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What are the Government doing? In the Bill, we are providing for an enabling power to make regulations for the retention and destruction of DNA. The public consultation paper sets out what we expect those regulations to comprise of, and we have published a version of those regulations. The final draft version will, of course, be subject to the outcome of the consultation paper and follow our discussions with the Committee of Ministers, but what is clear from the consultation paper is that we have provided evidence to support the case for the retention of data for those arrested and not convicted and to support the proposed periods of retention.
We are proposing significant evidence-based changes. First, all DNA samplesin other words, the actual biological material such as hair or a swab of salivafor all persons, whether arrested and not convicted or arrested and convicted, are to be destroyed. That means that around 4.5 million legacy samples will be destroyed and future samples will be destroyed as soon as possible and may be held for a maximum period of six months to ensure that a suitable profile is put on the National DNA Database. This is a major step on
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Secondly, we propose to retain for six years the DNA profile of people arrested but not convicted of a recordable offence, except in the cases of violent, sexual or terrorist-related offences, for which we propose a retention period of 12 years.
Thirdly, we propose to delete DNA profiles of people aged 10 to 18 who have been arrested and not convicted, and those arrested and convicted after six years or on their 18th birthday, whichever is sooner, unless their arrest or conviction is related to a violent, sexual or terrorist offence or they have been subject to a subsequent arrest or to a conviction for another offence.
Finally, we need to remind ourselves of what happens if the Government do not do this now. Aside from the fact that we need to have made significant progress towards implementing a European Court of Human Rights judgment in a reasonable time, which we are advised is about 12 months from the date of the judgment, delaying a change in legislation in England and Wales will build uncertainty and confusion among the public and police forces. It also creates the potential for legal challenge in the courts. We want to avoid these situations.
Our approach will enable a timely and effective programme of implementation by the police service and the introduction of a retention framework that minimises operational disruption. At the same time, the introduction of regulations will give members of the public who have been arrested certainty about what will happen to their data and when they can expect them to be deleted.
There are also wider issues around public protection. Our approach is to look to raise public protection while protecting the safeguards for the individual. That is an important balance to maintain, and our public consultation and regulatory process not only achieve that but actually enhance it.
I recognise that some Members of this House are likely to share the concerns expressed in the other place that the Bill does not go far enough in setting out the details or that Parliament is not being given sufficient opportunity to scrutinise them. I assure the House that we are not taking this matter lightly. Public support for and engagement in a retention framework are important elements of implementing the judgment by the European courts. Therefore, we have published the consultation paper to hear what the public have to say, and we will use those responses to inform draft regulations that are put before this House. The consultation ends on 7 August.
We have also placed in the House Library, for information, an indicative draft of what the regulations could look like, so that all Members can have the fullest possible details of our proposals; and, in the other place, we amended the DNA measures in the Bill to ensure that before the first and any subsequent draft regulations are laid before Parliament, statutory consultees must also be consulted further on those regulations.
We must put in place the ability now to implement the European courts judgment. We must do so in such a way that the public have had their say in how they want the retention regime to work. We are doing all we can to engage the public and Members of this House so that they can have their say on such an important issue. I make no apologies for going on at length about that, because it is such an important issue and we have already had a number of discussions about it on the Floor of the House.
On Part 2, more effective and efficient policing is but one side of the equation when it comes to fighting crime. On the other side of the equation are those unfortunate few on whom the criminals prey, and how it protects its most vulnerable people is the mark of any civilised society. That is why the Government undertook a review on tackling the demand for prostitution last year. Lest we forget, most prostitutes are more victims than volunteers. That review concluded that to curb prostitution and tackle the most exploitative elements of prostitution, including trafficking, enforcement activity should be focused not just on those involved in the organisation of sexual exploitation but on those who contribute to the demand by paying for sex.
This approach is supported by ACPO and a number of organisations working with victims of trafficking and campaigning on womens rights. In particular, Rights of Women, Eaves housing, the POPPY Project and Toynbee Hall support the approach that we are taking in Clause 13. That is why this Bill provides a new offence of paying for sex with a prostitute who has been subjected to force, threat or deception. There was much debate in the other place on ensuring that these measures do not inadvertently capture circumstances in which prostitutes are willingly in a voluntary business such as a relationship with a third party. That has never been our intention. Clause 13, following amendments in the other place, helps to clarify that by narrowing and tightening the scope of the offence.
Alongside the new offence in Clause 13, the Bill provides for the removal of the term persistent from the existing offences of kerb crawling and soliciting to allow police greater powers to tackle kerb crawlers who create the demand for street prostitution and provides police powers to close down premises where they have evidence that they are being used for activities connected with prostitution or pornography-related offences.
These measures must be part of a comprehensive approach that recognises the importance of providing routes out for those who want to leave prostitution. For this reason the Bill includes a new rehabilitative sentence for those prostitutes convicted of loitering or soliciting as an alternative to a fine and it seeks to remove the term persistent from that offence, as part of an approach that shifts the emphasis away from punitive issues much more towards more supportive ones.
Children are among the most vulnerable members of our society. I am sure all sides of the House agree that we must do all that we can to strengthen our already very robust system of managing sex offenders. Feedback from groups such as the Association of Chief Police Officers has helped the Government to
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Our communities must also be further empowered and feel their views are heard. The increase in lap dancing clubs in towns and cities across the United Kingdom, for example, is an issue of concern for many local communities. To address this issue the Bill will reclassify lap dancing clubs as sex establishments, giving local people a stronger say over whether these clubs are set up in their communities or not. These powers were requested by the majority of local authorities which responded to the Government when they sought views on this issue. The need to respond to the concerns of communities in relation to lap dancing clubs has been highlighted by organisations such as the Fawcett Society and Object.
Many communities are blighted by alcohol-fuelled low-level crime and disorder, particularly as a result of unsupervised under-18s drinking alcohol in public. Of course, most people drink alcohol responsibly, but in some communities alcohol-related crime and disorder has become a significant problem. The police already have a range of powers for dealing with this alcohol misuse. Part 3 includes measures to amend some of these existing powers, as well as introducing a new offence of persistent possession of alcohol, in order to ensure these problems can be tackled even more effectively. We will continue to do more to enforce existing laws around the sale of alcohol, but this activity should not be at the expense of the alcohol industry playing its part. An independent review of the industrys voluntary standards has shown them to be ineffective in reducing alcohol-related crime and disorder.
The Bill seeks to enable the drawing up of a revised code of practice with some conditions that will be mandatory for all licensed premises and others which licensing authorities can use at their discretion to target premises in areas experiencing problems. In establishing the framework for a code of practice for the irresponsible sale of alcohol, we will also ensure a safe, sensible yet social approach to preventing alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder. We are currently consulting more widely on the code of practice, copies of which are available in the Libraries, and my noble colleagues can and should participate in that consultation. The consultation code makes it clear how we propose to tackle alcohol misuse by banning the most irresponsible promotions and encouraging good management practices.
Low-level crime and disorder is not the only new phenomenon confronting our law enforcement colleagues on the streets today. There is also the more violent end of the spectrum of crime on our streets, perpetrated by young thugs in criminal gangs, which is addressed
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These measures are not, and never have been, about organised criminals or aimed at groups of youths hanging around on street corners carrying out low-level anti-social behaviourwe already have measures on statute elsewhere that focus on that. However, we have listened to Members concerns in the other place, in particular whether the measures inadvertently could be used against the latter groups of youth, and so Clause 33 now clearly characterises gangs and gang-related violence for the purposes of these injunctions to clarify this matter. It is also entirely reasonable for authorities applying for these injunctions to consult more widely when making the application. Again this was a point raised by Members in the other place and the changes have been made. I believe that with these changes the measures are now much stronger and clearer.
In Part 5 we go into the proceeds of crime. Of course, local communities also suffer at the hands of other criminals, including more serious and organised criminals. The recovery of criminal assets is one of our most powerful tools in fighting all levels of crime and is one of the Governments top priorities for law enforcement. We already have a strong array of powers and tools to recover criminal proceeds which the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are using to very good effect. The asset recovery action plan, which was consulted on in 2007, included proposals to further drive up our asset recovery work. The measures in the Bill flow directly from proposals in that consultation exercise and also from suggestions made by the police to further improve existing powers. For example, the new power in this Bill to seize goods on arrest, or later, for acquisitive crime when a confiscation order is expected, will prevent assets being dissipated and send a powerful signal to communities that criminals will not be able to flaunt their illegally gained assets.
However, a fair society must also insist that those who enforce the law use their powers proportionately. The Bill therefore includes safeguards to ensure that the new search and seizure powers are used appropriately, with judicial oversight, and that certain essential items of property and equipment are exempt from seizure.
Overall, the package of measures in this Bill will speed up the enforcement of asset recovery cases and will help to increase the total amount taken from criminals, thereby further depriving them of capital, reducing the incentives for crime and the harm caused by crime, as well as further promoting fairness and confidence in the criminal justice system.
In Part 6 of the Bill we move to extradition. Crime, particularly serious and organised crime, continues to evolve and has become increasingly global and increasingly sophisticated. While the Extradition Act 2003 streamlined and modernised the UKs extradition system, it is vital that we ensure that our extradition legislation continues to meet these new challenges. The measures in the Bill will not only help us to meet our international obligations but also help to meet the demands of a range of departments, services and agencies involved in the United Kingdoms extradition system, including SOCA, the CPS, police forces and the Courts Service. In doing so, they will provide vital operational benefits for United Kingdom authorities.
One such benefit is the power for United Kingdom law enforcement bodies to deal with requests for extradition circulated by our European partners using the second generation Schengen information system, SIS II. It is estimated that the ability to deal with these additional alerts will allow law enforcement authorities in the United Kingdom to make an additional 1,200 arrests of people subject to European arrest warrants each year. The public safety implications of this change are therefore quite significant.
The provisions will also ensure that our extradition system continues to be efficient, effective and fair and prevents serious criminals evading justice merely by crossing an international border. For example, the provisions will close a potential loophole in the current law as a result of which it is currently possible for someone wanted in connection with a serious crime committed in the United Kingdom or already serving a sentence imposed here, by voluntarily consenting to their extradition, say, for a lesser crime abroad, to evade facing the charge or serving out their sentence here, thereby evading justice in the United Kingdom. The Bill will also ensure that where a person serving a sentence in the United Kingdom is wanted for offences committed overseas, they can be extradited to face justice in that country but still be required, if necessary, to serve the full term of their UK sentence when they return.
In Part 7, we move on to aviation security. Building secure communities means enhancing security for all aspects of those communities. That is why the Bill will also enhance the delivery of security at airports by providing an overarching strategy and structure for doing so. This is the result of nearly two years work with industry and the police, and builds on the Stephen Boys Smith and Sir John Wheeler reviews, both of whom saw that policing could not be isolated from airport security and that risk assessment and airport security planning needed to be embedded at all airports.
The Bill will seek to introduce structures that reflect the holistic nature of airport security and a risk-based approach to deliver a safe and secure environment for
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Part 8 covers miscellaneous items. It deals with a range of provisions to improve the efficiency of the Criminal Records Bureau and the planned vetting and barring scheme. There are also provisions to strengthen the powers of Customs, and now the UKBA, at the frontier by clarifying Customs powers to help tackle crime at our borders. The Bill will also seek to ensure that those subject to football banning orders in England and Wales will also be banned from attending regulated football matches in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I have no doubt that there are many issues in the Bill that will be scrutinised and debated by Members of this House with their usual perspicacity and robustness. I would expect no less, and I look forward to the coming debates. However, I hope that we do not lose sight of the need for practical measures that have practical applications to meet the challenges of crime-fighting today, measures that must balance the need to provide effective tools for our law enforcement agencies to fight crime, as well as measures to protect those who are the most vulnerable to those crimes, against the need to protect the rights of individuals in our society more widely. That is always a very difficult balance. I believe that the Bill does just that and will help us to build stronger, safer and more confident communities.
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comprehensive introduction of the Bill. I am afraid, though, that some of his enthusiasm is misplaced. As he suspected, we believe that there are many areas where it could be improved.
We agree with much of what he said about the aims of the Bill. For example, we agree entirely about the desperate need for proper measures to be taken to prevent those who have been involved first of all in the awful crime of human trafficking from then being exploited in prostitution. We also agree that alcohol abuse is a rising problem in the United Kingdom, especially among young people, and that serious measures need to be taken to change that behaviour. However, whether the proposed measures and the new code of practice will achieve that in a way that will receive the full measure of support is something that we will need to test in Committee and, if necessary, at later stages. The Minister will be aware that there is considerable disquiet, particularly among those in the retail industry, that another burden of regulation is about to fall on their heads. We must be sure that what is proposed is necessary and likely to be justified.
Once again, we are confronting a Home Office Bill that touches on a large number of issues, some of which are already the subject of legislationpretty recent legislation in some casesbut that seems to do little to achieve its aims or enhance the situation practically or sensibly. It is again a hotchpotch of largely unrelated mattersa potpourri of matters left lying around since previous efforts.
My noble friend Lord Bridgeman will make our points on Parts 1, 2 and 5 in his winding-up speech and in Committee. My noble friend Lady Neville-Jones will be involved in the detail of Part 7, which, as the Minister indicated, relates to airport security.
There is no doubt that there is still a great deal of work to be done to combat crime in this country, some of it petty and annoying, but some of it, such as drugs and knife crime, serious and insidious. There is much still to be done to ease the burden of red tape on the police and to ensure that they police the streets rather than police stations. It is extraordinary that the report from Sir Ronald Flanagan seems to have had only a feather-light impact on this legislation.
I turn to the detail of the Bill. In Part 3, the Government are unsurprisingly seeking to sound strong on the disastrous rise in binge-drinking and alcohol abuse among young people that has occurred in the past decade. The figures on alcohol-related crime, injuries and diseases among both adults and children are appalling and getting worse. We are, therefore, not against a tougher code to prevent the irresponsible sale of alcohol. Unfortunately, that code has only just been released, but I hope that we shall have an opportunity to discuss some of the proposals during the time spent on this Bill. We shall also be concerned to see how the nine mandatory clauses, which are now being consulted on, will either ameliorate or prevent the perceived problems. I am sure that we shall want to discuss the code in detail, not only the mandatory clauses but also those that are discretionary.
While we supported creating a penalty for drinking alcohol in a public place in the previous legislation, we cannot see the purpose of raising the maximum penalty so soon after its implementation, when the largest fine yet levied has been only half the current limit. The legislation is in place and it can be used. We shall want to discuss in considerable detail whether it is necessary to extend it. We feel similarly about a new power to allow the police to move on children over 10 who congregate in a public place for the purpose of consuming alcohol, the age being reduced from 16 in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. It is pretty appalling to think that there are children between 10 and 16 who are doing just this, but the police already have power under previous legislation not just to move on children of this age but to take them home. It appears that the Government are once again willing to criminalise young people rather than to take care of them. I hope that in Committee we shall be able to discuss that and the implications of the reduction in age. We are unable to explain how the new offence will help to resolve the difficulty of unruly and intimidating young people gathering in gangs or groups. There is also the question of ensuring that children as young as 10 are not left at risk following the intervention of the police.
On Part 4, we are all well aware of the problems of gang-related activity. The provisions being introduced will enable the police to seek injunctions against those suspected of or perpetrating gang-related violence. The debates in this House over the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders look set to be repeated. As with those, the new measures mean that the civil courts are being asked once again to do the job of the criminal courts. These injunctions go further than anti-social behaviour orders in that they allow for certain actions to be required of the person concerned, as well as others listed in the Bill that prohibit certain activities. There are grave concerns about the appropriateness of imposing requirements, which include having to be in a certain place at a given time or having to undertake activities, on a person without the safeguards that criminal proceedings would ensure. The provisions are extremely ill defined and I am sure that some time will be spent in probing exactly what is being proposed.
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