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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 15:57 GMT
Police and Justice Bill

AIM
To build safer communities by driving forward elements of the government's Respect Action Plan and police reform plans

MAIN PROVISIONS
TIMETABLE
Responsible department: Home Office
Origin: House of Commons
Introduced: 25 Jan 2006
Second reading: 6 March 2006
Committee stage: 16, 21, 22 & 28 March 2006
Report stage: 10 May 2006

LORDS

First reading: 11 May 2006
Second reading: 5 June 2006
Committee stage: 20 June, 4, 6 & 11 July 2006
Report stage: 9 October 2006
Third reading: 18 October 2006

ROYAL ASSENT: 8 November 2006
  • Establishing a National Policing Improvement Agency
  • Revising the Home Secretary's powers to take action against underperforming police forces, in some cases over the heads of the Chief Constables
  • Clarifying the role of Community Support Officers and giving them a standard set of powers
  • Merging five inspectorates to create the Inspectorate for Justice, Community Safety & Custody
  • Allowing the police to stop and search people and vehicles in airports
  • Increasing the powers of Trading Standards to deal with people who sell alcohol to under 18s
  • Attaching fines and community service to cautions
  • There is a chance that this bill will be used to try and amend the Extradition Act 2003 which removed the need for the US Government to provide evidence against a British citizen they want extradited.

    Legislation which would have meant the UK government had the same privileges in America was rejected by Congress.

    In May the Conservatives' attempt to amend this bill to oblige the US to provide evidence here failed, but this week's vote in the Lords promises to be much closer.

    PROGRESS
  • Commons Report Stage 10 May 2006:
    -Amendments to curb the extension of the Home Secretary's powers over police forces and the Police authority were rejected by 295 votes to 223

  • Lords Second Reading 5 June 2006:
    -Concerns were raised about:
    -the potential for parenting contracts to criminalise innocent parties
    -the identification of children who receive ASBOs
    -inequality in the application of the 2003 extradition treaty with the USA; Britain abides by this but it has not yet been ratified by the US Senate

  • Lords Committee Stage 20 June 2006:
    -Peers delivered a blow to the government's police force merger proposals by passing an amendment by 198 votes to 130 meaning that the home secretary cannot change police force boundaries without a request from the police themselves

  • Lords Committee Stage 11 July 2006:
    -Government defeated 218 to 216 votes in favour of an amendment (186) to remove the US from an approved list of countries from which prima faciae evidence is not required for an extradition request to be agreed to.
    -Government defeated 192 to 109 votes in favour of further amendments (187-191) to tighten up the requirements for extradition

  • Lords Third Reading 2006:
    -Government abandons plans to merge the five watchdog bodies in the criminal justice system. Peers voted in favour of a series of amendments from former chief prisons inspector Lord Ramsbotham that retained an independent prisons inspectorate.

    BACKGROUND
    The bill builds on the 2004 government white paper 'Building Communities, Beating Crime: a better police service for the 21st century'.

    The issue of how closely the Home Secretary can manage police forces came up after the Soham Inquiry, when David Blunkett wanted to remove the Chief Constable of Humberside.

    The most controversial part of the bill is the proposal to merge the Prisons Inspectorate into a larger body, described by Lord Ramsbotham - the former Chief Inspector of Prisons - as "extreme folly".



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