Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Miranda 3 ~ Amendments to the law are already coming


The use of the Terrorism Act 2000 Schedule 7 in relation to David Miranda has caused a considerable furore.  Previous posts here and here.

A Bill is already going through Parliament to amend Schedule 7.  It is the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing bill, which has completed its committee stage in the House of Commons.  This will cut the overall maximum period to six hours and introduce other safeguards.  Explanatory Notes to the Bill are available.

The Bill was preceded by a consultation paper

The consultation:

The Home Office consultation put forward questions relating to the following areas:


• Reducing the maximum legal period of examination.

• Requiring a supervising officer to review at regular intervals whether the examination or detention needs to be continued.

• Requiring examining officers to be trained and accredited to use Schedule 7 powers.

• Giving individuals examined at ports the same rights to publicly funded legal advice as those transferred to police stations.  (Here, the consultation noted that practical difficulties may mean that detentions can be prolonged by the time taken for a solicitor to enter the restricted security area at a port. However it is important for an individual to have the right to consult a legal adviser even by telephone).

• Amending the basis for undertaking strip searches to require suspicion and a supervising officer’s authority.

• Repealing the power to take intimate DNA samples from persons detained during a Schedule 7 examination.
 
The government's response to the consultation was published on 11th July 2013.  The need for amendments to the law and practice was accepted by the government.

Changes in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill:

A) Immigration officers, as well as customs officers, will have to be designated for the purposes of Schedule 7.  A code of practice will specify details of training to be undertake by examining officers.

B) There will be one hour limit on the period during which a person may be examined without being detained and an overall six hour limit on the period for which a person may be examined and detained.  Detention of a person under these powers triggers provisions of Part 1 of Schedule 8 including the right to consult a solicitor.

C) There will be amendments to powers relating to searches of persons examined and detained.  The power in Schedule 7 to conduct an intimate search will be removed.

D) The right in Schedule 8 currently refer to those detained at a police station or places designated as such.  Schedule 8 will be amended to give additional rights to those detained under Schedule 7 at ports and airports.

E)  Detention under Schedule 7 will be subject to reviews.  Details of this will be in a Code of Practice.

F)  The Examining Officers Code of Practice will be amended in the light of alterations to the law.

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