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Crime and Courts Bill [HL] 2012-13

Royal Assent

(This Bill is from a previous session)

Summary

  • Bill status:

    Bill is now an Act

  • Type of Bill:

    Government Bill

Sponsors:

Last event

Summary

The Bill was announced in the Queen's speech of 9 May 2012, and was introduced to the House of Lords the following day. With a few small exceptions, its provisions extend to the whole of the United Kingdom.

It aims to reduce and prevent crime and increase judicial transparency by establishing a National Crime Agency and reforming the courts and tribunals service.

The Bill will allow for:

  • the establishment of a National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate organised and complex crime, enhance border security and tackle cyber crime and the sexual abuse and exploitation of children
  • the ban on broadcasting in courts to be overturned in limited circumstances, with the aim of making the justice system more open and transparent
  • the introduction of a single county court system and a single family court to allow greater flexibility and increase efficiency
  • greater transparency and diversity in judicial appointments, with increased deployment flexibility allowing judges to move between courts and tribunals more efficiently
  • the reform of community sentencing to ensure proper punishment and effective rehabilitation
  • the creation of the new offence of drug driving
  • immigration reforms that would grant greater powers to immigration officers, and allow the Secretary of State to remove the right of appeal under particular circumstances in certain immigration cases

The Bill's central proposal - the establishment of the NCA - was announced in July 2010, alongside the government's consultation on the future of policing. The NCA will assume the powers of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and the National Policing Improvement Agency will also be abolished as part of the proposals. The NCA is planned to become fully operational by December 2013, and the agency's head, Keith Bristow QPM, will be accountable to the Home Secretary.

The lifting of the ban on courtroom filming was announced in September 2011, with Ken Clarke saying that only the judge's summary remarks in the Court of Appeal would be broadcast initially. This would later be extended to summary remarks in the Crown Court. The justice secretary also announced that an unprecedented level of information about the performance of courts will be published in future to allow everyone to see how their local courts were working.

Plans to create the NCA received a mixed reaction from stakeholders. The Local Government Information Unit was concerned that an "American style" central approach might strip out resources from local police forces, while the British Retail Consortium was pleased that a new agency would "take the lead on organised crime".