HOME AFFAIRS bosses say the public has helped to shape new laws for the police.
The Department of Home Affairs says the Police Powers Bill is aimed at enhancing the police forces’s ability to ‘meet the challenges of the 21st century in the most efficient and effective manner and in compliance with human rights principles’.
The Bill supports efforts to combat serious organised crime, and further improve the island’s international reputation as a co-operative nation in the fight against cross-border criminal activity.
The Criminal Justice, Police Powers and Other Amendments Bill 2012 went out to public consultation over the summer and a series of regional meetings were held by the Police Consultative Forum (PCF), an independent organisation made up of community representatives.
Views were expressed on a wide range of issues, including the granting of bail, arrest procedures, search warrants, serious offences committed by children, the recording of interviews, powers of seizure, and the return of missing children.
The Bill is now being revised to take into account issues raised during the consultation relating to:
• Bail, in a number of areas including ensuring the burden of proof between what the prosecution has to show and what the defence has to show in respect of the offence of breach of bail strikes the right balance in the interests of justice;
• Children arrested for serious offences, to limit the offences for which children may be required to assist the police in the investigation of alleged offences to homicide, grievous bodily harm, rape and arson;
• Return of missing children, to remove reference to ‘arrest’ but still give police lawful authority to return or convey a missing child to their responsible adult;
The Bill will then be submitted to the Council of Ministers for authority to introduce into the House of Keys.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘I’d like to thank everybody who contributed to the consultation process in relation to this important piece of legislation. The Department has listened to the public and taken on board a lot of constructive comments. In addition to the written responses, valuable feedback was gathered at the Police Consultative Forum events across the island, and also at the Positive Action Group meeting I attended. The department believes the Bill has been much improved by this positive engagement and hopes it has assured the public of its commitment to listen and respond to debate on this subject.’
He added: ‘We are focused on maintaining the security of local communities and ensuring the island is a safe place to live, work and visit. The Isle of Man Constabulary has been very successful in driving down crime figures in recent years and these proposed new measures are aimed at equipping the police with the modern powers necessary to deal with evolving demands in an increasingly global context.’
A consultation summary and the report of the Police Consultative Forum on the outcome of public meetings held in the four Neighbourhood Policing Areas can be downloaded by following the link below or by visiting the Tynwald Library.