Home office circular 004/2014 Powers to search for and seize invalid travel documents in Schedule 8 to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014



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HOME OFFICE CIRCULAR 004/2014

Powers to search for and seize invalid travel documents in Schedule 8 to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

  1. This circular advises recipients that the invalid travel document search and seizure provisions in Schedule 8 to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 come into force on 14 March 2014, subject to paragraph 4 below.

Background

  1. Schedule 8 to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (“the Act”) provides new powers for police officers and Border Force officers (ie immigration officers and/or designated customs officials) to search for and seize invalid travel documents. These documents include passports cancelled on public interest grounds under the Royal Prerogative. The Home Secretary has the discretion to refuse or withdraw a British passport on public interest grounds under the Royal Prerogative.

  2. The provisions in Schedule 8 will provide new statutory powers at ports and “in-country” to prevent people from travelling to or from the United Kingdom on invalid documentation. They will also provide an express statutory power to search for and seize passports cancelled under the Royal Prerogative.

  3. Operation of these new powers will be restricted for the first two months (from 14 March to 13 May 2014) to cases where passports have been cancelled on public interest grounds under the Royal Prerogative. Thereafter, the powers may be used to search for and seize invalid travel documents in all cases specified in the Schedule.

  4. The key aspects of the invalid travel document provisions in Schedule 8 are summarised below and should be read in conjunction with the full Schedule 8 text which can be found on the Parliament website (http://www.parliament.uk/).

Definitions

  1. Definitions are contained in paragraph 1 of Schedule 8. The new powers at port apply to ‘examining officers’. They are intended to be used by police officers and Border Force officers. ‘Examining officers’ are defined in paragraph 1(1) as being:

  1. A constable;

  2. A person appointed as an immigration officer under paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971; or

  3. A general customs official designated under section 3(1) of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.

  1. Under paragraph 1(2), a ‘travel document’ includes British passports, foreign passports and other documents which enable or facilitate travel from one state to another, such as emergency travel documents.

  2. A travel document is ‘invalid’ under paragraph 1(3) if it has been cancelled. This includes passports cancelled under the Royal Prerogative on public interest grounds and those that have been cancelled after being reported lost or stolen. Expired documents are also invalid, as are fraudulent or forged documents that have not been issued by the government or authority by which they purport to have been issued, or have been altered in an unauthorised way.

  3. Port’ is defined in paragraph 1(4) as an airport, sea port, hoverport, heliport, railway station where passengers depart for or arrive from outside the UK, or any other place at which a person can get on or off any craft, vessel or vehicle to enter or leave Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

Port powers

  1. Paragraph 2 to Schedule 8 provides police officers and Border Force officers with powers at port to search for and seize invalid travel documents. Paragraph 2(1) provides that these powers may be used when officers believe that a person is entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland; or travelling by air within Great Britain or within Northern Ireland

  2. Paragraph 2(2) empowers police officers and Border Force officers to:

  • require a person to hand over all travel documents for inspection;

  • search for travel documents and take possession of any found;

  • inspect any travel document taken from the person and retain it while its validity is checked; and

  • retain any travel document believed to be invalid (subject to paragraph 4’s provisions on retention and return of documents).

  1. Police and Border Force officers can search the person, anything the person has with them or the vehicle the officer believes the person has been travelling in or is about to travel in (paragraph 2(3)). They can use reasonable force, if necessary, and can also stop a person or vehicle in exercising these port powers (paragraph 2(4)).

  2. Police and Border Force officers can authorise another person, such as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), to carry out a search on their behalf (paragraph 2(4)). Such authorisation is likely to be rare. However, there may be occasions where this would be appropriate. For example, if it was thought more appropriate for an available female PCSO rather than a male police or Border Force officer to search a heavily pregnant woman due to cultural or other sensitivities. The authorised person would have the search power delegated to them but not the ability to use reasonable force.

In-country powers

  1. Paragraph 3 of Schedule 8 provides for search and seizure powers away from port (“in-country”) for police officers only. Unlike the port powers, the in-country powers can only be used in the following circumstances:

  • if the police officer reasonably believes that the person has a British passport that has been cancelled on public interest grounds by the Secretary of State (under the Royal Prerogative) (paragraph 3(1)); and

  • the Secretary of State has issued an authorisation for the in-country powers to be used, specifying the passport (paragraph 3 (2)).

  1. Under paragraph 3(3), a constable can:

  • require a person to hand over all travel documents for inspection by the constable (not just the Royal Prerogative cancelled passport);

  • search for travel documents and take possession of any found;

  • inspect any travel document taken from the person and retain it while its validity is checked; and

  • retain any travel document believed to be invalid (subject to paragraph 4’s provisions on retention and return of documents).

  1. Police officers do not have a power of entry to conduct a search under these provisions. However, they do have the power under paragraph 3(4) to search:

  • the person;

  • anything the person has with them;

  • the vehicle the police officer believes the person has been travelling in or is about to travel; and

  • any premises on which the police officer is lawfully present.

  1. Police officers can use reasonable force, if necessary, to exercise the in-country powers. They can also authorise a person to carry out a search on their behalf (paragraph 3(5)). As with the port powers, this authorisation is likely to be used on rare occasions. However, if there is an authorisation, in practice, the search is likely to be carried out in the police officer’s presence. It would also remain the responsibility of the constable to ensure that the conduct of the search was at all times in compliance with PACE Codes of Practice. As with the port powers, the authorised person would not be empowered under paragraph 3 to use reasonable force.

Retaining or returning seized travel documents and expired documents

  1. Retaining or returning seized documents is covered in paragraph 4 of Schedule 8 of the Act. Documents retained while their validity is investigated must be checked as soon as possible (paragraph 4(1)). Documents must be returned straight away if they are found to be valid, or if they are only invalid because they have expired (paragraph 4(2)).

  2. Documents taken for checking cannot be retained for longer than seven days unless it is established that the document is invalid for some reason other than because it has expired (paragraph 4(3)). This is because there may be legitimate reasons for using an expired passport, for example, because it contains a visa needed for entry to another country that is still valid. However, expired travel documents do not need to be returned if a police or Border Force officer reasonably believes the person intends to use them for purposes for which they are no longer valid (paragraph 4(4)).

  3. The requirement in paragraph 4 to return a travel document is subject to any provision outside Schedule 8 where the document could be lawfully retained (paragraph 4(5)). For example, the travel document could be retained if it was needed as evidence as part of a criminal investigation.

Offences

  1. Two new offences of failing to hand over travel documents when required without reasonable excuse, and obstructing or frustrating a search have been created in paragraph 5 to enforce the new powers. Both are summary offences with maximum penalties of six months’ imprisonment, or a fine (which in Scotland and Northern Ireland may not exceed £5,000) or both.

  2. Paragraph 6 provides Border Force officers with the same power of arrest as police officers in respect of the two new offences and of offences under section 4 or 6 of the Identity Documents Act 2011 (possession of false identity documents with improper intention or without reasonable excuse).

Applicability

  1. Schedule 8 applies to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Returning cancelled passports to Her Majesty’s Passport Office

  1. All cancelled British passports seized by examining officers must be returned to HM Passport Office unless they are needed as part of an ongoing investigation or prosecution.

  2. In non-Royal Prerogative cases (for example, where the new powers are used to seize passports that have been cancelled after being reported lost or stolen), the person from whom the passport was seized should be provided with a written receipt, mentioning where to obtain further information (Annex A).

  3. The Annex A written receipt is not needed in Royal Prerogative cases. The person would already have a letter notifying them that the Prerogative has been exercised on public interest grounds which will act as their written receipt.

  4. In both cases, HM Passport Office must be notified by email that a cancelled passport has been seized. This should be done as soon as possible after seizure as a person may seek to make an immediate application for a replacement passport. The email notification will allow HM Passport Office to take the necessary steps to prevent the issue of a passport without (HMPO) having first made contact with the seizing authority. The email notification should be accompanied by a copy of Annex B and sent to: SeizedPassports@hmpo.gsi.gov.uk.

  5. The cancelled passport should be returned together with a completed Annex B to:

Intelligence Hub

HM Passport Office

3 Northgate

96 Milton Street

Cowcaddens

Glasgow


G4 0BT.

Returning other seized invalid travel documents

  1. British passports not issued by the government or authority which it purports to have been issued and seized invalid travel documents from other countries should be returned to:

National Document Fraud Unit

Home Office

PO Box 1000

Hayes


UB3 5WB.
ANNEX A

Organisation

Address

Date (letter issued)



Name

Address


Dear Sir / Madam

BRITISH PASSPORT NUMBER: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The above passport is an invalid travel document and has been seized and retained under the provisions of Schedule 8 to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The passport remains the property of the HM Government and the document will be returned to Her Majesty’s Passport Office. If you require further information please contact HM Passport Office on 0300 222 0000.

This letter does not confer any entitlement to travel to or from the United Kingdom.

Yours faithfully

Immigration / Customs / Police Officer

Tel:

E-mail


ANNEX B

Organisation

Address

Date (letter issued)



Intelligence Hub

HM Passport Office

3 Northgate

96 Milton Street

Cowcaddens

Glasgow


G4 0BT

SCHEDULE 8 TO THE ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME AND POLICING ACT 2014: PASSPORT SEIZED AND RETAINED

The following British passport was seized under the above Act.

FULL NAME

ADDRESS


BRITISH PASSPORT NUMBER

The passport was retained as the document was: (please tick):

 cancelled

 expired and being used for a purpose for which it was no longer valid

 has undergone an unauthorised alteration

 Other (please specify).

I can confirm that the person has been notified in writing that the passport has been seized and retained.

Please tick as appropriate:

 I am notifying you that the passport has been seized and will be forwarded to you shortly (This should be done by email as soon as possible after the decision to retain the passport).

 The passport is enclosed with this notification.

Contact officer:

Tel:


E-mail

Address


[Please note that passports not issued by the government or authority by which it purports to have been issued of any country should be forwarded to the National Document Fraud Unit, Home Office, PO Box 1000, Hayes, UB3 5WB.]



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