Written statement to Parliament

Codes of practice on counter-terrorism stop and search powers, post-charge questioning and related matters

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This written ministerial statement was laid in the House of Commons on 10 May 2012 by James Brokenshire and House of Lords by Lord Henley

This written ministerial statement was laid in the House of Commons on 10 May 2012 by James Brokenshire, and in the House of Lords by Lord Henley.

The Terrorism Act 2000 (Codes of Practice for the Exercise of Stop and Search Powers) Order 2012 has been laid before Parliament today. This order introduces codes of practice for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, governing the use of terrorism stop and search powers. It reflects one of the recommendations from the government’s review of counter-terrorism and security powers, published in January 2011. The review recommended that stop and search powers under sections 44-47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which, when and where authorised, allowed police to carry out stops and searches without reasonable suspicion, should be repealed and replaced with a more focused power. This recommendation was based on the government’s commitment to ensure that our counter-terrorism powers are both effective and fair.

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 provides the police with more circumscribed powers to authorise stop and search of persons and vehicles without reasonable suspicion (section 47A) in exceptional circumstances. This places the powers provided by the Terrorism Act 2000 Remedial Order 2011 on a permanent footing. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 also changes stop and search powers in the Terrorism Act 2000 (sections 43 and 43A) which require reasonable suspicion to enable searches of vehicles or their occupants. The powers contained within the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and the robust statutory framework provided by these codes, provide the police with the powers they need to protect the public whilst ensuring that there are robust safeguards to prevent a return to the previous widespread misuse of stop and search powers.

A further recommendation from the government’s review of counter-terrorism and security powers was to introduce provisions contained in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 which will enable the post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects. Post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects could help in prosecutions and may encourage terrorist suspects to assist investigations. In order to allow post-charge questioning to be commenced, and to make a number of other necessary changes, three orders have been laid which make changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) codes of practice C, G and H and introduce a new code of practice for the video recording with sound of interviews carried out under section 41 of, and Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000 and post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, G and H) Order 2012 makes changes to the PACE codes of practice relating to detention, treatment and questioning (code C), power of arrest (code G) and detention, treatment and questioning of suspected terrorists (code H). Other than the changes to code H relating to post-charge questioning, the major substantive changes to codes C and H increase safeguards in the procedure to be followed by the police where a detainee changes their mind about wanting legal advice and aid the efficient operation of custody suites by clarifying what the custody officer can delegate to other staff. The changes to code G, alongside what is now section 149 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, deliver on three coalition commitments by giving guidance to police officers considering making an arrest on how to consider whether the individual was acting in self-defence, to protect another or to maintain discipline in a school.

The Terrorism Act 2000 (Video Recording with Sound of Interviews and Associated Code of Practice) Order 2012 and the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 (Code of Practice for the Video Recording with Sound of Post-Charge Questioning) Order 2012, introduce a new code of practice for the video recording with sound of interviews carried out under section 41 of, and Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000 and post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. These changes will ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to enable the post-charge questioning powers to be commenced shortly.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Date: Mon May 14 12:57:33 BST 2012