SHARING OF INFORMATION WHEN ASSESSING RISKS POSED
BY CERTAIN OFFENDERS
54. Clause 262 would require the "responsible
authority", that is, the chief officer of police for the
area, the local probation board and the Minister of the Crown
responsible for prisons, acting jointly, to co-operate with other
bodies, which in turn are required to co-operate with the responsible
authority to the extent compatible with their "functions
under any other enactment".
Co-operation for this purpose may include the exchange of information.
Clause 262 (as the Minister explained in his letter to us) is
separate from the assessment of risk or "dangerousness"
for the purposes of imposing extended sentences under clauses
205-208. Clauses 262-264 would require the responsible authority
in each area to put in place arrangements for monitoring dangerous
offenders in that area. These "multi-agency public protection
arrangements" have been in force since April 2001 by virtue
of the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000, section
67, and clauses 262-264 would re-enact that provision with amendments.
55. In her letter to the Department, our Chair asked
whether it could be made clear in clause 262 of the Bill that
the clause would not require the bodies to co-operate where doing
so would be incompatible with their duties towards defendants
and other people under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data
Protection Act 1998. The Minister replies that the Department
appreciates the concern, but considers that those statutes always
apply. To refer to them explicitly would be unnecessary and might
cast doubt on their applicability in contexts where they are not
expressly mentioned, and cause problems of statutory interpretation.
56. This raises an issue of general concern, namely
the circumstances in which the existence of a duty on public authorities,
under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, to act compatibly
with Convention rights makes it unnecessary to specify safeguards
for the rights on the face of legislation that affects the rights.
Generally, the Committee has taken the view that explicit safeguards
ought to be included on the face of the legislation. However,
in the present context, the exchange of information is expressed
to be a power rather than a duty, in clause 262(3) of the Bill,
and no special institutional arrangements would be needed to take
account of duties under the Human Rights Act 1998 or the Data
Protection Act 1998. That being so, we accept that it is not necessary
to include special safeguards on the face of clause 262 of this
67 Clause 262(3) Back
Clause 262(4) Back
Letter from Lord Falconer, para. 40, referring also to an Annual
Report on the arrangements for 2001-02, published on 13 September
2002 and available on the Home Office Website Back
ibid., para. 41 Back