• 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.

  • Research Briefing

    Private prosecutions

    This note provides an overview of the right of a private individual to bring a criminal prosecution. It also outlines some of the procedural safeguards to prevent misuse of this right, including the need to obtain consent to prosecute certain offences and the ability of the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over private prosecutions. It includes a discussion of recent attempts to bring private prosecutions in respect of alleged war crimes.

  • Research Briefing

    Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups

    The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 provided for a new Vetting and Barring Scheme under which individuals who wish to engage in certain types of employment or activity involving contact with children or vulnerable adults will have to apply to be subject to monitoring by a government body: the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

  • Research Briefing

    Acquitted defendants: recovery of legal costs from central funds

    This note outlines the provisions under which an acquitted defendant may be entitled to recover his legal costs from central funds. In particular, it considers the recent introduction of a "cap" on the amount that may be recovered. The cap, introduced in October 2009, provides that an acquitted defendant who paid for private legal representation will only able to recover his costs at legal aid rates, even where these are lower than the commercial rates his private lawyers actually charged. The defendant will be responsible for meeting any difference. Following a judicial review application by the Law Society, in June 2010 the High Court ruled that the October 2009 pay rates were unlawful.

  • Research Briefing

    Anti-Slavery Day Bill

    This note provides an overview of the Anti-Slavery Day Bill, which would require the Secretary of State to designate a date for an annual "Anti-Slavery Day" to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The Bill is a Private Member's Bill introduced by Anthony Steen, founder of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, who drew sixth place in the 2009-10 ballot for Private Members' Bills.

  • Research Briefing

    Crime and Security Bill. Bill 3 2009-10.

    The Bill would amend the law governing the taking, retention and destruction of fingerprints and DNA data from persons arrested for, charged with or convicted of criminal offences. It would reduce the requirements on the police to record information following a stop and search. It would introduce new 'go' orders for suspected perpetrators of domestic violence, which could mean excluding them from their homes in order to protect the victim. The Bill would also, in effect, extend new injunctions for gang-related violence to 14-18 year olds, and require courts to issue a Parenting Order where a child under 16 had breached an Anti-social Behaviour Order. It would require wheel clamping companies to be licensed, and create a new offence of possessing an authorised mobile phone in a prison. It also creates a new offence of preventing a person under 18 from gaining unauthorised access to air weapons.

  • Research Briefing

    Coroners and Justice Bill: Lords amendments

    This note outlines the principal amendments made to the Coroners and Justice Bill during its Lords stages. Of particular significance are the amendments relating to secret inquests, the use of intercept evidence, the "free speech" proviso to the offence of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, the "crime of passion" defence to murder and the introduction of an Independent Commissioner for Terrorist Suspects.