Extension of powers to accredited financial investigators

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 22 Tachwedd 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 9:25, 22 Tachwedd 2016

Across UK policing, more use is being made of skilled individuals who are not warranted police officers to support the full range of police work, allowing warranted officers to focus on the activities that need their specific training and experience. The financial aspects of terrorism investigations are unlike proceeds of crime investigations—this is not about identifying illicit wealth and taking the profit out of crime. For terrorism, financial investigation allows the police to disrupt terrorist activity by removing access to funds, and to make links in terrorist investigations.

As I set out last week, clause 34 provides for the creation of a new category of civilian financial investigator, to be known as a counter-terrorism financial investigator, which will exercise certain existing investigatory powers, including applying to a court for production orders, financial information orders or account monitoring orders, and to seize terrorist cash or moveable stores of value. The investigator will also be able to use new disclosure order powers being created under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the new bank account seizure and forfeiture powers in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

The new provisions do not confer on counter-terrorism financial investigators any of the search powers available in the legislation for terrorist investigations, and the Government amendments we debated last week will ensure that the investigators will be subject to training and monitoring by the Metropolitan Police Service. The changes are entirely consistent with the changes currently being brought in through the Policing and Crime Bill, which will give chief officers a greater ability to designate civilians with the powers of constables.

Finally, clause 35 introduces offences of obstructing or assaulting the investigators. It is important that a civilian performing the functions of, and exercising the same powers as, a police officer is afforded the same legal protections from assault or wilful obstruction as their police counterparts. That is consistent with the approach taken in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and elsewhere in the Bill. I hope the clauses stand part of the Bill.