Schedule 5 - Persons specified for the purposes of section 74

Part of Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 13 January 2005.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:00, 13 January 2005

We come now to the persons specified for the purposes of clause 74, which deals with the protection of people involved in investigations or proceedings. I note the clause is not entirely prescriptive, in that subsection (7) allows any other person to be given protection on other grounds, but if we are to protect people involved in criminal investigations or the legal proceedings that follow on from them, the provisions should be as comprehensive as possible.

The three categories of person who might usefully be added to the list in schedule 5 are dealt with in earlier parts of the Bill. They include those who are given immunity, those on whom a disclosure notice has been served to gain information and those to whom a restricted use undertaking has been given in return for the information that they supplied. It might   be argued that they would normally be covered by paragraph (1) of schedule 5, which refers to

''A person who is or might be, or who has been, a witness in legal proceedings''.

However, they might not fall into that category because the information that they provide is of no evidential value and the investigating authorities consider it unhelpful to the case that is being presented. However, if it is known that a disclosure notice has been served on them, or that they have entered into immunity arrangements or a restricted use undertaking, they may be in considerable danger from somebody against whom legal proceedings will be taken or, indeed, somebody who, up until that point, has not been the subject of proceedings but who is still at large and able to cause mischief.

The amendment would give a clear sign to people who may or may not give information that is of evidential value. They should be afforded the greatest possible protection if we are to persuade them to enter into the arrangements that the Bill envisages for them. It would therefore be sensible to list them in the schedule as people to whom statutory protection is available and can be afforded by the investigating authorities.