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Joint Committee on Human Rights First Report



The Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to the following Report:—


Note. All references to the Criminal Justice and Police Bill relate to the Bill as brought from the House of Commons and ordered by the House of Lords to be printed on 15 March 2001.


The structure of the Report and its main conclusions are as follows.

A.  The Process of Scrutiny: paragraphs 1-4.

B.  The Structure of the Criminal Justice and Police Bill: paragraphs 5-7.

C.  On-the-Spot Penalties: paragraphs 8-10: these provisions give rise to no human rights implications which need to be brought to the attention of either House.

D.  Combatting Alcohol-related Disorder: paragraphs 11-32.

Prohibiting alcohol in designated public places (clauses 12-16):

We conclude that whilst the provisions interfere with the right to respect for private life, they meet the needs of legal certainty and pursue a legitimate aim. However, they could be used in an arbitrary or disproportionate way, and therefore consider that there may be a need for additional safeguards. For example, each House may wish to ensure that local authorities, when deciding whether to designate a particular place, will be aware:

(a) of the need for evidence of a current threat which makes the designation of that place appropriate and necessary; and

(b) of the need to take particular note of evidence about the frequency of occasions of alcohol-related disorder or crime in the area over the period starting six months before the decision is taken. (Para. 20)

Criminal liability of bar staff who fail to prevent drunkenness, or any violent, quarrelsome or riotous behaviour (clause 34):

We are glad to learn that the Government are reviewing the whole of liquor licensing law. We hope that the opportunity will be taken to ensure that adequate legal certainty and proportionality can be achieved in the definition of criminal offences. In the meantime, we hope that bar staff are not unfairly treated, and in particular that clause 32 is operated in a way which respects the Government's intention, as expressed to us, that expulsion from licensed premises will be reserved for seriously disruptive or threatening individuals. (Para. 32)

E.  Other Provisions for Combatting Crime and Disorder: paragraphs 33-57.

Travel restriction orders against drug trafficking offenders (clauses 33-37):

We draw the attention of each House to these clauses, which we do not believe to be compatible as they stand with the international obligations of the United Kingdom under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The provisions should make it clear that travel restriction orders are to be made only when they serve a legitimate aim under Article 12.3 of the ICCPR, and are proportionate to that aim. The provisions should also make it clear that orders are to be suspended or revoked when they no longer serve a legitimate aim or are not, for the time being, proportionate to such a legitimate aim. We consider that clause 33(1) and clause 35(3) should be amended in order to secure compliance with the ICCPR. (Para. 42)

Extension of child curfew schemes to persons under the age of 16:

We recognise the importance of the Government's aims. However, we remain concerned about the proportionality of child curfew schemes, especially considering the extent of the discretion given to individual constables where a scheme is in force, taking account of the other powers available to the police to protect children and young persons and to prevent disturbances in public places. We consider that safeguards are needed against the arbitrary exercise of powers to make and operate these schemes. A first safeguard might be that the legitimate aims of the schemes should be written into section 14 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which would be amended by this Bill. The operation of the schemes should then be carefully and continuously monitored to ensure that the powers are not being used in a disproportionate way. We therefore draw the these provisions to the particular attention of each House. (Para. 57)

F.  Disclosure of Information for the Purposes of Criminal Investigations (clauses 48 and 50): paragraphs 67-70.

There is a need to introduce adequate safeguards into this legislation. Consideration should be given to amending these provisions to include, as noted above, a requirement that there should be reasonable grounds for suspecting that the information in question would be relevant to a criminal inquiry or that the data subject has committed an offence, and a requirement that a pre-disclosure assessment be made of the proportionality of disclosing information on a particular individual in the context of the offence in question. Consideration should also be given to limiting the very wide power to make disclosures 'for the purposes of initiating ... any such investigation or proceedings.' We draw the attention of each House to these provisions, and consider that necessary safeguards should be provided to ensure that they are compatible with the right to privacy. (Para. 66)

G.  Powers of Seizure (clauses 52-72): paragraphs 67-70.

These provisions appear to be compatible with human rights.

H.  Other Extensions of Police Powers under Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and Terrorism Act 2000(Part 4 of the Act): paragraphs 71-91.

Reducing seniority of police officer required to authorise intimate searches (clause 81):

We welcome the Government's commitment to consider including specific guidance for inspectors on exercising discretion in cases where a doctor or nurse is not available to conduct an intimate search. We believe that the guidance should be included on the face of the legislation. (Para. 77)

We recommend to each House that particular attention should be given to the appropriate level of authorisation for authorising intimate searches, and for authorising non-medical personnel to undertake such searches. (Para. 80)

We recommend that each House should give particular attention to the appropriate level of authorisation for taking intimate samples, and non-intimate samples in circumstances which require access to a body orifice (such as the mouth for a sample of saliva) or removal of clothing. (Para. 81)

Extending power to conduct speculative searches of databases (clause 82):

We believe that there should be continuous monitoring of the use made of the extended power, to ensure that Article 8 rights are being respected in practice. Consideration should also be given to the possibility of providing in this legislation for adequate controls on the accuracy of records and on the circumstances in which searches are permissible and proportionate, and of ensuring that the bodies given access to the records also have adequate controls in place. (Para 85)

Retention and use of finger prints and samples and information derived from them (Clauses 83 and 84):

We recognise a risk that an argument could be made for a violation of Article 13 of the ECHR by reason of the retrospective legalisation of the retention of samples etc. However, we take the view that such an argument is unlikely to be successful. (Para 92)

Bail for, and Detention of, Young Persons, and other Criminal Justice Measures (Part 7 of the Act): paragraphs 93-95.

We do not consider that these provisions give rise to a risk of incompatibility with the United Kingdom's human rights obligations.

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Prepared 26 April 2001