The Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC and most of Britain's subsequent incorporation into the Roman Empire stimulated development and brought more active contacts with the rest of Europe. As Rome's strength declined, the country again was exposed to invasion--including the pivotal incursions of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in the fifth and sixth centuries AD--up to the Norman conquest in 1066. Norman rule effectively ensured Britain's safety from further intrusions; certain institutions, which remain characteristic of Britain, could develop. Among these are a political, administrative, cultural, and economic center in London; a separate but established church; a system of common law; distinctive and distinguished university education; and representative government.
Both Wales and Scotland were independent kingdoms that resisted English rule. The English conquest of Wales succeeded in 1282 under Edward I, and the Statute of Rhuddlan established English rule 2 years later. To appease the Welsh, Edward's son (later Edward II), who had been born in Wales, was made Prince of Wales in 1301. The tradition of bestowing this title on the eldest son of the British Monarch continues today. An act of 1536 completed the political and administrative union of England and Wales.
While maintaining separate parliaments, England and Scotland were ruled under one crown beginning in 1603, when James VI of Scotland succeeded his cousin Elizabeth I as James I of England. In the ensuing 100 years, strong religious and political differences divided the kingdoms. Finally, in 1707, England and Scotland were unified as Great Britain, sharing a single Parliament at Westminster.
Ireland's invasion by the Anglo-Normans in 1170 led to centuries of strife. Successive English kings sought to conquer Ireland. In the early 17th century, large-scale settlement of the north from Scotland and England began. After its defeat, Ireland was subjected, with varying degrees of success, to control and regulation by Britain.
The legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was completed on January 1, 1801, under the name of the United Kingdom. However, armed struggle for independence continued sporadically into the 20th century. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 established the Irish Free State, which subsequently left the Commonwealth and became a republic after World War II. Six northern, predominantly Protestant, Irish counties have remained part of the United Kingdom.
Begun initially to support William the Conqueror's (c. 1029-1087) holdings in France, Britain's policy of active involvement in continental European affairs endured for several hundred years. By the end of the 14th century, foreign trade, originally based on wool exports to Europe, had emerged as a cornerstone of national policy.
The foundations of sea power were gradually laid to protect English trade and open up new routes. Defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 firmly established England as a major sea power. Thereafter, its interests outside Europe grew steadily. Attracted by the spice trade, English mercantile interests spread first to the Far East. In search of an alternate route to the Spice Islands, John Cabot reached the North American continent in 1498. Sir Walter Raleigh organized the first, short-lived colony in Virginia in 1584, and permanent English settlement began in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia. During the next two centuries, Britain extended its influence abroad and consolidated its political development at home.
Great Britain's industrial revolution greatly strengthened its ability to oppose Napoleonic France. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the United Kingdom was the foremost European power, and its navy ruled the seas. Peace in Europe allowed the British to focus their interests on more remote parts of the world, and, during this period, the British Empire reached its zenith. British colonial expansion reached its height largely during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Queen Victoria's reign witnessed the spread of British technology, commerce, language, and government throughout the British Empire, which at its greatest extent encompassed roughly one-fifth to one-quarter of the world's area and population. British colonies contributed to the United Kingdom's extraordinary economic growth and strengthened its voice in world affairs. Even as the United Kingdom extended its imperial reach overseas, it continued to develop and broaden its democratic institutions at home.
By the time of Queen Victoria's death in 1901, other nations, including the United States and Germany, had developed their own industries; the United Kingdom's comparative economic advantage had lessened, and the ambitions of its rivals had grown. The losses and destruction of World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom's preeminent international position of the previous century.
Britain's control over its Empire loosened during the interwar period. Ireland, with the exception of six northern counties, gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1921. Nationalism became stronger in other parts of the empire, particularly in India and Egypt.
In 1926, the United Kingdom, completing a process begun a century earlier, granted Australia, Canada, and New Zealand complete autonomy within the Empire. They became charter members of the British Commonwealth of Nations (now known as the Commonwealth), an informal but closely knit association that succeeded the Empire. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the remainder of the British Empire was almost completely dismantled. Today, most of Britain's former colonies belong to the Commonwealth, almost all of them as independent members. There are, however, 13 former British colonies --including Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, and others--which have elected to continue their political links with London and are known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories.
Although often marked by economic and political nationalism, the Commonwealth offers the United Kingdom a voice in matters concerning many developing countries. In addition, the Commonwealth helps preserve many institutions deriving from British experience and models, such as parliamentary democracy, in those countries.
The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of the quartet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. GDP growth slipped in 2001-02 as the global downturn, the high value of the pound, and the bursting of the "new economy" bubble hurt manufacturing and exports. Still, the economy is one of the strongest in Europe; inflation, interest rates, and unemployment remain low. The relatively good economic performance has complicated the BLAIR government's efforts to make a case for Britain to join the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The Prime Minister has pledged to hold a public referendum if membership meets Chancellor of the Exchequer BROWN's five economic "tests." Scheduled for assessment by mid-2003, the tests will determine whether joining EMU would have a positive effect on British investment, employment, and growth. Critics point out, however, that the economy is thriving outside of EMU, and they point to public opinion polls that continue to show a majority of Britons opposed to the single currency. Meantime, the government has been speeding up the improvement of education, transport, and health services, at a cost in higher taxes.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The crime rate in United Kingdom is high compared to other industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for United Kingdom. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. United Kingdom will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2001 was 1.63 per 100,000 population for United Kingdom 1.10 for Japan, and 5.61 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2001 was 16.50 for United Kingdom, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 31.77 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2001 was 182.69 for United Kingdom, 4.08 for Japan, and 148.50 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2001 was 30.07 for United Kingdom, 23.78 for Japan, and 318.55 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2001 was 1,605.14 for United Kingdom, 233.60 for Japan, and 740.80 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2001 was 3,468.55 for United Kingdom, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2484.64 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2001 was 650.47 for United Kingdom, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 430.64 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 5955.05 for United Kingdom, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4160.51 for USA. (Note that Japan data are for year 2000)
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1996 and 2001, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 2.60 to 1.63 per 100,000 population, an decrease of 37.3%. The rate for rape increased from 8.83 to 16.50, an increase of 86.9%. The rate of robbery increased from 142.23 to 182.69, an increase of 28.4%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 17.43 to 30.07, an increase of 72.5%. The rate for burglary decreased from 2,239.23 to 1,605.14, a decrease of 28.3%. The rate of larceny decreased from 3,506.64 to 3,468.55, a decrease of 1.1%. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 933.67 to 650.47, a decrease of 30.3%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 6850.63 to 5955.05, a decrease of 13.1%.
The United Kingdom does not have a written constitution. The equivalent body of law is based on statute, common law, and "traditional rights." Changes may come about formally through new acts of Parliament, informally through the acceptance of new practices and usage, or by judicial precedents. Although Parliament has the theoretical power to make or repeal any law, in actual practice the weight of 700 years of tradition restrains arbitrary actions.
Executive government rests nominally with the Monarch but actually is exercised by a committee of ministers (cabinet) traditionally selected from among the members of the House of Commons and, to a lesser extent, the House of Lords. The prime minister is normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, and the government is dependent on its support.
Parliament represents the entire country and can legislate for the whole or for any constituent part or combination of parts. The maximum parliamentary term is 5 years, but the prime minister may ask the Monarch to dissolve parliament and call a general election at any time. The focus of legislative power is the 659-member House of Commons, which has sole jurisdiction over finance. The House of Lords, although shorn of most of its powers, can still review, amend, or delay temporarily any bills except those relating to the budget. The House of Lords has more time than the House of Commons to pursue one of its more important functions--debating public issues. In 1999, the government removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to hold seats in the House of Lords. The current house consists of appointed life peers who hold their seats for life and 92 hereditary peers who will hold their seats only until final reforms have been agreed upon and implemented. The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches but cannot review the constitutionality of legislation.
The separate identities of each of the UK's constituent parts also is reflected in their respective governmental structures. Up until the recent devolution of power to Scotland and Wales, a cabinet minister (the Secretary of State for Wales) handled Welsh affairs at the national level with the advice of a broadly representative council for Wales. Scotland maintains, as it did before union with England, different systems of law (Roman-French), education, local government, judiciary, and national church (the Church of Scotland instead of the Church of England). In addition, separate departments grouped under a Secretary of State for Scotland, who also is a Cabinet Member, handled most domestic matters. In late 1997, however, following approval of referenda by Scottish and Welsh voters (though only narrowly in Wales), the British Government introduced legislation to establish a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly. Elections for the two bodies were held May 6, 1999. The Welsh Assembly opened on May 26, and the Scottish Parliament opened on July 1, 1999. The devolved legislatures have largely taken over most of the functions previously performed by the Scottish and Welsh offices.
Northern Ireland had its own parliament and prime minister from 1921 to 1973, when the British Government imposed direct rule in order to deal with the deteriorating political and security situation. From 1973, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, based in London, was responsible for the region, including efforts to resolve the issues that lay behind the "the Troubles."
By the mid-1990s, gestures toward peace encouraged by successive British governments and by President Clinton began to open the door for restored local government in Northern Ireland. An IRA cease-fire and nearly 2 years of multiparty negotiations, led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, resulted in the Good Friday Agreement of April 10, 1998, which was subsequently approved by majorities in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Key elements of the agreement include devolved government, a commitment of the parties to work toward "total disarmament of all paramilitary organizations," police reform, and enhanced mechanisms to guarantee human rights and equal opportunity. The Good Friday Agreement also called for formal cooperation between the Northern Ireland institutions and the Government of the Republic of Ireland, and it established the British-Irish Council, which includes representatives of the British and Irish Governments as well as the devolved Governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Devolved government was reestablished in Northern Ireland in December 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement provides for a 108-member elected Assembly, overseen by a 12-minister Executive Committee (cabinet) in which unionists and nationalists share leadership responsibility. Northern Ireland elects 18 representatives to the Westminster Parliament in London. However, the two Sinn Fein MPs, who won seats in the last election, have refused to claim their seats.
As of year 2002, civilian officials maintained effective control of the police forces. In Great Britain, regional police forces were responsible for maintaining law and order; in Northern Ireland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was responsible for maintaining law and order. In some areas of Northern Ireland, because of the continuing threat of violence, army units operated to reinforce the PSNI. There were approximately 14,000 British troops stationed in Northern Ireland, among the lowest number since the early 1970's. There were some complaints that individual members of the police committed some human rights abuses.
There were no reports of political killings by the Government or its agents.
According to the Annual Report of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), there were 36 deaths in police care or custody during the 12 months ending in March, compared with 32 in 2000-2001. The PCA reported that 10 of the deaths occurred because of natural causes, 20 were due to alcohol or drugs, 4 were suicides, and 2 due to other causes, specifically persons who fell from a window. The Home Office and the Police Complaints Authority have initiated a range of actions aimed to eliminate such deaths, including safer custody facilities, improved training, CCTV monitoring, piloting new technologies, and emphasis on better care, assessment and monitoring of detainees.
In May three detectives faced disciplinary action over their investigation into the 1999 death of Roger Sylvester. In 2000 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ruled that there was insufficient evidence for a criminal trial; however, a coroner's inquest is scheduled to begin in 2003.
On June 21, the jury of the coroner's inquest returned an open verdict to the 1999 police shooting of Harry Stanley after the CPS ruled in 2000 that there was insufficient evidence for a criminal trial. The family's appeal of the verdict was ongoing at year's end.
There also were a number of deaths in prison due to suicide and natural causes. The inquest into the 1996 death while in prison of Jim McDonnell remained ongoing at year's end.
In May the UK and Irish Governments appointed the Honorable Judge Peter Cory to "establish the facts and report with further recommendations" regarding allegations of past state involvement, collusion or culpability in six Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland cases of killings of: Pat Finucane in 1989, Billy Wright in 1997, Robert Hamill in 1997, Rosemary Nelson, Lord Justice and Lady Gibson in 1987, and police officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in 1989. The Government pledged to conduct a public inquiry into any of these cases if so recommended by the judge.
Hearings continued in the judicial inquiry into the events in Northern Ireland on January 30, 1972--"Bloody Sunday"--when 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry were killed by British soldiers but for which no member of the security forces were held accountable.
The NGO British Irish Rights Watch reported that paramilitary groups were believed to be responsible for at least 13 killings in Northern Ireland.
In January police charged Colm Murphy with aiding and abetting the 1998 bombing in Omagh. He was serving a 14-year jail sentence after being found guilty of conspiring to cause an explosion. In July five men, including Colm Murphy, were served with civil writs for compensation by some of the Omagh victims. In August some of the Omagh victims initiated actions for compensation against the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the PSNI for failing to prevent the bombing. Family members of the victims criticized Sinn Fein, a legal political party linked with the IRA, for refusing to assist in the police investigation; they were pursuing a civil suit against the RIRA at year's end.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
The British and Irish governments in 1999 jointly established the Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains to locate the remains of nine victims of IRA paramilitary violence from the 1970s. It located the remains of three persons in 1999, suspended its work in 2000 pending the receipt of additional information from the IRA, and resumed the search for the body of Charles Armstrong in May. This search was abandoned 3 weeks later due to the exhaustion of available information. No more bodies have been found.
The law prohibits such practices as torture; however, there were complaints that individual members of the police and army occasionally abused detainees. Human rights organizations maintain that such abuse, while not widespread, was a matter of serious concern.
Detainees who claim physical mistreatment have the right to an immediate medical examination. A trial judge must examine such a claim. Confessions obtained by abusive treatment are not admissible in court, and judges can exclude even voluntary confessions.
The Independent Assessor of Military Complaints coordinates investigations into complaints of abuses committed by the Army in Northern Ireland. Its June 19 report cited a 21.5 percent drop from the previous year in the number of complaints received.
Human rights groups continued to call for an end to the use of plastic bullets, which were used by the police and military in Northern Ireland to quell civil disturbances. The police have introduced safeguards on the use of plastic bullets and the Police Ombudsman reviewed every instance when the police fired a plastic bullet. Between April 2001 and March, the Police Ombudsman produced seven reports on incidents relating to the discharge of plastic bullets by police officers. In each incident, investigators concluded that the discharge was justified and proportionate. The firing by soldiers acting in support of the police did not come under the Ombudsman's jurisdiction. No deaths occurred as a result of plastic bullets.
Reports by official bodies and NGOs have suggested that the public lacked confidence in existing procedures for making complaints against the police, with more complainants taking their cases directly to the civil courts. There were 7,148 complaints filed with the PCA from April 2001 through March, 732 fewer complaints than filed in the previous period. Almost one-quarter of the cases reviewed by the PCA between April 2001 and March resulted in some form of disciplinary or legal action.
In June the Government passed the Police Reform Act, which among other things replaces the PCA with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The legislation grants the IPCC its own body of investigators with the powers to investigate matters of police misconduct completely separately from the police. The IPCC allows for greater involvement of the complainant in the investigation; greater openness in disclosing materials to the complainant; more effective powers to direct that disciplinary charges be laid against police officers; and greater independence of the person carrying out the IPCC investigation. All deaths in police custody will be referred to the IPCC. The Act also provides for a National Policing Plan to set priorities for policing and measures to ensure the most effective methods are used by all police forces.
The armed forces have a procedure to handle complaints of harassment, racial and otherwise. Service personnel also have the right to submit complaints to employment tribunals. In 1998 the services entered into a 5-year partnership agreement with the Commission on Racial Equality (CRE) to promote racial equality practices. On September 16, the Crown Prosecution Service entered into a partnership with the CRE designed to assist in its continued progress towards the elimination of racial discrimination.
The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, who has an independent staff, has extensive powers to investigate complaints in Northern Ireland filed against the police or referred by the PSNI chief constable, the Police Authority of Northern Ireland, or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The Ombudsman is required to investigate cases involving death or serious injury where there may have been police involvement and may investigate all other cases of complaints against the police. The Ombudsman may recommend to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that charges be brought against officers, although the final decision rests with the DPP. The Ombudsman can direct the Chief Constable to take disciplinary action against police officers.
Between November 2000 and March 31, the Ombudsman received 6,341 complaints, approximately two-thirds of which concerned oppressive behavior or incivility by the police. As of March 31, 1,794 cases were resolved, 64 of which resulted in disciplinary action or criminal charges.
Parliament enacted legislation implementing the 1999 Patten Report on Policing in Northern Ireland in November 2000. The law imposed hiring quotas to increase Catholic representation in the PSNI and introduced new human rights standards and wider use of community policing practices. Respect for human rights is part of the appraisal process for staff evaluation. In September Hugh Orde was appointed the new Chief Constable of the PSNI. A cross-community Policing Board, with a majority elected membership, holds the Chief Constable and police service accountable. Sinn Fein has refused to participate and has declined to encourage Catholics to join the police, as called for in the Patten Report. In May and September reports, the Oversight Commissioner charged with reviewing the Patten reforms criticized the delay in integrating Special Branch and Crime Branch and the lack of progress in establishing District Policing Partnerships and a new police training college. The Commissioner also noted areas of progress, including the March release of the first Policing Plan by the Policing Board, the January endorsement by the Police Board of the Police Service's strategic plan for community policing, the progress of the Police Service's Analysis Center, and the April 5 signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement by the British and Irish Governments.
Both loyalist and republican paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland continued to intimidate or carry out "punishment" attacks on individuals who lived in areas under paramilitary influence. The attackers have used iron pipes, baseball bats, sledgehammers, and spiked clubs to beat their victims or shot them in the knees and legs. The attacks often were intended to maintain or extend the control of paramilitary groups in a given region. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission reported that between April 2001 and March 2002, there were 302 "punishment" attacks, compared with 323 in the previous year. Of these, 190 were paramilitary-style shootings and 112 were beatings, with loyalists suspected of responsibility in nearly two-thirds of the cases. Human rights groups stated that available statistics underreported the true number of casualties because many of the individuals were too intimidated to report paramilitary punishment attacks.
On September 29, Danny McBrearty was bludgeoned and shot three times in Londonderry/Derry, which police have attributed to the PIRA. On October 15, police arrested a person in connection with the shooting.
Immigrants and asylum seekers were subject to some societal violence and attacks during the year.
The law prohibits such actions, and the Government generally respected these prohibitions in practice. Warrants normally were required for a police search of private premises. A police officer may enter and search without a warrant "any premises if he or she reasonably suspects a terrorist is to be found there." The Government compensates persons whose houses or property are damaged during house searches. Police stop minorities for searches more often then whites .
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) the Government may monitor the content of private electronic communications after obtaining a warrant. Law enforcement agencies may require individuals and businesses to disclose encryption keys under certain circumstances. Businesses may monitor the electronic communications of employees.
Three NGOs, British Irish Rights Watch, Liberty, and Irish Council for Civil Liberties, took a case to the European Court of Human Rights, stating the Government had intercepted their telephone calls to clients in Ireland without a warrant.
As of year 2002, the law prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, and the Government generally observes these prohibitions; however, arrests may be made without judicial warrants, especially in Northern Ireland, when police have reasonable cause to suspect wrongdoing, and antiterrorism legislation gives authorities broad powers of arrest, detention, and interrogation.
The law allows police officers to stop and search vehicles and pedestrians if a police officer of at least superintendent rank (or a chief inspector if no superintendent is available) "reasonably believes" it is expedient to do so to prevent acts of violence. The authorization is limited to a 24-hour period but is renewable under certain circumstances. Under the law, suspects arrested without warrants must be released within 24 hours (or 36 hours if a serious offense is involved) unless brought before a magistrates' court or arrested under Terrorism Act provisions. The court may authorize the extension of detention by 36 hours and on further application by another 24 hours.
The 2000 Terrorism Act entered into force in February 2001. The act reforms mechanisms and powers that deal with terrorism relating to Northern Ireland and extends them to all forms of domestic and foreign terrorism in the United Kingdom. Certain other provisions of previous terrorism legislation, applicable only to Northern Ireland, may be extended for a maximum of 5 years, based on the special security situation that continued to exist there. The act widens the definition of terrorism to include actions or threats of action that are designed to influence the Government or intimidate the public to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause that involves serious violence against a person or serious damage to property, endangers a person's life, creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public, or is designed to interfere seriously with an electronic system.
The 2000 Terrorism Act also provides for special emergency powers applicable to Northern Ireland for a period of up to 5 years (or less if the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland determines that the security situation allows it). These powers include special entry, arrest, search, and seizure authority without a warrant under certain circumstances.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have expressed objections to certain temporary and permanent provisions of the Terrorism Act. These objections focus on the broad definition of terrorism employed in the law, the proscriptive powers of the state, and the powers of arrest, detention, and interrogation. They argue that the act effectively reverses the burden of proof in suspected terrorism cases and fails to provide adequate safeguards against abuse by law enforcement officials.
Building on the 2000 Terrorism Act, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security bill became law in December 2001 and addresses foreign nationals suspected of terrorist activity who cannot be deported under UK human rights laws because they may be subject to inhuman treatment in their country of origin.
Defendants awaiting trial have a statutory right to bail except when there is a risk that they would flee, commit another offense, or in other limited circumstances. Defendants who are remanded into custody are covered by statutory custody time limits, which restrict the period for which they can be held while awaiting trial to a maximum of 16 weeks, unless the court grants an extension. Of those in custody, 9 percent were in lengthy pretrial detention: According to data supplied by the CPS, of the 7,719 defendants in custody awaiting trial at year's end, 2,522 had been awaiting trial for longer than the maximum 16 weeks, and 187 for more than 48 weeks. However, the courts approved extensions of the detention of all persons detained.
The law gives administrative detention power to immigration officers. There is no time limit to such detention, but detainees have the right to request a judicial review or an application for habeas corpus. As of September 30, approximately 1,330 asylum seekers were in detention, either in immigration detention centers or in regular prisons, where they normally are held separately from convicted prisoners and those awaiting trial. Occasionally such persons are held in police cells, pending removal from the country or transfer to another accommodation if their detention is expected to last less than 48 hours. The Government provides all immigration detainees with written notice specifying the reasons for their detention at the time they are detained and provides detainees with automatic monthly updates on their case. The law permits all detainees to apply to immigration appellate authorities for bail. There are no set levels of surety for bail, and surety is not required in every case.
In September a high court judge ruled that the Oakington detention center unlawfully detained four asylum seekers by holding them for up to 10 days without evidence that they might flee; the Home Office successfully appealed the decision. The Refugee Council and Amnesty International welcomed the original high court ruling and suggested that the Government should turn Oakington into an "open" reception facility. By year's end, the Government had opened 3 new immigration detention centers, nearly doubling capacity to approximately 2,800 persons. While there is no law prohibiting its use, the Government does not use forced exile.
As of year 2002, the law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice. There are several levels of courts. Most criminal cases are heard by magistrates' courts, which are managed by locally based committees. Their decisions may be appealed to the Crown Courts, which also hear criminal cases requiring a jury trial, or to the High Courts. Crown Court convictions may be appealed to the Court of Appeal, which may in turn refer cases involving points of law to the House of Lords. The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (which consists of senior judges and was functionally distinct from the legislative arm) is the final court of appeal. The Criminal Cases Review Commission operates as an additional appellate body in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It considers cases after the judicial appeals process are exhausted and where there is significant new evidence that casts doubt on the conviction. In Scotland similar appeals may be made to the Scottish Office.
The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the right to question witnesses against them, and the right of appeal to successively higher courts. Indigent defendants have the right to free counsel of their choice, with some exceptions. UNHCR reported that the right of asylum seekers to free legal advice was severely limited by a shortage of competent legal advice in the regions and of funding for such advice elsewhere.
Criminal proceedings must be held in public except those in juvenile court and those involving public decency or security. In a trial under the Official Secrets Act, the judge may order the court closed, but sentencing must be public.
The law empowers judges to instruct juries that they may draw an inference of guilt from a defendant's refusal to answer questions during interrogation or trial, although no conviction can be based solely on such an inference. Human rights groups and the U.N. Human Rights Committee have criticized this provision, which they considered an abrogation of the right against self-incrimination. A similar provision is in effect in Northern Ireland, but the law prohibits the drawing of an inference from silence when a suspect is questioned before being permitted access to an attorney. The European Court of Human Rights had ruled that, taken in isolation, drawing inferences from silence did not contravene the accused's right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. However, the Court decided that the possibility of inferences being drawn from the silence of an accused while he was denied access to legal advice constituted a breach of the requirement for a fair trial under Article 6.
In year 2002, prison conditions generally met international standards; however, instances of mistreatment by prison officials, overcrowding, and suicides occurred. A September 17 report by the Prison Reform Trust warned that prisons in England and Wales suffered from an overcrowding crisis which threatened prison safety, leading to prisoners being held in inhumane and degrading conditions. The Prison Service attempted to correct the problems of overcrowding and poor facilities by providing funding for 2,320 new places. The prison population in England and Wales increased slightly over the previous year from 66,049 inmates to 72,660.
On October 23, approximately 150 inmates at Lincoln Prison rioted for 8 hours, set a wing of the prison on fire, and destroyed approximately 200 bed spaces. A group of prisoners attacked a guard, stole his keys and released fellow inmates from their cells to set off the riot. Hundreds of inmates were subsequently transferred to other prisons due to the lost space. The Prison Officers' Association stated that severe overcrowding and insufficient staffing levels had caused friction at the prison.
On March 27, an appeals court ruled that a public inquiry into the racially motivated killing of Zahid Mubarek while in prison in 2000 was not warranted. Since the cause of death had been established by the conviction of cellmate Robin Stewart for the murder, the court stated that there was no basis for prosecuting any member of the prison service.
In June Amnesty International (AI) reported authorities were not sufficiently protecting the human rights of incarcerated minors with respect to inter-prisoner violence, suicides, investigations into deaths in prison, abuse, segregation, and prison conditions and called for a public inquiry to examine these issues.
On March 14, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Government had breached the European Convention on Human Rights on four counts relating to the 1994 death of Christopher Edwards who was beaten to death by his cellmate; both were diagnosed as mentally ill. On May 28, the Court concluded that the Government had violated Dermot McShane's right to life as a result of its failure to ensure an effective investigation into his 1996 death in Londonderry/Derry.
On August 28, the Howard League for Penal Reform stated that 64 percent of jails were overcrowded. In February the new Chief Inspector of Prisons reported on abusive conditions in Dartmoor prison, where inspectors said nearly a quarter of the 700 inmates reported being verbally abused by staff.
The Howard League for Penal Reform reported that 94 persons committed suicide in prisons in England and Wales, an increase of 29 percent from 2001. In June Mark Fulton, a key suspect in the murder of lawyer Rosemary Nelson, was found strangled by his own belt in his cell.
Human rights groups have been particularly critical of Special Security Units (SSUs), which were used to hold prisoners deemed to pose an exceptional risk of escape. Human rights monitors have criticized small group isolation; the lack of adequate exercise, work, educational opportunities, and natural daylight; and the strict enforcement of noncontact visits through a glass barrier. At year's end, there was only one SSU in operation, holding a small number of prisoners. Prisoners held in the SSU were provided with all the facilities required under Prison Rules, although those facilities were delivered within the Unit and not in the main part of the prison. The SSU was also subject to independent inspection by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.
The number of female prisoners continued to rise. Implementing the recommendations of a 1999 report by its women's policy group, the Prison Service adopted new procedures governing admission to mother and baby units and standards for their management. There were four Mother and Baby units in England, which provided 64 places for mothers to keep their children with them while in prison.
After April 30, the Government stopped the routine use of prisons to hold immigration detainees. People held solely under immigration legislation were accommodated in Immigration Service Removal Centers under Detention Center rules, unless they had completed a sentence of 12 months or more in a British prison or were held for reasons of security and control.
In the prison system, women were held separately from men, juveniles from adults, and pretrial detainees from convicted prisoners.
Separate and distinct prison regimes exist for Northern Ireland and Scotland, administered through the Northern Ireland Office and the Scottish Office, respectively. The Government permitted independent human rights observers to visit prisons and immigration detention centers. An April report by the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) found during its February 2001 visit that the three basic safeguards against ill-treatment of persons detained by the police advocated by the CPT on the whole operated in a satisfactory manner. The report also found that conditions of detention continued to be satisfactory in police stations in the London region, but recommended that authorities review these conditions in Wales.
NGOs reported complaints from prisoners in Maghaberry jail concerning their personal safety. Prisoners reported death threats and assaults by members of opposing factions. NGOs called for greater provisions to protect the prisoners.
Violence against women continued to be a problem in year 2002. According to Home Office statistics, from May 2001 to April 2002, there were 9,743 rapes and 21,765 indecent assaults. The report stated that sexual offenses were significantly underreported.
Criminal penalties for rape, including spousal rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence are substantial, and these laws were enforced strictly; however, conviction rates for rape tended to be lower than for other crimes. The law provides for injunctive relief, personal protection orders, and protective exclusion orders (similar to restraining orders) for women who are victims of violence. The Government provided shelters, counseling, and other assistance for battery or rape and offered free legal aid to battered women who were economically reliant on their abusers. The law prohibits defendants themselves from conducting cross-examinations of complainants in rape and sexual offence trials. In 2001 the Government placed restrictions on the admissibility into evidence of a complainant's previous sexual history. Female genital mutilation is illegal but was practiced by immigrant populations from countries in which the practice is common. The extent to which the procedure was used is unknown, but the Government continued to work to eradicate it.
No law specifically prohibits sexual harassment; criminal action for sexual harassment cases must be prosecuted under assault legislation. Women's groups have complained that civil suits concerning sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender at times take up to 3½ years to appear before an industrial tribunal.
The law provides for equal opportunity between the sexes, but women experienced some discrimination in practice. The law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination in training, housing, and the provision of goods and services, as well as in employment. Women have equal rights regarding property and divorce. The Government's Equal Opportunities Commission supports persons who bring discrimination cases before industrial tribunals and courts and produces guidelines for employers. The Government's Women and Equality Unit reported that women's hourly earnings are lower than men's, $12.70 (8.21 pounds) and $16.45 (10.63 pounds), respectively. In the Government, women's issues were represented at the cabinet level by the Minister for Women, who heads up the Women and Equality Unit, which engaged in dialog with women and advised the Government but had no authority for direct action.
The Government was strongly committed to children's rights and welfare; it amply funded a system of public education and medical care. The Government provided free, compulsory education until age 16 and further free education until age 18 if a student so desires.
While there was no societal pattern of abuse directed against children, there were indications that child abuse was a problem; however, there was a lack of reliable data.
Children have been trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor.
Concern and publicity surrounding pedophiles continued to grow. As part of a government drive to protect children from child abusers, previously secret registers of pedophiles were available to any employer who runs an organization where persons under age 18 could be at risk (schools, children's homes, or voluntary organizations). In addition, suspected child abusers and convicted pedophiles were banned from working with children. Childcare organizations must consult a list before offering anyone a job, paid or otherwise, and it was illegal for them to hire anyone named on it. On October 2, the Home Office announced new measures to strengthen the Sex Offenders' Register to give courts expanded powers to force those convicted of relevant sex offences outside the UK to register as offenders in Britain. All sex offenders on the register will be made to attend a police station in person every 12 months to confirm their whereabouts. The Government's Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet organized educational campaigns, developed proposals on stiffer penalties against pedophile activities, developed models and good practices for protection, and worked on a G8 strategy to combat the problem.
A March joint report, "Safeguarding Children," headed by the Chief Inspectors of Social Services concluded that in the vast majority of cases, government agencies protected children from the risks of further harm, with good working relationships between agencies at all levels. However, the report noted concerns that the services were under pressure for resources and management on some levels and made numerous recommendations for further safeguards. The NGOs Refugee Council and Save the Children claimed in an August 2001 report that many social services agencies provided inadequate care to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.
Various laws covering England and Wales stipulate that children have the right to apply for court orders, to give or withhold consent for medical treatment (for those capable of making an informed decision), to make complaints to the relevant local authority, to have their ethnic, linguistic, and religious background considered in decisions affecting them, to have reasonable contact with their families (usually applied in a circumstance where there was abuse), and in general to be consulted regarding their desires. In order to reduce the intimidation that young suspects may feel when tried in an adult court, there is a ban on robes and wigs and uniformed security officers in any courtroom where defendants under age 18 are tried on serious criminal charges.
Under the 2000 Prevention of Terrorism Act, the police may arrest and detain children as young as 10 years of age for up to 7 days, although no children were detained under the act during the year.
The law bans corporal punishment in state schools as well as private schools and nursery schools. Child welfare groups have called for all corporal punishment of children to be outlawed.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
No laws specifically criminalize trafficking in persons, although a range of laws are used to prosecute traffickers; the trafficking of persons was a persistent problem. The United Kingdom is a destination country for trafficking in women and girls for prostitution and in men, women, and girls for manual labor. While the Government estimated that 1,400 women and girls are trafficked each year for prostitution, there is no reliable data on the number of persons trafficked as laborers.
Female trafficking victims are mainly from the Balkans and other Central European countries. Women are also trafficked from South America, West Africa (particularly Nigeria), and Southeast Asia (Thailand and Vietnam). For example, a police investigation in 1999 of the brothels in London's Soho area revealed 148 victims, of whom 125 were from the Balkans, 14 from other parts of Central Europe, 6 from South America, 2 from Africa, and 1 from Southeast Asia.
According to media and NGO reports, girls were increasingly trafficked for prostitution and labor from West Africa and Central Europe. The laborers often are brought to the country under false pretenses and then used in addition to collect increased welfare benefits by distant relatives or even strangers.
Most female victims are lured into the country by deception. Many pay exorbitant fees to criminal middlemen for visas or smuggling arrangements. The victims often agree to pay off the balance by working in the sex industry; however, upon arriving, they are required to perform sexual services they did not agree to, their documents are confiscated, and they are forced to work a longer time than anticipated. Although victims usually are not physically coerced or threatened, they are deceived into not seeking help. The women are duped into believing that the police are corrupt or abusive and that they will be deported if they alert the authorities. In addition there is evidence that a small number of victims are forcibly abducted and brought into the country against their will.
According to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, trafficked laborers come from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, China, Congo, Angola, Colombia, and Ecuador. Laborers are trafficked actively by China-based criminal gangs, "snakeheads," also by deception. Would-be migrants pay high fees; however, those who cannot pay are forced into servitude, often in London sweatshops run by the gangs. Some also work in agriculture. Many victims are unwilling to come forward, due to fears of retribution from traffickers, fear of being deported or abused by authorities, or because they cannot speak English well enough.
The United Kingdom generally is not a country of origin for trafficking; however, each year hundreds of persons, usually young women, are forced into marriages outside the United Kingdom, particularly in India. They usually are deceived by their parents and believe that they are visiting family. Upon arrival their relatives force them into marriage.
A May 2000 Home Office report on trafficking in women estimated that up to 1,400 women were trafficked into the country in 1998. The report highlighted that police largely are unaware of the scale of the problem and do not treat it as a priority. The Government was considering the report's recommendations, which include the creation of a new crime category of "sexual exploitation," allowing trafficked women to sue their exploiters, and a focus on prevention campaigns in host countries. However, no action had been taken by year's end.
The Government actively investigated and prosecuted traffickers under a range of relevant laws, including unlawful imprisonment and facilitating illegal entry, that provide for penalties of up to 10 years in prison. The police successfully prosecuted traffickers under laws such as those against procuring and living off of immoral earnings. For example, numerous traffickers were convicted of the charge of "causing prostitution," which carries a 2-year prison sentence.
Government agencies involved in antitrafficking efforts include the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the National Criminal Investigative Service (NICS), police, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department for Education and Employment, the Department for International Development (DFID), the National Crime Squad, and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). The Metropolitan Police has a special unit of 14 officers to investigate sexual exploitation: trafficking is one of the unit's special concerns. The DFID sponsors education campaigns overseas, particularly in Central Europe and Southeast Asia, to discourage trafficking. For example, the DFID and the FCO have distributed antitrafficking literature and videos in the Balkans and other points of origin. The FCO has posted immigration officials at overseas points of transit for traffickers to identify trafficking cases before they reach the United Kingdom. The Government supports numerous private organizations that combat trafficking and is significantly involved in international discussions on trafficking.
The Government does not deport victims of trafficking; the police and the IND cooperate on assisting trafficking victims and provide temporary residency status to victims. In addition both agencies provide legal, medical, and psychological services. Victims are not prosecuted for other crimes.
The Government works closely with and provides funding for NGO's and other relevant organizations that fight trafficking. The Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at the University of North London has headed efforts to intensify public discussion on prostitution and trafficking. The NGO Kayalaan is effective in assisting trafficking victims. Another NGO, Change, is working on a project to map out government organizations and NGO's that are combating trafficking in women globally. A third NGO, Womankind Worldwide, works with overseas partners on trafficking.
The gateway country for Latin American cocaine entering the European market; major consumer of synthetic drugs, producer of limited amounts of synthetic drugs and synthetic precursor chemicals; major consumer of Southwest Asian heroin; money-laundering center.
The UK has developed a 10-year strategy, outlined in a white paper issued in April 1998, entitled "Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain." This strategy builds upon old ones, but puts greater stress on the importance of all sectors of society working together to combat drugs. Its new focus recognizes that drug problems do not occur in isolation, and are often linked to other social problems. The strategy is a part of a wider UK government program for tackling reforms in the welfare state, education, employment, health, criminal justice and the economy.
The Strategy has four elements:
-- To help young people resist drug misuse, in order to achieve their full potential in society;
-- To protect communities from drug-related, anti-social and criminal behavior;
-- To enable people with drug problems to overcome them and live healthy, crime-free lives; and,
-- To stifle the availability of drugs on the streets.
The strategy is being monitored by the UK Anti-Drugs Coordinator, Keith Hellawell. During his first year, consistent and rigorous targets were set. The UK Anti-Drugs Coordinator will report on progress annually. The first report is expected in April 1999.
The new strategy has been accompanied by a wide-scale review of resources available for tackling drug misuse. The UK Government spends around $2.3 billion a year tackling the problem--with 62 percent of this total going to enforcement-related work, and the balance to education, prevention and treatment. The new strategy marks a progressive shift away from reactive expenditure (i.e., dealing with the consequences of drug misuse) toward greater investment in prevention.
In September 1998, the UK government announced an additional $358 million to be available over the next three years on anti-drugs projects. This includes funding of $99 million for the new drug treatment and testing order, and $123 million towards a comprehensive provision for treatment of problem drug abusers in prison and their rehabilitation back into society. In addition, $115 million is being made available for setting up new community-based treatment services.
The UK also plays an active role with the European Union (EU) in combating drugs. Under the UK Presidency, in 1998, work was begun on developing a new EU drug strategy. Key elements of this strategy were agreed upon for 2000-2004. They were endorsed by the Cardiff European Council in June 1998. The role of Special Representative for International Drugs Issues was taken on by Michael Ryder, Head of the Drugs and International Crime Department, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in September 1998.
The UK vigorously contributes to international drug control efforts. With the new drug strategy in mind, this assistance has focused on the main southwest Asia and Balkans heroin route, and the Latin America and Caribbean cocaine route. The UK strongly supports and works closely with the UNDCP. The UK is the latter's second largest bilateral donor. The British play a leading role in a number of international drug control fora including the Council of Europe's Pompidou Group, the Dublin Group, EUROPOL's Drug Unit and other EU fora, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The UK chairs the southwest drug unit in the Dublin Group and is an active counternarcotics advocate in the many mini-Dublin groups throughout the world.
The drug treatment and testing order is a new community sentence which enables courts to require drug offenders to undergo treatment, and submit to mandatory and random drug testing to ensure that they remain clean. The new order is being piloted in three areas of England from September 30, 1998; and the outcomes will be closely monitored and evaluated. If the pilot program is successful, the new order will be applied across the country starting in the year 2000.
New legislation to enable nightclubs and similar venues to be closed immediately when found to harbor a serious drug problem was brought into effect on May 1, 1998. This new enforcement power has been little used to date, but appears to have helped considerably in encouraging club operators to improve security and increase vigilance against drug misuse.
British law enforcement officials, including Customs and Excise officials, are vigilant and effective. In November 1998, Home Office Secretary Jack Straw put forward for public consultation ways in which the UK can improve upon the seizure of assets from criminals, primarily drug dealers. Procedures for civil asset forfeiture will be proposed in a white paper policy document to be published in the Spring of 1999. Narcotics-related corruption of public officials is not considered a problem in the UK. When identified, corrupt officials are vigorously prosecuted.
The US/UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) went into effect in December 1996. The UK has been party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention since 1991 and complies fully with its provisions. The UK was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe's directive on money laundering, as well as the first EU member state to ratify the agreement setting up EUROPOL. A US-UK Extradition Treaty is also in effect, most recently updated in 1985. The United Kingdom is a party to the WCO's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offenses "Nairobi Convention" Annex X on Assistance in Narcotics Cases. THE USG, in 1989, concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of the United Kingdom.
Marijuana, using the hydroponic system, is cultivated in limited amounts in the UK for personal use, and occasionally sold for commercial use. When such culivation is detected, authorities destroy the crops and facilities. Amphetamines and ecstasy are also manufactured in limited amounts. These drugs are manufactured in clandestine laboratories that authorities also destroy when found.
There are steady supplies of heroin and cocaine entering the UK. The bulk of heroin originates in the golden crescent of southwest Asia, notably in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is routed through Iran, Turkey (where much of it is processed), and central Europe. Drug traffickers are increasingly using some of the Newly Independent States (NIS) as alternate smuggling routes to the UK. Marijuana comes primarily from Morocco. Large cocaine shipments arrive directly from South America; smaller shipments often come up from the Spanish coast, either directly to the UK or via Amsterdam. There is also a synthetic drug market that originates out of western and central Europe. Amphetamines, ecstasy and LSD have been traced from clandestine laboratories in The Netherlands and Poland, and the UK.
The UK Government's demand reduction efforts focus on school and other community-based programs to educate young people and prevent them from taking drugs. In November, 1998, Schools Minister Charles Clarke announced new guidelines (protecting young people - good practices in drug education in schools and the youth service) to help teachers and youth-workers warn young people about the dangers of drugs. Additionally, the Drug Prevention Advisory Service will reestablish school and community teams involved in this activity from April 1999. These teams will give specialist prevention advice to all of the locally-based drug action teams.