Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

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.

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: Unknown
Text of statute as originally enacted


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

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

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

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 Clauses 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

Clause 57 reduces the pre-detention of terrorist suspects to a maximum of 14 days.

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.

  • Chapters 1 and 2 amend the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and Police Act 1997 with regards to carers and criminal record checks. The Bill also proposes removing the Controlled Activity and Monitoring sections from the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act.
  • Chapter 3 creates a new body corporate to be known as the Disclosure and Barring Service, which merges the functions of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and Criminal Records Bureau.
  • 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 96 confirms that 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

Part 7: Miscellaneous and general

  • 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. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  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 uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)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)". maint: extra punctuation (link)
  16. ^ "Night-time weddings to be allowed". BBC News Online. 12 February 2011.

Further reading

External links

Automatic number plate recognition in the United Kingdom

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is a technology for automatically reading vehicle number plates. The Home Office states ANPR is used by law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality including tackling organised crime groups and terrorists.Vehicle movements on UK roads are recorded by a network of around 8500 cameras capturing between 25 and 35 million ANPR ‘read’ records daily. These records are stored for up to two years in the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC), which can be accessed, analysed and used as evidence as part of investigations by UK law enforcement agencies.The Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition government placed ANPR under statutory regulation through the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This established a right in law to collect the data, and placed controls on its use, storage and access by third parties.

Biometrics Commissioner

The Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material is an independent advisor to the British government regarding the use and retention of biometrics, including fingerprint data and DNA samples, by the government. The post was created under section 20 of chapter 1 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.As of 2014, the current commissioner is Alastair R. MacGregor QC.

Criminal Justice Act 2003

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c.44) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is a wide-ranging measure introduced to modernise many areas of the criminal justice system in England and Wales and, to a lesser extent, in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It amends the law relating to police powers, bail, disclosure, allocation of criminal offences, prosecution appeals, autrefois acquit ("double jeopardy"), hearsay, propensity evidence, bad character evidence, sentencing and release on licence. It permits offences to be tried by a judge sitting alone without a jury in cases where there is a danger of jury-tampering. It also expands the circumstances in which defendants can be tried twice for the same offence (double jeopardy), when "new and compelling evidence" is introduced.

DNA database

A DNA database or DNA databank is a database of DNA profiles which can be used in the analysis of genetic diseases, genetic fingerprinting for criminology, or genetic genealogy. DNA databases may be public or private, the largest ones being national DNA databases.

When a match is made from a national DNA database to link a crime scene to a person whose DNA profile is stored on a database, that link is often referred to as a cold hit. A cold hit is of particular value in linking a specific person to a crime scene, but is of less evidential value than a DNA match made without the use of a DNA database. Research shows that DNA databases of criminal offenders reduce crime rates.

Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a non-departmental public body of the Home Office of the United Kingdom. The DBS enables organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially that involving children or vulnerable adults, and provides wider access to criminal record information through its disclosure service for England and Wales.The DBS was formed in 2012 by merging the functions of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The DBS started operating on 1 December 2012. It operates from Liverpool and Royal Wootton Bassett. Its equivalent agencies are Disclosure Scotland in Scotland and Access Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland, although convictions from every part of the UK appear on it.


In the common law legal system, an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, making the records unavailable through the state or Federal repositories. If successful, the records are said to be "expunged". Black's Law Dictionary defines "expungement of record" as the "Process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the state or Federal repository." While expungement deals with an underlying criminal record, it is a civil action in which the subject is the petitioner or plaintiff asking a court to declare that the records be expunged.

A very real distinction exists between an expungement and a pardon. When an expungement is granted, the person whose record is expunged may, for most purposes, treat the event as if it never occurred. A pardon (also called "executive clemency") does not "erase" the event; rather, it constitutes forgiveness. In the United States, an expungement can be granted only by a judge, while a pardon can be granted only by the President of the United States for federal offenses, and the state governor, certain other state executive officers, or the State Board of Pardons and Paroles (varies from state to state) for state offenses.

Each jurisdiction whose law allows expungement has its own definitions of expungement proceedings. Generally, expungement is the process to "remove from general review" the records pertaining to a case. In many jurisdictions, however, the records may not completely "disappear" and may still be available to law enforcement, to sentencing judges on subsequent offenses, and to corrections facilities to which the individual may be sentenced on subsequent convictions.

Great Repeal Bill

Great Repeal Bill may refer to two items of United Kingdom legislation:

Great Repeal Bill (2008 proposal), Conservative proposal which fed into the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, first proposed under the title "Great Repeal Bill" in 2016 by the May ministry as part of Brexit

List of Statutory Instruments of the United Kingdom, 2014

This is a largely incomplete list of Statutory Instruments made in the United Kingdom in the year 2014.

Marriage Act 1949

The Marriage Act 1949 (12, 13 & 14 Geo 6 c 76) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom regulating marriages in England and Wales.

The Act had prohibited solemnizing marriages 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. This prohibition was repealed on 1 October 2012.The Marriage Act 1949 was the first Act to be enacted under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act 1949.

Marriage in England and Wales

Marriage in England and Wales is available to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples and is legally recognised in the forms of both civil and religious marriage. Marriage laws in England and Wales have historically evolved separately from marriage laws in other jurisdictions in the United Kingdom. There is a distinction between religious marriages, conducted by an authorised religious celebrant and civil marriages conducted by a state registrar. The legal minimum age to enter into a marriage in England and Wales is sixteen years, although this requires consent of parents and guardians if a participant is under eighteen. Certain relatives are not allowed to marry. For foreign nationals, there are also residency conditions that have to be met before people can be married. Same-sex marriage was introduced under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in March 2014.

Mass surveillance in the United Kingdom

The use of electronic surveillance by the United Kingdom grew from the development of signal intelligence and pioneering code breaking during World War II. In the post-war period, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was formed and participated in programmes such as the Five Eyes collaboration of English-speaking nations. This focused on intercepting electronic communications, with substantial increases in surveillance capabilities over time. A series of media reports in 2013 revealed bulk collection and surveillance capabilities, including collection and sharing collaborations between GCHQ and the United States' National Security Agency. These were commonly described by the media and civil liberties groups as mass surveillance. Similar capabilities exist in other western European countries, such as France.Surveillance of electronic communications in the United Kingdom is controlled by laws made in the UK Parliament. In particular, access to the content of private messages (that is, interception of a communication such as an email or telephone call) must be authorised by a warrant signed by a Secretary of State. In addition European Union data privacy law applies in UK law. The law provides for governance and safeguards over the use of electronic surveillance. Further oversight including a requirement for judges to review warrants authorised by a Secretary of State, as well as new surveillance powers, were introduced by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.The judicial body which oversees the intelligence services in the United Kingdom, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, ruled that the legislative framework in the United Kingdom does not permit mass surveillance and that while GCHQ collects and analyses data in bulk, its practices do not constitute mass surveillance. Other independent reports, including one by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, also came to this view although they found past shortcomings in oversight and disclosure, and said the legal framework should be simplified to improve transparency. However, notable civil liberties groups and broadsheet newspapers continue to express strong views to the contrary, while UK and US intelligence agencies and others have criticised these viewpoints in turn.

Various government bodies maintain databases about citizens and residents of the United Kingdom. These include "bulk data sets" such as medical records. In January 2016 the Home Secretary stated she would neither restrict the data sets that might be accessed for such purposes, nor state whether or not communications protected from law enforcement access such as journalist's sources and legal privilege had been accessed covertly. Although the use of video surveillance cameras in the United Kingdom is common, as it is in many countries, its prevalence may historically have been overstated . Legal provisions exist that control and restrict the collection, storage, retention, and use of information in government databases, and require local governments or police forces operating video surveillance cameras to comply with a code of conduct: the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (c 40) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. On introducing the Bill's second reading in the House of Lords the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern said "The aim of this Bill is to protect the victims of harassment. It will protect all such victims whatever the source of the harassment—so-called stalking behaviour, racial harassment, or anti-social behaviour by neighbours." Home Office guidance on the Act says "The legislation was always intended to tackle stalking, but the offences were drafted to tackle any form of persistent conduct which causes another person alarm or distress."

Infield and Platford described the Act as "controversial".

Security Industry Authority

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the statutory organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry in the UK. Established as a non-departmental public body in 2003, the SIA reports to the Home Secretary under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

The two duties of the SIA are to regulate the compulsory licensing of individuals who undertake designated activities within the private security industry and to manage a voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme, which measures private security service suppliers against independently established assessment criteria.


Stalking is unwanted and/or repeated surveillance by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviors are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. The term stalking is used with some differing definitions in psychiatry and psychology, as well as in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offense.According to a 2002 report by the U.S. National Center for Victims of Crime, "virtually any unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking", although in practice the legal standard is usually somewhat stricter.

Stalking Bill 1996

There was no offence which is described in law as "stalking" in the UK. An attempt to create such an offence by the Stalking Bill 1996 failed. The bill was presented to Parliament by Janet Anderson under the Ten Minute Rule, with support from 64 other MPs. The bill failed to get government support, as it was felt that the proposed offence failed to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable conduct.Following the failure of the Stalking Bill to be enacted, an offence of "harassment" was later created in England and Wales by the enactment of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which came into force on 16 June 1997. In Scots law, the 1997 act also created a civil remedy through non-harassment orders. The Protection from Harassment Act was later amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which added to it the specific offences of "stalking" and "stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress".

Surveillance Camera Code of Practice

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice is a code of practice devoted to the operation of CCTV systems in the United Kingdom. It was introduced under Section 30 (1) (a) of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

The office of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner was created to support it.

Surveillance Camera Commissioner

The office of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner is an organization of the government of the United Kingdom. Its role is to encourage compliance with the surveillance camera code of practice. The office of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner works with the Home Office.

The office of the commissioner was created under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to further regulate the use of CCTV in the United Kingdom. The Act required a code of practice to be produced about surveillance camera systems. The surveillance camera code of practice sets out new guidelines for CCTV and automatic number-plate recognition.

United Kingdom National DNA Database

The United Kingdom National DNA Database (NDNAD; officially the UK National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database) is a national DNA Database that was set up in 1995. In 2005 it had 3.1 million profiles, by 2015 it had 5.77 million and as of 2016 it has 5.86 million. The database, which was growing in 2007 by 30,000 samples each month, is populated by samples recovered from crime scenes and taken from police suspects although data for those not charged or not found guilty are deleted.Only patterns of short tandem repeats are stored in the NDNAD – not a person's full genomic sequence. Currently the sixteen loci of the DNA-17 system are analysed, resulting in a string of 32 numbers, being two allele repeats from each of the sixteen loci. Amelogenin is used for a rapid test of a donor's sex.

However, individuals' skin or blood samples are also kept permanently linked to the database and can contain complete genetic information. Because DNA is inherited, the database can also be used to indirectly identify many others in the population related to a database subject. Stored samples can also degrade and become useless, particularly those taken with dry brushes and swabs.

The UK NDNAD is run by the Home Office, after transferring from the custodianship of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) on 1 October 2012. A major expansion to include all known active offenders was funded between April 2000 and March 2005 at a cost of over £300 million.

Wheel clamp

A wheel clamp, also known as wheel boot, parking boot, or Denver boot, is a device that is designed to prevent motor vehicles from being moved. In its most common form, it consists of a clamp that surrounds a vehicle wheel, designed to prevent removal of both itself and the wheel.

In the United States, the device became known as a "Denver boot" after the city of Denver, Colorado, which was the first place in the country to employ them, mostly to force the payment of outstanding parking tickets.While primarily associated with law enforcement and parking violations, a variety of wheel clamps are now available to consumers as theft deterrent devices for personal use as an alternative to the steering-wheel lock.

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