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Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Volume 690: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2021

This Government were elected on a clear manifesto commitment to make our country safer. This means backing our police and preventing and cutting crime.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, introduced today, will do this by: equipping police officers with the powers and tools they need to keep themselves and all of us safe; putting the police covenant into law; tackling unauthorised Traveller encampments; requiring schools, police, councils and health authorities to work together through violence reduction units to prevent serious crime; and empowering the police by a new court order to target known knife carriers, making it easier for officers to stop and search those convicted of knife crime.

This joint Bill also contains a number of Ministry of Justice-led measures, set out in a written ministerial statement by the Lord Chancellor.

The Home Office-led measures in the Bill will:

Establish a duty on the Home Secretary to publish an annual report on the work undertaken against delivery of the police covenant—the response to our consultation was published on 8 September 2020 [HCWS438];

Enable special constables to join the Police Federation of England and Wales;

Amend the definitions of dangerous and careless driving in road traffic legislation so that the skills and training of police officers can be taken into account should there be any subsequent investigations into their actions—the response to our consultation was published on 2 May 2019 [HCWS1536];

Introduce a new duty on specified authorities and bodies delivering public services to collaborate with each other to prevent and reduce serious violence—the response to our consultation was published on 15 July 2019 [HCWS1721];

Place a duty on the relevant chief officer of police, local authority and clinical commissioning group or local health board to undertake a homicide review of the circumstances of the death of a person aged 18 or over which involved an offensive weapon;

Reform pre-charge bail to better protect vulnerable victims and witnesses—the response to our consultation was published on 14 January 2021 [HCWS708];

Establish a statutory framework for the extraction of information from digital devices for the purposes of the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of crime, safeguarding purposes and the purposes of investigating deaths;

Extend the offence of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence to cover a wider range of preparatory conduct in respect of sex offences committed against children under 13;

Amend the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019 to ensure that it operates effectively to give the police and prosecutors the power to obtain faster access to electronic data held overseas;

Streamline the police powers to require a convicted person to attend a police station for the purposes of taking their fingerprints, non-intimate samples and photographs;

Confer powers on the police to obtain information about the location of human remains where there is no ongoing criminal investigation;

Strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament;

Strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments, where trespassers cause distress and misery to local communities and businesses—the response to our consultation was being published on 8 March 2021 [HCWS826];

Place on a statutory footing the police’s powers to charge for the provision of retraining courses for those admitting to low-level driving offences and clarify their powers to charge for the removal of abandoned vehicles or those causing an obstruction;

Introduce serious violence reduction orders to confer on the police new targeted stop-and-search powers to tackle knife crime offenders—the response to the consultation is being published today—see below;

Strengthen the management of sex offenders, including by enabling positive obligations and electronic monitoring requirements to be imposed on those who pose a risk through sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders;

Strengthen the management of terrorism risk offenders on licence in the community by introducing new police powers of premises and personal search and an urgent power of arrest, implementing recommendations made by Jonathan Hall, QC, following his independent review of multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) [HCWS686].

To support the parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill, we are publishing on www.gov.uk the following documents:

Overarching impact assessment covering the Home Office and two Department for Transport measures;

Impact assessment on the reforms to pre-charge bail;

Impact assessment on the new serious violence duty;

Delegated powers memorandum;

European convention on human rights memorandum; and

Fact sheets.

Serious Violence Reduction Orders

Today we are also publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on Serious violence reduction orders (SVROs) which ran from 14 September to 8 November 2020. We have received responses from the public, police, charities and other organisations and I am grateful to all those who provided responses.

SVROs are being introduced through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. SVROs will help the police to tackle knife crime by giving them additional powers to stop and search adults convicted of knife and offensive weapons offences. The orders, one of the tools that the police will be able to use as part of a wider approach to reducing serious violence and saving young lives, are intended to be a powerful deterrent. They will send a clear signal to offenders that if they persist in carrying knives, they will be caught. Every offender issued with a SVRO will face an increased likelihood of being stopped by the police and if they continue to carry weapons, they will be sent back to prison or brought before the court, where they can expect to receive an immediate custodial sentence under the existing “two strikes” legislation brought by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Targeted use of stop and search, as part of a wider approach to intervene and support offenders, aims to help to safeguard those communities and individuals most at risk. To ensure that SVROs operate as effectively as possible, we will pilot SVROs in one or more police forces before a decision is made on national roll-out.

The response to the consultation will be available at www.gov.uk. A copy will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS834]