report is an appendix to this Billet d'Etat. While the Prison service encountered challenges in 2018 due to an increasing number of prisoners, the last 6 years data reflects how prison population can peak and trough, what is important, plans need to be in place for such eventualities in the future should the prison reach capacity. We are pleased to report that the current Prison population has reduced from 114 to what might be regarded as a more normal level. 80 convicted prisoners and 10 on remand. This is not however cause for complacency as the potential for further spikes in numbers has not gone away and as a Committee we continue to contemplate the various scenarios.

I would like to take this opportunity to place on record the Committee's thanks to the retiring Prison Governor Dave Matthews who has chosen to leave after nearly 7 years in the role. He has created a positive legacy and a Prison which is the envy of many jurisdictions.

Security Policy

This again is a priority which flows from the Policy and Resource Plan. We are at the early stage of consultation with key stakeholders including counterparts in Jersey.

The Security policy will be a high level statement of our Bailiwick's commitment to provide assurance that islanders, visitors and businesses will be kept safe and secure. It seeks to summarise the broader security environment and sets out our expectations.

The Committee is on target to lay this Policy before the States this autumn.

I could of course talk much further on many issues under the Committee's mandate, but time does not allow.

I am happy to take questions.

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