Clause 289 - Prior approval

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 8 January 2002.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:00, 8 January 2002

May I clarify the position—although I am not sure about the involvement of the sheriff, and I may return to the hon. Gentleman on that matter.

The hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that the involvement of a senior officer was an undesirable step that should not be taken, because he did not want the prior approval of such an officer to be considered relevant. I do not know whether I misunderstood him, but people are not relieved from the necessity for post-approval just because a senior officer has been involved. It is a secondary step, which is meant to ensure that the powers are not used unnecessarily by junior customs officers or constables on the street. If the prior approval of a senior officer is gained, and the case goes to court and is effectively given judicial approval within the 48 hours, or if the case is reported

to the appointed person, the fact that the senior officer was involved prior to the seizure does not preclude the requirement to give a report afterwards. It is an additional safeguard; it does not remove the further safeguard that comes after a case.