House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Police Reform Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Clause 83: Power to modify the functions and structure of PITO

418.     The Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) was established by Part IV of the Police Act 1997 (the 1997 Act) to carry out activities relating to information technology equipment and systems for the use of the police service. PITO acquired its statutory status on 1st April 1998. It is a body corporate and an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB). It operates within the provisions set out in the 1997 Act and any relevant subordinate legislation. The Home Office is the sponsor Department. Schedule 8 to the 1997 Act sets out the constitution of the PITO Board, conditions applying to Board membership, conditions applying to appointment of staff (regarding numbers, terms and conditions), membership and conduct of Committees, regulation of proceedings, evidence, money, requirements for an annual report and the status of the organisation with respect to the Crown.

419.     As currently constituted, PITO has two broad statutory functions:

  • to carry out activities relating to information technology (IT) equipment and systems for the use of the police service; and

  • to provide the police with a procurement, contract management and advisory service covering both IT and non-IT related goods and services.

420.     NDPB status, coupled with a tripartite governance involving ACPO, the APA and the Home Office, was adopted to enable partnership working and to better reflect policing IT requirements.

421.     This clause provides a broad enabling power which will allow amendment, by affirmative procedure secondary legislation, to Part IV (sections 109-111 and Schedule 8) of the Police Act 1997, to enable changes in the functions, name, structure, accountability and management practices of PITO.

422.     Subsection (1) sets out the scope of the amendments that can be made to the provisions governing PITO. Subsection (1)(a) ensures that the amendments can give PITO additional functions or amend existing functions. Subsection (1)(b) ensures that the amendments can impose duties on PITO in relation to how its functions are to be carried out. Subsection (1)(c) ensures that the amendments can modify the constitution of PITO (currently set out in Schedule 8 to the 1997 Act) and can also modify any provision in Schedule 8 to or sections 109-111 of the 1997 Act which relate to the management or control of PITO. Subsection (1)(d) ensures that the amendments can give the Secretary of State powers in relation to the functions, duties, constitution, management or control of PITO.

423.     Subsection (2) clarifies the provisions that can be made under this clause. Under subsection (2)(a), the provisions can amend primary legislation in Part IV of the 1997 Act in such manner as the Secretary of State thinks fit (as long as the purpose of the amendment falls within one of the purposes set out in subsection (1)). The power also enables other statutes that refer to PITO, such as the Police Act 1996, to be amended to ensure that their provision is consistent with any amendments made under this clause to Part IV of the 1997 Act. Under subsection (2)(b), the provisions, if they are intended to confer functions on PITO, can confer functions on any agencies, bodies, organisations and persons outside those connected with policing, but not outside the criminal justice system. Under subsection (2)(c), the provisions can require any persons in relation to whom PITO has been given functions to consult with PITO and perform other tasks related to PITO as specified by the order. Under subsection (2)(d), the provisions, as a consequence of any change to PITO's functions under subsection 1(a) can also change PITO's name. This is to ensure that if PITO's functions are changed, the name continues to accurately reflect the functions of the organisation. This provision does not mean that PITO can be abolished - the same legal entity would continue in operation, but under a different name. Under subsection (2)(e), the provisions can impose obligations on PITO under subsection 1(b) in relation to PITO's planning process and in relation to any consultation that the Secretary of State may decide to require PITO to undertake. Under subsection (2)(f), any provisions made under subsection (1) can also provide for the Secretary of State to make determinations, or give approval, or give an opinion from time to time, in relation to any matter. This is to ensure that requirements can be made under subsection (1) for PITO to seek approval or an opinion from the Secretary of State, or to comply with his determination on any given matter.

424.     Subsection (3) ensures that the prison service and the probation service are included in the definition of 'criminal justice system' in subsection 2(b).

425.     Subsection (4) places an obligation on the Secretary of State to consult with Scottish Ministers prior to making any order under this clause.

426.     Subsection (5) provides that any orders made under this clause are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Clause 84: Metropolitan Police Authority Housing

427.     Paragraph 51 of Schedule 27 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (GLA Act) amended the Housing Act 1985 (the 1985 Act) by adding the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) to the definition of local authorities in section 4 of that Act. This meant that the MPA fulfilled the 'landlord conditions' for the purpose of creating secure tenancies under the 1985 Act, leading to a number of police officers occupying properties owned by the MPA being able to exercise a right to buy their properties at a discount once the two year qualifying period has elapsed - which happens on 3 July 2002.

428.     The creation of the secure tenancies was unintended. The amendment will remove the MPA from the secure tenancy regime, and makes various other provisions regarding affected tenants, not least because the amendment is unlikely to become law until after the qualifying date for secure tenants to be able to exercise the right to buy at a discount has been reached.

429.     In addition to the measures specified on the face of the Bill, in March/April 2001 the Metropolitan Police Service came to an agreement with the Police Federation to extend the period officers could occupy MPA housing, if they had been secure tenants and they did not exercise their right to buy prior to the amendment being brought into effect, by 2 years (up to a maximum occupancy of 7 years).

430.     Future tenancies granted by the MPA will be assured shorthold tenancies.

431.     The effect of subsection (1) is to remove the Metropolitan Police Authority from the definition of local authorities contained in section 4 of the Housing Act 1985. This will result in the Metropolitan Police Authority no longer fulfilling the 'landlord conditions' for the purpose of creating secure tenancies under the 1985 Act. Secure tenancies already granted will cease to be secure and in particular tenants will no longer be able to exercise a right to buy.

432.     Subsection (2) will remove the Metropolitan Police Authority from the definition of local authority in Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1988. This will enable the Metropolitan Police Authority to grant assured shorthold tenancies consistent with their practice before amendment of the Housing Act 1985.

433.     The effect of subsection (3)(a) is to allow any secure tenant who has acquired the right to buy before the day on which the Bill is passed and has either served a notice claiming to exercise that right before the Bill is passed, or serves such a notice within 3 months of the Bill being passed, to complete the purchase process within the framework of the Housing Act 1985.

434.     Subsection (3)(b) will enable former secure tenants to count the period spent as a secure tenant towards the qualifying period for acquiring the right to buy (and the calculation for discount) if they move to another secure tenancy (though not one with the Metropolitan Police Authority).

435.     Subsection (4) ensures that those tenancies not purchased within the provisions of subsection (3)(a) become assured shorthold tenancies.

436.     The clause will be brought into effect on Royal Assent (see clause 92(3)).

Clause 85: Provision of goods and services by police authorities

437.     The Local Authorities Goods and Services Act 1970 provides that a local authority may supply goods and services to any public body. Under section 18 of the Police Act 1996, the provisions of the 1970 Act apply to any police authority established under section 3 of the Police Act 1996, and, following amendment by the Greater London Authority Act 1999, to the Metropolitan Police Authority. The reference in the 1970 Act to "any public body" was widened in section 18 to read "any person".

438.     Consequently, police authorities benefit by being able to supply, by agreement, goods and services to any person.

439.     The Common Council of the City of London was not established as a police authority under section 3 of the Act and has therefore not been able to benefit in the same way as other authorities. The purpose of the amendment in this clause is to bring the Common Council in line with other police authorities.

440.     The provision amends section 18 of the Police Act 1996.

441.     New subsection (1)(b) will enable the Common Council of the City of London, in its capacity as Police Authority to the City of London Police, to be able to benefit, as other police authorities do, from the Local Authorities Goods and Services Act 1970.

Clause 86: Liability for wrongful acts of constables etc.

442.     This clause clarifies the liabilities of chief officers of police in the UK, the Home Secretary, the Directors General of NCIS and the NCS, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, the Central Police Training and Development Agency and the Police Information Technology Organisation by making them liable for any unlawful conduct of those whom they employ or whom act under their control.

443.     Subsection (1) substitutes the words "any unlawful conduct of" for each reference to "torts committed by" in the sections and Schedules listed in subsection (2). It also replaces "in respect of any such tort" with ", in the case of a tort," in those sections and Schedules. Subsection (3) makes similar provision covering the Police Information Technology Organisation. Subsections (7) and (8) make similar provision for Scotland.

444.     Subsection (4) substitutes the words "any unlawful conduct of" for each reference to "a tort committed by" in the sections and Schedules listed in subsection (5).

445.     Section 42(6)(a) of the Police Act 1997 ensured that section 42(1), regarding the liability of the Director General of NCIS, applied to Scotland by making necessary modifications to that section. As a result of the changes in this clause of this Bill, separate provision regarding Scotland is no longer necessary (section 42(1) as amended will apply equally), so subsection (6) omits section 42(6)(a) of the 1997 Act accordingly.

446.     In as far as this clause amends the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, it comes into force on the days that Scottish Ministers will specify by order (see clause 92(5)).

Clause 87: Liability in respect of members of teams

447.     The purpose of this clause is to provide a legal basis for civil liabilities arising from operations of joint investigation teams involving police officers from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and law enforcement officers from abroad. The United Kingdom is obliged, if it agrees to the setting up of such teams through its participation in international agreements such as the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union, to provide arrangements for the satisfaction of civil claims that may arise from actions of team members when they are not operating in their own country. These arrangements are intended to provide a firmer legal basis for the setting up of such teams which are important in strengthening police co-operation between participating countries by allowing for the speedier and more effective sharing of information and expertise across national boundaries in combating the common threat from serious and organised crime.

448.     Subsection (1) inserts new subsections (6), (7) and (8) into section 88 of the Police Act 1996 to extend the liabilities of chief officers of police by providing that they shall be liable for any unlawful conduct of members of international joint investigation teams formed in accordance with the specified international agreements. The specified agreements may be added to by an order made by the Secretary of State, subject to the negative resolution procedure.

449.     Subsections (2), (3), (4) and (5) similarly extend the liabilities of the Directors General of the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the National Crime Squad, Scottish chief constables and the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland respectively. Subsection (2) inserts new subsections (5A), (5B) and (5C) into section 42 of the Police Act 1997. Subsection (3) inserts new subsections (6), (7) and (8) into section 86 of the Police Act 1997. Subsection (4) inserts new subsections (5), (6) and (7) into section 39 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967. Subsection (5) inserts new subsections (4), (5) and (6) into section 66 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

450.     Subsections (6) and (7) oblige the Secretary of State to pass on any sums received by him by way of reimbursement to a police fund (etc.) which has paid out sums in settlement of a claim in respect of the conduct of a member of an international investigation team to that fund.

451.     In as far as this clause amends the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, it comes into force on the days that Scottish Ministers will specify by order (see clause 92(5)).

Clauses 88: Assaults on members of teams

452.     The purpose of this clause is to provide, in accordance with obligations under international agreements to which the United Kingdom is a party, that members of international joint investigation teams from abroad are treated in the same way as constables while in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with respect to offences committed against them.

453.     This clause inserts new subsections into section 89 of the Police Act 1996, section 41 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 and section 29 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 to provide that just as it is already an offence to assault or obstruct a constable or a person assisting a constable in the execution of his duty, it shall also be an offence to assault or obstruct members of international joint investigation teams carrying out the team's functions. This would apply whether or not the team member from abroad was in the company of a constable.

454.     In as far as this clause amends the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, it comes into force on the days that Scottish Ministers will specify by order (see clause 92(5)).

Part 7: Supplemental

Clause 92: Short title, commencement and extent

455.     This clause gives the short title of the Bill; it also provides for commencement. The provisions of the Bill mostly extend to England and Wales. However, the provisions regarding the MDP contained in Part 5 of the Bill, PITO, nationality requirements, and the reimbursement of police funds under clause 87(6) extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland as well. (The reimbursement of police funds under clause 87(7) applies to England and Wales, even though the purpose of the subsection is to allow Scottish funds to be reimbursed.) The provisions regarding NCIS also extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the exception of those contained in Chapter 1 of Part 4 that allow NCIS to designate support staff as investigating officers. The provision regarding the President of ACPO extends to Northern Ireland but not Scotland. The provisions relating to road traffic legislation apply to England, Wales and Scotland but not Northern Ireland, with the exception of the provisions of clauses 39 and 62 and the additional arrestable offence of driving while disqualified under clause 43, which apply to England and Wales only.

FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL

456.     There will be additional costs for Government Departments arising from some provisions in the Bill. Details are set out below. The Bill's other provisions have negligible expenditure provisions for Government Departments. None of the Bill's provisions have tax implications.

Regulations and codes of practice

457.     The annual cost of supporting the development of regulations and statutory codes of practice relating to policing practices and procedures (clauses 2 and 6) is estimated to be £1.75 million. This would cover the cost of staffing within the Standards Unit and within the National Centre of Policing Excellence (part of the Central Police Training and Development Authority).

The Independent Police Complaints Commission

458.     The overall costs of the IPCC will depend on the number and nature of cases that it deals with. Current estimates are based on the level of resources that will enable it to carry out approximately 1,000 independent investigations each year, and to manage or to supervise up to 1,000 investigations carried out by police forces. In separate feasibility studies, both KPMG and Liberty estimated annual operating costs at £14-18 million per year. The total costs of the IPCC are expected to fall within this range. These costs will be offset by savings from the abolition of the Police Complaints Authority of approximately £5 million per year. An estimated £5 million initially will be necessary for a new standardised IT system for the recording, processing and monitoring of complaints, which will be used by police forces, the Home Office and the IPCC. £150,000 per year will also be needed for the first three years for additional Home Office staffing costs to implement the new system and monitor its effectiveness.

Anti-social behaviour orders

459.     The figures given below are an estimate based on the information currently available; the annual costs relate to the impact of the legislative changes once they are established. It should be recognised that more frequent and effective use of ASBOs and equivalent orders is likely to help to stop a pattern of criminal offending and therefore reduce the costs to the courts of criminal prosecutions. The serious treatment of offenders who breach such orders by courts will act as a deterrent against further breaches.

460.      The introduction of orders equivalent to anti-social behaviour orders into the county courts (clause 57) will require changes to be made to county court IT systems, for new administrative forms to be produced and training provided, estimated at a cost of approximately £100,000.

461.     There are also annual costs arising from the changes to ASBOs and equivalent orders, estimated to be in the order of £900,000. These relate to the cost of making such additional orders and the likely increase in the prosecution of breaches resulting from the increase in the numbers of orders made.

462.     An increased use of these orders by relevant authorities, and the extension of the power to apply for them to registered social landlords and the British Transport Police, will have cost implications for those bodies. However, research on the use of ASBOs during the introductory period found that costs decreased as the number of orders applied for increased due to a build-up of expertise. The research also found that the cost of applying for ASBOs could be offset by future savings in staff time and resources dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Direct recruitment of officers to NCS

463.     The direct recruitment of officers to NCS (NCIS have no immediate plan to move away from secondments) will result in additional administrative costs of approximately £0.6 million per annum (clause 72). There will also be additional pension costs of some £1 million by 2005-6, but these will be offset by a commensurate reduction in pension costs in police forces.

PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER EFFECTS OF THE BILL

464.     Details are set out below. The provisions of Chapter 1 of Part 4 may also lead to an increase in police support staff numbers, but this will be for forces to decide. The Bill's other measures are expected to make negligible changes to public sector manpower.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission

465.     Final decisions on the arrangements and shape of the IPCC have yet to be taken. Estimates of the IPCC's manpower usage are in any case necessarily approximate because manpower usage will be dependent on the IPCC's workload demands. Nonetheless, under one proposal the IPCC would employ 160 staff. The PCA (which will be abolished) currently employs approximately 90 staff.

SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY APPRAISAL

466.     The Regulatory Impact Unit in the Cabinet Office is content that no Regulatory Impact Assessment is required.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

467.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The Rt. Hon. David Blunkett MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department, has made the following statement:

    In my view the provisions of the Police Reform Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.

468.     Schedule 3 gives powers to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to determine the type of investigation appropriate for a given complaint or misconduct by an officer and empowers the Commission to undertake investigations itself. Provisions in this section of the Bill are intended to ensure that all investigations under the new system will comply with the procedural requirement of Articles 2 and 3, and together with remedies available under the Human Rights Act, the requirements of Article 13 of the ECHR whenever these rights will be engaged by an investigation.

469.     The provision for disclosure of investigation reports and of the findings of reports under clause 19 and paragraphs 23(10), 24(8) and 28 of Schedule 3 will engage Article 8(1) of the Convention. However, the Government considers that the provisions allow for disclosure to be made only where such disclosure is justified under paragraph 8(2) of the convention, by virtue of the 'sensitivity' test provided for under clause 19(6) and (7), which will apply to all such disclosures.

470.     The conferring of powers of entry, search and seizure, powers to take fingerprints and samples and conduct searches under Chapter 1 of Part 4 of the Bill raise issues under Article 8 of the Convention in particular (private life). However, in the Government's view, the powers continue to be justifiable within Article 8.2 for the prevention of crime and disorder; and safeguards are in place to regulate use of the powers. The Government believes the power for community support officers to detain and use reasonable force, and likewise the limited powers conferred on accredited community safety officers, are compatible with Article 5.1(c) of the Convention (lawful detention on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or to prevent fleeing).

471.     The Government takes the same view regarding the three further arrestable offences provided for in clause 43.

472.     Clause 44 gives a constable a power to arrest a person who fails to stop a vehicle when requested to do so. This too is considered compatible with the Convention.

473.     Clauses 50-52 allow the use of blood samples taken from persons incapable of consenting to give such a sample. There is an Article 8 issue here in that a person's physical integrity is a central part of private life. However, the Government believes that the need to deal more effectively with serious drink drive cases is sufficiently important as to justify an interference with Article 8 rights in accordance with the principles of Article 8.2 (in the interests of public safety, prevention of crime, and the protection of the rights of others). The measures used to achieve this objective are proportionate, the person's physical welfare is protected, and the sample taken cannot be used unless consent is given so no Article 6 or Article 14 points arise.

474.     Clauses 53 and 54 create a new power to seize vehicles. This raises issues under article 1 of Protocol 1 (deprivation of property) of the Convention, but the Government is satisfied that the provisions are compatible with the Convention and strike a fair balance between the general interest in controlling anti-social behaviour and protecting the rights of others.

475.     Clauses 55 to 60 amend the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 dealing with anti-social behaviour. The amendments allow orders to be made in civil proceedings in the magistrates' court (as now); in county court proceedings; and after conviction of an offence in criminal proceedings. They also allow for interim orders in civil proceedings. The Government is satisfied that in each case, the procedures are compliant with the requirements of Article 6 (fair trial). The orders are explicitly preventative in nature, rather than penal.

476.      In each case an order may prohibit the defendant from doing anything described in the order. The terms of an order may engage the defendant's Convention rights under Articles 8, 10 or 11. Before making an order under section 1 or new sections 1B or 1C, the court will need to be satisfied that the defendant has acted in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to other persons. The court will also need to be satisfied that an order is necessary to protect other persons from further anti-social acts by the defendant. These powers are specifically directed at preventing behaviour that interferes with the rights of others. In the Government's view, any interference with Convention rights will be justifiable in accordance with Article 8.2, 10.2 or 11.2 regarding the protection of the rights of others (and in most cases also in the prevention of crime and disorder).

477.     Clause 84 (MPA housing) raises issues under Article 1 of Protocol 1 (protection of property) as it involves interference with tenants' property rights. The Government believes the need of the MPA to have a manageable stock of housing is sufficiently important as to justify an interference with Article 1 of Protocol 1 rights in accordance with the principles of that Article (the right of the State to control the use of property in the general interest). The measures used to achieve this objective are proportionate, officers who have accrued the right to buy their properties will have an opportunity to do so, and officers who do not exercise that right will be placed back in the position they were in prior to the change made by the Greater London Authority Act 1999 having effect.

 
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Prepared: 30 April 2002