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The stated principal objective of the Bill is to ensure that law enforcement agencies have effective legal powers to deal with serious and organised crime. The Bill would give effect to a number of proposals and commitments made in the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy (published in October 2013).

The Bill is in six parts. Part 1 of the Bill would make changes aimed to strengthen the law on the recovery of the proceeds of crime. It would (amongst other things):

• allow the Crown Court to make a determination on the extent of the defendant’s and any third party interests in property when making a confiscation order;

• reduce the maximum time a court could allow a defendant to pay the full amount of a confiscation order;

• provide for the victim surcharge to be paid ahead of any confiscation order

• enable courts to make compliance orders to impose restrictions, prohibitions, or requirements (including a ban on the defendant’s travel outside the UK) for the purpose of securing that a confiscation order is effective;

• increase the maximum default sentences imposed where a confiscation order for more than £500,000 remains unpaid past its due date; and

• change the test applied for a restraint order to be made from “reasonable cause to believe” a defendant has benefited from their criminality to “reasonable grounds to suspect”.

Part 2 of the Bill would amend the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The Bill would update existing offences to ensure sentences for attacks on computer systems deemed to have damaged national security, human welfare, the economy or the environment reflect the damage they cause. It has been introduced following a review designed to ensure existing legislation, such as the Computer Misuse Act 1990, remains relevant and effective and transposes the EU Directive on attacks against information systems into UK law.

Part 3 of the Bill would:

• create a new offence of participating in the activities of an organised crime group;

• apply Serious Crime Prevention Orders to Scotland, and allow them to be extended beyond five years or replaced in certain circumstances; and

• broaden the definition of a gang used when making injunctions.

Part 4 would provide new powers to enable law enforcement agencies to enter and search premises for drug-cutting agents, and to seize and detain any chemical substance that is reasonably suspected of being intended for use for such purposes.

Part 5 would make various amendments to the offence of cruelty to children under 16 and make it an offence to be in possession of any item that contains advice or guidance about abusing children sexually. Part 5 would also amend the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 to extend the extra-territorial offences, provide anonymity for victims of the offence, create a new civil protection order and create a new offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM.

Part 6 of the Bill would:

• create an offence of unauthorised possession in a prison of any article that has a blade or is sharply pointed or any other offensive weapon;

• provide for extra-territorial jurisdiction for two offences under the Terrorism Act 2006: preparation of terrorist acts and training for terrorism; and

• provide for parliamentary approval of two draft Decisions of the Council of the European Union.

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