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Public Consultation: Extraction of Information from Electronic Devices Code of Practice

Volume 714: debated on Tuesday 17 May 2022

Following the successful passage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, I am pleased to announce that today I am launching a public consultation on the draft code of practice for the extraction of information from electronic devices.

It is vital that victims feel confident in coming forward to report crime, but we know that fear of intrusive demands for information can deter victims from reporting offences or from continuing to support investigations. The powers in chapter 3 of part 2 of the Act therefore strengthen the law to ensure that there is a consistent approach to requesting information from phones and other electronic devices which puts respect for an individual’s privacy at the centre of every investigation.

This code of practice will be a vital tool in ensuring that all use of these powers is lawful and that the powers are used only where it is necessary and proportionate. The draft code makes it clear that the powers must be used only as a last resort. This will ensure that all those who are asked to voluntarily provide their devices and give agreement to the extraction of information, are given all the necessary information to enable them to make the decision that is right for them.

All authorised persons have a duty to have regard to the code when exercising, or deciding whether to exercise, the power. The code will also be admissible in evidence in criminal or civil proceedings and failure to act in accordance with it may be taken into account by the court.

Those who have an interest in the use of these powers and the protection of privacy for complainants are strongly encouraged to respond to the consultation, and I welcome the views of all colleagues on this important guidance.

I will arrange for a copy of the consultation and draft code to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.