Crime Bytes: Queen’s Speech Special – Crime and Security Highlights

This week, in the first fully Conservative Queen’s Speech since 1996, the Queen laid out the government’s agenda for the coming year. Below we provide a brief overview of the headline implications of these 26 new bills for crime and security.

  • Policing and Criminal Justice Bill – This new legislation aims to “improve the law on policing and criminal justice” by making communities safer, enhancing protections for the vulnerable and reforming the criminal justice system to improve confidence and efficiency. In practical terms the changes will include: reforming pre-charge bail (which will be reduced to a maximum of 28 days, with an extension of up to 3 months if authorized by a senior police officer), banning the use of police cells for detaining people with mental health issues, and improving the police complaints systems. Other important additions in the child protection arena are the introduction of sanctions for professionals who fail to take action on child abuse, and the closure of a legal loophole so that live-streaming of child sexual abuse online can be punished in the same way as recorded images.
  • Immigration Bill – From a crime perspective, the key legislation within this bill is around the introduction of a new offence of ‘illegal working’. This will give police officers the power to seize the wages of those working illegally as the ‘proceeds of crime’. Also planned is a new enforcement agency that aims to crack down on the worst cases of labour exploitation, targeting those who are exploiting or coercing people into work. There are also proposals to deal with unscrupulous landlords by building on the existing national roll out of the landlord scheme, and mention of plans to “extend the principle of “deport first, appeal later” from just criminal cases, to all immigration cases”. Lastly, all foreign criminals awaiting deportation will be fitted with satellite tracking tags to increase the number of criminals deported.
  • Investigatory Powers Bill – This bill revives what was dubbed as the “Snooper’s Charter” – legislation that aims to give intelligence agencies new tools to target communications data. Whilst the government claims that this will provide the police and intelligence agencies with the tools required to keep people safe, civil liberties campaigners argue that it will pave the way for the mass surveillance of UK citizens.
  • Psychoactive Substance Bill – This bill will introduce a blanket ban on all psychoactive substances, with the exception of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, food and medical products. This legislation was designed to tackle ‘legal highs’, by prohibiting and disrupting “the production, distribution, sale and supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in the UK”. However, in line with the recommendation of last year’s NPS Expert Panel, this will not include an offence of personal possession.

 

Further information on the content of the Queen’s Speech can be found here.

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