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Criminal Justice, Police and Courts Bill public consultation exercise 18 November 2005

    The Department of Home Affairs previously conducted a public consultation exercise in early 2005 from which many views were expressed as to what was required to improve the Criminal Justice System in the Isle of Man. The views expressed along with a list of issues that had been raised with the Department since the previous Criminal Justice Act were considered by a Working Group which included representation from Probation, General Registry, the Prison and the Police which also met with representatives from various Government Agencies and interested parties.

    The list of issues were extensive and, therefore, the first step for the Working Party was to decide on how to progress the considerable number of issues raised and in this connection it was agreed that three Bills would be required in order to manage within the time frame of the national election the consideration and progression of the issues raised.

    These three Bills will be entitled the Criminal Justice, Police and Courts Bill which will contain measures that urgently need to be introduced, a Crime and Disorder and Young Persons Bill which will cover issues that have not been covered in the first Bill and those that emanate from the Commission of Inquiry into the Care of Young People and an Administration of Justice Bill that will include the issues that relate to the Courts.

    The proposed timetable is to progress the first Bill onto the statute book by July 2006 and progress the other two Bills with a view to introducing them both in tandem into the House of Keys after the National Election.

    This consultation exercise is designed to revisit the views already expressed and provide an opportunity for comments on the first of the Bills to be progressed. The Department is aware that some issues have not been included in the first Bill that will be viewed as urgent by some individuals, however, it has not been possible to include all the issues raised and progress a Bill prior to the election and, therefore, some matters have been allocated into the two additional Bills which it is proposed will come into force some 12 months after the first Bill.

    The Bill has been carefully drafted to introduce measures that will improve the Criminal Justice System whilst taking note of the economic position the Island is facing by ensuring the Bill has no additional manpower resource implications for the Department as a result of the provisions.

    The Bill includes a provision for Tynwald to provide money to be paid out for any expenses of the Department, the Treasury or the Chief Constable occurred under the Act and allows for any increase attributable to the Act in the sums so payable under any other Act. The only direct financial implication of the Bill is found in the provision which would allow the Police Complaints Commissioner to obtain specialist advice and support from United Kingdom with the approval of the Department.

    The Bill provides a package of measures to help ensure the law enforcement agencies and the Courts can effectively tackle crime and address the issues which are of most concern to the public.

    The proposals include:

    • Travel Notification requirement for sex offenders – ensuring that the police are informed when a registered sex offender travels off Island.
    • Weapons – to introduce controls on firearms and imitation firearms including BB guns.
    • Courts to have more powers in relation to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders
    • Extend licensing provisions for on and off licensed premises
    • Arrest without warrant for any offence - Providing the police with the power of arrest for all offences with stringent conditions.
    • Identification - Improving the use of forensic material, for example by extending powers to take DNA samples and footwear impressions.
    • Dispersal of Groups – Provide the police with the power to disperse groups of 2 or more people in certain circumstances.
    • Introducing new provisions relating to bail – including an offence of failing to answer bail and the introduction of street bail.

    It is recognised that some of the measures contained within the Bill are controversial and indeed those relating to DNA, and other matters have been included to gauge both the views of Members of Tynwald and public opinion in addition the provisions relating to the Probation Service are still subject to Department agreement. The Department although supportive of the majority of measures in the draft Bill has therefore yet to make a decision on the more controversial elements and will consider the views expressed in order to decide whether they should be included or removed from the Bill. In addition two other measures have been identified for inclusion relating to “Cold Calling” and tariffs for life sentences which are not currently in the draft Bill.

    The Department is inviting responses from anyone with an interest in the criminal justice system, including those agencies working within the system, those who provide services, communities (victims, those affected by crime and the general public), offenders and their families.

    Copies of the Consultation Document plus the draft Bill are attached and can also be found on the Department’s Web Page (www.gov.im/government/departments/homeaffairs.xml). For those without Internet access copies of the consultation document along with the 87 page draft Bill is available on request from the Department of Home Affairs on 694301.

    In order to progress the Bill before the National Election the Department would be most grateful to receive written responses to the consultation exercise by noon on Friday 16th December 2005. Written responses may be submitted in the following ways:

    • By e-mail to rosemarie.dawson@dha.gov.im using "Consultation Response" as the subject of your email; or
    • Alternatively, you may prefer to send a hard copy of your response to:

    Rosemarie Dawson
    Legislation Executive
    Chief Executive’s Office
    Department of Home Affairs
    88 Woodbourne Road
    Douglas IM2 3AP

    18th November 2005

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