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Lord Cameron of Lochbroom: I support the thrust of the amendment, but for a different reason to that put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Astor. I understand from Clause 127(3) that Sections 103 and 104 do not apply to Scotland. However, it is plain from Clause 104(4) that a "qualifying offender" is a person who,
However, some of the offences set out in the schedule may go beyond what is intended in the remaining parts of Schedule 3. For instance, "wilful fireraising" and "culpable and reckless fireraising" may involve offences against property only and not against the person. Likewise, I suggest:
In general, I support the nature of the amendmentthat the Bill should contain a clear list of offences that would be the subject of the schedule. It would be appropriatehaving regard to Schedule 3(63)that any schedule for Scotland should incorporate a reference to the Protection of Children Act (Scotland) Act 2003 passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Amendment No. 449 seeks to modify Schedule 3 by setting out a defined list of offences committed in Scotland that allow a court in England or Wales to grant a sex offender protection order in the terms of Clause 103(1). The noble Lord, Lord Astor, pointed out that the list of Schedule 3 offences in relation to England and Wales contains many violent offences, which is mirrored by the ability of the English or Welsh courts to impose a sex offender protection order on any person who committed an offence of a violent nature in Scotland and subsequently relocated to England or Wales. Those offences are in addition to the list in Schedule 2.
The current position offers significant protection to the public. Most offences involving personal violence in Scotland are common law offences. For that reason, we believe that it is preferable not to put on the face of the Bill what purports to be a definitive list of Scottish offences. The criteria are equivalent to those used under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to determine whether a person can be made subject to an extended sentence. The criteria in the amendments to the 1995 Act made by Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 define whether someone can potentially be subject to an order for lifelong restriction.
Clause 117 allows the Secretary the State to amend the description of offences in Schedule 3 if necessary. We do not think that the point raised in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights applies because restrictions imposed under a sex offender protection order do not restrict liberty within the meaning of Article 5. We believe that the balance is about right. I hope that deals with the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cameron. I will read his remarks carefully, to see whether I need to write to him.
Lord Cameron of Lochbroom: Before the Minister sits down, it occurred to me that it would be importantsince this will not affect persons coming before Scottish courtsthat English or Northern Ireland courts should be fully apprised of offences in Scotland that would constitute the offences with which Clause 103 deals. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will take account of my remarks in relation to paragraphs 63 and 124 of Schedule 3, relative to Northern Ireland. Trafficking offences that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Lord Astor of Hever: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. This is an important amendment. There is a great deal to digest. Like the Minister, I shall read the debate carefully in Hansard. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: This is a simple amendment. Its purpose is to protect children outside the UK at serious risk of harm from sex offenders within the UK. The child sex industry is booming in many countries such as Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic and Thailand. Children enter the industry for different reasons. Many children who are trafficked are destined for sex work; economic necessity can force other children to enter the sex industry.
The supply side of the industry is horrific. The latest estimate concluded that 1 million children enter the sex industry every year. I saw that at first hand when I visited a UNICEF project in Thailand recently that was seeking to reintegrate predominantly young women, who had been exploited by the sex industry, into society. Surely we must accept some responsibility, not just for our own actions. If the side effect of toughening UK law is to export the problem, we should take measures to combat that now. The amendment does so. I hope the Minister will ensure that it is included in the Bill. I beg to move.
Baroness Whitaker: We have just passed an amendment enabling us to control the risks from people who have been convicted of sex offences in other countries. Surely it would be hypocritical not to control our sex offenders who may go somewhere where enforcement is more lax and abuse another
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My noble friend Lord Alli rightly wishes to address the issue of sex tourism where offenders travel abroad with the intention of committing sexual offences, particularly against children.
We take the issue of sex tourism very seriously. A number of measures are already in place to deal with the issue and we are proposing further measures as part of the Bill. They include Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997, re-enacted as Clause 75 in the Bill, which enables courts in the United Kingdom to deal with UK citizens who commit sex offences against children abroad. Since June 2001 all registered sex offenders have been required to tell the police if they intend to travel abroad for eight days or more. As Members of the Committee are aware, because I said so earlier, we intend to reduce that period to three days.
The proposed new notification order at Clauses 96 to 102 will require those who have committed sex offences overseas to register if they come to the United Kingdom. I fully support the intentions behind the amendments, but their purpose and effect are similar to those behind the proposed foreign travel order, which we will introduce, subject to your Lordships' agreement, under government Amendments Nos. 458ZA to 458ZG. Foreign travel orders will in certain circumstances enable those convicted of sexual offences against children to be prohibited from travelling to named countries. They have been developed specifically to deal with the issue of sex tourism, and their purpose is to prevent serious sexual harm to children overseas by UK offenders. The orders would operate in a similar way to sexual offences protection ordersindeed, they could be applied for at the same time as a sexual offences protection orderplacing prohibitions on the offender in the United Kingdom.
We believe that foreign travel orders will meet the concerns that have given rise to the amendments and that they will provide a workable and proportionate response to the problem of offenders who go overseas to abuse children. The effect of foreign travel orders will be similar to that under the amendments. Indeed, in developing the orders we considered amending sexual offences prevention orders in exactly the way proposed by the amendments.
However, we decided that there were a number of difficulties with such an approach. First, amending the sexual offences prevention orders in that way would extend any prohibitions included in an order to cover the public overseas unless it was made explicit that the prohibition applied only in the UK. Such prohibitions would be impossible to police. For example, if a sexual offences prevention order contained a prohibition that the offender was not to hang around schools or to be alone in a property with children of a certain age, how could that be policed if the offender was in Thailand?
Our other concern was that any prohibition on travel must be proportionate to the risks posed by the offender. Sexual offences prevention orders last for a minimum of five years. They can be made against a wide range of offenders and carry with them a requirement to register. By contrast, foreign travel orders are more focused on the problem of offenders who go overseas to abuse children and therefore more targeted and proportionate. They last for a maximum of six months but can be renewed. The offender, when not already on the register, needs to notify the police only of his foreign travel plans. The order can be made only where the person already has a convictioneither in this country or overseasfor a sexual offence against a child under 16.
I hope that what I have said will reassure my noble friend that the Government take the issue of sex tourism very seriously and that we are determined to do whatever is necessary to tackle the problem. We believe that it can be most effectively addressed by the proposed foreign travel order in connection with the other measures that have already or are being introduced. In the light of what I have said, I hope that my noble friend will feel that our approach deals with the very relevant points he made.
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