Outline of Provisions in the Criminal
Justice Bill |
Part 1: Police and Criminal Evidence Act
- Extends stop and search powers for items intended
to cause criminal damage.
- Enables immediate bail from the scene of arrest
- Allows those accompanying the police under a
warrant to actively assist in searching premises.
- Modifies PACE to remove the statutory requirement
to record details of property of a detained person.
- Extends the time for which someone may be detained,
under the authority of a superintendent, from 24 to 36 hours for
any arrestable offence.
- Extends the circumstances under which inspectors
can carry out reviews of detention by telephone.
- Revises the way in which changes are made to
the Codes of Practice.
- Extends the provisions for testing persons in
police detention for specified Class A drugs to those under 18.
- Provides new powers of arrest for Class C drugs
- so that can continue to arrest for cannabis possession, after
cannabis is reclassified
- Extends the circumstances in which the police
may take a person's fingerprints without consent to include taking
fingerprints from a person arrested for a recordable offence and
detained in a police station.
- Extends the circumstances in which the police
may take without consent a non-intimate sample from a person in
police detention to include taking such a sample from a person
arrested for a recordable offence.
Part 2: Bail
- Courts would be required to refuse bail to an
adult defendant who failed without reasonable cause to surrender
to custody in answer to bail in the same proceedings, unless it
is satisfied that there is no significant risk that he would so
fail if released.
- The Bill would apply a new limitation period
which will ensure that a defendant cannot escape being prosecuted
for the Bail Act offence merely by succeeding in absconding for
more than 6 months.
- The Bill would require courts to refuse bail
to an adult defendant who is on bail in criminal proceedings at
the date of the offence, unless it is satisfied that there is
no significant risk that he would so fail if released.
- The right of the prosecution to appeal to the
Crown Court against a decision by magistrates to grant bail is
to be extended to cover all imprisonable offences, and not just
those carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years as at present.
- The Bill imposes restrictions on bail for those
charged with an imprisonable offence, and who have tested positive
for a specified Class A drug.
Part 3: Conditional Cautioning
- The Bill allows for a caution with specific conditions
attached to it to be given where there is sufficient evidence
to charge a suspect with an offence which he/she admits, and the
suspect agrees to the caution.
- It would be for the CPS to decide whether a conditional
caution was appropriate, and for the police to administer it.
- If the suspect failed to comply with the conditions,
he or she would be liable to be prosecuted for the offence.
Part 4: Charging
- The Bill provides that cases in which the police
would now charge a suspect should generally be referred to the
Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether proceedings should
be instituted, and if so on which charge. Meanwhile the suspect
would be released on bail; provision is made for conditions to
be attached (with the suspect's consent) to police bail in such
- For certain offences and in certain circumstances
(to be set out in guidance), it would remain open to the police
to charge without reference e.g. minor, routine offences, or cases
where it is necessary to bring the suspect before a court to seek
a remand in custody (or on bail on conditions to which the suspect
has refused to consent).
- Pilot projects have shown that involving the
prosecutor at an earlier stage leads to more accurate charges
and earlier guilty pleas.
Part 5: Disclosure
- The Bill includes a number of amendments to the
current provisions which govern the prosecution's disclosure of
unused material to the defence before the trial and defence disclosure
requirements. These include:
- replacing the existing two-stage disclosure test,
with an objective single test for the disclosure of unused material,
requiring the prosecution to disclose to the defence unused material
that has not previously been disclosed and which might be considered
reasonably capable of undermining the prosecution case or of assisting
- increasing the amount of detail that an accused
will be required to provide in his/her defence statement which
he/she is required to serve before trial, setting out the nature
of his/her defence.
- requiring the judge to warn the accused about
failures to comply with the defence statement requirement.
- giving the Court power to order an accused to
give a defence statement to his/her co-accused, with the aim of
placing all parties on an equal footing.
- and also giving the Courts power to direct that
the jury be given a copy of the defence statement and, if necessary,
to direct that the statement be edited to exclude any inadmissible
- the proposed provisions would also require an
accused, in advance of the trial, to give the Court and the prosecutor
a notice giving details of witnesses that he intends to call to
give evidence at the trial and disclose details of experts consulted
but whom it is not intended to call to give evidence.
Part 6: Allocation and Transfer of Offences
The proposals amend the procedure to be followed
by magistrates' courts in determining whether cases triable either
way should be tried summarily or on indictment, and provides for
the sending to the Crown Court of those cases which need to go
The option of committal for sentence in cases which
the magistrates decide to hear will be removed, whilst allowing
defendants in cases where summary trial is considered appropriate
to seek a broad indication of the sentence they would face if
they were to plead guilty at that point.
Part 7: Trial on Indictment without a Jury
- The proposed legislation would allow trial by
judge alone in the following circumstances:
the defendant has asked for it, subject to the consent of the
cases involving complex or lengthy financial and commercial arrangements
there is a serious risk of jury tampering
the jury has been discharged because of tampering
- The defendant would be able to appeal against
a decision to try a case by judge alone, or against a refusal
by the court to grant his request for judge-alone trial.
- Where a trial is conducted or continued without
a jury, and the defendant is convicted, the judge will be required
to give a reasoned verdict.
Part 8: Live Links
- Legislation would enable witnesses to give evidence
using TV links from remote locations if this would be more efficient
Part 9: Prosecution Appeals
Provisions in the Bill would introduce an interlocutory
prosecution right of appeal against those rulings by a Crown Court
judge that have the effect of terminating the trial early before
the jury has considered the evidence.
Part 10: Retrial for Serious Offences (Double
The proposed provisions include an exception to the
double jeopardy rule for a defined list of very serious offences
where new evidence emerges that strongly indicates that there
is a case against the acquitted person in respect of that offence,
and it is right in all the circumstances of the case for that
person to be retried. A number of safeguards are included to guard
against the possible harassment of acquitted persons. The DPP's
consent would be needed before a suspect can be re-investigated
and before an application can be made to the Court of Appeal to
quash the acquittal. It would only be possible to make one application
for an acquittal to be quashed, so there is no prospect of repeated
Part 11: Evidence
Chapter 1: Evidence of Bad Character
The proposed reforms would enable judges to let juries
hear about a defendant's previous convictions and other misconduct
where this is relevant to the case. The court would be able to
exclude evidence of previous misconduct if it thinks that the
jury will give it disproportionate weight (in other words, if
the relevance of the evidence to the case is outweighed by any
prejudicial effect). The starting point will, however, be that
relevant evidence is admissible.
Chapter 2: Hearsay Evidence
The proposals would enable witness statements to
be used as evidence, subject to a number of safeguards, where
the witness is identified but unavailable to testify or the statement
is contained in a business document. The court would have a further
discretion to admit hearsay evidence where it would not be contrary
to the interests of justice for it to be used. In addition, witnesses'
previous statements would become more widely admissible at trial
including allowing witnesses to refer to their statement whilst
giving evidence in court and greater use of video recorded statements
for crucial evidence in serious cases.
Part 12: Sentencing
Purposes and Principles of Sentencing
The Bill would set in statute the purposes of sentencing
to protect the public, punish, reduce crime (including by deterrence),
reform and rehabilitate offenders and promote reparation. It would
also make explicit the principles that should determine the seriousness
of an offence and the severity of the resulting sentence.
Magistrates' Sentencing Powers
This Bill would extend magistrates' sentencing power
from 6 to 12 months.
Sentencing Guidelines Council
The Bill would provide for the establishment of a
Sentencing Guidelines Council, which would be tasked with drafting
and promulgating a consolidated set of sentencing guidelines to
be taken into account by all criminal courts.
Generic Community Sentences
The Bill would create a single community sentence
under which all of the options currently attached to the different
community orders would be available.
Enforcement of community orders is to be strengthened
by giving the court stronger options in the case of breach. The
Bill makes recall to custody an executive decision, rather than
having to be approved by the Parole Board as currently. The Parole
Board would scrutinise all recall decisions, to ensure they are
This sentence would consist of a custodial period
of between two and thirteen weeks, followed by a period of at
least six months served in the community on licence within an
overall sentence envelope of less than 12 months. Some of the
options under the Generic Community Sentence are available as
The Bill would create a new sentence of intermittent
custody (modelled on the structure for custody plus - see below)
in which the custodial period can be served intermittently. The
licence period, complete with requirements set by the court, is
served in between the custodial periods, and beyond (if applicable).
A short prison sentence of between two and thirteen
weeks can be suspended for up to two years while requirements
in the community which are set by the court are undertaken. If
the offender breaches any of the activities or requirements, the
custodial term is activated, and the sentence becomes one of custody
plus. Committing a further offence during the entire length of
suspension would also count as breach.
Powers of review
Under the new suspended sentence, the court would
have the power to review the progress of the offender if it chooses,
and alter the requirements accordingly. The aim is to increase
the court's involvement in the outcome of the sentences it hands
Sentences for Dangerous Offenders
The Bill would introduce a new scheme for the sentencing
of dangerous adults. Offenders who have committed a specified
sexual or violent offence and have been assessed as dangerous
would get one of two new sentences for dangerous offenders or
a discretionary life sentence. Release from all of these sentences
would be at the discretion of the Parole Board. The most dangerous
offenders who continue to pose a risk to the public may be kept
in prison for an indeterminate period.
Sentences of over 12 months
For offenders serving a sentence of over 12 months
(apart from the sentences for dangerous offenders) release would
be automatic at the halfway point and they would remain on licence
until the end of the sentence. The Prison and Probation Services
would set a number of requirements in addition to be followed
during the licence period.
This Bill would require more of the offender on a
deferred sentence. He may have to complete undertakings in the
community as set by the court.
The existing method of calculation based on the principle
of single-terming would be simplified and replaced with a set
of clear provisions for calculating the time served in custody
where several sentences are passed. The method for deducting time
spent on remand from the custodial part of the sentence to be
served would also be simplified by the Bill.
Increase in Penalties for Drug-Related Offences
Increases penalties for trafficking Class C drugs
to 14 years.
Effect of Life Sentence
The Bill would introduce new statutory principles
on the sentencing for those convicted of murder, which will provide
the framework for judges to determine how long a murderer should
spend in prison before being considered for release on licence.
Increase in penalties for certain driving offences
The Bill would increase the maximum penalty for the
following three offences: causing death by dangerous driving,
causing death by careless driving while under the influence of
drink or drugs, and aggravated vehicle taking where, as a result
of the driving of the vehicle, an accident occurs and death results.
The Bill would provide a mandatory minimum custodial
sentence of 5 years for unauthorised possession of a prohibited
firearm and of 3 years for juveniles.
Part 13: Miscellaneous
Detention of suspected terrorists
The Bill would give the Court the power to extend
the period of detention of a person suspected of terrorist activities,
from 7 days to up to a total of fourteen days, provided a number
of specified conditions are met.
Outraging public decency
The Bill would amend the Magistrates' Court Act 1980
to add the offence at common law of outraging public decency to
the list, in Schedule 1, of offences triable either way.
The Bill includes provisions to abolish the categories
of ineligibility (with the exception of mentally disordered persons
and certain groups of convicted persons) for, and excusal as of
right from, jury service. This means that certain groups of people
who currently must not, or need not, do jury service would, when
these provisions are enacted, be required to do it unless they
can show good reason not to.
The Bill extends the use of parenting orders by making
them available at an earlier stage, allowing the order to be issued
to parents of first time offenders who plead guilty and who are
given a Referral Order by the court. (2195 Parenting Orders have
been made between April 2000 and April 2002).
Individual Support Orders
These will apply to young people with Anti Social
Behaviour Orders, and they require the young person to undertake
Duty to Co-operate in the Supervision of Dangerous
Offenders in the Community
The Bill would strengthen the arrangements (the so
called Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements or MAPPAs,
introduced in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act) in
which the police and probation act jointly as the responsible
authority in two ways. First by requiring other bodies to co-operate
with the police and probation in their public protection duties;
and secondly by providing for the appointment of lay advisers
to each Area's MAPPA.
Criminal Records Certificates
The Bill would amend the Police Act 1997 to support
the implementation of four of the Criminal Records Bureau Review