Serious Crime Bill receives royal assent

03 March 2015

The Serious Crime Bill returned to the Lords for consideration of Commons' changes on Monday 2 March.

Members of the Lords agreed to all Commons' changes. The Serious Crime Bill has now completed its journey through Parliament. It received royal assesnt, becoming law, on Tuesday 3 March.

Serious Crime Bill third reading: Wednesday 5 November

Members of the Lords discussed a proposal to strengthen the law protecting children from sexual communications. Peers also considered a series of amendments on female genital mutilation, specifically the issue of anonymity for victims.

Serious Crime Bill report stage day two: Tuesday 28 October

Members of the Lords discussed whether there should be a legal duty for those who care for children or vulnerable adults to report known or suspected abuse to authorities. They spoke about female genital mutilation, and looked at ways in which those at risk can be protected, and offenders can be charged.

Peers also looked at the laws around unauthorised possession of a knife or offensive weapon in prison.

Serious Crime Bill report stage day one: Tuesday 14 October

Members of the Lords discussed several suggested changes covering confiscation orders. They also considered proposals to clarify and update the law on child cruelty and an amendment seeking to strengthen the power of child abduction warning notices.  

Serious Crime Bill committee stage day three: Tuesday 15 July

Members of the Lords discussed suggested changes covering the offence of child cruelty and the mandatory reporting of abuse. Peers also considered a proposal for the creation of a new offence of encouraging or assisting the promotion of the practice of female genital mutilation.

Serious Crime Bill committee stage day two: Tuesday 8 July 

Members of the Lords discussed confiscation orders by magistrates' courts and asked for more detail on the likely timescale for their introduction. They also considered proposals for a new strategy to combat cybercrime, and a suggestion that the annual reports of police authorities and crime commissioners contain a statement on how they are tackling the issue.

Serious Crime Bill committee stage day one: Wednesday 2 July

Members began by discussing confiscation orders, and where the money and assets recovered from criminals should go. They also asked how confiscation orders could be strengthened, including using restraint or freezing orders prevent assets from being dissipated before they can be confiscated.

Peers also discussed subjects including search and seizure powers and rules around early release from prison.

Serious Crime Bill: Lords second reading

Peers discussed the main measures in the bill in the context of the changing nature of crime. Members spoke about the ways the bill would help freeze criminals’ assets, and ensure that confiscation orders are satisfied, with some asking how the government would ensure proceeds are invested back into crime fighting.

They also discussed cybercrime, and how the bill would update the Computer Misuse Act 1990 to include measures around cyberattacks, and the damage they cause. New laws to allow prosecutors to charge people for participating in an organised crime group were also considered, however, some peers raised concerns that people unwittingly connected with crime could end up being prosecuted.

Another measure considered was the introduction of powers for the National Crime Agency, the Border Force and the police to seize suspected cutting agents, used with illegal drugs, with some peers questioning if the powers would go far enough.

New powers around child protection were also debated, receiving widespread support.

Serious Crime Bill summary

The Serious Crime Bill will include measures to:

  • define laws around involvement in organised crime groups and about serious crime prevention orders
  • make provision for the seizure and forfeiture of drug-cutting agents
  • make it an offence to possess an item that contains advice or guidance about committing sexual offences against children
  • make provision approving for the purposes of section 8 of the European Union Act 2011 certain draft decisions under Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union relating to serious crime

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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