Clause 154 - Search and seizure warrants

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 16th January 2003.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Criminal Justice System IT) 2:30 pm, 16th January 2003

Obviously, all the clauses are important, but it might be helpful if I spell out the reasoning behind clause 154 and some subsequent clauses. Much of what I say will also throw light on those clauses.

When an extradition request is submitted, whether a European arrest warrant or a part 2 request, the requesting state may ask that the United Kingdom police search for evidence that may be useful in the prosecution. It was thought that the police could carry out such a request under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or their common law powers, but the Rottman case cast doubt on that. In that case, it was initially held that the search and seizure powers in PACE applied only to domestic offences. It was also held that, since the advent of PACE, the police could no longer rely on their common law powers in this respect.

The Rottman case was partially overturned on appeal, but we took the decision, with the support of the police, who wanted to be clear about their powers, to put the matter beyond doubt by including the relevant provision in the Bill. We considered simply amending PACE to make it apply to extradition offences as defined in the Bill. On the face of it, that would be quite straightforward, but PACE talks about officers as investigating officers, and it was made clear in the Rottman case that officers executing extradition requests are not investigating the offence in question.

It was also felt that we could not simply add extradition offences to PACE, as there are some parts of it that would not apply.

Clause 154 is therefore modelled on section 8 of PACE and section 352 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and the powers conferred on the police are similar. It sets out the procedure for applying for a search and seizure warrant, the circumstances in which one can be issued and what it can be used for.

I hope that I have given the hon. Gentleman enough of an indication as to why we are taking this approach, but I am happy to respond to any detailed points.