Date laid: 17 March 2021
Parliamentary procedure: negative
This Order enables a pilot project to fit those convicted of certain ‘acquisitive crimes’, such as theft and burglary, with a GPS tag when they are released on licence, to assess potential benefits to the individual, the probation service, the police, and the wider community. The study will follow 1,500 individuals in six police areas. Data collected will be evaluated to assess a wide range of potential impacts including any improvement in reoffending and clear up rates. An evaluation should be available in about two years.
This Order is drawn to the special attention of the House on the grounds that that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.
1.This Order enables a pilot project to fit those convicted of certain ‘acquisitive crimes’, such as theft and burglary, with a GPS tag when they are released on licence to assess potential benefits to the individual, the probation service, the police and the wider community.
2.The Impact Assessment states that, although there have been small-scale projects previously, their evaluation has been inadequate. This project will undertake detailed evaluation of the effects of GPS tracking on 1,500 individuals convicted of the theft, robbery or burglary offences listed in Schedule 2 to the Order while they are released on licence. All eligible individuals will be tagged in the police areas specified in Schedule 1 to the Order: Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Humberside and West Midlands.
3.The Explanatory Memorandum (EM) states that data collected as a result of the compulsory electronic monitoring condition will be processed in compliance with data protection legislation and the statutory Code of Practice for Electronic Monitoring. Qualifying offenders will be made aware of the specific use to which their data will be put. Subjects’ personal electronic monitoring data will be held by the relevant contractor for up to six years after the monitoring ends unless there is a lawful reason to hold it for longer, such as an ongoing investigation. Thereafter it will be destroyed securely.
4.The EM states that offenders who commit theft, robbery and burglary (‘acquisitive crime’) have the highest levels of reoffending across all offence types. The Ministry of Justice states that the most recent figures show that 29% of those convicted of robbery and 51% of those convicted of theft (including burglary) reoffend within a year of release, compared to 23% in all other cases. Acquisitive crime also has low detection rates: 62% of robbery cases and 79% of theft (including burglary) cases resulted in no suspect being identified, compared with 24% in all other cases.
5.The GPS tracking data will be made available to the probation officer supervising the offender on a regular basis to better inform management and supervision of the individual and to reduce reoffending. The police may also ask to see this tracking data to rule suspects in and out of investigations, potentially increasing the conviction rate for acquisitive crimes. Improved conviction rates and reduced reoffending would also be beneficial to society as a whole.
6.The effect of the pilot will be evaluated with a focus on understanding the technology’s impact on: reducing reoffending behaviour; the efficiency of implementation; how the measure has affected offenders, organisations, and communities; how the data-sharing with the police has supported detection of crime; and arrest cost effectiveness.
7.The evaluation will be based on the first 1,500 offenders who have been subject to the licence condition and will be available around two years from commencement, depending on when that number is reached. Further details about how the data will be evaluated are given in Appendix 1.
8.While the House may regard this pilot as a positive development, it may wish to seek an assurance from the Minister that the data gathered is subject to high quality analysis so that findings can form a robust basis for future policy development. The House may also wish to seek an assurance that the probation services are adequately resourced to support the project effectively.
Date made: 22 March 2021
Parliamentary procedure: affirmative
These Regulations provide the framework to implement the Government’s published “roadmap out of lockdown” for England, which has four main steps. The restrictions in these Steps broadly mirror the Tiers provisions (as amended) and the relaxations will be imposed incrementally. Step 1 will be brought into effect on 29 March and the first review must take place on 12 April; after that, no dates are included in the Regulations. The Government state that they intend to ease restrictions nationally, but cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level - for example, if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine. The Government also state that the changes will be a minimum of five weeks apart, but that this will be dependent on infection data and the key tests being met. The Committee recognises the Government’s need for the flexibility to respond to unpredictable circumstances, but the House may wish to ask the Government for more detail about the process by which this legislation will be amended to bring subsequent Steps into effect and whether local hotspots of infection may delay the lifting of national restrictions. The House may also wish to ask how frequently changes between Steps may be made.
Additionally, these Regulations impose a ban on all travel from England to a destination outside the UK. A fine of £5,000 is imposed on anyone leaving England or being present at an embarkation point for the purpose of travelling outside the UK, without a reasonable excuse or an exemption (set out in Schedules 5 and 6). Those who are travelling are required to complete a form in advance declaring their reason for travelling. Changes to these provisions are separate from the Steps and will be linked to reviews by the Global Travel Taskforce which will first report on 12 April.
These Regulations are drawn to the special attention of the House on the grounds that they are politically or legally important and give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.
9.These Regulations, laid by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), provide the framework to implement the Government’s “roadmap out of lockdown” for England. There are four main steps:
The Government have made clear that these are the earliest possible dates for change as movement from Step to Step will be dictated by changes in the infection rate. These Regulations are temporary and will expire on 30 June 2021.
10.This instrument revokes and replaces the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (as amended) with broadly similar conditions:
11.The Steps broadly mirror the Tiers; it is not clear why a change in terminology is used. There are, however, some minor changes; for example, the requirement to have a substantial meal when buying alcohol will be removed when hospitality venues reopen; the provision where one member may provide contact details for a whole group is removed and venues must offer a system for those who do not own a device that can scan a QR code to provide the required contact information. Protests will be allowed under Step 1.
12.Schedule 4 defines the geographical area covered by each Step. The whole of England is included in Step 1 with the areas for Steps 2 and 3 left blank. It would appear that this provides the flexibility to lift the restrictions on a sub-national level, presumably to leave certain hotspots of higher infection under tighter restrictions. In supplementary material the Government state that they intend to ease restrictions nationally, but cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level — for example, if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine. The Committee recognises the Government’s need for the flexibility to respond to unpredictable circumstances, but the House may wish to ask the Government for more detail about the process by which this legislation will be amended to bring subsequent Steps into effect and whether local hotspots of infection may delay the lifting of national restrictions. The House may also wish to ask how frequently changes between Steps may be made.
13.These Regulations apply the Step 1 changes to the whole of England from 29 March and must be reviewed on 12 April. Thereafter the timetable is not fixed. The Government have made clear that the dates in the roadmap are indicative and implementation will be “guided by data, not dates”. The roadmap states that the decision about when to move from one Step to the next will be based on four tests:
14.Both the roadmap and the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) say that there will be a minimum of five weeks between the implementation of each Step: four weeks for the scientific data following the previous change to restrictions to emerge and be analysed, and then one week’s advance notice for businesses of the restrictions that will be eased.
15.The EM adds that “if a Step is delayed, the timing of subsequent Steps will need to be recalibrated in order to maintain the necessary five-week period to assess the impact of each Step and provide notice of changes”. This limit does not appear in the legislation, however. Regulation 20 requires the Secretary of State to review the need for the restrictions by 12 April 2021 and “thereafter at least once every 35 days from that date.” We therefore asked the Government whether provision could be reviewed at an earlier date if the infection rate allowed. DHSC replied:
“There is nothing in the regulations that prevents a review happening more frequently than every 35 days but the Government has been clear about its intentions in the roadmap. If at a review point the decision is taken not to move forward a step, we would revisit that subject to the data as the Secretary of State is under an ongoing legal obligation to repeal any restrictions that are no longer required for public health reasons.”
16.We assume that if infection rates rise there would be no requirement to delay for five weeks before tightening restrictions. The House may wish to ask for further explanation about the degree of flexibility in the Government’s plans and how frequently changes between Steps may be made.
17.Additionally, regulation 8 imposes a ban on all travel from England to a destination outside the UK. Regulation 13 sets the penalties for travel offences and regulation 19 allows that the information provided by a person on their declaration form may be used in evidence against them, if they are prosecuted under these Regulations. A fine of £5,000 is imposed on anyone leaving England or being present at an embarkation point for the purpose of travelling outside the UK, without a reasonable excuse or an exemption (set out in Schedules 5 and 6). Those who are travelling are required to complete a form in advance declaring their reason for travelling. The provisions do not permit leisure or holiday travel.
18.Changes to these provisions are separate from the Steps and will be linked to reviews by the global travel taskforce which will first report on 12 April.
1 Theft means taking someone’s property but does not involve the use of force. Robbery is stealing from a person using force or making them think that force will be used. Burglary means illegally entering a property in order to steal property from it.
2 Ministry of Justice, Code of Practice: electronic monitoring (28 February 2018): [accessed 23 March 2021].
3 Ibid., para 50.
4 MOJ, ‘Proven Reoffending Statistics: October to December 2018’ (29 October 2020): [accessed 18 March 2021].
5 Home Office, ‘Crime Outcomes in England and Wales, year ending June 2020’ (28 October 2020): [accessed 18 March 2021].
6 Cabinet Office, ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (Summary)’ (22 February 2021): [accessed 23 March 2021].
7 as amended.
8 HM Government, ‘Global Travel Taskforce’: [accessed 23 March 2021].