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Schedule 3 - Release and supervision: minor and consequential provision

Part of Offender Rehabilitation Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 28th November 2013.

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Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 5:15 pm, 28th November 2013

Amendment 53 is part of a wider group of amendments that collectively make consequential amendments to the legislation governing the transfer of custodial sentences, associated periods of supervision after release, and warrants between England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and other UK jurisdictions. In particular, the bulk of the amendment deals with transfer of the new top-up supervision period to Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The Government have been working closely with the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on the detail of the amendments. Both Administrations have confirmed that they are happy with both the principle and detail of the amendments. The Scottish Government have confirmed that they will seek a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament for the amendments, while the Northern Ireland Executive do not consider an LCM to be necessary. I would like to put on record the extremely constructive approach taken by Ministers in both Administrations in helping to work through the technical detail of the amendments over the past few months.

I shall briefly and concisely summarise the purpose and effect of the amendments—I hope in plain English, rather than delve too much into the legal detail.

Amendment 53 is the most detailed of the amendments. It will make changes to schedule 1 to the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997, which provides a framework for the transfer of custodial sentences and associated periods of post-release supervision between UK jurisdictions.

There are two types of transfer under schedule 1. The first is restricted, which means that the sentencing provisions of the exporting jurisdiction are incorporated into the law of the receiving jurisdiction in relation to the transfer of the offender, so that the offender can be managed in the receiving jurisdiction. The exporting jurisdiction retains overall control of the sentence. Unrestricted transfers are those in which the offender transfers on to an equivalent sentence in the receiving jurisdiction’s legislation. The receiving jurisdiction assumes complete control of the offender. That gives flexibility for both the exporting jurisdiction and the receiving jurisdiction to agree a transfer in the way that is most appropriate for an individual case. Transfers are always negotiated and never imposed. A receiving jurisdiction may refuse to accept a transfer for any reason.

Amendment 53 makes changes to schedule 1 to the 1997 Act to include top-up supervision and supervision default orders within the scope of the post-release supervision that can be transferred between UK jurisdictions. In particular, the amendment provides for the England and Wales post-sentence supervision provisions to apply as part of Scots or Northern Ireland law, but modified to fit court and probation structures in the two other jurisdictions, to offenders transferred to Scotland or Northern Ireland when in custody, on licence or in the post-sentence supervision period.

The amendment applies a gloss to certain England and Wales-specific terms so that, when incorporated into Scots or Northern Ireland law, the terms are read as being the equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It reserves certain functions such as setting post-sentence supervision requirements and amending the list of requirements available to the UK Secretary of State in relation to restricted transfer offenders. The amendment alters the application of the supervision drug testing requirements and conditions so that they work in the legal systems of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it alters the application of the electronic monitoring requirements so that they work in Scotland’s legal system. New clause 7 does the same for the changes to drug testing as part of the licence period.

Amendment 53 also provides powers for the courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland to impose sanctions for breach of post-sentence supervision, and it provides powers for the courts in Scotland to administer orders for electronically monitored curfews and unpaid work for transferred offenders during post-sentence supervision.

Amendment 53 also provides for Ministers in Scotland or Northern Ireland to be able to direct how an offender transferred on an unrestricted basis is to be dealt with, given that there is no equivalent to post-sentence supervision in either jurisdiction. That might mean the receiving jurisdiction imposes its own bespoke conditions on the offender for the remainder of their sentence.

Amendments 56 and 57 amend existing powers for the Queen, via Order in Council, to apply, with suitable modifications, the transfer provisions in schedule 1 to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Finally, amendment 54 makes a consequential amendment to section 302 of the 2003 Act, which applies various provisions involving warrants for failure to appear at a hearing to long-standing legislation, thereby allowing for the enforcement in England of warrants issued in Scotland, and vice versa. The amendment adds to that list warrants under the top-up supervision provisions and those governing breach of the current period of supervision flowing from a DYOI or section 91 sentence.

I end by reassuring hon. Members that I have made a commitment to the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive that we will work with them in advance of commencement to review the existing operational guidance on transfer of sentences. The existing position, in which all transfers are agreed between the relevant jurisdictions, and in which jurisdictions retain the right to refuse transfers, will continue.

I hope that, with those explanations and reassurances, the Committee is able to agree to the amendments.