A new Criminal Justice Bill will protect the public from ruthless criminals and empower the police to take a zero-tolerance approach to cut crime and keep neighbourhoods safe.
The bill, introduced in the House of Commons today (14 November), will be focused on keeping violent criminals locked up for longer and making sure victims’ voices are heard.
Measures in the bill will build on progress already made to keep our streets safer – such as the police’s commitment to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry. Since 2010, violent crime is down 52% and domestic burglary by 57% in England and Wales.
Through the bill, police will be given greater powers to retrieve stolen goods from thieves, such as mobile phones, without a warrant and technology used to steal cars including signal jammers parked outside houses will be banned.
Officers will also be given more powers to stamp out anti-social behaviour and intimidation and crack down on drug-taking, with powers to test suspects for more drugs on arrest.
Victims will be better protected from knife crime with police given new powers to seize, retain and destroy knives found on private property that are likely to be used in connection with unlawful violence. We are also creating a new offence of possessing a knife with the intent to use it violently.
This will build on the government’s committed to take dangerous weapons off our streets, with 120,000 knives removed since 2019.
Judges will also be given more powers to make horrific criminals attend court when their sentences are handed out to hear directly from victims and feel the weight of their crimes - if offenders refuse, they will face a further two years in prison.
This bill will also add to our record better protecting women and girls and the Online Safety Act. Through the Criminal Justice Bill, the government will create a package of offences tackling taking intimate images without consent. This will cover acts such as downblousing and will make sure that police and prosecutors have the power to better tackle this type of behaviour.
More vulnerable individuals will be helped off the streets and directed to appropriate support, with new powers for the police and local authorities to tackle nuisance begging - including criminals gangs who cause distress to the public by aggressively begging by cash points.
Home Secretary James Cleverly said:
The British people deserve to feel safe and secure going about their daily business knowing the government is here to protect them - this bill will reassure the public by giving the police more powers to do just that.
It rightly puts neighbourhoods and communities first by tackling the scourge of knife crime, drugs, theft and anti-social behaviour - making sure the worst, most dangerous criminals are locked up for longer.
My first job as Home Secretary is to protect the British public and taking a zero-tolerance approach to crime on every level is just one way I will be doing this.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC said:
Victims are not spectators in the criminal justice system; they must be core participants. The new Criminal Justice Bill will ensure offenders have to face up to the harm they have caused victims, and hear society’s condemnation through the judge’s sentencing remarks.
The legislation continues our mission to keep more women and girls safe from violence and intimidation, building on our landmark Domestic Abuse and Online Safety Acts.
The bill will also target hardened criminals and those who knowingly enable them by making sure our laws keep pace with their tactics and changing use of technology.
This means templates used to make 3D printed firearms, pill presses, and vehicle concealments will be banned, alongside signal jammers used for car theft.
Other measures contained in the bill include:
creating a statutory aggravating factor at sentencing for grooming behaviour, to make sure those involved in grooming gangs receive the toughest possible sentences
boosting confidence in the police by providing for a duty of candour for policing and enabling provisions to allow chief officers of police forces the right to appeal the result of misconduct panels to the Police Appeals Tribunal
Strengthening Serious Crime Prevention Orders to make it easier for police and other law enforcement agencies to place restrictions on offenders or suspected offenders and stop them from participating in further crime
new powers to tackle economic crime by strengthening the tools available to law enforcement agencies including prohibiting possession or supply of SIM farms with no legitimate purpose
reforming confiscation powers used to strip convicted criminals of their proceeds of crime and extending the powers of law enforcement agencies to suspend domain names and IP addresses used for fraudulent purposes
creating a scheme whereby the government works with the financial sector to use monies in accounts suspended on suspicion of crime for projects to tackle economic crime
increasing the maximum penalty for the offences of possession, importation, manufacture, sale or supply of prohibited offensive weapons and of selling knives to those under 18 from six months to two years’ imprisonment, reflecting the severity of the offence