Extension of powers to accredited financial investigators

Criminal Finances Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 22nd November 2016.

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Amendments made: 26, in clause 34, page 90, line 28, leave out from beginning to end of line 17 on page 91 and insert—

“Counter-terrorism financial investigators

63F Counter-terrorism financial investigators

(1) The metropolitan police force must provide a system for the accreditation of financial investigators (“counter-terrorism financial investigators”).

(2) The system of accreditation must include provision for—

(a) the monitoring of the performance of counter-terrorism financial investigators,

(b) the withdrawal of accreditation from any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any condition subject to which he or she was accredited, and

(c) securing that decisions under that system which concern—

(i) the grant or withdrawal of accreditations, or

(ii) the monitoring of the performance of counter-terrorism financial investigators,

are

(3) A person may be accredited if he or she is—

(a) a member of civilian staff of a police force in England and Wales (including the metropolitan police force), within the meaning of Part 1 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2001;

(b) a member of staff of the City of London police force;

(c) a member of staff of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

(4) A person may be accredited—

(a) in relation to this Act;

(b) in relation to the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001;

(c) in relation to particular provisions of this Act or of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

(5) But the accreditation may be limited to specified purposes.

(6) A reference in this Act or in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to a counter-terrorism financial investigator is to be construed accordingly.

(7) The metropolitan police force must make provision for the training of persons in—

(a) financial investigation,

(b) the operation of this Act, and

(c) the operation of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.”

This amendment provides for a new system of accreditation and training of financial investigators for the purposes of exercising certain powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

Amendment 27, in clause 34, page 91, line 24, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 28, in clause 34, page 91, line 36, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 29, in clause 34, page 91, line 38, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 30, in clause 34, page 91, line 45, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 31, in clause 34, page 92, line 2, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 32, in clause 34, page 92, line 5, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 33, in clause 34, page 92, line 7, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 34, in clause 34, page 92, line 11, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 35, in clause 34, page 92, line 14, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 36, in clause 34, page 92, line 16, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 37, in clause 34, page 92, line 20, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 38, in clause 34, page 92, line 22, leave out “designated accredited” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 39, in clause 34, page 92, line 26, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 40, in clause 34, page 92, line 28, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 41, in clause 34, page 92, line 36, leave out “designated” substitute “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 42, in clause 34, page 92, line 42, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Amendment 43, in clause 34, page 92, line 44, leave out “designated” and insert “counter-terrorism”.— (Mr Wallace.)

See the explanatory statement to amendment 16.

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 35 stand part.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Across UK policing, more use is being made of skilled individuals who are not warranted police officers to support the full range of police work, allowing warranted officers to focus on the activities that need their specific training and experience. The financial aspects of terrorism investigations are unlike proceeds of crime investigations—this is not about identifying illicit wealth and taking the profit out of crime. For terrorism, financial investigation allows the police to disrupt terrorist activity by removing access to funds, and to make links in terrorist investigations.

As I set out last week, clause 34 provides for the creation of a new category of civilian financial investigator, to be known as a counter-terrorism financial investigator, which will exercise certain existing investigatory powers, including applying to a court for production orders, financial information orders or account monitoring orders, and to seize terrorist cash or moveable stores of value. The investigator will also be able to use new disclosure order powers being created under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the new bank account seizure and forfeiture powers in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

The new provisions do not confer on counter-terrorism financial investigators any of the search powers available in the legislation for terrorist investigations, and the Government amendments we debated last week will ensure that the investigators will be subject to training and monitoring by the Metropolitan Police Service. The changes are entirely consistent with the changes currently being brought in through the Policing and Crime Bill, which will give chief officers a greater ability to designate civilians with the powers of constables.

Finally, clause 35 introduces offences of obstructing or assaulting the investigators. It is important that a civilian performing the functions of, and exercising the same powers as, a police officer is afforded the same legal protections from assault or wilful obstruction as their police counterparts. That is consistent with the approach taken in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and elsewhere in the Bill. I hope the clauses stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Crime and Prevention)

We support the clauses but we also have tabled a forthcoming new clause that questions a couple of things. If we are looking at increasing workload, we like the idea of the extension of powers of the accredited financial investigators, but we would like to see some commensurate resources. On the other stuff, public servants should never be assaulted in the line of duty, so we wholeheartedly support that provision.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 34, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 35