Legislation that will strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to disrupt serious and organised crime was published today by the Home Office.
A new Serious Crime Bill will provide the National Crime Agency and others with greater powers to prosecute those responsible, deny them the proceeds of their illegal activity and effectively tackle cyber crime and the illegal drugs trade.
The Bill will strengthen and update laws to protect vulnerable individuals at risk of child cruelty, sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation.
It also includes new powers to reduce the threat posed by UK citizens and residents returning home after taking part in the conflict in Syria.
The Bill builds on existing legislation and the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, which was published in October 2013 and aims to cut substantially the level of serious and organised crime affecting the UK and its interests.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
Serious and organised crime blights lives and causes misery across the UK. It is a threat to our national security and costs hard-working taxpayers at least £24 billion a year.
Through the creation of the National Crime Agency and publication of the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy last year, we have strengthened our ability to tackle this pernicious threat. We have made life for its perpetrators tougher than ever before – but as the challenges evolve so too must our response.
This Bill will ensure that the NCA, the police and others have the powers they need to continue effectively and relentlessly to pursue, disrupt and bring to justice so-called ‘Mr Bigs’ and the organised criminal groups they control.
It will also introduce measures to guard against the threat of terrorism and protect vulnerable women and children.
Measures in the Serious Crime Bill will:
- Improve our ability to recover criminal assets by amending the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
- Amend the Computer Misuse Act 1990 to ensure sentences for attacks on computer systems fully reflect the damage they cause.
- Create a new offence targeting people who knowingly participate in an organised crime group.
- Extend the scope of Serious Crime Prevention Orders and gang injunctions.
- Establish new powers to seize, detain and destroy chemical substances suspected of being used as cutting agents for illegal drugs.
- Clarify the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to make it explicit that cruelty which is likely to cause psychological harm to a child is an offence.
- Create a new offence of possessing ‘paedophilic manuals’.
- Extend the extra-territorial reach of the offences in the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (and the equivalent Scottish legislation) so that they apply to habitual as well as permanent UK residents.
- Allow people suspected of committing an offence overseas under sections 5 (preparation of terrorist acts) or 6 (training for terrorism) of the Terrorism Act 2006 to be prosecuted in the UK.