The Protection of Freedoms Bill – ‘A Return to Common Sense Government

Posted: 8th April 2011

Video Surveillance NoticeThe Coalition Government has published the Protection of Freedoms Bill 2010/2011, which contains a wide range of measures aimed at ending the unnecessary scrutiny of law-abiding individuals.
If enacted, the Bill will result in:
  • a radical reform of the vetting and barring scheme that will see a large reduction in the number of individuals requiring checks to just those who work most closely with children and vulnerable adults;
  • DNA samples and fingerprints of innocent people being deleted from police databases;
  • an end to town hall snoopers checking householders’ rubbish bins or school catchment area;
  • the scrapping of Section 44 powers, which have been used to stop and search hundreds of thousands of innocent people;
  • the permanent reduction of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days;
  • gay men being able to clear their name with the removal of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts; and
  • thousands of motorists protected from rogue wheel clamping firms.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who has been instrumental in shaping the contents of the Bill said, “The Freedoms Bill will protect millions of people from state intrusion in their private lives and mark a return to common sense government.”
Other measures included in the Bill include:
  • an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent;
  • the introduction of a code of practice for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems;
  • restrictions on the powers of government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to enter private homes and other premises for investigations and a requirement for all to examine and slim down remaining powers;
  • the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury;
  • the liberalisation of marriage laws to allow people to marry outside the hours of 8am-6pm; and
  • the extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and strengthening the public rights to data.
The Government’s aim is that the Bill will be enacted by late 2011 or early 2012.