Minor traffic offences and more to be decriminalised

28 November 2019 By Andrew Turner

Executive Council last week passed a bill to introduce fixed penalty notices on St Helena.

Fixed penalty notices would allow the St Helena Police to directly fine people for minor offences without having to go through court and without the minor offences appearing on people’s criminal records (currently, all offences are dealt with and recorded as criminal).

Fixed penalty notices would cover offences like illegal parking and littering.

The bill was presented by Cllr Tony Green, the Social & Community Development Committee Chairman, who said that the bill would have positive effects both socially and economically.

One positive effect would be people no longer having minor offences on their record, as minor offences at the moment can prevent employment opportunities.

The offences and their relevant fines will be decided by Executive Council and enforced by the Police.

The laws, once written, will be made retrospective so that people who already have criminal records for minor offences can have those offences removed.

The bill will now go out for public consultation before being presented to LegCo.

The bill stems from Cllr Brian Isaac’s Motion in the July 27 Legislative Council meeting to decriminalise minor traffic offences.

Council passed this motion unanimously.

ExCo last week also passed two other pieces of legislation linked to the fixed penalty notices. These will be debated at the next LegCo (Dec. 6).

The first was an update to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This piece of UK law was applied to St Helena in 2006 and set the periods of time that convictions will still appear as part of someone’s criminal record (AKA ’rehabilitation period’). In the UK these periods have significantly reduced, and so ExCo unanimously approved updating the local application of the law.

The second was a law that would allow ExCo to set what crimes will appear on a criminal record and what crimes will not appear, to allow for crimes that would be dealt with under fixed penalty noticed to not appear on a person’s criminal record.