• Research Briefing

    Crime and Courts Bill [HL]

    The Bill would establish a new National Crime Agency and make a number of changes to the administration of justice. It also deals with the law of self defence as it applies to householders defending themselves from intruders; makes changes to community sentences and to immigration appeal rights; and introduces a new drug driving offence.

  • Research Briefing

    Metal theft

    This note looks at the increasingly high-profile problem of metal theft, which the Association of Chief Police Officers has estimated costs the UK economy approximately £770 million per year. There have been calls to reform the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 to tighten up controls on scrap metal dealers. In January 2012 the Government announced that it would be amending the 1964 Act to introduce a ban on cash payments for scrap metal and unlimited fines for relevant offences under the Act. These changes are set out in sections 145 to 147 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. In June 2012 Richard Ottaway introduced a Private Member's Bill that proposes to repeal the 1964 Act altogether and replace it with a new regulatory regime. The Bill has Government support.

  • Research Briefing

    Criminal Memoirs

    This note explains the civil recovery scheme designed to prevent criminals profiting from accounts of their crimes (for example in an autobiography or television or newspaper interviews). It also looks at the rules preventing serving prisoners from publishing such information and at the relevant media codes of practice.

  • Research Briefing

    Sarah’s law: the child sex offender disclosure scheme

    This note summarises the child sex offender disclosure scheme, also known as Sarah's law, under which members of the public can ask the police whether an individual (e.g. a neighbour or family friend) is a convicted sex offender. In August 2010 the Home Secretary announced that the scheme would be rolled out across all police force areas in England and Wales, following a successful pilot.

  • Research Briefing

    Anonymity in rape cases

    People who complain that they have been the victims of sexual offences are automatically given anonymity. Defendants in such cases, however, are not. This note considers the relevant legislation and the continuing debate as to whether defendants should be granted some form of anonymity. Shortly after the general election the Government indicated that it intended to introduce anonymity for defendants in rape cases. However, these plans were subsequently dropped on the basis that there was insufficient empirical evidence on which to base a decision on providing those accused of rape with anonymity.

  • Research Briefing

    Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill Committee Stage Report

    This is a report on the House of Commons committee stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. It complements Research Paper 11/53. In the Bill’s remaining stages, it is likely that the areas that will prove most contentious will be the restrictions on legal aid, the introduction of new offences and possible Government amendments on squatting and self-defence and sentences of imprisonment for public protection.

  • Research Briefing

    Police (Detention and Bail) Bill

    This Research Paper has been prepared for the Commons stages of the Police (Detention and Bail) Bill, which is being fast-tracked and is due to undergo all of its remaining Commons stages on 7 July 2011. The Bill would reverse the effect of the High Court’s recent decision in the Hookway case, in which it held that the “detention clock” limiting the period that the police can hold a suspect for without charge continued to run when the suspect was released on bail

  • Research Briefing

    Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill Committee Stage Report [Bill 151 of 2010-11]

    During the Committee stage, several Government amendments were made to the provisions on police reform. Some (for example, on police complaints, police and crime plans and disqualifying people convicted of imprisonable offences from becoming or being police and crime commissioners) were on matters of substance. By contrast, there were only minor amendments to the provisions of the misuse of drugs and no substantive amendments to the parts of the Bill covering licensing, protests in Parliament Square or universal jurisdiction.

  • Research Briefing

    Protection of Freedoms Bill [Bill 146 of 2010-11]

    This briefing on the Protection of Freedoms Bill was prepared for the House of Commons Second Reading debate. The Bill forms part of the Coalition Government's programme to “implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion”, and follows the passing of the Identity Documents Act 2010, which abolished identity cards. The Bill introduces a wide range of measures including the a new framework for police retention of fingerprints and DNA data, a requirement for schools to get parents’ consent before processing children’s biometric information, a new regime for police stops and searches under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the reduction of the maximum pre-charge detention period under that Act from 28 to 14 days. It also restricts the scope of the 'vetting and barring' scheme for protecting vulnerable groups and makes changes to the system of criminal records checks.

  • Research Briefing

    Anonymity (Arrested Persons) Bill [Bill 9 of 2010-11]

    The Anonymity (Arrested Persons) Bill is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Anna Soubry. It would prohibit the publication or broadcast of the name, address or image of a person arrested for an offence if such information would be likely to lead members of the public to identify him or her as the person suspected of committing the offence in question. These reporting restrictions would remain in force unless and until the arrested person was charged with the offence for which he or she had been arrested. In certain circumstances a Crown Court judge would be able to direct that the reporting restrictions should not apply, for example if publishing the identity of the suspect might lead to new complainants or witnesses coming forward.