Freedoms Bill

On Friday – the Protection of Freedoms Bill was introduced to Parliament.

Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for this piece of legislation. A “Freedom Bill” had its first incarnation four years ago when the Liberal Democrats proposed it while Nick Clegg was the party’s Home Affairs Spokesman.

The Bill will protect millions of people from unwarranted state intrusion in their private lives and marks a return to common sense government. It steps up our commitment to restore hard-won British liberties, lost under Labour, with an array of sweeping reforms that will put an end to the unnecessary scrutiny of law-abiding individuals.

The DNA database will be reformed along the lines of the Scottish model; the data of hundreds of thousands of innocent people will be removed from the database

Schools will no longer be able to take the fingerprints of children under 18, without obtaining prior permission from their parents.

Safeguards against the misuse of counter-terrorism legislation – reducing the maximum period of detention without charge to 14 days.

Replaces the powers to stop and search persons and vehicles without reasonable suspicion with a power that is exercisable in significantly more restricted circumstances.

Millions of law-abiding householders will be protected from town hall snoopers with the introduction of new safeguards in the use of surveillance powers (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) to better protect the public from disproportionate surveillance.

A new statutory code of practice for local authorities and police on the use of CCTV and ANPR to improve effectiveness and ensure proportionately. We will also appoint a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner to provide, for the first time, a single framework to which all users of such systems can operate.

We will ban wheel clamping without lawful authority but will strengthen the enforcement arrangements with regard to ticketing, by enabling the owner or occupier of land to reclaim unpaid parking charges from the keeper of the vehicle instead of the driver

We will return the Vetting and Barring Scheme and the disclosure of Criminal Records to common sense levels. But the maintenance of effective and robust public protection arrangements are paramount and we will continue to maintain a list of all those barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.

We will amend the Freedom of Information Act to ensure that public authorities proactively release datasets, and extend it to companies wholly owned by two or more public authorities

Any man with a conviction for consensual gay sex will be able to have it wiped from police and other official records.

Remember, under Labour:
Britain had 1% of the world’s population but a fifth of the world’s CCTV cameras. In 2008, the Metropolitan Police revealed that one crime was solved for every 1,000 CCTV cameras in London. Privacy International ranked the UK as the only “endemic surveillance society” in Europe, alongside Russia, China and Malaysia.

There were 6m people on the DNA database in the UK – nearly 10% of the population. The database was the largest in the world. It is estimated there were one million people on the DNA database with no record on the Police National Computer.

Labour used the fear of terrorism to establish the longest period of pre-charge detention in the free world. And tried to increase it further to 90 days.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) was set up to deal with organised crime and terrorism. In reality, however, it has been used to spy on ordinary people, their children, their pets and their bins. Only 8 public bodies were able to use RIPA when it was first passed. This figure is now over 900!

So – hurrah – and I will be taking the Bill through its committee stages (with James Brokenshire) in Parliament- fantastic!

0 thoughts on “Freedoms Bill

  1. This is very good news and a nice detailed summary of the proposals.

    One thing I’m sure readers would like to know is who’s DNA you will still be storing?

    Of course you’ll be keeping samples from convicted criminals but will you be storing DNA of any innocent people still or just less innocent people than before?

  2. When the Your Freedom website was launched and running, sceptics predicted that the government would ignore people’s submissions, choosing only to do those things the coalition parties had already decided to do.

    Please provide a list of all the things in the Protection of Freedoms Bill that have been included as a result of being submitted, by the public, to the Your Freedom website, and which the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives hadn’t already said they wanted to include in such a Bill.

  3. Hi Lynne,

    Not entirely relevant to the Freedoms Bill, but is the government intending to allow LGB people the freedom to marry (as in obtain a civil marriage licence) or will the new proposals keep the current discrimination in place?

  4. Its really encouraging that the Coalition Government is winning the hearts and minds of the general public.

    Lynne, the debate on ‘Other Relevant Information’ section of the ECRC in ongoing and i understand the recommendations in the Freedom Bill will come into force early next year, may i suggest to provide clear guidelines to the Chief Police Officers on inclusion of non convictions informations for NHS whistleblowers who are charged but not convicted or even charges dropped. This happen when they whistleblow on poor patients’ care and the NHS Managers press criminal charges.

    Your may find further information in the following link (apologies if you already managed to review it).

  5. There are some valuable things in the Bill, but:

    “Any man with a conviction for consensual gay sex will be able to have it wiped from police and other official records.”

    What of the B&B owners convicted of crimes of conscience, i.e. insisting that rooms with double beds are for married couples only?

    There is so much that needs to be done to return our freedoms to us, such as re-strengthening property rights and right of association (Christian B&Bs, smoking in pubs) and freedom from TV Licensing harassment.

    And freedom from the EU and ECHR!!

  6. yes it’s crucial that Christian Bed and Breakfast owners should have the right to smoke in pubs free from Tv Licencing harrassment.

    The rest of us will worry about out the way our health service, education, libraries, universities are being devasted by a collection of Eton-educated millionaires- with Lynne holding their coats

  7. “What of the B&B owners convicted of crimes of conscience, i.e. insisting that rooms with double beds are for married couples only?”

    And what of racists convicted of crimes of conscience?

  8. Lynne, the review has still missed the point in respect of cautions and minor offences. A caution is NOT a statutory conviction. It is an informal penalty issued by an informal body, the police. As such there are no guarantees that the recipient of the caution received legal advice, that procedures were properly followed and thus that any ‘admissions of guilt’ were received after adhering to strict procedures. The only way to ensure that the correct conviction is achieved is to allow that person to have their day in court, defending themselves in front of a qualified judge and jury. Only then, if found guilty, do they have a statutory conviction which should be disclosed. There are too many cases where people ‘accepted’ cautions because they were denied legal advice/assistance, because they were cajolled into doing so by the arresting police officer. If their cases had gone to court, there are many who would be found innocent. It is very WRONG to include non-conviction data in CRB checks and that inlcudes cautions.

    Sunita Mason’s proposals illustrate that a little information is a dangerous thing as they are based on her own subjective and discriminatory prejudices. For instance, she deems a person with more than one caution to be more dubious than someone with only one, she deems someone with a caution for assault to be more dubious than someone with a caution for theft or drug offences and deems an adult with a caution to be more dubious than a juvenile with several warnings/reprimands. This is all very wrong. No one knows the circumstances behind each penalty yet they are encouraged to make snap-decisions about that person’s character which may be totally incorrect.

    Most people who ‘accepted’ cautions did so for many reasons but many of them are decent, honest, law-abiding people who co-operated fully with the police, to their own cost. Victims of repeated domestic violence have cautions for assault because their violent partners made false allegations against them. Yes, crimes like DV shouldn’t be dealt with by way of a caution but they were for several years and now victims traumatised by the event are now being traumatised over and over again. Do you think they really can concentrate on an interview (if they get that far) when they have to explain the most traumatic events in their lives to a prospective employer? No!

    The simple fact is that in the eyes of the law, the strict STATUTORY law, these people are INNOCENT. If the goal posts are going to be moved and the meaning of a caution is going to be changed, then every person with a caution should be allowed to reopen their case and have their day in court as the effect on their lives is just as damaging as if they had received a statutory conviction.

    It is against our human rights for private NON-CONVICTION data to be included in CRB checks, plain and simple and it is very WRONG to allow prospective employers (Joe Bloggs and not a qualified lawyer or barrister) to sit as judge and jury based on a one-liner in a CRB check.

    The last government was at fault for bringing cautions into the ROA 74, deeming recipients to be ‘rehabilitated ex-offenders’, this coallition government will still be at fault if it continues to allow cautions to be included in CRB checks and confidentiality regarding our past to be breached.

    If Sunita Mason can be discriminatory in her proposals, then how can we trust future employers to be fair? We cannot. The only way we can ensure someone is given a fair interview is to omit ALL NON-CONVICTION data from CRB checks including cautions and instead look to overhaul the current policing system so that the burden is taken off the police to secure a penalty and instead they either let-go or charge and the person goes to court. This system works effectively in Canada so why not here?

    Let’s stop trampling on people’s human rights and give people back their lives. There are too many good people with huge amounts of experience and qualifications, professionals, wasting away on anti-depressants (a burden on the state) because they are unable to continue with their careers and fulfil their aspirations.

    The proposals in the review are baby-steps to where we need to be. Please ensure the review progresses to where we need to be to restore our freedom.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with the above post.

    I ended up with a caution for common assault (as minor as it gets was how my solicitor described it) after my abusive ex went to the police after a highly emotional and frightening (for me) incident. He later accepted a caution for kicking me when I was pregnant, hardly comparable. At the time of accepting the caution (starving, needing to get home to BF my daughter, scared of court and of my ex, ‘sold’ the caution) I was told that it would be ‘for police eyes only’ after 5 long years, which seemed harsh. Now, thanks to the 5 Constables case the caution is never stepped down and my chances of a good teachig career have gone. I don’t even bother applying for the course, despite being well-qualified. My ability to provide for myself and my children has been stripped away because I was unlucky enough to be in a marriage with DV and an ex-husband who wanted to ruin my future. The police were a tool for his continuing abuse. Being cautioned was the most humiliating experience of my life, it was punishment enough, I shouldn’t have to relive it every time I apply for a job. Sunita Mason deems me as a ‘threat’ to children and vulnerable adults? Well Sunita Mason should try walking a day in my shoes and see how she feels after years of abuse and threats to herself and her children. I hope that this woman’s prejudices aren’t played out in legislation; it shouldn’t be up to her to decide who is worthy and who isn’t.

  10. Simon, yes a good point. I got in touch with the National Archives in November to enquire why the Your Freedom website had been archived at a date of 24 August when the website closed on 10 September. I also asked what information would be analysed. I was told:

    1) the information that would be analysed (and presumably go towards debate for policy changes) would be that archived….so incomplete data 24 Aug-10 Sep.

    2) in answer to my comment that the data was incomplete that “most of the comments were there anyway”. A very glib, unsatisfactory answer.

    If you go to the Yourfreedom website, all the information has NOW been archived as of 10 September and you can download it into an excel spreadsheet. The filtering is not great (the tags have not been separated) but you can find your own contributions.

    Whether or not those contributions were considered by the review panel, however, I don’t know. Some were going through and tagging as “duplicate” during the process so perhaps these did not get reviewed again after that…or perhaps they were treated with importance for being a ‘hot topic’. Who knows.

  11. Well said Scruples there are far too many innocent people with non convictions unable to work due to allegations, hearsay, rumour and gossip.
    People with information disclosed at the Chief Officers discretion have noway of challenging the information, when you request the information you are informed that you are not entitled to it because you was not charged with an offence where is the justice?
    Judges are protecting the police from being challenged the recent Desmond case clearly shows this and the Secretary of state encourages the police to disclose if they think that in their opinion it may be true, this is one persons opinion not even a person that has interviewed the alledged suspect, it is a disgrace where is the balance of common sense that everyone is talking about?
    Lets not forget operation ore the police got it wrong and it cost a lot of lives and this is exactly what is happening to people being made to feel like criminals when they are innocent because of the CRB & vetting & barring scheme.
    A criminal disclosure should be exactly that based on evidence that has been tried and tested in a court of law.
    Where the Crown Prosecution (Crown Lawyers)apply their tests on evidence and public interest and do not go onto prosecute and state No Further Action why is it then that an individual of the police can disclose and ruin peoples lives?
    Mr Cameron talks about the big society, a big joke that is what it is ordinary innocent folk can not contribute to society because of this legislation.

  12. 500 hunderd jobs going at St georges in tooting- What’s going to happen at the Whittington, Lynn? have you got your excuses lined up?

  13. ALL innocent people must be deleted from the police national computer(PNC) aswell as the police DNA database,the police have two databases and anyone on the PNC have visa and employment problems for the rest of their lives.Before 2005 all innocent people were deleted from the PNC after 42 days,now they stay on for 100 years including photos date of birth everything.In scotland ALL INNOCENTS ARE DELETED FROM BOTH POLICE DATABASES….PULL YOUR FINGERS OUT COALTION WERE NOT STUPID TAKE ALL INNOCENT PEOPLE OFF THE PNC!!!

  14. Hi Lynn

    Do you actually read these postings? I do hope so because we, the people, the electorate, who contribute to this site, are the real face of this once great country. We represent what is really goining on in this country and we represent the true feelings of the population.

    We have become a Police state and the politicians we elected made this possible.

    I was accused by the Police of a crime I did not committ. I was then charged with the crime. As a result I lost my job, my career, my future pension and my reputation.

    Before trial the police began to withdraw their allegations against me as evidence from my defence team began to filter through that not only proved I was innocent but also proved no crime had even been committed at all.

    The CPS dropped the case against me, the judge ordered a verdict of not guilty be recorded and that was the end of that matter.

    Well, actually, it wasn’t that simple.

    I have lost my career, am unemployed, unemployable because of the false allegations that were made against me and because an ECRB ‘soft information’ section will allow a chief Police officer to make comments about me that will frighten off any future employer.

    I did nothing wrong, no crime was even committed, yet I am ruined. How can this be?

    STOP chief officers comments in the ‘additional information’ section of ECRBs where a not guuilty verdict has been recorded!

    Delete fingerprints, DNA and PNC details of all individiuals who have been cleared of allegations in a criminal court.

    Not to do so implies that the decisions of judges and the decision of a jury are less reliable than the decisions of some random chief officer somewhere who has no knowledge of the case, yet sits in an office somewhere and decides someone’s future.

    You couldn’t invent a more unjust and nightmarish society than the one the people of the United Kingdom are now exposed to, i.e. being found not guilty in a court of law yet ruined for life by the Police who continue to spout untruths, hearsay and
    vicious rumours about a cleared individuals.

    Why bother with the courts, judge and jury? Ultimately the Police will decide who is cleared and whose lives they will decide to ruin or not. It matters not one jot what a court rules since the Police have been given such powers to continue to ruin innocent peoples lives for as long as those innocent people remain alive.

    Previous politicians gave the Police these demonic powers.

    Present politicians need to claw back those inhuman powers.

    Please do something about this terrible situation Lynn.