The Law Commission Report Search and Surveillance Powers was tabled in Parliament in August 2007. Subsequently, the Commission worked with agencies across government to develop legislation to implement the Report and the Search and Surveillance Powers Bill was introduced in September 2008. This Bill was replaced by the Search and Surveillance Bill in July 2009, which extends the generic regime proposed in the Commission’s Report to a wider range of agencies and search powers than the first Bill. It also includes a number of changes to deal with issues identified after the introduction of the first Bill. The Justice and Electoral Committee asked for submissions on the Bill by 18 September 2009.
The Bill was reported back from select committee in October 2010 and is currently awaiting its Second Reading
The Commission shall review the scope and adequacy of current powers to search persons and places and associated powers to seize in order to determine an appropriate balance between law enforcement agencies and the protection of individual rights. The review will include:
- the circumstances in which such searches pursuant to a warrant may be undertaken;
- the circumstances in which such searches without a warrant may be undertaken;
- the adequacy of current powers in the light of modern technologies;
- the threshold for the granting of search warrants (and specifically the circumstances, if any, in which they should be extended to non-imprisonable offences);
- the extent, if at all, to which people should be compelled to assist in theexecution of a search warrant;
- the power to seize material revealed in such searches;
- consistency of current search warrant powers, and any recommended new or revised powers, with the Bill of Rights Act 1990; and
- whether present rules adequately protect civil liberties. The review shall cover the powers of all law enforcement agencies.