Clause 34 - Disclosure of police information to SOCA

Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 11th January 2005.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:15 pm, 11th January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 90, in clause 34, page 19, line 17, at end insert—

'(1A) The chief officer of a special police force must keep SOCA informed of any information relating to crime that appears to him likely to be relevant to the exercise by SOCA of any of its functions.'.

There is a curious omission in the Bill. The clause imposes a duty, which seems a perfectly sensible provision. It is a new duty for a police constable, but it is none the worse for that. It is odd, however, that the same thing does not apply to what is termed ''a special police force''. To remind the Committee, this part of the Bill defines the following as special police forces: the Ministry of Defence police, the British Transport police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency.

I cannot for the life of me see why it should be right for the chief constable of Avon and Somerset to pass on information to SOCA while it should not be necessary for the chief constable of the British Transport police to do so if that seems relevant to SOCA's functions. I am sure that is just an omission, and I hope that my amendment is helpful in drawing attention to it.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I am happy to accept the amendment in principle. However, I cannot advise the Committee to accept it as drafted because one of the special police forces defined in clause 3—the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency—is headed by a director rather than a chief officer. If the hon. Gentleman agrees to withdraw the amendment, I shall undertake to introduce an appropriately worded Government amendment on Report.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am most grateful to the Minister for that. I thought there was a definition somewhere saying that a chief officer is defined as a director, but I   shall have to search further for that accessory definition. It is nice to have a win, even at this late stage, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.