Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
I am unsure whether I understand the reference to the Children Act. I wish to make a drafting point in respect of section 8. It begins "notwithstanding section 52(4) of the Children Act 2001". Section 52 was substituted for a new section 52 by section 129 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. The reason I make the point is that one of the difficulties I have with the way we are passing legislation is that it is absolutely unnavigable for people who are not acquainted with the system.A person who googles section 52(4) of the Children Act 2001 will get section 52 as it was passed in 2001, which does not contain a subsection (4). They would need to know what they are doing to find out that five years later the 2006 Act introduced a new one. That is perhaps by the way. However, I would have thought that there was room in this section to explain either that there was a new section or that section 52(4) was substituted by section 129 of the 2006 Act, as it might be helpful to people.
My main point is that section 52(4) provides that children under the age 14 cannot be prosecuted without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. This section raises that age for the purposes of the offences created by the Bill to 17. I do not know why we have inserted "Notwithstanding section 52(4) of the Children Act 2001". What is the benefit does the addition of "Notwithstanding section 52(4) of the Children Act 2001" bring to the section? If those words were taken out, would the section not act in the same way or have I missed the import of what is involved?