Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

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Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
Long title An Act to provide for the destruction, retention, use and other regulation of certain evidential material; to impose consent and other requirements in relation to certain processing of biometric information relating to children; to provide for a code of practice about surveillance camera systems and for the appointment and role of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner; to provide for judicial approval in relation to certain authorisations and notices under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; to provide for the repeal or rewriting of powers of entry and associated powers and for codes of practice and other safeguards in relation to such powers; to make provision about vehicles left on land; to amend the maximum detention period for terrorist suspects; to replace certain stop and search powers and to provide for a related code of practice; to make provision about the safeguarding of vulnerable groups and about criminal records including provision for the establishment of the Disclosure and Barring Service and the dissolution of the Independent Safeguarding Authority; to disregard convictions and cautions for certain abolished offences; to make provision about the release and publication of datasets held by public authorities and to make other provision about freedom of information and the Information Commissioner; to make provision about the trafficking of people for exploitation and about stalking; to repeal certain enactments; and for connected purposes.
Citation c. 9
Introduced by Theresa May
Royal Assent 1 May 2012
Status: Unknown
Text of statute as originally enacted

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[1] The Protection of Freedoms Bill was introduced in February 2011, by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. The Bill was sponsored by the Home Office.[2] On Tuesday, 1 May 2012 the Protection of Freedoms bill completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent.

Part 1: Regulation of Biometric Data[edit]

  • Chapter 1 makes provision in respect of the destruction, retention, and use of fingerprints, footwear impressions and DNA samples. In addition it covers profiles taken in the course of a criminal investigation. Under the new scheme provided for in this Chapter, the fingerprints and DNA profiles taken from persons arrested for or charged with a minor offence will be destroyed following either a decision not to charge or following acquittal.
  • Section 24 of Chapter 1 instructs the Secretary of State to make arrangements for a "National DNA Database Strategy Board" to oversee the operation of a DNA database.
  • Chapter 2 requires schools and colleges to obtain consent of one parent of a child under 18 for acquiring and processing the child's biometric information and gives the child rights to stop the processing of their biometric information regardless of any parental consent, it also states if any parent of the child objects to the processing of biometric information it must also be discontinued.

Part 2: Regulation of Surveillance[edit]

Part 3: Protection of Property from Disproportionate Enforcement Action[edit]

  • Chapter 1 reforms and repeals aspects of the powers to enter land and to review existing powers of entry legislation. It would implement restrictions as to the premises over which the power may be exercised, who can exercise them, and which conditions can be satisfied for them to be exercised.
  • Chapter 2 makes it a criminal offence for a private person on private or public land to immobilise a vehicle (e.g. by clamping or obstructing), or to move a vehicle, with a view to denying the owner access to it. Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 is amended to extend and amend the powers of public authorities to move vehicles parked obstructively, illegally, or dangerously, including on private land. However, clamping is still permitted where an Act of Parliament or Byelaw permits the practice, such as the Railway Byelaws.[3]
  • Clamping of vehicles and provisions relating to charging registered keepers of vehicles where a contract has been entered into with landowners or their agents, dealt with by Clauses 54-56 and Schedule 4 of the Act. These would have the effect of making it possible for clients to attempt to reclaim unpaid 'parking charges' from the registered keeper of a vehicle in cases where it is not known who was driving at the time of the charge notice being issued. Under the original wording of the Bill as introduced, clamping would be unlawful on private car-parks unless entrances are barriered[4][5] However, Clause 54 was amended at Report stage in the House of Commons such that clamping would be unlawful regardless of the existence of a barrier.[6]

Part 4: Counter-Terrorism Powers[edit]

  • Clause 57 reduces the pre-detention of terrorist suspects to a maximum of 14 days.
  • Removes the 'stop and search' regulations of the Terrorism Act 2000 and reforms the operation of the power to search people and vehicles, in addition to creating new Code of Practice rules in respect to these powers.

Part 5: "Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups, Criminal Records etc."[edit]

  • Chapters 1 and 2 amends the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and Police Act 1997 with regards to carers and Criminal Records Bureau checks. The Bill also proposes removing the Controlled Activity and Monitoring sections from the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act.
  • Chapter 4 allows people to apply for the Secretary of State to disregard criminal convictions for homosexual acts by consenting adults under section 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, or the "gross indecency between men" section of that Act. Clause 86 confirms the effect of a successful application would ensure the person is considered as having not committed, nor been charged, prosecuted or convicted of a homosexual act.

Part 6: Freedom of Information and Data Protection[edit]

Part 7: Miscellaneous and General[edit]

  • Section 113 repealed section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which makes provision for trials on indictment to be conducted 'without a jury' in certain fraud cases. Sections 44-50 of that Act which make provision for trials on indictment to be conducted 'without a jury' where there is a danger of jury tampering, were not affected.
  • Section 114 repealed the restrictions that prohibit solemnizing marriages and civil partnerships during evenings and at night. Since the Marriage Act 1836 it has been forbidden to marry between the hours of six in the evening and eight in the morning.[7]


Further reading[edit]

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