Serious Crime Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by the British Transport Police (BTP) (SC 03)

1. On behalf of the British Transport Police ("BTP"), the national police force responsible for the railways, please accept the following as a submission for the House of Commons Public Bill Committee regarding the public consultation on the Serious Crime Bill ("the Bill"), particularly in relation to Part 4: Seizure and forfeiture of drug-cutting agents.

2. Under clause 60: forfeiture and disposal, or return of seized substances; there is no explanation as to what threshold the Court must be satisfied, or the applicant needs prove, that the forfeited substance is intended for use as a drug-cutting agent.  It is considered that a further sub-section, specifying the level of proof needed to satisfy clause 60(3) is needed so as to make clear to the applicant authority when they should, and should not, apply for forfeiture (i.e. is it on the balance of probabilities? Or should the court only need be reasonably certain the substance to be forfeited is intended for use as a drug-cutting agent?).

3. Furthermore, it is considered that clause 63 should be omitted in its entirety.  A successful respondent, who has the seized substance returned to them, would still be permitted to apply through the civil courts for compensation from the seizing authority if there was any damage resulting from the unsuccessful application for forfeiture.  If clause 63 was omitted, the parties would be able to discuss the matter, on a without-prejudice basis, in the hope that an agreed settlement be reached.

4. Without making the above amendments, Officers may refrain from making an application for forfeiture as they may be concerned that (1) they don’t know how far they should prove their case to the court and, (2) they may be responsible for the applicant authority having to pay compensation to the person who they have seized the substance from.

January 2015

Prepared 13th January 2015