Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

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Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
Long titleAn 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.
Citationc. 9
Introduced byTheresa May
Royal assent1 May 2012
Status: Amended
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[1] As the Protection of Freedoms Bill, it 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.


The concept developed from the Great Repeal Bill proposed in 2008 by Conservative Party representatives Douglas Carswell MP and Dan Hannan MEP as part of a radical "Twelve months to renew Britain".[3][4] After the 2010 general election, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government whose agreed programme initially promised a Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill or "a Freedom or Great Repeal Bill",[5][6] "Freedom" being the Liberal Democrats' preferred title, "Great Repeal" the Conservatives'.[7] The ensuing Queen's Speech referred to "A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill" which:[5]

would address concerns around what has been described as a tidal wave of criminal justice legislation in recent years. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen the accountability of bodies receiving public funding in light of lessons learnt so far from the operation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The programme was later changed to refer to a Freedom Bill.[8] After the Protection of Freedoms Bill was introduced in 2011, critics claimed it was piecemeal, incoherent, and too focused on protection from public-sector intrusion without sufficient focus on private-sector intrusion.[9] Nick Clegg said, "There may even be a great repeal act down the road that would look at some of the laws not addressed in this bill."[10]

In 2011, Jonathan Djanogly said in answer to a parliamentary question that a Repeals Bill would be a separate civil liberties measure from "the abolition of ID cards; the Protection of Freedoms Bill; and the Your Freedom public engagement exercise which took place over the summer".[11]

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 acquittal or a decision not to charge.

This Part amends or omits Sections from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and Crime and Security Act 2010 relating to the retention of fingerprints.

  • Section 20 of Chapter 1 instructs the Secretary of State to appoint a Commissioner, to be known as the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, to review the use and retention of biometrics by the government
  • 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 that processing of biometric information it must be discontinued if any parent of the child objects.

Part 2: Regulation of surveillance[edit]

Chapter 1 creates new regulation for, and instructs the Secretary of State to prepare a code of practice towards closed-circuit television and automatic number plate recognition. Chapter 2 amends the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

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.[12]

Clamping of vehicles and provisions relating to charging registered keepers of vehicles where a contract has been entered into with landowners or their agents is dealt with by sections 54-56 and Schedule 4 of the Act. These would have the effect of making it possible for private landowners and their agents to attempt to recover unpaid parking charges on private land (providing certain conditions are met) from the registered keeper of a vehicle in cases where it is not known who was driving at the time of the parking charge notice being issued. Paragraph 3 defines "relevant land" as excluding highways maintainable at the public expense (within the meaning of section 329(1) of the Highways Act 1980). Under the original wording of the Bill as introduced, clamping would be unlawful on private car-parks unless entrances are barriered.[13][14] 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.[15]

Part 4: Counter-terrorism powers[edit]

Clause 57 reduces the pre-detention of terrorist suspects to a maximum of 14 days. Previously, it was 28 days after being extended from 14 days by the Terrorism Act 2006

This Part 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 of these powers.

Part 5: Safeguarding vulnerable groups, criminal records etc.[edit]

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 had been forbidden to marry between the hours of six in the evening and eight in the morning.[16]


  1. ^ "Sweeping reforms to restore British liberties - GOV.UK".
  2. ^ Protection of Freedoms Bill Home Office
  3. ^ McElroy, Wendy (11 August 2010). "The Great Repeal Bill". Future of Freedom Foundation. Retrieved 21 May 2015. The current evolving bill undoubtedly has roots in similar legislation that was proposed in a book entitled The Plan: 12 Months to Renew Britain written by Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan, which argued for openness in politics, business-friendly policies, deregulation, and more direct democracy
  4. ^ Carswell, Douglas; Hannan, Daniel (August 2008). "8: The Great Repeal Bill". The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain. pp. 116–125. ISBN 9780955979903.
  5. ^ a b "Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill". Queen's Speech. Government of the United Kingdom. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Liberal Democrat coalition negotiations; Agreements reached". Conservative Party. 11 May 2010. p. 6. Archived from the original on 16 May 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2015. This will include: - A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
  7. ^ "Major Bill to slash power of state". Metro. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2015. Its name reflects the make-up of the new Government, including the Liberal Democrats preferred "Freedom Bill" and the Tory's "Great Repeal" message.
  8. ^ "Civil Liberties". The Coalition: our Programme for Government. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2015. We will introduce a Freedom Bill
  9. ^ Cran, Donald (25 March 2011). "Rollback of state surveillance". New Law Journal. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  10. ^ Porter, Henry (13 February 2011). "Why we should believe Nick Clegg when he promises to restore liberties stolen by Labour". The Observer. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Law: Repealed". House of Commons Hansard. UK Parliament. 5 April 2011. pp. c.795W Q.51332. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Vehicle immobilisation (clamping) ... The Protection of Freedoms Bill No. 4 Law and Lawyers
  14. ^ Goodbye Clamping Of Interest to Lawyers
  15. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 Oct 2011 (pt 0004)".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ "Night-time weddings to be allowed". BBC News Online. 12 February 2011.

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