Extradition and police powers: Home Office seeks views

9 November 2015

The Home Office published two draft Codes of Practice for the police relating to the extradition process on 2nd of November. A new code in relation to transit cases is presented alongside revised codes that governs the exercise of police powers in extradition cases.  The Home Office seeks views on whether the draft codes are correct and applicable for operational demands, while protecting the rights of individuals sought for extradition.

Extradition Act – updated Codes of Practice 

These Codes set out the police powers which may be relied upon in extradition cases, additional to the police’s common law powers. The Home Office confirms that the powers in the 2003 Act are modelled on those contained in PACE, but where necessary and appropriate, they supplement domestic provisions to enable police officers to respond to extradition requests effectively. Where procedures in extradition cases are the same as those in domestic cases, these Codes refer police officers to the relevant section in the PACE Codes.  The consultation document sets out: a Code of Practice for searches of premises by police officers and the seizure, retention, use and delivery of property found by police officers on persons or premises; a Code of Practice for the arrest, detention and treatment of persons detained under the Extradition Act 2003; and, a Code of Practice for the identification of persons detained under the Extradition Act 2003. 

In addition it includes a review of the powers of arrest under the Extradition Act 2003; a checklist of duties for custody officers in extradition cases; a summary of the UK extradition process to be given to the individual concerned; and, a written notice to detained person including fair processing notice.

In Transit

The Non-UK Extradition Transit Provisions Code of Practice (‘Draft Transit Codes of Practice’) concern the powers under sections 189A to 189C of the Extradition Act 2003 to escort, take into custody and search a person who is being extradited from one territory to another (where neither territory is the UK). It also covers the retention, use and return of anything seized during a search. The introduction to the Code underlines that non-UK extradition cases are when a person is being extradited from one territory to another (neither territory being the UK) and is in transit through the UK. It clarifies that this means arriving in, being in, and departing from the UK, whether or not the person travels within the UK between arrival and departure.  Provisions in the Code cover, amongst other things: custody at the police station; immigration issues relating to temporary admission and refugee status; search and seizure provisions; mental health matters and clinical examination; and, communications with consular authorities and legal advice.

Representing those arrested under the Extradition Act 2003 at the police station

Unlike in general criminal cases, the input of defence lawyers is rarely required at the police station, indeed, many defence lawyers are unaware that the codes exist. There is limited scope to challenge any decisions made at the police station and public funding does not provide for legal representation in person at the police station. For the defence lawyer, the Codes will be primarily of use in gaining an understanding of what the requested person should know about the extradition process by the time they get to court. Unlike in criminal cases, and perhaps in recognition of the very different nature of extradition proceedings, the requested person should, under the Codes, be provided with information setting out the stages of the extradition process. Statistics show that year on year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court is seeing increasing numbers of requested persons facing extradition. Ensuring that the requested person does have some understanding of the extradition process before arriving at court will be increasingly important as these numbers continue to rise.

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