Tuesday 9 March 2021
Tackling Intimidation in Public Life
I wish to update hon. Members on the steps that the Government are taking to tackle intimidation in public life.
In July 2017, the then Prime Minister commissioned the Committee on Standards in Public Life to undertake a review into abuse and intimidation in elections. This followed concerning evidence from many parliamentary candidates across the political spectrum on their experiences during the 2017 general election. The Government’s response to that report in March 2018 outlined the Government’s planned programme of work in the area, and the Committee has published its own follow-up to its report in December 2020.
Tackling intimidation in public life also forms an important part of the defending democracy programme, a cross-Government initiative led by the Cabinet Office.
Protecting free speech within the law
It is important to distinguish between strongly felt political debate on the one hand, and unacceptable acts of abuse, intimidation and violence on the other. British democracy has always been robust and oppositional.
Free speech within the law can sometimes involve the expression of political views that some may find offensive: a point that the Government have recognised in the Department for Education’s policy paper, “Higher education: free speech and academic freedom”, published last month. But a line is crossed when disagreement mutates into intimidation, which refuses to tolerate other opinions and seeks to deprive others from exercising their free speech and freedom of association.
Tackling threats to MPs
The Home Office is responding today, on behalf of Government, to the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, “Democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of association: Threats to MPs”.
This outlines how the Government are addressing the concerns raised in the report on:
The need for collaboration to tackle the issue of threats to MPs;
The national approach to prosecuting offences against MPs;
The online abuse and harassment faced by MPs; and
Policing around Parliament and beyond.
Ensuring safety of journalists
Also today, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is publishing the first National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists.
The Government’s aim is to ensure that journalists operating in the UK are as safe as possible; reduce the number of attacks on and threats issued to journalists; and ensure those that are responsible for such are brought to justice. In order to support this goal, it outlines how the Government are taking steps to:
Increase our understanding of the problem;
Enhance the criminal justice system response in tackling crimes against journalists;
Support journalists and their employers to build the resources they need to protect personal safety;
Help online platforms to tackle the wider issue of abuse online; and
Improve public recognition of the value of journalists.
Preventing intimidation in elections
In due course, the Government will legislate to introduce a new electoral sanction of intimidation against those who participate in elections and contribute to the political debate, including candidates and campaigners. This new sanction complements the existing offence of undue influence against electors.
Under this new electoral sanction, someone convicted of intimidating a candidate, future candidate, campaigner or elected representative will face a ban on standing for and holding elective office for five years. This five-year disqualification is in addition to the substantive punishment for the underlying existing criminal offences of an intimidatory nature. It is simply not right that those who seek to damage free, fair and vibrant political participation should then be allowed to participate in the very same process they sought to undermine.
We have already updated electoral law to ensure local candidates can choose for their home address to not be made public; the local authority area in which they live can appear on the ballot paper instead.
The Government will also be legislating to require imprints on digital campaigning material. While this will increase transparency in modern campaigning, it will also ensure greater scrutiny and accountability of those who promote material, including third party campaigners. The Cabinet Office has undertaken two separate consultations on this area, as it is complex. We need to be mindful not to impose excessive regulation of free speech by individuals, nor force campaigners to publish their home addresses as part of the imprint requirement.
The Government will also legislate to clarify and improve the offence of undue influence of a voter. We want to ensure that the offence offers adequate protection for electors to be free from undue influence and that the offence is effective for enforcement agencies. This reflects recommendations made by the Pickles review into electoral fraud, following the 2015 election court relating to elections in Tower Hamlets.
Parties leading on codes of conduct and support
The Government response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life report asserted that all political parties should put in place their own individual, tailored, code of conduct which sets out the standards of behaviour expected of their party members and representatives. All of the political parties represented in the House of Commons now have in place their own code of conduct.
The Government did not, and does not, support a joint code. This is impractical given there are over 300 registered political parties, and since joint codes may fuel and encourage the issuing of politically vexatious and unfounded complaints.
Many parties have significantly increased their support for elected representatives who face abuse.
Providing guidance for MPs
The Government have worked with the Law Officers to publish new guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on the laws on intimidation, and the wide range of areas in which intimidation can be prosecuted under existing laws. This has been complemented by police guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
For hon. Members who have not previously read the CPS guidance, it can be found at:
Responding to intimidating behaviour: Information for Parliamentarians:
The NPCC, CPS, College of Policing and Electoral Commission have also issued Joint Guidance for Candidates in Elections, which is distributed by the Electoral Commission:
Action on online communications
The Government have published their full response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation. The response confirms that Ofcom will be named as the independent regulator, who will oversee the regulatory framework, setting clear safety standards, backed up by mandatory reporting requirements and strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance. Legislation will follow in due course.
We expect companies to take action now, ahead of the regulatory framework coming into force. We have set out steps that we expect companies to take across a range of harms on a voluntary basis ahead of legislation being finalised. These include ensuring products and services are safe by design and that users who have experienced harm are directed to, and are able to receive, adequate support. While it is not for the Government to dictate how companies allocate resources internally, we have been clear that platforms need to do significantly more to address online abuse.
We are also ensuring that the criminal law is fit for purpose to deal with online abuse. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Justice engaged the Law Commission on a second phase of its review of abusive and offensive online communications. This included considering whether co-ordinated harassment by groups of people online could be more effectively dealt with by the criminal law. The Law Commission has now consulted on proposed recommendations for reform. It will provide final recommendations in 2021, which we will carefully consider.
The Government are engaging with international partners to promote international consensus on what constitutes hate crime and intimidation online. The Government are currently working with international partners on this issue in the Council of Europe.
I hope this outlines how the Government are continuing to work to deliver their commitments to tackle intimidation in public life. The Government are open and receptive to ideas from hon. Members and other elected representatives on what further steps can be taken to protect the exercise of free speech and democratic representation across the United Kingdom.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Covid-19: Industrial Development Act 1982
I am tabling this statement for the benefit of hon. Members to bring to their attention spend under the Industrial Development Act 1982. In addition to the obligation to report on spend under the Industrial Development Act annually, the Coronavirus Act 2020 created a new quarterly reporting requirement for spend which has been designated as coronavirus-related under the Coronavirus Act. This statement fulfils that purpose.
The statement also includes a report of the movement in contingent liability during the quarter. Hon. Members will wish to note that measures such as local authority grants, the coronavirus job retention scheme and self-employed income support scheme, and tax measures such as the suspension of business rates are not provided under the Industrial Development Act 1982 and hence are not included below.
This report covers the third quarter of 2020, from 1 July to 30 September 2020, in accordance with the Coronavirus Act. The written ministerial statement covering the second quarter of 2020 was published on 18 January 2021.
Spend under the Coronavirus Act 2020
Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, there is a requirement to lay before Parliament details of the amount of assistance designated as coronavirus-related provided in each relevant quarter. In the period from 1 July to 30 September 2020, the following expenditures were incurred:
Actual expenditure of assistance provided by Her Majesty’s Government from 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020 £647,308,581 All expenditure of assistance provided by Her Majesty’s Government from 25 March 2020 £ 694,945,581
Actual expenditure of assistance provided by Her Majesty’s Government from 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020
All expenditure of assistance provided by Her Majesty’s Government from 25 March 2020
Actual expenditure of assistance provided by: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy £694,908,581 Competition Appeal Tribunal £ 37,000
Actual expenditure of assistance provided by:
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Competition Appeal Tribunal
Contingent liability under the Coronavirus Act 2020 Contingent liability of assistance provided by the Secretary of State from 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020 £ 18,985,945,140 All contingent liability of assistance provided by the Secretary of State from 25 March 2020 £ 49,442,128,910
Contingent liability under the Coronavirus Act 2020
Contingent liability of assistance provided by the Secretary of State from 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020
All contingent liability of assistance provided by the Secretary of State from 25 March 2020
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists
Today, the Government will publish the UK’s first “National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists”. This ambitious document is intended to ensure that journalists operating in the UK can do so free from abuse, violence and threats of harm. This Government are committed to a free and open media. In order to protect this, journalists must be free to carry out their vital roles free from threats and violence. Threats to journalists’ safety are not just threats to individuals—such threats lead to journalists leaving the profession, and to self-censorship of those that remain. Without action in this area, there will be less challenge to those in power, and weaker democracy. This work is critical in its own right, and it will also serve to support the ongoing work by the Government to tackle intimidation in public life. An update on this is also being published today.
The plan has been produced by members of the National Committee for Safety of Journalists, established in 2020, chaired by relevant Home Office and DCMS Ministers, and comprising representatives of police and prosecutors from across the UK, as well as publishers, broadcasters, groups representing journalists and non-governmental organisations.
It focuses on five key areas: increasing our understanding of the problem; enhancing the criminal justice system response in tackling crimes against journalists; supporting journalists and their employers to build the resources they need to protect personal safety; helping online platforms to tackle the wider issue of online abuse, and improving public recognition of the value of journalists. It makes a range of commitments from the Government, law enforcement agencies and industry. These include a plan to launch a call for evidence into the scale of the threats facing journalists, the police working with the National Council for the Training of Journalists to provide training on police operations for journalists and the provision of guidance to help journalists understand the law in this area by the Media Lawyers Association.
The committee will hold its members to account for the delivery of these commitments while the action plan and its impact will be reviewed regularly and updated if and when appropriate.
A copy of the action plan will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-03-09/HCWS831/.
Covid-19: Children's Social Care Services
Extension of temporary regulations to support children’s social care during the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.
Throughout the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic, the Government have consistently put protecting the most vulnerable at the forefront of our actions. The duties to our most vulnerable children, which are set out in primary legislation, all remain in place. This statutory framework enables the most effective support and protection to children and their families, by local authorities, local safeguarding partners and other services. However, the impact of the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic, has required the Government to introduce a number of amendments to secondary legislation to ensure that children and families can be supported in the best way possible despite the restrictions in place across society.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Government introduced a series of temporary changes to the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations to support children’s social care services. These changes provided flexibilities to local authorities and other children’s social care settings, in the event that services suffered from high levels of staff absence or an increased need for services supporting vulnerable children. We made no amendments to primary legislation, and the vast majority of statutory duties in secondary legislation remained unchanged.
Over the summer we reviewed these flexibilities and decided that only a small number continued to be needed. Following a consultation, a second set of regulations with fewer flexibilities—the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations—came into force in September 2020. These are due to lapse on 31 March 2021.
The extraordinary measures the Government have taken over the last year means that we are now in a much better position to ease the restrictions that everyone has faced in the coming months. However, the challenges from the covid-19 pandemic remain significant and Government believe that there may be circumstances in which some services continue to face specific and exceptional challenges into spring/summer. As more children are seen by schools, and national restrictions ease further and hitherto hidden harms may come to light, we must be prepared for the potential additional demands that may still be placed on services.
We therefore went out to public consultation on 9 February to seek views on whether to extend all the existing flexibilities for a further six months, up to September 2021, and whether to amend arrangements for healthcare assessments in adoption. This statement updates the House on the outcome of that consultation.
The consultation closed on 28 February and a total of 212 responses were received. Officials engaged with stakeholders, including local authorities, charities, children’s rights organisations and other Government Departments and captured the views of children and young people directly.
The majority of respondents agreed with our proposals to extend the existing flexibilities in relation to virtual visits, medical reports—for fostering and adoption—and the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections of children’s social care provision. I am therefore today laying regulations before the House to that effect. This means that:
General Practitioners and other health professionals will continue to be given more time to provide information to support the process of approving much needed potential adopters and foster carers. This does not remove the requirement for medical reports to be provided before the child is placed with the foster parent or adoptive parent, but allows some flexibility as to when in the process the report is required.
Social workers will continue to be able to carry out virtual, rather than face-to face visits in some limited circumstances. The regulations and guidance are clear that virtual visits should only happen when face to face visits would be contrary to public health advice, or where face to face visits would otherwise not be reasonably practicable as a result of coronavirus.
The requirement for a minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections for all children’s social care providers will continue to be suspended for six months, until 30 September 2021. Extending the flexibility will enable Ofsted to use their resources under existing inspection powers to carry out inspections to as many providers as possible, prioritised on a risk-assessed basis. It is important to note that extending this flexibility does not prevent Ofsted from inspecting services or change their inspection powers, it only affects the frequency with which they must inspect.
Alongside the regulations, I am today publishing the Government’s response to the consultation, setting out more detail on each flexibility, the rationale for our approach and the views received.
As part of the consultation, we also asked for views on two new proposals in relation to adoption: to allow medical reports to be completed by other qualified medical professionals and to remove the requirement for a full medical examination. While a majority agreed with the first proposal, there were a greater number who disagreed with the second proposal, and concerns were raised in relation to safeguarding. This is an area on which the Government places paramount importance and we therefore want to give this further reflection. We are therefore not proceeding with these additional flexibilities at this time.
Protecting vulnerable children has been at the heart of the Government’s response to the virus. These regulations formed part of that response, alongside keeping schools and other settings open for vulnerable children, substantial additional investment in local authority services and additional support direct to children, young people, and their families. The Government are clear that these flexibilities will only remain in place for as long as they are needed and there currently are no plans to extend them beyond 30 September 2021. Their use will continue to be monitored and they will be reviewed in line with the Government road map to recovery. Our guidance sets out clear safeguards about how and when they should be used.
Since the introduction of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 we have kept the flexibilities under constant review. Data for the period from 25 September to 24 November 2020 suggested that over half of local authorities were using both the existing temporary flexibilities—to enable virtual visits and to allow greater time to provide a medical report for a prospective foster carer or adopter. Out of 113 LAs that we had spoken to over 90 LAs had made use of the regulations. The most used related to virtual engagement with children and families—this had often been used alongside face-to-face visits and, in some cases, this has resulted in greater levels of contact between children, young people, parents, and carers—and improved engagement from some young people. We will continue to monitor the usage of the flexibilities through monitoring information collected from the Regional Educational and Care Teams and delivery partners.
In order to become a foster carer or adoptive parent, one needs to provide a medical report from a General Practitioner. As restrictions are eased and schools return, we expect that there may be more children needing care than is usual, and therefore there will be a higher need for potential adopters and foster carers. Our National Health Service (NHS) continues to face unprecedented challenges during the ongoing pressure from the pandemic. This is unlikely to ease for some time, even when the country enters a period of recovery. Therefore, I am minded to extend the amendments that allow more time for General Practitioners and other health professionals to provide information to support the process of approving much needed potential adopters and foster carers. This does not remove the requirement for medical reports to be provided but moves the time during the process that the report must be provided before the child is placed with the foster parent or adoptive parent.
We must be able to keep essential services, such as social worker visits, operating during any local lockdowns, and in cases where households are being required to self-isolate due to a case, or suspected case, of covid-19, or contact with someone who has tested positive for covid-19, in line with medical advice from the NHS test and trace service. The Government recognise that visits by social workers to looked after children provide important opportunities to consider children and young people’s safety and wellbeing and that virtual visits may not always provide the best conditions. We have been clear in the consultation and in our guidance that visits should happen, whenever possible, face to face. The regulations and guidance explicitly provide that virtual visits should only happen when face to face visits would be contrary to public health advice, or where face to face visits would otherwise not be reasonably practicable as a result of coronavirus.
The Government also recognise the importance of ensuring that social workers are well equipped to use virtual visits effectively. Therefore, I am suggesting that it is appropriate to continue to enable visits in these situations to happen virtually. However, in all other situations I would expect face to face visits to take place.
Ofsted inspections of children’s social care providers
The Government and Ofsted are keen that routine inspections of children’s social care providers are resumed as soon as it is safe to do so. At present, Ofsted inspection frequency cycles are suspended due to covid-19, although it is continuing to register social care providers and managers, and to monitor children’s homes where there are safeguarding concerns. Therefore, I am minded to extend the suspension of the requirement for a minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections for all children’s social care providers to be extended for six months, until 30 September 2021. Extending the flexibility will enable Ofsted to use its resources under existing inspection powers to carry out inspections to as many providers as possible, prioritised on a risk- assessed basis.
It is important to note that extending this flexibility does not prevent Ofsted from inspecting services or change its inspection powers, it only affects the frequency with which they must inspect. During the covid-19 pandemic Ofsted is aiming to restart graded inspections from April although it will balance this with the nature and extent of any covid-19 restrictions that might be in place moving into the 2021-22 inspection year.
Throughout this pandemic, social workers, charities, and others working to support our most vulnerable children and families have worked tirelessly to ensure that they continue to receive the support they need. I would like to place on record my personal gratitude, and that of the whole Government, for everything they have done and continue to do. I would also like to acknowledge the extremely difficult circumstances many children and families have faced during this pandemic.
Protecting vulnerable children remains our top priority, as it does for local authorities and children’s social care providers across the country. As the country begins to return to a more normal way of life, it is absolutely right that this also applies to children’s social care.
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
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
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.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Property: Household Guidance on Hazards
The Government have responded at pace since the onset of this pandemic to provide a range of guidance to support and advise households. We have kept our guidance under continual review in response to the latest available evidence.
Today, the Government have published a new page of guidance. This guidance is for people living in all types of housing, in particular for people who live in accommodation with shared facilities, such as a block of flats; overcrowded accommodation; and shared accommodation.
The guidance highlights the importance of ventilation and cleaning, and makes information available on people’s rights as tenants and how to work with landlords and local authorities to address hazardous issues.
We continue to work with agencies across Government to collect evidence to inform the advice we issue so that it reflects the realities on the ground.
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
This Government were elected on a clear manifesto commitment to make our country safer. This means toughening sentences for the worst crimes and bringing offenders to justice swiftly through an efficient court system.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, introduced today, will do this by: introducing tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and ending automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes; creating robust and effective community sentences; enabling the trialling of secure schools; increasing the use of technology in courts; and improving employment opportunities for ex-offenders. This joint Bill also contains a number of Home Office-led measures, set out in a written statement by the Home Secretary.
The Ministry of Justice-led measures in the Bill will:
Deliver on commitments made in the Sentencing White Paper, “A Smarter Approach to Sentencing”, announced to the House on 16 September 2020, which will reform the sentencing and release framework, so that we have a system that takes account of the true nature of crimes and protects the public from harm.
Ensure serious criminals spend longer in custody, including: ending the automatic halfway release point from prison for an additional cohort of serious sexual and violent offenders; making a whole life order the starting point for the premeditated murder of a child; instead of a life sentence with the possibility of Parole Board release after the minimum term is served; and preventing the automatic early release of prisoners who become of significant public protection concern while in custody.
Make community sentences more effective so that they offer an appropriate level of punishment and address the underlying drivers of offending, including: piloting a problem-solving court approach for certain community and suspended sentence orders; improving national consistency for adult out of court disposals; and extending the use of electronic monitoring.
Reduce the time periods after which some criminal sentences become spent, aiding rehabilitation by helping offenders to move on with their lives.
Deliver on the Government’s longstanding commitment to increase the maximum penalties for causing death by dangerous driving and for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drinks or drugs. It will also introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.
Double the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to two years to ensure that the courts have the necessary powers to deal effectively with offenders who use violence against emergency workers.
Strengthen alternatives to custody for children who have offended which promote rehabilitation, and raise the threshold for custodial remand, while at the same time ensuring that children who commit serious offences and pose a risk to the public receive sentences that reflect the seriousness of their offending.
Empower future providers of secure schools, which represent our vision for the future of youth custody—schools with security, rather than prisons with education: with education, healthcare and purposeful activity at their heart.
Enable prisoner escort and custody service officers to manage video remand hearings in police stations to continue to make the best use of technology and improve future efficiency.
Replace the current emergency provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020, which extend the use of video and audio hearings to enable more participants to attend criminal hearings remotely. We will always ensure a full hearing in court will be available when needed in the interests of justice.
Introduce measures to facilitate the remote observation of proceedings across the courts and tribunals using video and audio links underpinning the principle of open justice. These measures will also provide the necessary safeguards against the recording or broadcasting of proceedings by participants and observers.
Enable British sign language interpreters to be present in the jury deliberation room, meaning that profoundly deaf individuals are not prevented from participating in jury service.
Extend the scope of positions of trust legislation, which currently covers a number of statutory roles such as teachers and social workers, to include those who knowingly carry out certain activities within religious and sports settings, such as faith leaders or sports coaches.
Toughen the law where criminal damage of less than £5,000 is caused to a memorial by increasing the maximum sentence from three months to 10-years imprisonment. This brings it in line with criminal damage of £5,000 or more and ensures our courts have sufficient sentencing powers to punish the emotional harm caused by this type of offending even when the financial impact may be low.
To support the parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill, we are publishing on gov.uk the following documents:
Impact assessments covering sentencing, courts and criminal law;
Delegated Powers memorandum;
ECHR memorandum; and