And when you consider the consequences, don't forget that the Government have been quietly reclassifying loads of relatively minor offences as 'serious'.
Linx Public Affairs
Following a report from the Law Commission , the Government
is considering making it an offence for a person, “D”, to do something for another person, “X”,
- where D believes or suspects that X is involved in serious organised crime; and
- where D also believes or suspects that their own actions could encourage or assist the criminal activities.
|Hello Pizza Delivery... |
Foreign Office? Sorry no can do, illegal invasion of
Ofcom? Sorry, human rights abuse, unjustified censorship
Tax Office? Sorry, extortion
Barclaycard Board? Sorry, protection insurance racket
Tony Blair? Sorry, Vice, arse licking is illegal in Washington
This will be used to prevent D doing such things as fitting security features to premises for X, letting X use premises to hold meetings or, one would assume, providing X with electronic communications services.
Such an offence would raise two
interesting questions for Internet Service Providers. Firstly, what type and degree of knowledge would be necessary to trigger liability? This is a generalisation of the questions arising from the recent debate on the
hacking tools offence .
Secondly, as a matter of public policy, how far removed from criminal culpability should criminal liability for actions relating to
offending behaviour be extended? Is it desirable that a person should have their phone cut off merely because the communications provider has read in the newspaper that they’ve been charged with participating in organised crime, and so fears
becoming liable for any criminal activity that person might engage in over the phone?
The Law Commission argues that this new inchoate offence of assisting or encouraging crime should not have too wide a reach, particularly where it is not
D’s purpose that an offence be committed. However the government believes it might be appropriate to lower the threshold for the offence below the Law Commission’s standard so as to ensure some participants do not escape prosecution.
The Home Office is inviting comments on :
- whether the new offence should be limited to those who believe an offence will be committed, or whether it should be widened; and
- whether the Government is right to consider extending liability to those who indirectly encourage or assist a
person (x) where they suspect that this encouragement or assistance will aid X’s criminal activities (as against specific types of criminal offence)
Comments are required by 17th October 2006.