The government today announced proposals to reduce the number of powers of entry available to public authorities by more than 300 as part of its agenda to roll back unnecessary intrusion into the lives of ordinary, law-abiding people.
Under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, government departments were required to examine their powers and consider whether they were still necessary, proportionate and contained sufficient safeguards.
Individual government departments laid reports summarising their reviews before Parliament today.
In total, 1,237 powers of entry were reviewed. Today’s reports propose to reduce this number to 912. Extra safeguards will be added via legislation to a further 231 powers to make sure they are used appropriately.
Lord Bates, Minister for Criminal Information, said:
The review of powers of entry has ensured the needs of law enforcement agencies are balanced with the rights and responsibilities of ordinary, law-abiding people.
government departments have reduced the number of powers of entry which we think are needed. We have also been careful to review the necessity and proportionality of the powers which remain, and to ensure that proper safeguards are in place concerning their use.
The Home Office’s individual review will reduce the number of powers of entry recognised by the department from 99 to 87. Further safeguards will be added to another three.
Lord Bates said:
I think most people would agree that preventing and tackling crime, protecting our borders and dealing with the threat of terrorism are vitally important areas for law enforcement agencies to deal with.
Nonetheless, it is right that those powers of entry to homes and places of work which are needed for effective law enforcement are exercised with proper regard for individuals.
I believe our report, and those from other government departments, will achieve the right balance in this area.
A new code of practice which will standardise approaches to powers of entry and provide greater transparency and accountability will be introduced shortly.