House of Lords - Explanatory Note
Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] - continued          House of Lords

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Part 4:     Interpretation

68.     Paragraph 24 defines the meaning of certain terms used in Schedule 1.

     Clause 21: Designated police support staff: amendments

69.     Clause 21 gives effect to Schedule 2, which makes amendments consequential on clause 20.

Schedule 2: Designated police support staff: amendments

70.     This Schedule makes the amendments to other legislation made necessary by clause 20.

Clause 22: Assaults on, and obstruction of, designated police support staff

71.     Clause 22 amends section 66 of the 1998 Act which makes it an offence to assault, resist, obstruct or impede a constable in the execution of his duty, or a person assisting a constable in the execution of his duty. The effect is that it becomes an offence to do the same to a designated person, or a person assisting a designated person.

          Clause 23: Impersonation etc. of designated police support staff

72.     Clause 23 amends section 67 of the 1998 Act (which makes it an offence to impersonate a police officer with intent to deceive) so that it will be an offence to impersonate a designated person with intent to deceive, or to do something designed to suggest falsely that a person is a designated person or to suggest that a person's powers as a designated person are greater than they actually are.


     Clause 24: Persons authorised to take intimate samples

73.     Subsection (2) amends Article 62 of the 1989 Order (intimate samples). Its effect is that a an intimate sample other than a sample of urine or a dental impression (which may only be taken by a registered dentist) may be taken from a person by a registered health care professional as well as by a medical practitioner. Subsection (3) gives the definition of a registered health care professional as a registered nurse or a registered member of a health care profession designated by order made by the Secretary of State. Subsections (6) to (8) provide that this clause may be commenced by order.


     Clause 25: Codes of practice

74.     Clause 25 amends Article 66 of the 1989 Order on codes of practice. Its effect is that the Secretary of State may provide for a code of practice to have effect with the modifications which he sets out in an order. The modifications must be confined to one or more of the following—

  • the effect of the code in relation to an area of Northern Ireland specified in the order;

  • the effect of the code in relation to a period not exceeding two years specified in the order;

  • the effect of the code in relation to offences or descriptions of offenders specified in the order.


     Clause 26: Repeals

75.     Clause 26 gives effect to the repeals, which are set out in Schedule 3.

     Clause 27: Extent

76.     Clause 27 provides that the Bill extends only to Northern Ireland.

          Clause 28: Short title

77.     Clause 23 provides for the Bill's short title.


78.     The only provision which may have an impact on public expenditure is the provision (clause 14) allowing councils to indemnify a member of a DPP in respect of liability incurred by him in connection with the business of the DPP and to insure against risks of a member of the DPP meeting with a personal accident while engaged on the business of the DPP. This will incur a small cost for councils and for the Board, which will be responsible for reimbursing three quarters of this cost, but is in line with the existing arrangements for councils to indemnify and insure in respect of councillors.


79.     Increasing the scope for civilianisation of what are currently police duties may result in the employment of more support staff by the police. This will, however, be cheaper than the use of police officers for these functions, will release police officers for front line duties, and is in line with measures brought in for England and Wales by the Police Reform Act 2002.


80.     There is nothing in the Bill that will have an impact on business.


     81.     The only provisions in the Bill which give rise to issues under the ECHR are those enabling limited police powers to be given to police support staff. These are set out in clause 20 and Schedule 1. They include powers of entry, search and seizure, powers to take fingerprints and samples, and powers to conduct searches, which raise issues under Article 8 of the Convention (right to respect for private life). The Department takes the view that these powers are justifiable within Article 8.2 of the Convention, as being necessary for the prevention of crime and disorder, and that the conferral of these powers is proportionate. The powers that may be given to police support staff also include a power of arrest, which raises issues under Article 5 of the Convention (right to liberty). In the Department's view this limited power is compatible with Article 5.1(c), being the lawful detention of a person on reasonable suspicion of his having committed an offence or to prevent his fleeing after having done so. The Lord Williams of Mostyn has made the following statement—

         "In my view the provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] are compatible with the Convention rights."


82.     Clause 24 is subject to commencement by order. The other provisions of the Bill come into force on Royal Assent, subject to specific commencement provisions in individual clauses.



    *The Board is the Policing Board for Northern Ireland.

    *A DPP is a district policing partnership.

    *The Patten Report is the report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, "A New Beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland", published in September 1999.

    *The 1998 Act is the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

    *The 2000 Act is the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

    *The Police Reform Act is the Police Reform Act 2002.

    *The PSNI is the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

    *The 1989 Order is the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989.

    *The Terrorism Act is the Terrorism Act 2000.

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Prepared: 6 December 2002