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"(15) Subsections (3) to (9) of section 70 apply for the purposes of this section as they apply for the purposes of that section and any reference in those subsections to subsection (2) of that section must be construed as a reference to subsection (6) of this section."
"PROCEEDINGS UNDER SECTION 71: EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC
(1) This section applies to
(a) any proceedings relating to a reference made under section 71(3), and
(b) any other proceedings arising in consequence of such proceedings.
(2) The court in which the proceedings will be or are being heard may make such order as it thinks appropriate
(a) to exclude from the proceedings any person who does not fall within subsection (4);
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(b) to give such directions as it thinks appropriate prohibiting the publication of any matter relating to the proceedings (including the fact that the reference has been made).
(3) An order under subsection (2) may be made only to the extent that the court thinks
(a) that it is necessary to do so to protect the safety of any person, and
(b) that it is in the interests of justice.
(4) The following persons fall within this subsection
(a) a member or officer of the court;
(b) a party to the proceedings;
(c) counsel or a solicitor for a party to the proceedings;
(d) a person otherwise directly concerned with the proceedings.
(5) This section does not affect any other power which the court has by virtue of any rule of law or other enactment
(a) to exclude any person from proceedings, or
(b) to restrict the publication of any matter relating to proceedings."
The noble Baroness said: The amendment would introduce greater flexibility in the frequency of reporting by persons subject to a financial reporting order. That will enable the courts to vary the frequency with which an offender must report on the particulars of his financial affairs, to take account of changing circumstances which might affect the risk of re-offending. I beg to move.
"(2A) If a protection provider varies or cancels any arrangement made by him under subsection (2), he must advise the protected person of that decision as soon as is reasonably practicable."
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The noble Duke said: The amendment is intended to ensure that there is adequate communication between the protection provider and the protected person when the decision to vary or cancel arrangements is taken. The reason for that is that it is essential that the protected person is advised as soon as possible after a decision has been taken to vary or cancel protection arrangements. The Bill appears to make no provision for that. The amendment is intended to address that issue. I beg to move.
I have what I hope will be a helpful explanation for the noble Duke. Under current practice within police forces, an agreement to grant protection is recorded by means of a protocol between the protection provider and the protected person. Any amendment to that agreement would be recorded on the same document. It is also standard practice, in accordance with ACPO guidelines, to provide a protected person with 21 days' notice of changes to protection arrangements. Such arrangements would rarely be cancelled where a protected person has received an identity change. In such cases, an assessment would be made to decide whether the new identity should continue. I hope that that is a full explanation to the noble Duke of why the provisions are set out as they are.
The Duke of Montrose: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her explanation. Although it is reassuring to know that the arrangements are protected by means of a protocol, does the 21 days' notice apply prior to the changes, or does it mean that the recipient will have a notice 21 days after the changes?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: As I understand it, standard practice is to provide a protected person with 21 days' notice of changes to protection arrangements. That obviously makes good sense because one can then accommodate oneself to the proposed changes. As I said, arrangements would rarely be cancelled where a protected person has received an identity change, so those matters are sensitively dealt with.
The noble Duke said: This amendment again addresses an issue that has been raised with me by the Law Society of Scotland. It extends the list of people entitled to protection under Clause 78 by referring to officers of the court, including barristers, advocates and solicitors. Schedule 5 sets out a long list of people who are involved in the investigation or conduct of proceedings relating to serious crime who will be entitled to protection under the Bill. No reference is currently made to solicitors, advocates and barristers. To ensure that the protection offered by Clause 78 is comprehensive, the Law Society of Scotland suggests extending the list to include officers of the court. I beg to move.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I recognise that the safety of court staff, such as barristers and solicitors, may be threatened by their involvement in the prosecution of a case. They are already included among those eligible for protection. Paragraphs 8 to 12 of Schedule 5 cover prosecutors and their staff. I therefore consider that any further addition to Schedule 5 is unnecessary. In the light of that explanation, I invite the noble Duke to withdraw the amendment.
Defence lawyers and their staff do not face the same risks as the prosecution in bringing a case to trial, although we are aware of a small number of cases where a defence lawyer has been threatened by a disgruntled client because of the impending failure of his trial. Where there is a serious threat to his safety, a defence lawyer should be eligible for some form of protection outside these provisions.
May I say a word or two to clarify the previous group of amendments? The only time when we would be unable to consult and give 21 days' notice is if the person disappeared. Of course, we will make every effort to find them to ensure that they have the appropriate safeguards. I share the noble Duke's concern about the importance of effective communication between the protection provider and the protected person and of ensuring that the guidance accompanying the legislation makes clear that the 21 days' notice should be maintained. I thought that it was important to clarify that in case someone asked, "What if they disappear?".
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