Protection of Freedoms Bill: Third reading update

13 March 2012

Lords continued further detailed scrutiny of the Protection of Freedoms Bill yesterday (Monday 12 March). Lords made final amendments and agreed to government amendments on classifying stalking as a criminal offence

Lords Selsdon (Conservative) opened the debate with Amendment One which sought clarification from the government on powers of entry and the use of covert surveillance by non-governmental organisations or private individuals.

Lord Henley (Conservative) responded on behalf of the government. He said: '... we have concluded that amendment the provisions of the regulation of Investory Powers Act as they apply to public authorities is not the answer to protect landowners from trespassers or people who do damage on private land.'

He explained that the government intend to consult on a draft powers of entry code of conduct in the summer and aim to bring it into force in autumn. Lord Selsdon withdrew the amendment.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Labour) tabled amendments two and three to address protection from stalking and to 'replicate the Scottish model of a single offence of stalking, listing types of stalking conduct, triable either way, and would replace a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure adequate training and support for implementation.' These amendments were not agreed but Lord Henley made assurances that the government will have further discussions with Napo on the wording of stalking as an offence.

Lord Henley moved Amendment Six to include a new clause covering offences in relation to stalking. The new clause details changes to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and includes the insertion of stalking as an offence.

Stalking behaviour will include:

  • following a person
  • contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means
  • publishing material relating or purporting to relate from a person
  • publishing material as if from the original person
  • monitoring a person's use of email and the internet
  • loitering in public or private places
  • interfering with a person's property
  • watching or spying on a person.

The clause also lists the types of convictions for this type of offence.

Lord Henley's Amendment 20 to Schedule One looked at fingerprints and DNA samples being retained subject to the Terrorism Act 2000 and was agreed. Related amendments 21 to 25 were also agreed.

Lord Henley's amendments 28 and 29 to Schedule Nine highlighted protection for 'fear of violence' cases and racially or religiously aggravated harassment cases and were agreed.

The bill will now return to the House of Commons for consideration of amendments made.

Protection of Freedom: Key areas

  • Brings in a new framework for police retention of fingerprints and DNA data, and requires schools to get parents’ consent before processing children’s biometric information.
  • Introduces a code of practice for surveillance camera systems and provides for judicial approval of certain surveillance activities by local authorities.
  • Provides for a code of practice to cover officials’ powers of entry, with these powers being subject to review and repeal.
  • Outlaws wheel-clamping on private land.
  • Introduces a new regime for police stops and searches under the Terrorism Act 2000 and reduces the maximum pre-charge detention period under that Act from 28 to 14 days.
  • Restricts the scope of the 'vetting and barring' scheme for protecting vulnerable groups and makes changes to the system of criminal records checks.
  • Enables those with convictions for consensual sexual relations between men aged 16 or over (which have since been decriminalised) to apply to have them disregarded.
  • Extends Freedom of Information rights by requiring datasets to be available in a re-usable format.
  • Repeals provisions (never brought into force) which would have allowed trial without a jury in complex fraud cases.
  • Removes time restrictions on when marriage or civil partnership ceremonies may take place.

Catch up on the Protection of Freedom Bill

Lords completed third reading on Monday 12 March.

After third reading - consideration of amendments

The bill will now go to the House of Commons with the amendments made for consideration.

If the Commons makes amendments to the bill, the Lords must consider them and either agree or disagree to the amendments or make alternative proposals.

If the Lords disagrees with any Commons amendments, or makes alternative proposals, then the bill is sent back to the Commons.

A bill may go back and forth between each House (ping pong) until both Houses reach agreement.

Read more information about consideration of amendments and 'ping pong'.

Further information

Find out more about watching House of Lords debates.

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