Clause 53

Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 24th February 2009.

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Return from category 1 territory

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I beg to move amendment 253, in clause 53, page 65, line 27, at end insert

‘save that time during which the person was outside the United Kingdom shall be disregarded for the purposes of consideration for parole or early release in any event.’.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 254, in clause 54, page 66, line 32, at end insert

‘save that time during which the person was outside the United Kingdom shall be disregarded for the purposes of consideration for parole or early release in any event.’.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Clause 53 deals with the treatment of time served outside the UK following extradition to a category 1 territory where the person was already serving a sentence of imprisonment in this country. It provides that extradition will count as time served against the sentence in the UK where the person was extradited for the purposes of being prosecuted for an offence and was held in custody.

The effect of the provisions and, indeed, existing section 59 of the Extradition Act 2003, is to provide that sentences will be served, in effect, concurrently, rather than consecutively, should some form of custody be required in the third-party state. Through amendment 253, which is more a probing amendment than anything else, I seek to understand better and to question how the provision operates in relation to the Government’s early release scheme and, more generally, the rehabilitation of offenders and release on licence.

If the person extradited from the UK to an overseas territory is returned to the UK following the determination of proceedings in the overseas territory, what assessment is made of their suitability for early release? Obviously, the party will have been outside the jurisdiction, and there is a question whether normal early release provisions would apply. Equally, what information is provided to enable judgments on the need for release, which might need to be made almost instantaneously, to be undertaken, to enable other protective arrangements to be put in place, and to ensure that appropriate arrangements with probation services and so on are likely to be adhered to properly?

Subsection (4) talks about the person’s period in custody in the overseas territory counting. Is the intention that there should be any broad equivalence of the type of custody involved? The Minister will accept that there may be a difference in the nature of the custody that will be taken into account for someone being released from a category B prison on extradition to a third party state. If we are to try to rehabilitate to prevent reoffending, appropriate rehabilitative systems need to be in place. If extradition is taking place part-way through a sentence, how does that interrelate with rehabilitative programmes and with the Government’s early release scheme?

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

The hon. Gentleman seeks, through his amendments, to make it clear that, if a person serving a sentence in the UK is temporarily surrendered to another country to face criminal proceedings, any time spent outside the UK will not fall to be counted in calculating the date on which they may be eligible for parole or early release once they are returned here to serve the remainder of their UK sentence.

I understand why hon. Members are concerned to ensure that time spent outside the UK does not fall to be deducted from someone’s UK sentence. It would clearly be wrong if time a guilty man spent in custody facing foreign criminal proceedings or serving an overseas sentence fell to be deducted from the UK sentence, as this would, in effect, allow them to double count their spent in custody outside the UK.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but the amendment is unnecessary as the clause already makes it clear that time spent in custody overseas will not count towards a UK sentence and will therefore not affect the date on which parole or early release falls to be considered. The only exception would be where someone has been temporarily surrendered for the purposes of a trial in another country and held in custody and is subsequently  found to be not guilty. In such a situation, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree that it is right and proper that the period spent in custody overseas should be deducted from the UK sentence.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s point, but do not feel that the amendment is necessary, so I ask him to beg leave to withdraw it.

The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put (Standing Order No. 88).

Adjourned till this day at Four o’clock.