The House of Commons will consider the remaining stages of the Bill on Monday 5 July. The Library has published a seperate briefing summarising the Bill’s Committee Stage. 

The Bill’s long title is

“A Bill to make provision about the police and other emergency workers; to make provision about collaboration between authorities to prevent and reduce serious violence; to make provision about offensive weapons homicide reviews; to make provision for new offences and for the modification of existing offences; to make provision about the powers of the police and other authorities for the purposes of preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting crime or investigating other matters; to make provision about the maintenance of public order; to make provision about the removal, storage and disposal of vehicles; to make provision in connection with driving offences; to make provision about cautions; to make provision about bail and remand; to make provision about sentencing, detention, release, management and rehabilitation of offenders; to make provision about secure 16 to 19 Academies; to make provision for and in connection with procedures before courts and tribunals; and for connected purposes.”

The Government has published overarching documents and factsheets associated with the Bill. Parliament’s webpage for the Bill collates relevant parliamentary papers, including the Bill’s Explanatory Notes.

What would the Bill do?

The Bill would make significant changes across the criminal justice system. It includes provisions to amend police powers and how the police are supported to do their job preventing and detecting crime. The Bill would also make significant changes to how offenders are dealt with including major reforms to “out of court disposals”, changes to sentencing law and changes to how offenders are managed in the community.

The Government has been committed to many of the Bill’s provisions for a while. Some of its policies predate the 2019 General Election and meet commitments first made by the 2017-19 Conservative Government whilst Theresa May was Prime Minister. Some of the provisions regarding sentencing and release were proposed in a September 2020 White Paper: A Smarter Approach to Sentencing

Library briefings about the Bill

Part 1, Protection of the police etc

Requires the Home Secretary to report annually on work to uphold a Police Covenant.

Amends the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 to increase the maximum available sentence from 12 months to two years.

Allows police specials (volunteer police officers) to join the Police Federation (the staff association for rank-and-file police officers).

Amends the Road Traffic Act 1988 so trained police drivers are no longer compared to regular drivers for the offences of dangerous and careless driving. Under the Bill trained police drivers would be compared to what is expected of a trained police driver when deciding if they had committed dangerous/ careless driving. 

Part 2, Prevention. investigation and prosecution of crime

Introduces a new legal duty requiring local public services to work together in “Serious Violence Partnerships” to tackle serious violence. It would also amend provisions in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 so that existing Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) are required to consider “serious violence”

Requires police, local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (public health boards in Wales) to conduct Offensive Weapon Homicide Reviews when an adult’s death involves the use of an offensive weapon.

Provides a new statutory framework for extracting information from electronic devices in investigations.

Makes various amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) to reform pre-charge bail.

Extends the existing offence of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

Extends the existing ‘position of trust’ offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to cover roles in sports and religious settings.

Amends the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 to enable the Crown Court to try offences of criminal damage to memorials where the financial value of the damage caused is below £5,000.

Amends the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019, which enables law enforcement and prosecutors to obtain orders for the production of electronic evidence from other jurisdictions, with the aim of making it more effective.   

Makes various amendments to PACE regarding police powers to recall those who have been arrested, charged or convicted to take fingerprints, DNA samples and photographs, where this was not done on initial arrest

Gives police new powers to apply for a warrant to enter and search premises for human remains or material relating to human remains.

Gives Prisoner Escort and Custody Service officers the power to have custody over prisoners in police stations for the purpose of overseeing live link hearings and associated matters.

Part 3 and 4, Public order and unauthorised encampments

Amends the police powers in the Public Order Act 1986 so police can impose conditions on protests that are noisy enough to cause “intimidation or harassment” or “serious unease, alarm or distress” to bystanders. Including protests consisting of one person.

Abolishes the common law offence of public nuisance and replaces it with a statutory offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”.

Amends provisions in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to expand the “controlled area” around Parliament where certain protest activities are prohibited. It would also add obstructing access to the Parliamentary Estate to the activities prohibited in the “controlled area”.  

Would create a new offence of “residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle”.

Amends the existing police powers associated with unauthorised encampments to lower the threshold at which they can be used. Amendments would also allow the police to remove unauthorised encampments on (or partly on) highways and prohibit unauthorised encampments moved from a site from returning within twelve months.

Part 5, Road traffic

Includes provisions for new and amended road traffic offences for dangerous and careless driving under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Amends the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to provide a charging regime for courses offered as alternative to prosecution for certain low-level road traffic offences.

Amends the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to provide statutory legal basis to charge for vehicle recovery, storage and disposal fees.  

Amends the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to remove the requirement for a physical driving licence to be produced where a Fixed Penalty Notice has been issued, and to strengthen the rules for the surrender of driving licences where a driver faces disqualification. 

Extends the power to allow the police to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices to suspected offenders of road traffic offences committed in Scotland under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Part 6, Cautions

Replaces most existing out of court disposals (OOCDs) with two new ones: the diversionary caution and the community caution.

Part 7, Sentencing and release

Requires courts to impose minimum sentences for certain repeat offences unless there are exceptional circumstances that would make it unjust to do so.

Makes the “starting point” when setting the term of a life sentence for the premeditated murder of a child a whole life order.

Allows judges to impose a whole life order on offenders aged 18 to 20 in exceptional circumstances.

Provides for new starting points for murder committed by children, based on the adult system, and depending on seriousness and age.

Reduces the number of reviews of the minimum term an offender, sentenced to Detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for murder committed whilst under 18, is entitled to after they turn 18.

Changes the way the minimum term of a life sentence imposed other than for murder is calculated from half of a notional determinate sentence length to at least two thirds.

Provides that for offenders sentenced to between four and seven years for certain sexual and violent offences the automatic release point will be the two thirds point of their sentence (currently it is halfway).

Provides that offenders serving a sentence for offenders of particular concern for a child sex offence would be required to serve two thirds of their sentence in prison before they can apply to the Parole Board for release.

Enables the Secretary of State for Justice to refer to the Parole Board any prisoner who would normally be released automatically, but who is deemed to present a terrorist or other significant danger to the public.

Expands the rules the Secretary of State may make concerning proceedings of the Parole Board, allowing the Secretary of State to make rules requiring or permitting the Parole Board to make provisional decisions and to make rules conferring a power on the Parole Board to set aside its decisions and directions in certain circumstances.

Repeals uncommenced provisions for the establishment of recall adjudicators, set out responsibilities for setting licence conditions for fixed term prisoners and make changes to the law on the recall and re-release of recalled prisoners serving determinate sentences.

Provides a power for the Secretary of State to change the test for the release of fixed term prisoners following recall.

Amends the law so that the Parole Board would no longer be able to direct ‘immediate’ release, the Secretary of State would instead be required to give effect to the direction as soon as it is reasonably practicable in all the circumstances.

Makes changes to the law so that the length of the extension period required when a driver disqualification is imposed with a custodial sentence takes account of the new release points for various offenders resulting from recent changes made to release points.

Gives probation practitioners the power to require an offender serving a community order or suspended sentence order to attend an appointment for the duration of the order.

Increases the maximum daily curfew hours which can be imposed as part of a curfew requirement and the maximum curfew requirement period under a community order or suspended sentence order.

Allows probation practitioners to vary curfew requirements in two limited respects without approval from the court.

Makes provision for pilots of problem-solving courts.

Imposes a duty on the probation service to consult with key stakeholders on the delivery of unpaid work.

Part 8 & 9, Youth justice and secure children’s homes/ academies

Makes changes to the tests for custodial remand for children with the aim of reducing its use and provides a statutory duty for the court to consider the welfare and best interests of the child when applying the tests to remand a child to custody.

Makes changes to Detention and Training Orders (DTOs) and Youth Rehabilitation Orders (YROs).

Abolishes Reparation Orders.

Provides a statutory power for the temporary release of children detained in Secure Children’s Homes.

Allows 16-19 academies to provide secure accommodation and allows for the establishment and running of a secure 16 to 19 academy to be treated as a charitable purpose.

Inserts secure 16 to 19 academies into the definition of youth detention accommodation and applies the provisions of the Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015 to secure 16 to 19 academies.

Part 10 & 11, Management and rehabilitation of offenders

Introduces Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs), a new court order. The police would be able to search without reasonable grounds those who have an SVRO.

Enables the police to make sex offenders who are convicted of or cautioned for specified sexual offences abroad subject to notification requirements without the need for a court order.

Enables the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police to apply for a Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) or a Sexual Risk Orders (SRO).

Makes provision for a list of countries and territories considered to be at high risk of child sexual exploitation or abuse by UK nationals and residents to be established requires the police and courts to have regard to the list.

Provides that a court should apply the civil standard of proof (the ‘balance of probabilities’) when determining whether the individual has done the act of a sexual nature specified in the application for SHPO or SRO.

Enables a court to impose positive obligations as conditions of SHPOs and SROs and provides that breach of such obligations is a criminal offence.

Provides for the court to impose electronic monitoring conditions as part of a SHPO or SRO, to monitor the individual’s compliance with the order.

Provides for mutual recognition of all sex offenders management orders throughout the UK.

Provides for some custodial sentences of over 4 years to become spent after a certain period of time and reduces existing rehabilitation periods for certain other disposals.

Makes changes to the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements for managing terrorist offenders to include additional powers such as search warrants and personal searches.

Part 12, Procedure in courts and tribunals

Amends the law to permit British Sign Language interpreters in jury deliberation rooms, to enable profoundly deaf people who use sign language to serve as jurors.

Replaces temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 relating to live video and audio court hearings, and the broadcast and recording of video and audio proceedings.

Extent (clause 174)

Criminal justice is largely a devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Therefore, most of the Bill’s provisions apply to England and Wales only. However, there are some exceptions.

Provisions that apply in Scotland

Part 1, clauses 4 to 6 which amends the Road Traffic Act 1988 so trained police drivers are no longer compared to regular drivers for the offences of dangerous and careless driving. Under the Bill trained police drivers would be compared to what is expected of a trained police driver when deciding if they had committed the dangerous/ careless driving.

Part 2, clauses 36-42 and Schedule 3 relating to the extraction of information from electronic devices.

Part 2, clause 51(2) on cross-border execution of warrants and orders for access to material relating to human remains.

Part 7, clauses 117 and 118 on driving disqualification extension in connection with a custodial sentence and clause 123, application of provision about minimum terms to service offences.

Part 10, clauses 143 and 152, and in parts, clauses 150, 153, 155 and 156. These provisions amend the law on orders used to manage sex offenders, including providing for the mutual recognition of such orders throughout the UK.

Clauses 64-66 and Schedule 7 relating to sentencing for dangerous driving and careless driving offences apply across the whole of GB.

Clauses 69-74 and Schedules 8 and 9 relating to the process of surrendering driving licences extend and apply to England, Wales and Scotland.   

Clause 75 amending the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 would extend powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices on-the-spot to road traffic offenders to police officers in Scotland.

Provisions that apply in Northern Ireland

Part 2, clauses 36-42 and Schedule 3 relating to the extraction of information from electronic devices

Part 2, clause 51(2) on cross-border execution of warrants and orders for access to material relating to human remains

Part 10, clause 152, and in parts, clauses 153, 155 and 156. These provisions amend the law on orders used to manage sex offenders, including providing for the mutual recognition of such orders throughout the UK.

Clause 67(2) would amend the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 to provide a statutory basis for a charging regime for courses offered as an alternative to low-level moving traffic offences (e.g. speeding).

Commencement (clause 175)

The provisions in the Bill have varying commencement days. Some clauses come into force on Royal Assent (including some regulatory powers as necessary). Other clauses come into force two months after Royal Assent.

The remaining provisions will come into force once the Secretary of State has made commencement regulations using powers, they would have thanks to clause 175. The Secretary of State must pilot Offensive Weapons Homicide Reviews and Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) before using their commencement powers to bring them into force.

Provisions that commence on Royal Assent

Part 1, Chapter 1, Serious Violence

Clauses 12, 21 and 22 (functions relating to serious violence), Clauses 3, 7-11, 13, 18 and 19 for the purposes of making regulations and issuing guidance

Part 1, Chapter 2, Offensive Weapons Homicide Reviews

Clauses 30 and 33-35 (delegating functions and piloting), clauses 23-25 and 31 for the purposes of making regulations and issuing guidance)

Part 5, Road traffic

Clause 68 for the purposes of making regulations

Part 7, Sentencing and release

Clause 108 (power to refer high-risk offenders to Parole Board)

Clauses 115-118 (driving disqualification extension in connection with a custodial sentence)

Part 8 & 9, Youth justice and secure children’s homes/ academies

Clause 135(1) (in part), 135(2)-(9) Youth Rehabilitation Orders and clauses 137 and 138 Secure Children’s Homes and secure academies

Part 10, Management of offenders

Clauses 139 (for the purposes of issuing guidance and making regulations) and 140 (serious violence reduction orders)

Clause 162 (arrangements for assessing risk posed by certain terrorist offenders)

Part 12, Procedures in Courts and Tribunals

Clause 166 and Part 1 of Schedule 19 (for the purposes of making regulations on remote observation of proceedings)

Part 13, Final Provisions

All clauses other than clause 171 and Schedule 20

Provisions that commence two months after Royal Assent

Part 1, Protection of the police

Clause 2 (increase in penalty for assaults on emergency workers)

Part 2, Chapter 4, Other Provisions

Clause 45 (positions of trust), clause 46 (criminal damage to memorials), clause 47 and Schedule 5 (overseas production orders), clauses 48 and 49 (amendments to PACE), clause 53 (prisoner custody officers)

Part 4, Unauthorised encampments

Clauses 61 to 63 (unauthorised encampments)

Part 5, Road Traffic

Clauses 64 to 66 and Schedule 7 (road traffic offences)

Part 7, Sentencing and release

Clauses 100 and Schedule 11, clauses 101-104, 106-107, 111, 119-123, 125- 126, clause 128 and Schedule 13, clause 129 and Schedule 14 on custodial and community sentences.

Part 8 Youth justice

Clauses 131-134 and Schedule 15, clause 135(1) (in part), Schedule 16 (in part) and clause 136 (detention and training orders, youth rehabilitation orders and abolition of reparation orders)

Part 10 Management of offenders

157-161 and Schedule 18 (management of terrorist offenders)

Part 11, Procedure in courts and tribunals

Clauses 164 and 165 (juries)

Clause 168 and Part 3 of Schedule 19 (video and audio links) and clause 169(1) (repeal of temporary provision)

Part 13, Final provisions

Clause 171 and Schedule 20 (minor amendments relating to sentencing consolidation)

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