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Lord Alli: I thank my noble and learned friend for that detailed reply. I commend him and his team for the work that they have done on sex tourism. The foreign travel orders will indeed satisfy me, so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments No. 452B to 452D:

"( ) "Qualifying offender" means a person within subsection (4) or (4A)."
Page 52, line 3, leave out ""Qualifying offender" means a person who" and insert "A person is within this subsection if"

    Page 52, line 4, at end insert "he"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 453 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 453A and 453B:

    Page 52, line 8, at end insert "or"

    Page 52, line 10, leave out from "offence" to end of line 15.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 454 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 454A to 454F:

    Page 52, line 15, at end insert—

"(4A) A person is within this subsection if, under the law in force in a country outside the United Kingdom and whether before or after the commencement of this Part—
(a) he has been convicted of a relevant offence (whether or not he has been punished for it),
(b) a court exercising jurisdiction under that law has made in respect of a relevant offence a finding equivalent to a finding that he is not guilty by reason of insanity,

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(c) such a court has made in respect of a relevant offence a finding equivalent to a finding that he is under a disability and did the act charged against him in respect of the offence, or
(d) he has been cautioned in respect of a relevant offence."
Page 52, line 17, leave out ", cautioned or punished" and insert "or cautioned"

    Page 52, line 18, at end insert "or (4A)"

    Page 52, line 18, at end insert—

"(5A) In subsection (4A), "relevant offence" means an act which—
(a) constituted an offence under the law in force in the country concerned, and
(b) would have constituted an offence listed in Schedule 2 or 3 if it had been done in any part of the United Kingdom."
Page 52, line 21, leave out "(4)" and insert "(5A)"

    Page 52, line 23, leave out "(4)(e)(ii)" and insert "(5A)(b)"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 455:

    Page 52, line 23, leave out "taken as having been" and insert "to be taken as"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 104, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 105 agreed to.

Clause 106 [Sexual offences prevention orders: variations, renewals and discharges]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 456 to 458:

    Page 53, line 36, at end insert "(and any renewed or varied order may contain only such prohibitions as are necessary for this purpose)"

    Page 53, line 38, leave out "date" and insert "day"

    Page 53, line 40, leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert—

"(a) where the application is made by a chief officer of police, that chief officer, or
(b) in any other case, the chief officer of police for the area in which the defendant resides."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 106, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 107 to 109 agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 458ZA:

    After Clause 109, insert the following new clause—

(1) A chief officer of police may by complaint to the magistrates' court apply for an order under this section ("a foreign travel order") in respect of a person ("the defendant") who resides in his police area or who the chief officer believes is in or is intending to come to his police area if it appears to the chief officer that—
(a) the defendant is a qualifying offender, and
(b) the defendant has since the appropriate date acted in such a way as to give reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary for such an order to be made.
(2) An application under subsection (1) may be made to any magistrates' court whose commission area includes any part of the applicant's police area.

19 May 2003 : Column 659

(3) On the application, the court may make a foreign travel order if it is satisfied that—
(a) the defendant is a qualifying offender, and
(b) the defendant's behaviour since the appropriate date makes it necessary to make such an order, for the purpose of protecting children generally or any child from serious sexual harm from the defendant outside the United Kingdom."

The noble and learned Lord said: I have referred already to foreign travel orders. Perhaps I may describe their effect and how they are to be applied for. A chief officer of police will be able to apply for a foreign travel order at any magistrates' court in his area in respect of a qualifying offender who resides in, or who the police believe is visiting or is intending to come to, his police area. The courts would then have the power to make a foreign travel order provided that two conditions are met.

The first condition is that the person has a conviction, finding or caution either in the UK or overseas for a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16, or 17 in Northern Ireland. The detail of these offences is set out in subsection (2) of Amendment No. 458ZC. Whether the offence took place in the UK or overseas, the conviction, finding or caution can have occurred at any time, whether before or after commencement of the Sexual Offences Bill.

The order has been limited to offenders who have a history of sexual offending against children because we believe that they present the greatest risk of future offending overseas. This is because the existence of brothels where child prostitutes are available or the absence of effective policing of child sexual abuse make some countries attractive destinations for paedophiles. It is this specific problem that the foreign travel orders are targeted against.

The second condition that must be met is that the offender has behaved in such a way that the court is satisfied that a foreign travel order is necessary to protect children or a particular child in any country outside the United Kingdom from serious sexual harm from the offender. By serious sexual harm we mean serious physical or psychological harm caused by the offender committing a relevant sexual offence against them.

This behaviour must have taken place since the date of the defendant's first conviction for a relevant sexual offence. We envisage that the evidence might be, for example, an offender having used the Internet to make contact with organisations arranging "sex tourism" type holidays or sending sexually explicit e-mails to a child abroad and arranging a visit. It may also be evidence of the offender networking with other sex offenders to plan trips abroad or a confession made by the offender as part of a sex offender treatment programme or evidence given by fellow prisoners. It is envisaged that such evidence will be presented as part of a detailed risk assessment prepared by the police. Such assessment might take into account previous offending behaviour, previous allegations of sex offending in the country the offender intends to visit, the circumstances of the proposed travel and likely contact with other offenders and potential victims in the destination country.

19 May 2003 : Column 660

In order to decide whether a foreign travel order is necessary in any particular case, the court will want to consider what alternative measures are potentially available to prevent the defendant causing serious sexual harm to children abroad and it will be for the police to provide the court with this information. Such alternative measures could include notifying relevant authorities abroad of the offender's intended travel plans so that monitoring, reporting or surveillance arrangements could be put in place in the destination country.

Such methods may not be available in relation to the country or countries "at risk" from the offender, or the police may have tried such methods with a particular country in the recent past and found that the information was not acted on by the local authorities. If that is the case, the court may be satisfied that in this case a foreign travel order is the only effective means available to prevent serious sexual harm against children in that country.

The prohibitions on travel imposed by an order must be only those necessary to protect children in general or any particular child from serious sexual harm from the offender. The order must specify the country or countries to which the offender is prohibited from travelling; or, where the risk warrants it, it may specify that all travel outside the United Kingdom is prohibited. An order may also prohibit travel to anywhere in the world other than to a named country. Such a provision might be needed where, for example, an offender needed to travel to a particular country to attend a funeral or for any other family reasons.

The way in which the prohibitions would work may be as follows. Where the evidence shows that an offender is presenting a risk to children only in one particular country, the travel restriction will be limited to that country. However, where the offender presents a risk more generally to children in a region where child sex is readily available, a wider travel ban will be necessary. In those cases the order may name each of the countries in the region or, where the court considers that the offender would otherwise access one of the target countries through a neighbouring country, the order could name all the countries in that region. There may also be cases where the offender presents such a high risk of offending against children that he is likely to offend wherever he goes and a complete ban on overseas travel is necessary.

The order is to last for the length of time that the court considers necessary in relation to the risk posed by the offender. There is, however, a maximum term of six months, renewable on further application from the police. We believe that in most cases the period of six months will be enough to prevent the offender from making a particular trip overseas without putting an unfair restriction on the person's longer term right to travel.

Persons subject to a foreign travel order are likely to be subject to the notification requirements by virtue of their conviction of a sexual offence against a child. However, for those offenders who are not—perhaps

19 May 2003 : Column 661

because their conviction pre-dates the 1997 Act—while the foreign travel order is in force the offender will be subject to the foreign travel notification requirements, which will require him to notify the police if he intends to travel abroad for three days or more.

Provision has also been included for the foreign travel order to be varied, renewed or discharged, and the defendant will have a right of appeal to the Crown Court against the making of an order. These provisions replicate those used for the sexual offences prevention order.

Finally, a failure to comply with any prohibition contained within a foreign travel order will be a criminal offence, punishable with up to five years' imprisonment.

I know that the issue of United Kingdom citizens who go abroad with the intention of sexually abusing children is one that has been raised by a number of noble Lords, on the introduction of this Bill, at Second Reading and again today. The Bill provides us with an opportunity to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to deal with this issue, and I believe that the foreign travel order proposed in these amendments will prove a vital and useful tool in helping the police to combat the problem. I beg to move.

1.15 a.m.

Lord Astor of Hever: We on these Benches very much welcome these amendments introducing foreign travel orders into the Bill. We have had a considerable amount of lobbying from organisations such as UNICEF. A recent UN report concluded that nearly 1 million children enter the sex industry each year. Paedophiles often choose to take holidays in places where police corruption and a lack of legislative safeguards allow them to abuse young children easily without much fear of prosecution.

This new set of orders to regulate the travel of sex offenders is a significant step forward. It shows that the Government appreciate the need to widen the Bill to have regard to the welfare of children in other countries rather than only in the UK.

The proposed foreign travel orders show a welcome degree of flexibility and have clearly been formulated on the principle of treating each offender on an individual basis when considering whether travel should be restricted.

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