The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was introduced in the House of Lords in early July and awaits a second reading. The Bill is formed of thirteen parts, including provisions to:
- introduce measures for the protection of the police;
- introduce legislation for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime;
- make changes to the policing of protests;
- create new offences for unauthorised encampments as well as amending existing legislation;
- introduce road traffic measures;
- replace the existing out of court disposal framework;
- amend custodial and community sentences;
- amend the youth justice system;
- legislate for secure schools and children’s homes;
- update court and tribunal procedures; and
- introduce measures for managing and rehabilitating offenders.
Protection of the police
The Bill proposes-
-a new duty for a Police Covenant report to be put before Parliament each year;
-amending the offence of assaulting an emergency worker to increase the maximum penalty to 2 years (from 12 months);
-allowing Specials to join the Police Federation; and
-amending road traffic legislation so that trained police drivers are treated differently from regular drivers for the offences of dangerous driving and driving without due care and attention.
Prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime
A new legal duty would be introduced requiring certain agencies to work together to reduce serious violence and require community safety partnerships to consider this issue when formulating and implementing strategies to combat local crime and disorder.
Offensive weapon homicide reviews would be carried out by relevant agencies when the death of an adult involves the use of an offensive weapon.
The Bill would introduce a new statutory framework for the extraction of electronic information from electronic devices. This would relate to the extraction of information for certain purposes in an investigation.
Other provisions proposed under this heading relate to pre-charge bail, sexual offences, criminal damage to memorials, overseas production orders, search warrants, functions of prisoner custody officers, and account freezing in proceeds of crime cases.
One of the most controversial chapters in the Bill is in relation to proposed changes in the way that protests are policed. This includes amending:
- the Public Order Act 1986 to increase the number of circumstances in which the police can impose conditions on protests
- the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to expand the controlled area around Parliament where protests are banned
- getting rid of the offence of public nuisance and replacing it with one of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”.
A new offence is suggested of “residing or intending to reside on land without consent in or with a vehicle”. Existing police powers would also be amended to lower the threshold at which the powers in the 1994 Act could be used and allow the police to remove unauthorised encampments.
Road Traffic measures
The Bill sets out several measures, including:
- increase the maximum penalty to life for causing death by dangerous driving, careless driving or while under the influence of drink or drugs;
- introducing a new offence of causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving;
- creating a statutory basis for a charging regime for courses that are offered as an alternative to prosecution for certain road traffic offences;
- providing a statutory basis to charge for vehicle removal, storage and disposal fees where the police have removed it;
- remove the need for a physical licence to be produced when a fixed penalty notice is issued, or at court;
- strengthening the rules about surrendering a licence when disqualified.
Out of court disposals
All out of court disposals would be replaced with a choice of two, diversionary cautions or community cautions (with a provision that conditions could be attached to the cautions).
The provisions of this chapter would:
- introduce a statutory minimum to be introduced for certain specified offences;
- introduce a starting point of a whole life order for premeditated offences of child murder;
- allow judges to impose whole life orders on 18 to 20-year-olds in exceptionally serious circumstances;
- make changes to the minimum review process;
- change how minimum terms are calculated;
- require certain prisoners to serve two thirds o their sentence rather than half (specified violence and sexual offence);
- refer certain prisoners to the Parole Board for release rather than release automatically (if the prisoner is deemed a terrorist threat or a significant threat to the public);
- give the secretary of state a power to change the release test where prisoners are recalled for a fixed term; and
- change the law so that the length of driving disqualifications are extended in line with the new release points for custodial sentences.
The Bill would:
- create a power to allow for attendance at appointments to be required at any stage of a community sentence;
- increase the allowable number of daily curfew hours, and the total length of a curfew;
- allow probation to amend the start or end time of a curfew, or the residence of the offender without prior approval from court;
- provide for pilots of problem-solving courts to take place; and
- create a new duty for probation to consult local and regional stakeholders on the design and delivery of unpaid work.
- amending the test for a custodial remand so that it is more difficult to remand a child;
- introducing a statutory duty for courts to consider the welfare and best interests of a child when making a decision on a remand;
- changing detention and training orders to remove fixed lengths, provide that time on remand or subject to certain bail conditions is time served, ensure an offender benefits from the same amount of early release for all sentences served consecutively;
- changing youth rehabilitation orders to include a standalone tracking requirement, increasing curfew hours and raising the age limit for the education requirement;
- allowing pilots of a tracking requirement as a standalone order and to monitor offenders on high intensity orders; and
- abolish reparation orders.
Other changes put forward in the Bill include the introduction of serious violence reduction orders, changes to the management of sex offenders and terrorist offenders, and permitting the presence of a BSL interpreter in the jury room.
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[Image credit: “Day 165 – West Midlands Police – Arresting suspected offenders” by West Midlands Police is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 ] Read More
A pilot is being carried out into electronic monitoring global positioning system. The aim of the pilot is to gain information to look at how existing and new electronic monitoring technologies could be used more effectively. The focus of the pilot will be on violent offenders. A specific pilot is also taking place in London for offenders who have served a custodial sentence for knife crimes.
What is the pilot for knife crime offenders?
The pilot began in February 2019 and is now being expanded from 4 to 24 boroughs of London. Up to 300 offenders could be tagged in the 12-month pilot. The pilot is due to end in April 2020.
Eligible offenders are those who are released from prison following sentencing for offences such as possession of a knife, robbery, aggravated burglary and grievous bodily harm. The offender must be over 18 and released from a London prison to suitable accommodation in a pilot area. The tagging is used as part of strict licence conditions.
Hasn’t the tag been around for ages?
The tag that is commonly referred to is a tag to monitor a curfew. A curfew is monitored through radio frequency technology and does not track location. Such a tag is frequently used as part of bail conditions and on release from prison sentences. It can be used for almost all offenders, not just violent offenders.
What is the difference?
A global positioning system (GPS) tag is a location monitoring enabled tag. A person’s location is captured 24 hours a day. It can also be used to monitor a specific area such as an exclusion zone where active monitoring only takes place if there is a breach of that condition.
How does it work?
A tag around the ankle is worn 24 hours a day, and a satellite signal can pinpoint the wearer’s location. They are designed to be difficult to remove. However, if it is removed, an alert is generated to a monitoring centre. The location monitoring is carried out in live time. The alerts in the event of a breach are immediate so that appropriate action can be carried out. As a result, high-risk offenders can be prioritised for an emergency response.
How is the information used?
An offender’s movements will be checked against the location of reported crimes or areas he is not permitted to be in as part of the licence conditions. It was also be used statistically to improve crime detention, monitor attendance at locations such as drug testing and rehabilitation activities and to enforce restrictions such as exclusion zones.
As well as being able to check that a person is where they should, or shouldn’t, be, monitoring can be used to assess behaviours and routines. An offender’s probation officer can use the information to see how that person is spending their time and how this impacts on their behaviour or possibility of further offending. The Probation Service can be provided with daily “heat maps” of addresses visited by the offender. This can be used to challenge their lifestyle choices.
Previous issues with tags
Earlier this year Serco was fined nearly £23 million by the Serious Fraud Office under a deferred prosecution agreement for offences of fraud and false accounting. The company had understated the level of profitability of its electronic monitoring contract in reports to the Ministry of Justice. The investigation began in 2013 when Serco paid £70 million in compensation to the government and lost their contract. Serco and G4S faced allegations of charging the government for electronically monitoring people who were dead, in jail or out of the country.
How can we help?
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us help.Read More