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!