The Government gave a commitment in Committee that they would review the maximum penalties for an aggravated offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, but last week they waited until a few minutes after the deadline for tabling new amendments to the Bill, then let the House know that they would bring forward proposals on Report despite previous assurances to the contrary. Having failed to act, the Government now propose to fix the timetable so that our proposals for

14 Oct 2013 : Column 458

robust action in the form of dog control notices, which have worked so effectively in Scotland, will not receive proper debate, and to ensure that they do not lose the vote—a decision condemned by Michael Anderson.

It may be that I am naturally suspicious, but in the Government’s conduct over dangerous dogs, I smell a rat. First, we had the removal of the Minister who promised that the Government would review action on dangerous dogs and bring back proposals on Report, and then the new Minister, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), last week waited until after the deadline for tabling amendments to inform the House that the Government will be doing no such thing. Now the Government want to fix the timetable to avoid debate and losing a vote. The Minister knows a thing or two about conspiracy theories, but I am sure he did not expect to be involved in one quite so quickly. Despite his being responsible for dogs and ASBOs, the Government do not even list him as a speaker in the debate. It would appear that he has been silenced less than a week into his tenure of office. I would urge him to investigate.

I urge the House to reject the programme motion and encourage the Government to allocate more time for debate. Any Government’s first duty to their citizens is to ensure their safety and security. Our citizens would expect nothing less than these very important measures, but the motion fails to ensure that they are properly debated in this House.

4.42 pm

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I congratulate the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) on his new role and on his powerful speech, which came across very well and covered issues that he clearly cares about. However, I do not agree with his factual interpretation. If we do not pass this programme motion, we will be left with the programme motion that we passed unanimously in this House previously, which means that we will have only the rest of today for debate. I am afraid that the outcome of his suggestion is that we would have only five and a quarter hours to continue the debate, and I hope that we will not take up too much of it with this discussion. I understand the reason for his proposal, but unfortunately it suffers from the fact that it would curtail debate. He made an important point about having time to discuss dogs, and I am pleased to see that two hours are protected for that purpose. If we voted against this motion, we would risk having no debate on that issue at all.

My concern about the programme motion relates to the section covering the period until 2.30 pm on the second day, which deals with a whole collection of new clauses and new schedules on matters other than dogs, with a maximum of two hours available for debate. They include forced marriage in Scotland, on which I will not claim to be an expert, court fees and compensation, and a collection of policing and offences issues, including several that I would like to raise about schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, which needs to be curtailed. There are a range of other issues about drugs policy and a section on extradition. For all that, we have available a maximum of two hours, which would be limited even further in the event of any statements or urgent questions. I can accept voting for this motion because I have not tabled an amendment, and nor has anybody else, that would protect that time. However, in the event of there

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being statements or other things that delayed progress, will the Minister make sure that we have time to debate these very important subjects? Will he at least discuss with his colleagues whether there could be an amendment to the programme motion tomorrow to ensure that that crucial time, which many of us care about, is protected?

4.44 pm

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab): First, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) on, and welcome him to, his new Front-Bench position. He has said that he has nothing in principle against programme motions, but had he been in the House before the last election he would have had to sit through the long debates in which Members who now sit on the Government Front Bench used to argue that programme motions were an evil of our age. They have not taken long to embrace programme motions or to use them as a way of curtailing debate.

It is universally acknowledged that the Queen’s Speech was not jam-packed with proposed legislation, to the extent that we now routinely have Back-Bench business debates and Opposition days. This Government are reluctant to ensure that this House properly scrutinises Bills. If that is to happen, time has to be provided for it.

A number of Bills have been rushed through this place with undue haste this Session, only to then be filleted in the other place, where more time is given for scrutiny. Sometimes that has been down to bad draftsmanship, and this Bill is a good example of that. My hon. Friend has already referred to the 89 pages of amendments and new clauses that have been tabled, which smacks to me of there being something wrong with the drafting of the Bill.

My hon. Friend said that this is a Christmas tree Bill, but I would say that it is a dog’s breakfast—a dangerous dog’s breakfast—of a Bill. If we look back at previous attempts to legislate on the serious issue of dangerous dogs, we will see that getting it wrong can cost lives, so it is very important that we get it right this time. That can only be done through proper scrutiny by the House.

Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South) (Ind): In the absence of any amendment to the programme motion, what could the House possibly gain from voting against it? If we did so we would, in effect, lose a whole day.

Mr Jones: I welcome the hon. Gentleman, whose presence in the House has been limited because of illness, to his place. The fact is that there is a general trend under this Government to limit the time to consider all Bills, not just this one.

The Bill raises serious issues and has a wide scope, as the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) has said. It covers everything from the important issue of dangerous dogs to forced marriage and major issues of police reform, including a provision allowing foreigners to become police chiefs. Also—I know this is an issue of huge concern to some Government Members—it relates to the Terrorism Act 2000 and extradition. If we are to have a serious debate about such issues and ensure public confidence in us, we need more time than that allotted by the programme motion.

The Minister has said that the programme motion is generous because it gives us an extra day, but that is not the case, unless the Minister’s day usually finishes

14 Oct 2013 : Column 460

at 5.30 pm on a Tuesday. Why can we not extend the time available for consideration until the usual time of 7 pm, which would at least give us nearly two extra hours? I understand that Government Members are keen to attend to certain social engagements. I was surprised to read in the press at the weekend that the Opposition had agreed to the programme motion when they clearly had not. It has been a trend of this Government to believe that if they say something, it must be true, and if they keep saying something, it most definitely is true.

This House must do a proper job of scrutinising this large piece of legislation, which contains some crucial issues that will affect our constituents directly. The allocated time is not sufficient to ensure that we do that.

4.50 pm

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): I want briefly to put on the record my concern that the programme motion does not allow for proper debate and scrutiny of the Executive, in particular in relation to the extradition clauses and amendments.

I appreciate that there are limitations on the number of Back-Bench amendments that can be considered during the Report stage of any Bill. However, yet again, substantive clauses on extradition reform that were tabled in Committee risk not being properly scrutinised by the House. The extradition proposals make up the last of four clusters of amendments to be debated tomorrow between 2.30 and 4.30 pm, so the chances are that we will have no time to debate them.

This is not the first time that that has happened. The Government’s new forum test for US and EU extradition was tabled during the Committee stage of the Crime and Courts Bill earlier this year. The House was again timed out of any consideration on Report back in March.

The broader context is that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have loudly promised extradition reform. It is in the coalition programme, no less. The legislative proposals follow an independent inquiry by Sir Scott Baker, which was conducted at great public expense. It is surely vital that we properly consider the case for reform and deliver on the promises that have been made.

Unbelievably, the Government’s forum clause, which was slipped into the Crime and Courts Bill and which becomes law today, is worse than the status quo. It makes the repetition of unjust cases, such as those of Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer, more likely, not less. We have had no chance to debate the substance of those proposals on the Floor of the House. They have had precious little critical, substantive scrutiny.

The proposed safeguards for the European arrest warrant in this Bill are more positive, but they are still too weak. Again, they were introduced in Committee and the whole House should have an opportunity to consider amendments to strengthen them, not least because they will form the basis of the Government’s case for opting back into the European arrest warrant later this year. The programme motion makes it highly likely that we will be timed out again. I fear that that will weaken the Government’s case for opting back into the European arrest warrant, when I believe the intention was to strengthen the case.

14 Oct 2013 : Column 461

It may be a clever device to avoid proper scrutiny, but it comes at a price to our democracy. First, it means that Parliament is not properly scrutinising the powers that the Executive wield over innocent British citizens. Secondly, the lack of scrutiny leaves empty and undelivered the heady political promises that have been made about extradition reform by politicians across this House. I urge the Government to think again and to guarantee enough time for even a short, modest debate about these important clauses.

4.54 pm

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): The Minister will know that the city of Nottingham has a very good record of tackling antisocial behaviour, built on the alliance between the police, police community support officers and community protection officers. He will know that because I have written to him on several occasions about the issue.

Does the Minister think that we will have sufficient time to discuss the police’s powers of direction, which the city of Nottingham would like to extend in part to PCSOs and CPOs? Not every city is prepared to take on those powers, but the cities that are would find them of great benefit in the continuing battle against antisocial behaviour, which is taking place in Nottingham and beyond.

4.54 pm

Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con): I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab), who covered some of my points about why I will find it difficult to support the programme motion. I wish to speak specifically to the time allocated for debating the European arrest warrant, which is of considerable interest to my constituent Andrew Symeou, by whom my view is informed and who has been a victim of a failed and flawed process.

The significance of the issue means that we require more time to debate it. Although the House has had many debates on the subject of the European arrest warrant and extradition, at no point has it had the chance to debate the extensive Scott Baker report that the Home Secretary commissioned, yet we are expected to have an informed opinion on detailed new clauses that are effectively the Government’s response to that report and that set out our future extradition policy.

The lack of time means that we will have no chance to examine how effective the reforms are, including those in the new clauses. My hon. Friend has tabled a significant number of amendments and new clauses that I believe would strengthen the European arrest warrant and protect the rights of the British citizen, while still broadly supporting the principle of opting back into it. Those amendments have drawn cross-party support, so it is regrettable that we will probably not have the chance to address them because of the order in which the groups of amendments will be taken tomorrow. Whatever the reason behind that order, we need to discuss the issues of temporary extradition, which sounds good but could be strengthened to protect our constituents; of proportionality; and of whether we should discuss the use of extradition as a last resort, not the first resort. Its use as the first resort has plagued the lives of many citizens of this country who have been wrongfully extradited.

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My constituent Andrew Symeou spent two years out of the country as part of a four-year period of great disruption to his and his family’s life, including one year in jail. He was then rightly returned to this country when the Greek authorities finally threw out his case after four years. I made him a promise that during my time in the House, I would fight to ensure that others did not go through what he did. We had the opportunity to take that fight to the Floor of the House and discuss in detail how to make the situation better. Unfortunately, through the programme motion, the House has denied him the right to have it discussed and denied me the right to be his voice. That is a matter of regret and will make it difficult for me to form a positive judgment about opting back into the European arrest warrant, since the House has been denied the opportunity to challenge, probe and, hopefully, improve it.

4.57 pm

Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): I will not detain the House long, particularly while we are discussing the lack of time to debate the Bill, but I wanted to add my concern about the Government’s decision to curtail debate tomorrow. I fail to see what could be more important than debating issues of life and death.

My constituent Royston Brett set off on Friday and has cycled almost 250 miles from Atherton to Westminster to add his voice to those demanding more action to prevent dog attacks. He was supported on his journey by Michael Anderson, the father of Jade Lomas Anderson, who was tragically killed by four out-of-control dogs in March. When Michael and Royston cycled into New Palace Yard at 1 o’clock today, they were extremely upset to learn that the Government were curtailing the debate. They do not understand how they can spend three days making such a heroic effort to raise the issue of dangerous dogs, cycling in atrocious weather and sleeping in the car, but MPs cannot be bothered to work through until the normal hour tomorrow.

The Government should rethink their strategy for the Bill and ensure that we have adequate time to discuss the 211 or so amendments. Jade and many thousands of other victims of dog attacks deserve nothing less.

Damian Green rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. I do not think that it is required for the Minister to respond, but if he wishes to say some further words, he can.

4.58 pm

Damian Green: With the leave of the House, I will, Mr Speaker.

I detect just the faintest whiff of synthetic indignation in the air. I remind the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) that the Opposition did not vote against Second Reading, or against the original programme motion, which provided for just one day on Report. They are objecting to having two days allowed for the Bill, but they did not object to having one day. Proceedings in Committee finished ahead of schedule, and on Report the Opposition Front Benchers have tabled just one amendment to the Bill’s 142 clauses, as well as five new clauses.

14 Oct 2013 : Column 463

In opposing this second programme motion, the official Opposition are opposing the extra time on Report that the Government have volunteered. The Opposition did not request extra time, but they now argue there is not enough. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) rightly pointed out, if the Opposition succeed, the time devoted to discussing these important issues will be reduced rather than increased. [Interruption.] The Opposition Whip can continue chuntering from a sedentary position as much as he likes, but he has left himself in the ridiculous position of voting for the Bill to have less time devoted to it, rather than more. That is not effective opposition or Opposition whipping.

Perhaps I may correct one factual point. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington said that the Government waited until after the tabling deadline to announce that they would not be tabling amendments on the maximum sentence in section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. That is not the case. The Minister of State, Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), wrote to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller) on that issue last Thursday, and the tabling deadline for amendments to be debated tomorrow was last Friday. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford has tabled amendments on that issue, so we can debate it tomorrow.

I take the point raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) and for Enfield North (Nick de Bois). Progress through the amendments tomorrow will be a matter for the House, but I see no reason why there should not be an opportunity to debate the important reforms to our extradition arrangements. The protestations from the Opposition simply do not add up.

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): We have often been in this situation and found that we have not had enough time to debate important amendments. Would the Minister have any objection to some of the important amendments being put to the vote if the guillotine falls before we have had time to debate them?

Damian Green: As my hon. Friend knows, it is not for Ministers to decide whether things are put to the vote; that is up to the Chair.

The hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) prayed in aid what happened in previous Parliaments. As I have said, this programme motion provides for additional time on Report. Indeed, this is the sixth Bill this Session that has received multiple days for its remaining stages. That is in stark contrast to the previous Government whom the hon. Gentleman supported and who routinely provided for only one day on Report and Third Reading. There is much more scrutiny of Bills under this Government than there was under the previous Government, and if the Opposition succeed there will be less parliamentary discussion—as is characteristic of the Labour party—rather than more, which is what the coalition Government have introduced.

On reflection, I hope the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington will reconsider his position and allow the programme motion to pass without further ado so that we can get on with the substantive issues before the House.

Question put.

The House divided:

Ayes 294, Noes 227.

Division No. 96]


5.2 pm


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Alistair

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Richard

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Randall, rh Mr John

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, rh Hugh

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Anne Milton


Mark Hunter


Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Noes:

Tom Blenkinsop


Julie Hilling

Question accordingly agreed to.

14 Oct 2013 : Column 464

14 Oct 2013 : Column 465

14 Oct 2013 : Column 466

14 Oct 2013 : Column 467

14 Oct 2013 : Column 468

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

[1st Allocated Day]

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee

New Clause 8

Violent offender orders

‘(1) In section 98 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (violent offender orders), after subsection (5) there is inserted—

“(6) The Secretary of State may by order—

(a) amend subsection (3);

(b) make consequential amendments to subsection (4).”

(2) In section 147(5) of that Act (orders etc subject to affirmative resolution procedure), after paragraph (d) there is inserted—

“(da) an order under section 98(6),”.

(3) In section 99 of that Act (qualifying offenders), in paragraph (b) of subsection (5) (meaning of “relevant offence”) after “a specified offence” there is inserted “, or the offence of murder,”.’.—(Damian Green.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.18 pm

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 14—Sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders, etc.

Government new clause 15—Saving and transitional provision.

New clause 5—Child sexual abuse prevention orders—

‘(1) The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is amended as follows.

(2) For sections 123 (Risk of sexual harm orders: applications, grounds and effect) to 129 (Effect of conviction etc. of an offence under section 128) substitute—

“123 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Orders: Applications and grounds

(1) On the application of a qualifying person, or on conviction of a qualifying offence, a magistrates’ court may make a ‘child sexual abuse prevention order’ if it is satisfied that it is necessary to make such an order for the purposes of protecting children generally or any particular child from serious sexual harm from the defendant.

(2) A qualifying person under subsection (1) shall be a chief officer of police or an officer, of superintendant rank or above, in the NCA or other relevant agency to be decided by the Home Secretary.

(3) In subsection (1) a defendant shall be considered to be convicted of a qualifying offence who—

(a) is convicted of an offence listed in schedules 3 and 5;

(b) is found not guilty of such an offence by reason of insanity;

(c) is found to be under a disability and to have done the act charged against him in respect of such an offence;

(d) is cautioned in respect of such an offence;

“(1) A chief officer of police may apply for an order under this section in respect of a person who resides in his police area or who the chief officer believes is in, or is intending to come to, his police area.

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(2) An application under subsection (1) may be made to a magistrates’ court whose commission area includes—

(a) any part of the police area, or

(b) any place where it is alleged that the defendant committed one or more offences listed in schedules 3 and 5.

Section 123: supplemental

‘(1) In this Part, ‘Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Order’ means an order under section 123.

(2) Subsections (3) and (4) apply for the purposes of Section 1.

(3) ‘Protecting children generally or any particular child from serious sexual harm from the defendant’ means protecting persons under 18 or any person under 18, in or outside the United Kingdom, from serious physical or psychological harm caused by the defendant committing one or more offences listed in Schedule 3.

(4) Acts, behaviour, convictions, and findings include those occurring before the commencement of this Part.

(5) In subsection (1)(1), a person shall also be considered to have been convicted of a qualifying offence if, under law in force in a country outside the United Kingdom and whether before or after the commencement of this Part—

(a) he has been convicted of a relevant offence (whether or not he has been punished for it),

(b) a court exercising jurisdiction under that law has made in respect of a relevant offence a finding equivalent to a finding that he is not guilty by reason of insanity,

(c) such a court has made in respect of a relevant offence a finding equivalent to a finding that he is under a disability and did the act charged against him in respect of the offence, or

(d) he has cautioned in respect of a relevant offence.

(6) In subsection (5), a ‘relevant offence’ means an act which—

(a) constituted an offence under the law in force in the country concerned, and

(b) would have consituted an offence within schedules 3 and 5 if it had been done in any part of the United Kingdom.

(7) An act punishable under the law in force in a country outside the United Kingdom constitutes an offence under that law for the purposes of subsection (6), however it is described in that law.

(8) Subject to subsection (9), on an applicatioin under section 1 the condition in subsection (6)(b) above (where relevant) is to be taken as met unless, not later than rules of the court may provide, the defendant serves on the applicant a notice—

(a) stating that, on the facts as alleged with respect to the act concerned, the condition is not in his opinion met,

(b) showing his grounds for that opinion, and

(c) requiring the applicant to prove that the condition is met.

(9) The court, if it thinks fit, may permit the defendant to require the applicant to prove that the condition is met without the service of a notice under subsection (8).

Child-SAPOs: effect

‘(1) A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Order—

(a) prohibits the defendant from doing anything described in the order, and

(b) has effect for a fixed period (not less than five years) specified in the order or until further order.

(2) The only prohibitions that may be included in the order are those necessary for the purpose of protecting children generally or any particular child from serious sexual harm from the defendant.

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(3) Where a court makes a child sexual abuse prevention order in relation to a person already subject to such an order (whether made by that court or another), the earlier order ceases to have effect.

(4) Section 3(3) applies for the purposes of this section and section 5.

Child-SAPOs: variations, renewals and discharges

‘(1) A person within subsections (2) may apply to the appropriate court for an order varying, renewing or discharging a child sexual abuse prevention order.

(2) The persons are—

(a) the defendant;

(b) the chief officer of police for the area in which the defendant resides;

(c) a chief officer of police who believes that the defendant is in, or is intending to come on to, his police area;

(d) where an order was made on an application under section 1(1), the chief officer or other qualifying person who made the application.

(3) An application under subsection (1) may be made—

(a) where the appropriate court is the Crown Court, in accordance with rules of the court;

(b) in any other case, by complaint.

(4) Subject to subsections (5) and (6), on the application of the court, after hearing the person making the application and (if they wish to be heard) the other persons mentioned in subsection (2), may make any order, varying, renewing or discharging the child sexual abuse prevention order, that the court considers appropriate.

(5) An order may be renewed, or varied so as to impose additional prohibitions on or to lift prohibitions from the defendant, only if it is necessary to do so for the purposes of protecting children generally or any particular child from serious sexual harm from the defendant (and any renewed or varied order may contain only such prohibitions as are necessary for this purpose).

(6) The court must not discharge an order before the end of five years beginning with the day on which the order was made, without the consent of the defendant and—

(a) where the application is made by a chief officer of police, that chief officer, or other qualifying person or

(b) in any other case, the chief officer of police for the area in which the defendant resides.

(7) In this section ‘the appropriate court’ means—

(a) where the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal made the child sexual abuse prevention order, the Crown Court;

(b) where a magistrates’ court made the order, that court, a magistrates’ court for the area in which the defendant resides, or where the application is made by a chief officer of police, any magistrates’ court whose commission area includes any part of the chief officers’ police area or any area where the alleged offences occurred.

(c) where a youth court made the order, that court, the youth court for the area in which the defendant resides or, where the application is made, any youth court whose commission area includes any part of a chief officer’s police area or any place where the alleged offences occurred.

(8) This section applies to orders under—

(a) Section 5A of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 (c.51) (restraining orders),

(b) Section 2 or 20 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c.37) (sex offender orders made in England and Wales and Scotland),

(c) Article 6 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I., 1998/2839 (N.I. 20)) (sex offender orders made in Northern Ireland), and

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(d) as it applies to child sexual abuse prevention orders.

Interim Child-SAPOs

‘(1) This section applies where an application under section 123(1) (‘the main application’) has not been determined.

(2) An application for an order under this section (‘an interim child sexual abuse prevention order’)—

(a) may be made by the complaint by which the main application is made, or

(b) if the main application has been made, may be made by the person who has made that application, by complaint to the court to which that application has been made.

(3) The Court may, if it considers it just to do so, make an interim child sexual abuse prevention order, prohibiting the defendant from doing anything described in the order.

(4) Such an order—

(a) has effect only for a fixed period, specified in the order;

(b) ceases to have effect, if it has not already done so, on the determination of the main application.

(5) The applicant or the defendant may by complaint apply to the court that made the interim child sexual abuse prevention order for the order to be varied, renewed or discharged.

(6) Subsection (5) applies to orders under—

(a) Sections 2A or 20(4)(a) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c.37) (interim orders made in England and Wales Scotland), and

(b) Article 6A of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I., 1998/2839 (N.I. 20)) (interim orders made in Northern Ireland),

as it applies to interim child sexual abuse prevention orders.

Child-SAPO and interim Child-SAPO appeals

‘(1) A defendant may appeal to the Crown Court against the making of a child sexual abuse prevention order under section 123(1).

(2) A defendant may appeal to the Crown Court aginst the making of an interim child sexual abuse prevention order under section 127(3).

(3) A defendant may appeal against the making of an order under section 127(3), or the refusal to make such an order—

(a) where the application for such an order was made to the Crown Court, to the Court of Appeal;

(b) in any other case, to the Crown Court.

(4) On an appeal under section (1), (2) or subsection (3)(b), the Crown Court may make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to its determination of the appeal, and may also make such incidental or consequential orders as appear to it to be just.

(5) Any order made by the Crown Court on an appeal under sections (1) or (2) (other than an order directing that an application be re-heard by a magistrates’ court) is for the purpose of subsecitons 126(7) and 127(6) (respectively) to be treated as if it were an order of the court from which the appeal was brought (and not an order of the Crown Court).

Offence: breach of a Child-SAPO or interim Child-SAPO

‘(1) A person commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, he does anything which he is prohibited from doing by—

(a) a child sexual abuse prevention order;

(b) an interim child sexual abuse prevention order,

(c) an order under section 5A of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 (c.51) (restraining orders);

(d) an offender under sections 2, 2A or 20 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c.37) (sex offenders orders and interim orders made in England and Wales and in Scotland);

(e) an order under Article 6 or 6A of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I., 1998/2839 (N.I. 20)) (sex offender orders and interim orders made in Northern Ireland).

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

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(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for at term not exceeding five years.

(c) where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, it is not open to the court by or before which he is convicted to make, in respect of the offence, an order for conditional disharge or, in Scotland, a probation order.

(3) The Home Secretary shall issue guidance on the use of child sexual abuse prevention orders and interim child sexual abuse prevention orders within six months of this section coming into force.”.’.

New clause 7—Possession of prohibited written material about children—

‘(1) Section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (offence of possession of prohibited images of children) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), after “prohibited image of a child” insert “or prohibited written material about a child”.

(3) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) Prohibited written material about a child is written material which—

(a) is pornographic,

(b) falls within subsection (6), and

(c) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.”

(4) In subsection (3), after “image” insert “or written material”.

(5) After subsection (5) insert—

“(5A) Where (as found in the person’s possession) written material forms part of a series of written material, the question whether the written material is of such a nature as is mentioned in subsection (2A) is to be determined by reference to—

(a) the written material itself, and

(b) (if the series of written material is such as to be capable of providing a context for the written material) the context in which it occurs in the series of written material.

(5B) So, for example, where—

(a) written material forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of written material, and

(b) having regard to those written materials as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal,

the written material may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.”

(6) In subsection (6), insert “or written material” after the word “image” each time it appears.’.

Government new schedule 1—Amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Government amendments 63 and 92 to 94.

Damian Green: The Government proposals are in my name and that of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. New clauses 14 and 15, and new schedule 1, will simplify and strengthen the existing civil order regime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The inspiration for the reforms is the Childhood Lost campaign of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), who has attracted more than 100,000 signatures to her online petition and the support of 67 right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, who have added their names to my hon. Friend’s

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new clause 5. I pay tribute to her and those on both sides of the House who have campaigned so effectively on this important issue.

The Government essentially agree with the campaign and we are determined to do everything we can to protect the public from predatory sexual offenders. The UK has some of the toughest powers in the world to manage the risks posed by sex offenders, but in recognition of the important points highlighted by my hon. Friend’s campaign we are bringing forward amendments to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to make our powers even more effective.

Ann Coffey (Stockport) (Lab): I seek clarification from the Minister. The risk of sexual harm orders, which the new sexual risk orders would replace, can be given only to offenders aged 18 and over. Will the new sexual harm prevention orders also only apply to offenders over 18? If they will apply to offenders under 18, what consideration has he given to introducing accompanying rehabilitative provisions for child sex offenders?

Damian Green: If I may, I will first pay tribute to the hon. Lady, who has campaigned on these issues for a long time and deserves much of the credit for raising public awareness. If I may, I will come to the details of the offences shortly.

New clauses 14 and 15, and new schedule 1, will repeal the sexual offences prevention order, foreign travel order and risk of sexual harm order in England and Wales, and replace them with two new orders: the sexual harm prevention order and the sexual risk order. I welcome the engagement of hon. Members on this issue and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon will be pleased to note that we have sought to include her points as far as possible in the Government amendments. Indeed, following consultation with front-line professionals, including the police, the courts, the National Offender Management Service and the National Crime Agency, in a number of respects the Government amendments go further than her new clause 5.

The sexual harm prevention order will be available for those with convictions for sexual or violent offences. It may be made by a court on conviction, or by the magistrates court on application by the police or the National Crime Agency. A court may impose an order for the purposes of protecting the public in the UK and/or children or vulnerable adults abroad from sexual harm.

The sexual harm prevention order may prohibit the person from doing anything described in it, including preventing travel overseas. Any prohibition must be necessary for protecting the public in the UK from sexual harm or, in relation to foreign travel, protecting children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm. It lasts a minimum of five years and has no maximum duration, with the exception of any foreign travel restrictions which, if applicable, lasts for a maximum of five years but can be renewed.

The second new civil order is the sexual risk order, which will be available for those who have not been convicted of an offence but who none the less pose a risk of sexual harm to the public. It may be made by the

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magistrates court on application by the police or the new National Crime Agency where an individual has done an act of a sexual nature and poses a risk of harm to the public in the UK or adults or vulnerable children overseas.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): When the Minister mentioned the sexual risk orders, he helpfully highlighted the fact that they will apply to people who have not been convicted of any offence. What level of proof and standard of evidence will be needed to show that someone has done something of a sexual nature, and what would be included in that?

Damian Green: There is a specified list, which applies to the existing orders, and they are the obvious acts of a sexual nature. I take my hon. Friend’s point and, like him, I am very keen to see proper safeguards. That is why even the sexual risk order has to be made by a magistrate, so it will have judicial oversight and will not simply be available on the application of the police. That is a significant safeguard, and I hope that he would welcome that.

Any prohibition in the sexual risk order must be necessary for protecting the public in the UK from sexual harm or, in relation to foreign travel, protecting children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm. Such an order will last a minimum of two years and has no maximum duration, with the exception of any foreign travel restriction which, if applicable, lasts for a maximum of five years, but can be renewed.

Dr Huppert rose

Damian Green: Before I give way to the hon. Gentleman, I will address the point made by the hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey). The two new orders will apply to both over-18s and under-18s.

Dr Huppert: I thank the Minister for his earlier comments and for his understanding of the need for safeguards. I do not think he addressed the level of proof required in the court—whether it would be beyond reasonable doubt, or the balance of probability. Will he also explain, on the sexual risk order in particular, why the orders cannot be for less than two years? Why does he want to constrain magistrates?

Damian Green: We wish to avoid impracticalities in the system—we do not want to clog up the court system. The orders are serious enough to have that minimum period, and one hopes that it will make them effective and not mean a constant throughput of extra cases in the magistrates court. I will come on to more of the details, which I hope will reassure my hon. Friend.

The new regime will extend to England and Wales, although the protections afforded by the new orders will continue to relate to persons elsewhere in the UK, or beyond where necessary. We have included provision for cross-border enforcement and continue to liaise closely with the devolved Administrations.

I can perhaps answer my hon. Friend’s question directly by addressing what has changed. A number of key changes make the new sexual harm prevention order and the new sexual risk order more robust, more flexible and therefore more effective than previous orders.

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The new orders may be made to manage broader categories of risk, allowing them to be used in particular to manage risk against adults and vulnerable adults, as well as children. All members of the public deserve to be adequately protected from sexual harm. This change will ensure that dangerous individuals can be managed, regardless of to whom they present a risk.

Furthermore, the condition for the availability of the new sexual risk order is that the defendant has done an act of a sexual nature as a result of which it is necessary to protect the public. The previous “non-conviction” order required that the person concerned must have done at least two acts from a specified list of risky behaviour. The new provisions allow for an order as soon as an individual presents a risk.

As well as local police forces, the National Crime Agency will be able to apply for either of the new orders. This is a reflection of its expertise and access to intelligence on aspects of sexual offending, particularly against children. The NCA will be required to notify the relevant force area, which will continue to be responsible for managing offenders. I hope that that reassures my hon. Friend that the standard of proof will be the criminal standard of proof—the highest standard.

The remit of the new orders will be wider. For example, either will allow foreign travel restrictions to be applied. Our determination to prevent harm to children and vulnerable adults applies outside the United Kingdom as well as within. Individuals subject to the new sexual harm prevention order will be required to inform the police whenever their name or address changes. This will improve the police’s ability to monitor and manage individuals subject to these orders.

Those are the changes. What we are keeping are the aspects of the old orders that have been shown to be effective. In line with the old order, the new sexual harm prevention order will make the offender subject to the notification requirements for registered sex offenders—it will put them on the sex offenders register. For both new orders, in line with the existing position, breach is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment. Conviction for a breach of a sexual risk order would also make that individual subject to the sex offender notification requirements.

Dr Huppert: The Minister is being very generous in giving way and I thank him. One of the things he is keeping the same is the list of acts in the Sexual Offences Act, one of which states:

“giving a child anything that relates to sexual activity or contains a reference to such activity”.

There are some cases where that would clearly be inappropriate, but it might include a wide range of literature and textbooks, and that is presumably not the intention. How will the Minister ensure that there is no misinterpretation? We are keen to ensure the safeguards are correct.

Damian Green: As I said, I very much share the hon. Gentleman’s desire for the safeguards to be effective. That is why I laid great stress on the fact that this order will have to be made in court, so that if, as he suggests, a textbook has been given to a child, one imagines that—except in very odd circumstances—no sensible magistrate would regard that as in any way disturbing or warranting this type of activity. In this instance, we can rely on the

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protections that the courts rightly afford individuals to ensure that sensible decisions are made on these types of orders.

5.30 pm

What the new orders do is to ensure that the balance is even more firmly in favour of protecting the vulnerable from the risk of sexual harm. They will improve the use and effectiveness of this method of managing the risk to the public, and they will give the police and the National Crime Agency the flexibility they need to manage those individuals better.

Let me deal briefly with new clause 8, which adds murder committed overseas to the list of offences that may form the basis for making a violent offender order. These are civil preventive orders, which can be used by the police to impose restrictions on offenders convicted of a specified violent offence and who pose a risk of serious violent harm to the public. They can prohibit their access to certain places, premises, events or people to whom they pose the highest risk. Murder was not originally one of the specified offences for application of a violent offender order because an individual convicted of murder in the UK is managed indefinitely as a result of his automatic life sentence. Having identified this gap in the reach of a violent offender order, this new clause is designed to close it. In addition, new clause 8 will enable additions to be made to the list of specified offences through secondary legislation, subject to the affirmative procedure. Offenders and offending change over time, and it is right that the legislative powers for managing such behaviour can also change, while retaining appropriate parliamentary oversight.

That covers the main Government amendments, which I commend to the House.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): I thank the Minister for setting out the amendments in the group. These are a completely new set of provisions on child protection, which the House did not have the opportunity to deal with on Second Reading or in Committee, so we are grateful for the opportunity to discuss them this afternoon. The House has, however, had several excellent debates on child protection over the last year, which is testament to how seriously colleagues of all parties take these issues and want to engage with them.

The amendments before us are the result of hard work and concern across the House. I want to pay tribute in particular to the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) for her sterling work. I pay tribute, too, to the hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford), whose new clause appears in this grouping; to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey), who has done an enormous amount of work on this subject; and to my right hon. Friends the Members for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) and for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins).

Government new clause 8 is the lead amendment in the group. As the Minister has set out, it is designed to make a sensible addition to the offences that can lead to action being taken against those who commit them. As we know, this came out of the tragic case of Maria Stubbings, who was murdered by her ex-partner, Marc Chivers. The Independent Police Complaints Commission recognised that there were gaps in the law in respect

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of the supervision of offenders convicted overseas. The Opposition are pleased to support this sensible new clause.

Government new clause 14 deals with sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders, while I understand Government new clause 15 deals mainly with saving and transitional provisions. Government new schedule 1 provides for the practical introduction of the new orders, alongside new clause 5, tabled by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon and 67 other hon. Members, as the Minister pointed out, which creates the new child sexual abuse prevention order.

The Opposition support the need to amend the current law. The sexual abuse and grooming cases that occurred in Oxford shocked the country, and the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon has rightly gained huge respect from across the House for the serious way in which she has looked to address the issues with the Childhood Lost campaign. I know that she has worked with a number of charities, including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Barnardo’s, the Children’s Society, ECPAT UK, Action for Children, and many others.

We are pleased that the Government have accepted the need for change, and have tabled their own amendments. We especially welcome the fact that the Government amendments extend the risk of sexual harm orders to adults as well as children. We should be interested to hear how the Minister intends to address the other key activities of the Childhood Lost campaign which are important in keeping our children safe.

Ten years on, it is right for us to think about what was done by the Sexual Offenders Act 2003 and what parts of it need to be updated. The Act was a milestone that played a crucial role in improving our legislation on sex offences in many key respects, for instance by outlawing grooming. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East for the key role that he played in introducing the legislation.

The sad truth is that sex offenders, more than any other group of offenders, are prone to reoffend. We must accept that most sex offenders continue to pose a threat to children after their initial offences. That does not, of course, mean that all offenders will reoffend, but it does mean that we should try to identify those who pose the greatest risks, and try to do everything possible to mitigate those risks. Labour introduced three distinct powers which were intended to control the risks posed by known sex offenders.

The Minister referred to the sexual offences prevention order, which was the first order that could be imposed on someone who had been convicted, and was to be applied at the time of conviction—or subsequently by the police—only if there was evidence of dangerous behaviour after offending. It covered both children and adults. The order allowed the courts to impose conditions on the offender that they considered to be necessary to reduce the risk of sexual harm. The risk of sexual harm order could be imposed without a conviction if a chief police officer had a reasonable belief that someone within his region had twice committed a sexual offence, and that an order was necessary to protect the public. That covered only children. The foreign travel order could be imposed only after conviction, but required

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evidence of post-conviction behaviour that gave cause for concern. An example was the order imposed on Paul Gadd, also known as Gary Glitter.

I think that all those measures were important, and demonstrated the commitment of the last Government to combating sex crime. However, it is clear that all three now need to be improved. The hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon has undertaken important work in that regard in considering how we can improve the operation of the orders. I pay tribute to the recent report by the Association of Chief Police Officers and Hugh Davies QC on the workings of the current regime. New clause 5, tabled by the hon. Lady, would reform the risk of sexual harm order and establish a child sexual abuse prevention order extending to children under 18 rather than 16. It also—importantly—covers children and young people both inside and outside the United Kingdom, and would remove the requirement for two contact offences to be considered before an order could be made.

The Government’s proposals create two new orders. New clause 14 creates the sexual harm prevention order, which can be applied to anyone who has been convicted or cautioned for a sexual violent offence, including offences committed overseas. It will replace the sexual offences prevention and foreign travel orders. The new order will be required for the purpose of protecting the public generally, or any particular member of the public, from sexual harm. I understand that the new clause removes the requirement for a risk of serious sexual harm, which takes it down one level. The Opposition welcome that. The court must be satisfied that the defendant’s behaviour makes it necessary for an order to be made. Again, only one contact offence is required, which means that more people can be included in the grouping.

Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): The hon. Lady is providing a very helpful summary of the changes. I think that the removal of the word “serious” is a very important change, because it significantly widens the ambit of police activity in this area. The word “serious” creates quite a high threshold, and far too many cases were slipping through the net because they did not meet that criterion.

Diana Johnson: I am grateful for that intervention, and I know that the hon. Gentleman speaks from a great deal of experience as a member of the Bar and so fully understands the implications of the removal of the word “serious” from this definition.

Sexual risk orders can be applied to any individual who poses a risk of sexual harm in the UK or abroad, even if they have never been convicted, and replace the risk of sexual harm orders—again, these orders will apply to both adults and children. In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, the Minister confirmed that the sexual risk order could be applied to a child sex offender but did not deal with the other issue she raised about the rehabilitation of a child who was subject to one of these orders. Will he deal with that in his closing remarks and say what is being put in place to support those children and young people to rehabilitate them?

One key theme of these new orders is that both are equally committed to protecting children across the world. That is vital, because sex crimes are committed

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across the globe and, increasingly, paedophiles will cross borders to commit abuse. The global nature of sex crimes means that it is right that we make it easier to prevent foreign travel by known paedophiles and that we give equal prominence to crimes committed abroad when we are looking at the imposition of a civil order to protect children in the UK. We also need, however, to examine the issue of people who have not been convicted but pose a threat to children. I understand that the changes proposed today will also make it easier to impose an order when a criminal offence has not been committed. Such an example may be where an individual has attempted grooming on the net, for example, by impersonating a young person on social media, but has not actually, at that stage, committed a crime. Will the Minister explain whether the Government have any plans for introducing changes to legislation to make the grooming of a child on the internet an offence? I understand that it is only at the point when the person physically meets the child that an offence is committed.

One thing that the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon has drawn attention to in the very good briefing she has provided is the fact that very few risk of sexual harm orders have been imposed each year. We hope that these new provisions will make it easier to acquire an equivalent restriction, by making orders applicable to cases where a crime was committed aboard or where the behaviour does not constitute an offence at this time. However, I wish to refer to the issue raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), which related to the standard of proof required.

One reason it is hard to impose a risk of sexual harm order is that such orders demand a criminal standard of proof, even though they are civil orders, and that difficulty may remain in respect of the future orders. The demand for a criminal standard of proof was not actually in the Sexual Offences Act and there was some confusion therefore about the standard of proof required. The Home Office did issue guidance, which suggested a civil standard of proof—the “reasonable belief” approach. However, the courts tended to take a different approach and it was only in 2012—[Interruption.] I can see that the hon. Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland) is about to intervene. It was only in 2012 that the issue was settled by the courts in the case of Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v. Robert Ebanks, which established a binding precedent on the criminal standard.

Mr Buckland: The hon. Lady is making a very important point about the standard of proof. One key consideration is that breach is a criminal offence, and therefore there is a serious issue to consider as to the criminal consequences of a civil order that could be obtained by a civil standard of proof. That consideration was uppermost in the mind of the court considering that case and should be uppermost in our minds. As legislators, we need to get the balance right, and so the standard of proof should be a high one.

Diana Johnson: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Again, I know that he speaks from great experience. I simply ask why so few orders have been taken through the courts and whether we need to consider the whole issue of the standard of proof that is required. We support the Government’s new clauses and amendments, which we think have a lot of merit.

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Dr Huppert: I have been following everything that the hon. Lady says. I presume that she is not suggesting that someone should be jailed for five years without requiring a criminal standard of proof. Surely that is not what she is suggesting.

5.45 pm

Diana Johnson: I find it extremely annoying that when Liberal Democrats get to their feet on child protection issues, when we are making sure that our children have the protection that we all want to see, this is the issue that is pursued. I am asking how best we can protect our children. There is genuinely a question to be asked about the standard that is used in the orders. The Government have chosen to introduce some new orders, which I fully support, but it is worth considering whose side we are on. Given some of the abuse cases that we have heard, particularly in the constituency of the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon, we need to think long and hard about where our instincts should lie in ensuring that our children are protected.

Dr Huppert rose

Diana Johnson: I will continue, because I have a feeling that this debate could go on all night with the Liberal Democrats.

I want to ask the Minister and the hon. Lady whether they feel that the threshold might be too high. I accept—the Liberal Democrats will like this bit—that there is a significant cost to the individual on whom an order is placed, reputationally, and particularly if that becomes public. We know that, because of public disgust associated with sex crimes, the effect of a sex offence order being imposed on an individual, whatever it is called, will be devastating to that individual.

It has not helped that the risk of sexual harm orders that were previously in place have been called, I think wrongly, sex offence ASBOs, because the higher standard of proof makes that comparison unhelpful. At the same time, we must accept that there will be many occasions when the police have a well founded, reasonable belief that someone poses a risk to children but are not able to secure a conviction, because, for example, they cannot present in open court the evidence required. In particular, the situation could arise if a vulnerable witness is not in a position to give evidence in court. In such cases, we may want a civil protection order, precisely because we cannot get a conviction at the higher criminal standard. Will the Minister comment on whether the new orders will allow for far more cases to be subject to the orders?

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): We have learnt that many of the problems in this area have been a failure of enforcement—a failure of the various agencies to work together or to understand what was going on. However, I want to press the hon. Lady on the previous question. If someone has a civil order and then breaches it, could they go to prison for up to five years without at any point the criminal standard having been satisfied?

Diana Johnson: The new clauses and amendments have been tabled by the Government and the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon and they are best able to comment on that. My understanding of

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them is that a term of imprisonment of up to five years is applicable if an order is breached. I am asking a genuine question about whether what we want to achieve through the orders will be achieved by having a criminal standard for a civil order. The hon. Gentleman might want to take that up with the Minister when he responds.

I am conscious of time and of the fact that many other hon. Members want to speak so I will raise only a couple of other issues. Will the Minister explain the situation on appeals and rights of review that might be open to people who are put on the orders? With the scrapping of indeterminate sentences, might we have people on the street subject to the orders who in the past might well have remained in prison, and is the Minister satisfied with that situation?

The hon. Member for Mole Valley raises an important issue in new clause 7. It is topical given that at the weekend W. H. Smith had to withdraw information and e-books from its website. It has taken too long to obtain acceptance of the fact that viewing child abuse images is an integral part of the abuse process. Only the abusers deny that now. We know that viewing abuse often triggers behaviours in individuals. We know that Stuart Hazel and Mark Bridger had both been viewing legal pornography simulating violent sex and abuse prior to committing appalling crimes. The new clause, which deals with the written form of that abuse, is worth looking at. I hope that the Minister will comment further on that. We need to be careful, because we do not want genuine literature that describes abuse in a totally acceptable way to be captured.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): If the hon. Lady looks at the new clause, she will see that the second half covers that point, so “Lolita”, for example, would be all right.

Diana Johnson: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that clarification. I hope that the Minister will be able to confirm when he responds that that is the legal advice he has received. On that basis, it is really important that the issue is addressed.

Finally, if the provisions set out in new clause 7 are introduced, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which is now part of the National Crime Agency, will have more work to do. It already struggles with the images it has to look at, so if it will have to deal with the written word as well. I think that there is a case to be made for the Minister addressing how resources for that will be made available.

Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) (Con): I thank the Minister and the shadow Minister for their opening remarks. I will speak to new clause 5 and the Government amendments relating to prevention orders. I think that by now colleagues will be familiar with my reasons for tabling the new clause. The vast majority of children in this country grow up free from fear, but a vulnerable minority never know a safe or happy childhood. I will never forget sitting in the Old Bailey and listening to truly harrowing evidence of how a violent organised crime gang systematically groomed girls on Oxford’s streets to sell them for sex from as young as 11, plying them with hard drugs to make them

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more compliant to being repeatedly raped by strangers and conditioning them to believe that that was what real relationships were like. Too many colleagues in this House have had the same experience as me, as cases have emerged across the country. Every police force and local authority needs to take positive and proactive preventive action to root out this vile crime.

Patterns of grooming behaviour are now much better understood. We should be aiming to disrupt the process before it progresses to systematic sexual abuse, because the consequences of failing to intervene are both well documented and appallingly destructive. However, over the past few years case after case has emerged in which child protection agencies in possession of detailed intelligence have seemed unable to intervene.

In our inquiry into child sexual exploitation, the Home Affairs Committee came to a number of conclusions on why it was happening. The wider conclusions are for another day, but even leading forces, such as Lancashire police, who are proactive not only in innovative investigative techniques, but in disrupting grooming behaviour using methods such as abduction notices, licensing enforcement and dispersal orders, found that a key tool—civil prevention orders—just was not working. They have been on the statute book since 2003, as we have heard, and should be at the forefront of the fight against grooming, but instead they were found to be fundamentally flawed by a 2012 review commissioned by the Association of Chief Police Officers and written independently by Hugh Davies QC and a team of experts.

Since 2003 our understanding of patterns of sex offending and disruption techniques has progressed significantly. The purpose of new clause 5 is to reflect that progress and resolve the flaws in the existing orders. I welcome the fact that the Government have accepted the case for reform and tabled amendments today. Put simply, the reformed orders will protect more vulnerable children from sexual exploitation. That could not be more urgent, because the Children’s Commissioner estimated only this year that 16,500 children are at risk of sexual exploitation, but the prevention orders are still failing to protect them.

Before explaining how the proposed reforms will address that, let me explain why the current orders are not working. Three orders were legislated for in the Sexual Offences Act 2003: the sexual offences prevention order, the foreign travel order and the risk of sexual harm order. A SOPO can be sought on conviction, or on proof of relevant offending behaviour subsequent to that conviction, to protect a UK adult or child. An FTO can be sought on proof of offending behaviour subsequent to previous sexual conviction and can be sought to protect non-UK children. Despite some misleading coverage of this campaign, the ROSHO is already a pre-conviction order, and it can be sought on proof of two contact offences to prevent serious sexual harm to children under the age of 16. Neither new clause 5 nor the Government’s amendments would create a revolutionary pre-conviction order today. That has been an accepted necessity since 2003.

No one in this House would disagree with the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, which is a fundamental principle of the rule of law, but in no way would that be compromised by these amendments. The case against a defendant would have to be proved to the criminal standard, and a defendant’s procedural rights

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under the proposals would be identical to those in place under the current provisions. The fact is that a criminal prosecution is not the only mechanism that is necessary to achieve an acceptable level of protection against the sexual abuse of children.

Criminal prosecution is not always possible. In some situations a prosecution is found not to be in the interests of a child victim, and therefore not in the public interest. In other situations there might be compelling evidence or some technical reason why the evidence is not found to be admissible. In other cases, as we have seen recently, a vulnerable witness might simply find the court process too traumatic and so the case collapses. Anyone who follows the progress of policing and the criminal justice system will recognise that uncomfortable reality. That is why this year there were more than 23,000 reported sexual crimes against children but only 4,051 of them were prosecuted.

Mr Buckland: I pay warm tribute to my hon. Friend for the outstanding work she is doing on this issue. I echo her point about the sometimes sad limitations of the criminal justice system, which I have worked in over many years, including dealing with this type of case. I support her case about the criminal standard of proof needed for obtaining the orders and then, if the order is breached, a further criminal procedure in which the criminal standard of proof would apply, so the necessary balances and safeguards are in place.

Nicola Blackwood: Absolutely. To answer the shadow Minister’s question about whether a civil standard would be appropriate, I think that it is important to ensure that we maintain the balance. The reason it was not possible to achieve ROSHOs previously was the combination of two contact offences plus a standard of serious sexual harm. I do not think that the necessary approach now is to lower that standard of proof.

Some have expressed concern that these orders are intended as an alternative to prosecution, but that is not the case; they are simply a practical necessity alongside prosecution. As a civil order they are no different in nature from other civil orders designed to protect children, such as injunctions or restraining orders in a family court or a barring order in respect of regulated activity.

If we fail to intervene and protect vulnerable people from foreseeable harm, even if prosecution is not possible, we are failing in our duty of care. The current orders are failing. The requirement to prove two contact offences for the ROSHO produces the absurd result that an offender who sexually touched a 15-year-old twice would be eligible for an order but an offender who raped a four-year-old once would not be—the police would have to wait for the offender to do it again. That is not a sensible way to assess risk.

Furthermore, given the existence of a specific form of order to prevent foreign travel, ROSHOs have never been used in practice to protect children abroad. The outcome is that non-UK children enjoy a materially lower level of protection than an equivalent child in the UK. I hope that the House will agree that there is absolutely no defence for that disparity. Today’s proposals put an end to that inequality, which must be welcomed.

There are other basic flaws in the existing regime. Application for all three orders can be made only by the local chief of police, but all too often an offender

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travels ahead of the evidence between force areas, especially in grooming and trafficking cases. The ROSHO applies only in relation to children up to the age of 16, meaning that 16 to 18-year-olds, who might have been caught up in abuse from a much younger age, can only be protected by a SOPO with a much higher threshold.

Meanwhile, the sexual abuse of children is big business in many destination countries. Hundreds of thousands of children are routinely trafficked for that purpose. Although offenders often have a clear record of offending in different jurisdictions, they can still escape prosecution in each, as many jurisdictions simply fail to prosecute due to different standards of children’s rights or pure corruption. In that context, the FTO threshold for offending behaviour subsequent to a conviction is entirely unworkable. It is unsurprising that since 2005 only 50 FTOs have been granted. In 2007, a year in which 70 British citizens sought consular assistance for child sexual offence arrests, not a single FTO was granted.

New clause 5 applies solely to children because that is the focus of my campaign, and it is intended to remedy these shortcomings: it abolishes the arbitrary requirement to prove two contact offences; it includes UK and foreign children, offering them equal protection; it allows a senior specialist officer from the National Crime Agency to apply for an order to plug the gap of itinerant offenders travelling ahead of the evidence and it raises the age limit to 18; and it introduces an interim provision to prevent itinerant offenders from fleeing the jurisdiction.

6 pm

I am delighted that the Government’s proposed sexual risk order incorporates all these changes and applies them more widely to adults and vulnerable adults, but well-drafted guidance will be crucial to ensure these orders are effectively used as an offender management and disruption tool within a wider strategy of prevention and prosecution. That guidance will need to clarify that offenders under the age of 18 must be treated in an age-appropriate way. This order is much less likely to be appropriate to regulate activity between older teenagers than it would be where, perhaps, an older child presents a serious risk to a much younger child. I hope the guidance will include an understanding of sexually-related activity to take into account documented patterns of grooming and sex tourism.

Peter Davies, chief executive of CEOP, has called these reforms a very powerful, very useful new tool to prevent harm to children at the earliest possible opportunity, and I am grateful to everybody who has supported the Childhood Lost campaign. Over 100,000 people have signed our petition, and 67 colleagues have signed up to new clause 5. Police, lawyers, the Children’s Commissioner, the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, the Children’s Society, PACE—Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation—Save the Children, ECPAT, Action for Children, OXCAT and others have all been very vocal in voicing their support, but one particular parent explained why she was supporting the campaign by telling the story of her daughter. She wrote:

“A group of men I didn’t know befriended my 14 year old daughter, Alice, and started to sexually exploit her. They did this by giving her gifts, taking her to ‘parties’ and giving her drugs and alcohol but all the time with the real threat of actual violence hanging over her. There were rules at the ‘parties’ and girls were beaten if they did not have sex with the men…We knew who they

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were, where they lived and what they were doing; yet nothing was done to stop these men contacting my daughter again and again.”

She added:

“I was told it was not enough for action to be taken”

and continued:

“Police should have had the power to prevent these men contacting and abusing my daughter…I believe that if the police had been able to use a prevention order children would not have been raped by these men.

It is terrifying that these men got away with so much for so long and that other children are still trapped in similar situations.”

Used properly, these orders will protect victims, they will disrupt grooming, and they will prevent sex tourism. These reforms are the right thing to do, and for these reasons I will not press my amendment to a Division, but instead I ask all Members who think the police should be able to step in to protect girls like Alice to support the Government amendments to protect people from child sexual exploitation.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): May I begin by apologising to the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) for not being present for the start of her speech?

I want to contribute briefly to the debate in order to congratulate the hon. Lady on the incredibly effective work she has done on the issue of grooming. She has a constituency interest, of course, as Operation Bullfinch was going on in Oxford and she has been monitoring what has been happening to the victims, but she was also instrumental in beginning the important Childhood Lost campaign, and I was present at its launch with the Minister, who gave a very effective speech. She has decided not to press her amendment to a Division, but instead has urged the House to support what the Government are doing. I am glad that the Government are following the recommendations of the Select Committee. I think all in the House who are concerned about the grooming of children and the crimes being committed against young people and children will want to see effective action being taken. What we have seen in some of the criminal cases is just the tip of the iceberg, and the hon. Member for Keighley (Kris Hopkins), who has now been promoted to Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, gave very passionate and effective evidence to the Select Committee.

I support what the hon. Lady has said, I commend her on her marvellous efforts in this area, and I certainly hope the Government will continue to take forward the recommendations of the Select Committee—I see that the hon. Members for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless), who serve on the Committee, are present. We will revisit our recommendations six months after publication of the report, which will be at about Christmas time, when we will see what progress has been made, but I know that in the Minister we have someone who is determined to do something very serious and radical about stopping those who seek to exploit children, and I fully support what the hon. Lady has said.

Sir Paul Beresford: I echo those congratulations. One thing I have discovered in this House is that it is possible for Back Benchers with a really good cause to push it and persuade a Government—whatever Government. The other thing to be said about this evening’s debate, at

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least until 7 o’clock, is that there is cross-House agreement —and, I hasten to add to the Opposition Front Bench, even the Liberal party is on board—and that has been the case on this area for some considerable time.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is the legislation being changed tonight. Although the Act came in under a Labour Government, I am sure the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins), who was a Minister at about that time, would agree that there was huge cross-party support and thinking behind the scenes. Indeed, I was on the Home Office taskforce that did a lot of the work leading up to the child protection part of that Act.

Tonight, however, I want to focus on my new clause 7, which would amend section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, entitled “Possession of prohibited images of children”. Those prohibited images are pornographic images, and they may take various forms, including photographs, pseudo-photographs, cartoons and computer-generated images. They may be moving or still, too. The link between the possession and the viewing and actual action against children is generally accepted, as the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) said from the Opposition Front Bench.

The ludicrous situation is that an individual will be liable for prosecution for possession of photographs, pseudo-photographs, computer-generated images and so on, but not for the written word describing child sex abuse in pornographic, and often lurid, detail. All, including the written word in this form, are designed by the individuals concerned for sexual stimulation over the sexual abuse of children. If an individual wrote from his or her imagination a graphic description of child sexual abuse—which could, and often is, more emotive and more graphic than any picture of any form—even if he or she described one of those pictures or cartoons, that individual could not be prosecuted for the possession of this graphic material, even though for many of these individuals the written word is more powerful.

Let me give a simple example that I gave in speaking to my ten-minute rule Bill last Wednesday. CEOP provided me with the details of a man from Kent who wrote describing his wish to kidnap an early-teenage girl, strip her, sexually abuse her in an exceptionally unpleasant way and then, in an even more unpleasant way which I will not detail, slowly kill this girl. It is horrific, especially as his writings then inspired this individual to actually carry it out. He is in prison, hopefully for a very long time if not for ever, but the teenager is gone. One would have thought that the early discovery of the writings could have helped, but if the police had found them they would have had no power to act. This new clause has developed out of discussions with members past and present of the Metropolitan police paedophile unit and with the team leading CEOP in this area, and is supported by it, including Peter Davies.

CEOP last year published a research document on paedophile cases. It is mentioned in the report, almost as a sideline, that some offenders possess graphic notes or writings of child abuse. The Home Secretary has written to me on this matter stating she is asking for a report from CEOP on the need for this change. As the Minister will recall, some months ago both CEOP and the head of the Metropolitan police paedophile unit

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joined me in making a presentation to him. They brought some of the literature; I did not. The officers supported the need for this change. They explained that they had seen volumes of material in their search for illegal child abuse photographs. As the possession of such written material is not illegal, they obviously disregarded it, seeking only, at high speed and using computer technology, child abuse images.

Dr Huppert: The hon. Gentleman is clearly talking about some horrific material, and I am listening carefully to his case. He is far more expert in this area than I am. How does this link in with the Obscene Publications Act 1959? Does not that provide some protection in this area?

Sir Paul Beresford: No, it does not. I am looking at changes to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, not to the Obscene Publications Act. Otherwise I would wander into deep mire, which I am sure that Liberal Members would help me wallow in further.

Mr Buckland: The Obscene Publications Act was very much on my mind as well. Very often this material is generated by the offenders themselves and is privately retained, so I think it would fall foul of some of the definitions in that rather elderly piece of legislation. The material that is obtained can sometimes be used as incriminating evidence to help prove the general character and intent of individuals with an interest in child abuse, who are sadly far too prevalent. Do the police find difficulty in using that material as incriminating evidence, or do they want more information?

Sir Paul Beresford: My hon. Friend goes halfway towards putting the case. He is right, but the police tell me that they do not really use that Act. They need this one tiny change in the legislation to add to the opportunities for prosecution and to use when they bring these individuals to court.

I was told that I needed to tweak the wording, so I did something absolutely outrageous: I invited the Attorney-General for a cup of coffee, not even a glass of wine, and he ran a cursory glance, if Attorney-Generals run cursory glances over anything, at the wording and seemed to feel that it was satisfactory. I am not going to hold him to that, as it would probably cost me a glass of wine.

Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman has given the House a valuable insight into how, for at least 10 years, he has followed these issues through with successive Ministers and very persuasively engaged them in the merits of his argument. I would be very happy to support his new clause, because graphic and extreme written material about child abuse is every bit as abusive as an image of child abuse. He is absolutely right to try to ensure that this loophole in the law is closed so that this is a very clear and separate offence.

Sir Paul Beresford: I thank the right hon. Gentleman. I am delighted to have his support. When he was a Minister he was receptive to many of the changes that I suggested. He tweaked them so that they went through to another place without my name attached, but the effect was still the same.

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Some have questioned whether genuine, legitimate literature such as “Lolita” would be covered by section 62(5) of the 2009 Act. To be completely clear, the written material that I am targeting can be as shocking as images described as level 5 based on the classification used by the courts. The section refers to prohibited images that it describes as

“pornographic…grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise…obscene”


“of such a nature that it must be reasonably assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.”

In certain cases, that description, which is applied to photographs, can, as the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins) said, be applied equally to the written word. Such material is quite different and it is horrific. Its distribution is prohibited, and so should be its possession.

Mr Andrew Smith (Oxford East) (Lab): I strongly support the remarks of and the campaign by my friend, the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood). Her initiative and that of the Childhood Lost campaign, which I have strongly supported, will be especially warmly welcomed by my constituents and hers, who are horrified at what was uncovered by the Operation Bullfinch investigation and prosecutions in Oxford. They are very worried that it was not possible to stop these crimes happening earlier and that even now there are people it has not been possible to bring to justice before the courts because of the difficulty in giving evidence. Anything that can be a step forward in stopping these horrific crimes must be greatly welcomed.

I want to underline an enormously important point that the hon. Lady made about the strength and clarity of guidance that is given on the use of these orders and the importance of each local area having the wherewithal to carry them into effect. In the wake of Operation Bullfinch, in Oxford we have had established the Kingfisher unit, which she and I jointly visited. It brings together all the relevant agencies and undertakes preventive and educational work as well as helping to bring cases to justice. We need such units in every part of the country. There has to be the strongest guidance to ensure that these orders are going to be used. I look forward to an assurance from the Minister that there will be close reporting and monitoring on the extent and areas of their use so that this House can see the progress that we all very much hope the bringing into law of these orders will represent.

6.15 pm

Dr Huppert: It is a pleasure to speak in this debate. I pay tribute to my colleague on the Home Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), who gave a fantastic example of her grasp of the details of this subject and her attitude to it. I served with her on the Committee during its inquiry into child sexual exploitation in response to localised grooming, when we all shared experiences that will stay with me and, I am sure, with her for the rest of our lives. Some of the things we saw and heard about were absolutely horrific. It is to her great credit that she has responded in a very measured way to try to address this. Her speech was exemplary in that regard.

We all think that abuse of children and of any vulnerable adult is completely and utterly unacceptable. It is a heinous crime. Everybody in this House opposes it and

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wants to see it ended; that is absolutely clear. It is also clear that a crime of this nature is a crime regardless of where it happens. When people go overseas to abuse children, that cannot be okay just because those children happen not to be British. That much is absolutely, completely and utterly clear.

The hon. Lady outlined very well a number of improvements in what the Government are suggesting. For example, it seems odd that a rule was brought in saying that there must be two offences before a breach of something becomes a serious matter. I struggle to think of any other examples where someone would have to do something twice before there was perceived to be a problem. It is absolutely right to get rid of that.

I was very surprised by several of the comments by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson). There is a danger that we get trapped in the idea that we must do anything to protect children. It becomes a mantra: “Won’t somebody think of the children?” We do need to protect children but in a way that will work and will not cause us problems. It is an important principle that people do not get jailed based on anything less than the criminal standard of proof. I was genuinely horrified by her suggestion that it would be worth considering something else. I accept that this is a deeply emotional area, and we all want to protect children. I hope that on reflection she will reconsider some of her comments about my perspective on that. We all want that protection to happen, but we must also ensure that we do not break some of the principles of the rule of law.

Diana Johnson: In discussing civil orders I merely raised a question about the appropriate standard of proof. I was not suggesting that we should move to a lower standard but merely questioning whether keeping the higher standard was the best thing to do and asking the Minister and the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) to reflect on that. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will express that properly when he refers to my views and not try to suggest that I was putting forward any other view.

Dr Huppert: I thank the hon. Lady for that clarification. My own view is that I would not even want to consider the idea of jailing somebody without going through the criminal process, because that is a fundamental position of our law. She was indeed only questioning it, but I am still surprised that it would even be questioned.

Mark Reckless: The record will of course show this, but does my hon. Friend agree that his point was to raise a concern that Labour Members might allow someone to be jailed for five years on the basis of balance of probabilities? All we heard back from the shadow Minister was an ad-hominem, or at least ad-party, attack on him, as though only a Liberal Democrat could object to such a thing. That is extraordinary.

Dr Huppert: I agree factually with the hon. Gentleman, but I do not want to dwell on that, because it detracts from the excellent work that has been done by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon and so many others.

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Questions still need to be answered for us to understand the details and the guidance, as the hon. Lady said. That is critical. I listened carefully to her comments about the idea that not everyone subject to an order could be jailed, but I would hope that that would be the principal aim. I think we would all like people who abuse children or vulnerable adults to go to jail, rather than receive a civil order. The gap between the two should be closed as much as possible.

I am concerned that there will still be strange applications. The case of Simon Walsh was interesting—it was surprising that it was brought in the first place— and he was eventually found not guilty, but I think he might have been caught by new clause 5, so I remain concerned about how we can avoid that happening when people have been found explicitly not guilty. I think we will have a chance to look at that and clarify the details.

Finally, I accept new clause 5 and have no problems with it becoming part of the Bill. I congratulate the hon. Lady on tabling it and the Minister on accepting it. One of my key findings during the Home Affairs Committee inquiry was that, yes, there is room for legislative change, but the vast majority of the problem was caused by organisational failures and by people not trusting or listening to young people—a series of things that will not be fixed by legislation. We must not delude ourselves that passing a law that makes certain behaviour illegal and that implements orders will, in and of itself, make the difference needed.

Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) (Lab): I am sorry that I was not able to be here for the beginning of the debate; unfortunately, I had Select Committee business. I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed the contributions, particularly the alleged verbal attack on the Liberal Democrats.

I want to discuss two things: first, the great contribution made by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), and, secondly, the Government’s proposals on sexual predators and the use of the orders to prevent such behaviour.

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her exceptionally good campaign. Members will be aware of what has become known as the Rochdale grooming scandal. The Home Affairs Committee did excellent work on that and other cases of on-street grooming. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey) has also done much to raise concerns about such issues. The campaign run by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon has been second to none, and that is a credit to her. It will play an important part—this should not be underestimated—in helping to protect young people from sexual predators, such as those we have seen not just in Rochdale, Oxford and Rotherham, but in many other towns and cities across the country.

I am pleased with and welcome the Government’s proposals, which consolidate and strengthen the provisions put in place by the previous Labour Government. Had the orders been in place some years ago, I am convinced that, had agencies such as Greater Manchester police used them, they would have stopped a lot of the abuse that occurred in Rochdale. We now know that there was a failure by Rochdale council social services and its exceptionally unhealthy culture at the time.

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Keith Vaz: My hon. Friend was one of the most vocal in the criticisms of the way in which Rochdale council operated. Is he satisfied that the council understands the seriousness of the situation and that, under its new chief executive, it is putting in place the proper processes to make sure that the situation is monitored? It cannot stop it happening again, but is my hon. Friend satisfied that things have changed for the better?

Simon Danczuk: I appreciate my right hon. Friend’s intervention. I am more satisfied than ever that Rochdale council is playing its part in tackling on-street grooming.

It is important to note that we still await the serious case review on Rochdale. I would think that it is imminent, so it should be available in the next month or two. I think it will raise questions—not much light has been cast on this—about the performance of Greater Manchester police and whether it acted effectively enough in terms of intervening. I suspect that the serious case review will show some failings in that regard. That relates to the proposals under discussion because, had they been in place at the time, not only would the tools have been available to the police, but an emphasis would have been placed on their need to use them.

Nicola Blackwood: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. To pick up on the point made by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), the orders are welcome and will allow police forces to intervene earlier, but they must sit within a wider strategy of prevention and prosecution if we are to have any hope of genuinely tackling child sexual exploitation in the long term.

Simon Danczuk: I completely agree. Much of this is about not just the tools available, but the culture in the local agencies, whether they be the council, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police or the NHS and its primary care services.

Finally, I welcome the proposals. This is Parliament at its best. We are amending existing legislation, not creating something completely new. This is about listening to the concerns of Back Benchers and their campaigns, and about getting cross-party support, which I welcome.

Damian Green: I thank hon. Members from all parties, not just for their universal support for the measures, but for the sensitive and sensible tone with which they have conducted the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) will by now be blushing because of the amount of praise she has received. She should note that it has not been conventional praise—it is not a case of the House being conventionally polite—but that everyone, from all parties, really means it. She and the charities she has rightly mentioned have conducted an exemplary campaign on an issue of great contemporary importance. It is a subject that a few people have cared about hugely for ages, and now the whole country understands the important and urgent need to take effective action, which is precisely what we are seeking to do.

Mark Reckless: The Minister has said that a few people campaigned on the issue. Does he agree that others failed to follow through on this because they did not understand and recognise what was happening, and that some people perceived that earlier than they did?

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Damian Green: Clearly, there were widespread failures in a number of institutions and that is what a large number of people are seeking to rectify now. That brings me on naturally to my next point—this addresses many of the questions that have been rightly asked and the powerful point made by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert)—which is that, although what we are doing is necessary, it is certainly not sufficient to believe that it will eradicate this terrible crime.

We seek to protect children as a high priority beyond legislation, and it is the need for that much more widespread change of attitude and culture in institutions that informs the work of the National Group on Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People, which I chair and whose membership is indicative of the widespread group of people necessary to act on this terrible crime. It includes not only a number of Departments, such as the Home Office to deal with the criminal elements and the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mr Timpson) and his representatives, but the health service, local government and the police, which have important roles to play. The group also includes many non-governmental organisations and charities. Such organisations often sit outside governmental structures and shout through their megaphones about how Government should be doing things better. It seems to me that in a matter of such seriousness and urgency, having them sitting at the table from the start saying, “This is how you should do things,” is likely to produce a much faster and more sensitive response to the problems.

6.30 pm

The group will address some of the issues that have been brought up in this debate, such as rehabilitation, which the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) rightly mentioned. There is a wide range of issues that it could deal with, but we have set four immediate priority areas. Our top priority is prevention because, as we all agree, the best way to solve this problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The second priority is the attitude of the police. Extra training is required so that police officers who are approached with evidence of child abuse and particularly of grooming like that seen in Oxford, Rochdale and other areas are better trained than they have been to assess the credibility of the story, rather than of the witness. One of the problems is that many of the young girls who come forward are in care or in trouble with the police and are likely to be involved in drugs and alcohol, not least because they have been put on them by the men who are grooming them. They may not, therefore, appear at first to be the most credible or compelling of witnesses. Looking beyond the individual in front of them to the terrible and frightening crime that lies beyond is a skill that police officers can learn through training. The police are trying hard to do that across the regional police forces and through the National Crime Agency.

The third priority is the criminal justice response. The House has discussed before the necessity for witnesses not to be intimidated out of giving necessary evidence by the traditional court procedures. Before the end of the year, we will pilot the use of pre-recorded video evidence by vulnerable witnesses in three centres, so that the full panoply of the court, which often puts

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witnesses off and intimidates them, is not there. We will be piloting that shortly to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place for the defendant.

Ann Coffey: On the support that is available in court for vulnerable witnesses, does the Minister agree that it is not acceptable that registered intermediaries are appointed in so few cases? If we are to support vulnerable witnesses, particularly child witnesses, we must make it a matter of course that registered intermediaries are appointed at the earliest possible stage, even before the first police interview.

Damian Green: Appointing registered intermediaries before the first police interview may be difficult in practical terms, but I accept the hon. Lady’s general point that we need better support mechanisms for vulnerable witnesses. Some of those mechanisms will involve institutional change, as I have said, but the provision of intermediaries may also be required.

The fourth priority of the group is online protection and, in particular, attacking the use of vile child abuse images online. There is therefore a lot of work to do beyond this legislation.

I will respond to some of the individual points that have been raised. The right hon. Member for Oxford East (Mr Smith) asked about close reporting on the monitoring and extent of the powers. Various other Members talked about the necessity for guidance. The Government amendments require statutory guidance to be issued. We will work closely with the police, the NCA and others in considering the best way to apply the new orders.

We have had a vigorous debate about the use of the criminal standard of proof. If I may try to reconcile what has been the only scratchy part of this debate, there is a balance to be struck. We could apply the civil standard to the new order, but one consequence would be that a breach of the order would not be a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison. I hope that those who are doubtful about the level of proof will accept that what we are proposing strikes the right balance, given the risk of harm to children and vulnerable adults. As my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon explained, it is not the criminal standard of proof that led to the disappointing use of the original three orders in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North asked about legislation on the grooming of children on the internet. The orders that we are discussing may be used to restrict internet use, so they will hopefully have a direct effect on that type of criminal behaviour. However, it is worth repeating that the principle that what is criminal offline is criminal online always applies. There is no separate law that applies to the online world. If something is a crime in the real world, it is a crime in the online world. As I have said, cybercrime is one of the four immediate priorities of the national group.

I was asked about the appeal mechanism. An individual who is the subject of either kind of order will be able to appeal against the making of that order under the proposed new sections of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. In addition, after an order is made, there is the right to apply for it to be varied or discharged. I hope that the appropriate safeguards are in place for people to make appeals.

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Nicola Blackwood: I welcome the protections that allow defendants to apply for variation and discharge. However, I notice that under the Government amendments, only local chief officers are able to apply for the variation or discharge of an order. I understand that that is intended to maintain the management of the offender at a local level. However, the NCA might come across evidence of different forms of offending and might want to get involved in an application for variation. I hope that the guidance will make it clear how that will work.

Damian Green: That is a valid point. To deal with the practical point, once an order is made, the supervision of it will be in the hands of the local police. It is sensible for them to be on the front line of making any application to vary the order. Obviously, the NCA will make it a habit to work closely with local forces when they are working together in specific areas, as they will be in this case. It should become entirely habitual for the NCA to pass evidence to local forces. I know that the leadership of the NCA is determined to do that. There needs to be better connections between policing at the national and local levels, and we are seeking to address that problem. My hon. Friend should rest assured that she is not the only person who will be watching closely to ensure that that co-operation takes place.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) explained, new clause 7 seeks to extend the offence of possessing a prohibited image of a child in section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. That offence is committed when a person possesses a pornographic non-photographic image of a child that is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise obscene. My hon. Friend, together with the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins), wants to extend that offence to include the written word. I add my thanks to the many that have been given this evening to both Members for their personal efforts in the fight to protect children from abuse. Their motivation for the new clause is entirely laudable, and it is quite right for the House to have the opportunity to discuss it.

Written material that describes the sexual abuse of children is undoubtedly distasteful and disturbing. As my hon. Friend said, he and I have had many discussions and meetings on the matter, and I put it to him that criminalising the possession of the written word in any context is a significant step, and we should pause before taking it. In our view, it is a step that should be taken only once we know the full extent of the problem. In this case, there are two particular requirements. First, there must be evidence that possession of such material is causing harm to children. Secondly, it must be practical for the police—in this case CEOP—to go through all the material on people’s computers. It is much more difficult to do that with the written word than with images. As my hon. Friend said, there is special technology that allows speedy checks of images. We are working on improving that technology, but it is more difficult in the case of the written word. If, after considering those caveats, we conclude that there is a case for changing the law, we will need to ensure that we go about it in the right way so that it has some practical effect and improves child protection.

New clause 7 touches on a number of sensitive issues, and any changes that we bring about need to be both proportionate and effective. I cannot commend it to the

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House today, but I absolutely assure my hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman that we intend to continue considering thoroughly whether the law should be changed in the way that they suggest. As my hon. Friend said, CEOP has already provided some information, and my officials continue to work with it to investigate the issue further and get the full body of evidence that is necessary if we are to take the drastic step suggested. As soon as we reach a conclusion on that, we will decide what action to take. I know that my hon. Friend will continue to play a role in gathering evidence and discussing it with Ministers, but I hope that he will agree not to press new clause 7 to a Division.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon on her commitment and her drive to ensure that we have the necessary powers to protect children from sexual harm. I now know that she and the House agree that the Government amendments will deliver what new clause 5 was intended to achieve, and more, so I commend them to the House.

Sir Paul Beresford rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): No, you do not get another opportunity to speak, Sir Paul, but I assume that you do not wish to press new clause 7.

Sir Paul Beresford: A reasonable assumption.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Maybe next time it would be helpful to make a point of order.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 8 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 14

Sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders, etc

‘(1) Schedule [Amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003] (amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) has effect.

(2) In section 142 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (extent etc)—

(a) in subsection (2) (provisions that extend to Northern Ireland, as well as England and Wales), for paragraph (c) there is substituted—

“(c) sections 80 to 88, 89 to 91, 92 to 96, 96B to 103, 122F and 130 to 136ZB;

(ca) Part 2A;”;

(b) after that subsection there is inserted—

“(2A) Sections 110, 117A, 119 and 123 to 129 extend only to Northern Ireland.”

(c) In subsection (3) (provisions that extend to Scotland, as well as England and Wales) for paragraph (a) there is substituted—after that subsection there is inserted—

“(a) sections 80 to 88, 89 to 91, 92, 94 to 96, 97 to 103, 122F, 130 to 132 and 133 to 136ZB;”;

“(3A) Sections 88A to 88I, 96A, 111A, 117B, 120 and 121 extend only to Scotland.

(3B) Sections 104 to 109, 111, 112 to 117, 118 and 122 extend to Northern Ireland and Scotland but not to England and Wales.”’.—(Damian Green.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

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New Clause 15

Saving and transitional provision

‘(1) In this section—

“the 2003 Act” means the Sexual Offences Act 2003;

“existing order” means—

(a) a sexual offences prevention order under section 104 of the 2003 Act;(b) a foreign travel order under section 114 of that Act;(c) a risk of sexual harm order under section 123 of that Act;

“new order” means—

(a) a sexual harm prevention order (made under section 103A of the 2003 Act, inserted by Schedule [

Amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

]);(b) a sexual risk order (made under section 122A of that Act, inserted by that Schedule);

“old order” means—

(a) a restraining order under section 5A of the Sex Offenders Act 1997;(b) a sex offender order under section 2 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

(2) The repeal or amendment by this Act of sections 104 to 122 or sections 123 to 129 of the 2003 Act does not apply in relation to—

(a) an application made before the commencement day for an existing order;

(b) an existing order (whether made before or after that day) applied for before that day;

(c) anything done in connection with such an application or order.

(3) The following sections of the 2003 Act inserted by Schedule [Amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003] apply (as appropriate) to an old order as they apply to a new order—

(a) section 103E (variation, renewal and discharge of sexual harm prevention order);

(b) section 103I (offence of breach of sexual harm prevention order);

(c) section 122E (variation, renewal and discharge of sexual risk order);

(d) section 122H (offence of breach of sexual risk order).

(4) As from the commencement day there may be no variation of an existing order or an old order that extends the period of the order or of any of its provisions.

(5) At the end of the period of 5 years beginning with the commencement day—

(a) in relation to any existing order or old order that is still in force, sections 103E and 103I of the 2003 Act or sections 122E and 122H of that Act (as appropriate) have effect, with any necessary modifications (and with any modifications specified in an order under section 152(6) of this Act), as if the provisions of the order were provisions of a new order;

(b) subsections (2) and (3) cease to have effect.

(6) In this section “commencement day” means the day on which this section comes into force.’.—(Damian Green.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Schedule 1


Amendments of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003


1 Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (notification and orders) is amended as set out in this Schedule.

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Sexual harm prevention orders

2 After section 103 there is inserted—

“Sexual harm prevention orders (England and Wales)

103A Sexual harm prevention orders: applications and grounds

(1) A court may make an order under this section (a “sexual harm prevention order”) in respect of a person (“the defendant”) where subsection (2) or (3) applies to the defendant.

(2) This subsection applies to the defendant where—

(a) the court deals with the defendant in respect of—

(i) an offence listed in Schedule 3 or 5, or

(ii) a finding that the defendant is not guilty of an offence listed in Schedule 3 or 5 by reason of insanity, or

(iii) a finding that the defendant is under a disability and has done the act charged against the defendant in respect of an offence listed in Schedule 3 or 5,


(b) the court is satisfied that it is necessary to make a sexual harm prevention order, for the purpose of—

(i) protecting the public or any particular members of the public from sexual harm from the defendant, or

(ii) protecting children or vulnerable adults generally, or any particular children or vulnerable adults, from sexual harm from the defendant outside the United Kingdom.

(3) This subsection applies to the defendant where—

(a) an application under subsection (4) has been made in respect of the defendant and it is proved on the application that the defendant is a qualifying offender, and

(b) the court is satisfied that the defendant’s behaviour since the appropriate date makes it necessary to make a sexual harm prevention order, for the purpose of—

(i) protecting the public or any particular members of the public from sexual harm from the defendant, or

(ii) protecting children or vulnerable adults generally, or any particular children or vulnerable adults, from sexual harm from the defendant outside the United Kingdom.

(4) A chief officer of police or the Director General of the National Crime Agency (“the Director General”) may by complaint to a magistrates’ court apply for a sexual harm prevention order in respect of a person if it appears to the chief officer or the Director General that—

(a) the person is a qualifying offender, and

(b) the person has since the appropriate date acted in such a way as to give reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary for such an order to be made.

(5) A chief officer of police may make an application under subsection (4) only in respect of a person—

(a) who resides in the chief officer’s police area, or

(b) who the chief officer believes is in that area or is intending to come to it.

(6) An application under subsection (4) may be made to any magistrates’ court whose commission area includes—

(a) any part of a relevant police area, or

(b) any place where it is alleged that the person acted in a way mentioned in subsection (4)(b).

(7) The Director General must as soon as practicable notify the chief officer of police for a relevant police area of any application that the Director has made under subsection (4).

(8) In this section “relevant police area” means—

(a) where the applicant is a chief officer of police, the officer’s police area;

(b) where the applicant is the Director General—

(i) the police area where the person in question resides, or