As you pack your bucket and spade, I thought you might like to spare a thought for those poor people not having a summer holiday this year. I mean, of course, those put-upon convicted UK drug traffickers who have been made subject to Travel Restriction Orders. These were introduced as part of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, and empower the courts to restrict the movements of those who commit “trigger” offences (nothing to do with guns – it’s drug offences with an overseas link) and are sentenced to four or more years in prison, by taking away their passports for a specified period after they are released from prison. It applies only to those with British passports – i.e. passports issued by the Government of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory – and the actual physical passport must be surrendered to the court. (We can’t snaffle other passports because the passports of foreign nationals remain the property of the issuing government – so we’d deport them instead.) A TRO must last for at least two years and – deliciously – there is no maximum length. The expectation is that the period of the travel ban should escalate based on the level of sentence, and a TRO of any length can be reviewed (and perhaps revoked or suspended) after the minimum two year period. Penalties for breaches of TROs include fines and up to five years in prison.
So as you slip a third pair of flip-flops into your suitcase and imagine your first sip of that poolside cocktail, do shed a few salty tears for Merseyside drug dealer Jason Fitzgibbon, who won’t be seeing the Mediterranean sun for quite some time: when he gets out of prison in about a decade, he’ll be subject to a five-year TRO. And his near-neighbour Mark “Mr Big” Brown will serve a similar term, and then have to wait seven more years before he can paddle in any warm Caribbean waters. Shame, isn’t it?