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House of Lords Hansard

Policing and Crime Bill

02 November 2016
Volume 776

    Committee (3rd Day)(Continued)

    Clause 82: Application of maritime enforcement powers: general

    Amendment 196

    Moved by

  • 196: Clause 82, page 106, line 4, leave out paragraph (f) and insert—

    “( ) a designated NCA officer who is authorised by the Director General of the National Crime Agency (whether generally or specifically) to exercise the powers of a law enforcement officer under this Chapter, or”

  • My Lords, government Amendments 196, 199, 200 and 201 are essentially consequential on the provisions in Clause 138 which enable the director-general of the National Crime Agency to designate NCA officers with the powers of general customs officials. The amendments clarify that NCA officers so designated are able to exercise the new maritime enforcement powers in the same way as NCA officers designated with the powers of a constable. As a result, these important new powers will be available to NCA officers investigating customs matters such as the smuggling of drugs and firearms. I beg to move.

  • Amendment 196 agreed.

    Amendment 196A

    Moved by

  • 196A: Clause 82, page 106, line 8, at end insert—

    “( ) The Secretary of State must, before making regulations under subsection (3)(g), consult such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

  • We have two amendments in this group to which I wish to speak. Clause 82 relates to the application of the maritime enforcement power and the designation of those law enforcement officers who may exercise that power. Clause 82(3) lists a number of persons who are law enforcement officers for the purposes of Chapter 5, while subsection (3)(g) designates as a law enforcement officer,

    “a person of a description specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State”,

    thus creating an unspecified category of person who can be designated as a law enforcement officer, but it leaves that further designation to secondary legislation. Why is this provision in Clause 82(3)(g) needed? What kind of currently unspecified category of person is the Government of the view may need to be designated as a law enforcement officer but cannot be so designated clearly and specifically on the face of the Bill?

    The purpose of the first amendment in the group is to make sure that the Secretary of State will at least be required to consult prior to making such a regulation designating an as-yet unspecified person as a law enforcement officer who can exercise the maritime enforcement power. The second amendment is similar and refers to Clause 94, which also relates to the application of the maritime enforcement power and the designation of those law enforcement officers who may exercise the power. Subsection (3) lists a number of persons who are law enforcement officers for the purposes of Chapter 6. However, subsection (3)(e) designates as a law enforcement officer,

    “a person of a description specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State”.

    Again, why is this provision in Clause 94(3)(e) needed? What kind of currently unspecified category of person is the Government of the view may be needed to be designated as a law enforcement officer but cannot be so designated clearly and specifically on the face of the Bill? Clause 94 also has application in Scotland, but as currently worded contains no requirement for the Secretary of State to consult, for example, Scottish Parliament Ministers. Perhaps the Government could comment on that. The purpose of our second amendment in the group is again to make sure that the Secretary of State would at least be required to consult prior to making a regulation designating an as-yet unspecified person as a law enforcement officer who can exercise the maritime law enforcement power.

    Perhaps I may also raise a question about the application of the maritime law enforcement powers by law enforcement officers or indeed by the Secretary of State. Clause 82 creates maritime enforcement powers in relation to, among other things, foreign ships in any waters, and Clause 86 gives law enforcement officers the power to,

    “require the ship to be taken to a port in England and Wales or elsewhere and detained there”.

    Why is the reference to “or elsewhere” included, which could cover anywhere else in the world? This power could presumably be used in cases involving foreign ships that are discovered, for example, within our territorial waters to contain or are suspected of containing refugees and others in need of international protection who may be in breach of immigration law. Those in need of international protection have a right not to be returned to situations in which they face a real risk of persecution or other ill treatment, and to have their claims for protection fairly determined before they can be returned. On the face of it, the power to which I have just referred could be used to override those rights. Will the Minister say why my analysis of how these powers could be used is incorrect, as I hope it is? I beg to move.

  • My Lords, my noble friend and I have four amendments in the group. With regard to Amendment 196A, the Minister will not be surprised that we always support consultation—well, almost always. I wondered whether “persons” in the amendment, which would follow on from persons who are “law enforcement officers” as provided for in the clause, means human persons and corporate and other bodies, as I would expect. I was a bit surprised during the passage of—I think—the Investigatory Powers Bill that there had to be a definition of “person” at one point. I assume that the sweeping-up provision in Clause 82(3)(g) is to allow for, for instance, the organisation that came to my mind, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Even if that is not intended, perhaps I can ask about it and whether it should have powers. Is that in the Government’s mind?

    Our four amendments are to Clause 92. Clause 92(1) provides for the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice for law enforcement officers arresting a person under the powers given by the Bill. Clause 92(2) provides that the code must provide guidance as to the information to be given to the person being arrested. We think the code should be wider than this.

    Perhaps the most important amendment is the one that would add criteria to be considered by the law enforcement officers before they arrive at a decision to proceed with an arrest. Clearly, this is not something that would be done lightly, but there must be some scope, whether in this code of practice or elsewhere, as to when these very considerable powers should be thought appropriate to exercise. The amendment to Clause 92(1) is similar, in that it would require officers to think before doing, if I can put it that way, as well as thinking when doing.

    Our third amendment would provide in Clause 92(8) that regulations requiring an affirmative resolution should apply in the case of a revision of the code, not just the initial code. We would also remove Clause 92(9). Those two amendments would go together and make the same point. We think that this is a sufficiently serious matter that affirmative resolutions would be appropriate.

  • My Lords, I rise notionally to support my noble friend Lord Rosser and his amendment, but first I record that I have recently completed for the Mayor of London a review of London’s preparedness to withstand a major terrorist incident. As part of that review I looked at the policing of the River Thames. I became aware of a lacuna—or at least what I understood to be a lacuna—that appeared to exist in the legislation, which these clauses fill and deal with by making it possible for police to stop and search boats on the River Thames. I was therefore delighted to see it. My recommendations on that were couched in those terms.

    However, it appears that it is possible for anyone to sail up the River Thames without having any licence or even permit, which seems an extraordinary gap. While we were tidying up some of these matters, I would have thought it useful to tidy up precisely that one. Given that one is expected to have a licence to drive a car, with the car being required to be of a certain standard, it is surprising that there is no such requirement for sending a boat up the Thames.

    I come to the specific question that I wanted to ask the Minister—she can answer the first one if she wishes. An hour and three-quarters ago, I received an email from Nigel—I suppose that I am taking a leaf out of the book of my right honourable friend the leader of the Opposition here. Nigel said:

    “I’m an old retired police officer”—

    so he must have been there with Brian—

    “and I may be out of date but back in 1967 when I joined The Met, one bit of legislation they kept drumming into us was Sec 66 of The Metropolitan Police Act and it read police may stop, search and detain any vehicle, vessel, boat, cart or carriage in or upon which anything stolen or unlawfully may be found”.

    At what point in the various reorganisations of London government and policing legislation was Section 66 of the Metropolitan Police Act repealed or changed? It may still be there, in which case what does this provision add to it? The Minister may not have that information immediately available in her brief, so I would be quite happy to receive a note at a later stage.

  • I can tell the noble Lord.

  • The noble Lord already has the answer apparently.

  • Section 66 of the Metropolitan Police Act was repealed on the basis of the powers to stop and search under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The earlier powers were superseded, so it was decided that Section 66 was no longer necessary.

  • Well, my Lords, it just shows how marvellous this House is. We have experts who can always answer the questions for us, which is an enormous help.

    As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, explained, Amendments 196A and 200A relate to the power, by regulations, to add to the list of law enforcement officers who may exercise the new maritime enforcement powers in Chapters 5 and 6 of Part 4 of the Bill. Clause 82(3) defines “law enforcement officers” in England and Wales for the purpose of exercising the maritime powers. This includes provision for the Secretary of State to specify in regulations other categories of person who may be allowed to exercise these powers. Clause 94(3) makes equivalent provision for Scotland. The proposed amendments would require the Secretary of State to consult prior to making such regulations.

    The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned foreign ports. Ports in foreign countries are included. Maritime powers can be exercised in international and foreign waters all over the globe. It is a practical and operational necessity that those exercising such powers should be able lawfully to divert a ship to a port and detain it there where the operation in question takes place hundreds or thousands of miles away from England and Wales. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Rosser—

  • My concern was that “or elsewhere” might be used in cases involving foreign ships which are discovered within our territorial waters to contain, or are suspected to contain, refugees and others in need of international protection who might be in breach of immigration law but who nevertheless have certain rights which, on the face of it, could be overridden if there was a power to divert ships to a port elsewhere—indeed, anywhere in the world. It could mean them being sent back to a place where they would be in danger. It would also mean that they would not have had the right to have their claim for protection fairly determined before they could be returned. The question I was asking is, was my interpretation of the apparent power in the Bill for a law enforcement officer or the Secretary of State to be able to do that correct? If it was not correct—and I said I hoped it was not correct—will the Government explain to me why my analysis was not right?

  • My Lords, inspiration has appeared from over my left shoulder. The maritime provisions of the Bill are strictly intended to enable enforcement officers to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute offences under the law of England and Wales. Any decision to divert a foreign ship that is not in UK territorial waters to a foreign port will require the authority of the Secretary of State. These powers are not intended to be used in a way which is contrary to the Human Rights Act, the 1951 refugee convention or the 1967 protocol.

    I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that the Home Secretary will consult appropriately before making any such regulations. Such consultation will certainly include any person or body to be specified in the regulations and, in relation to any regulations to be made under Clause 94, the Scottish Government. Indeed, there is an implied duty to consult the Scottish Government and more in Clause 94(6), which requires Scottish Ministers to consent to any regulations under Clause 94(3)(e), which makes devolved provision. Having stated our intention to consult on any such regulations, I hope the noble Lord will agree that it is not necessary to set this out in the Bill.

    Amendments 196C, 196D, 197 and 198 relate to Clause 92, which imposes an obligation on the Secretary of State to provide a code of practice for law enforcement officers who use the power of arrest conferred by Clause 88. This code must provide guidance on the information—for example, procedural rights to be given to a person at the time of their arrest. Amendments 196C and 196D seek to amend Clause 92 to extend the scope of the code of practice so that it also addresses the matters which a law enforcement officer must have regard to when considering making an arrest under the maritime powers. We believe that the proper focus of the code is on the information that should be provided to a suspect at the point of arrest, including in relation to their procedural rights. Importantly, the provisions in the Bill in respect of the code of practice closely mirror those in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and it would be confusing to law enforcement officers to adopt a different approach here.

    The power of arrest, like other powers under the maritime provisions, is clearly set out in the Bill. For example, Clause 88 is clear that the power of arrest may be exercised where an enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence under the law of England and Wales has been, or is being, committed. It will be down to the knowledge, experience and professionalism of the officers concerned as to whether the use of the power is both necessary and appropriate for the purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting offences. The priority for enforcement officers who have apprehended a person on a vessel at sea will be to bring them back to the UK, where they will be processed under PACE in the usual way.

    Amendments 197 and 198 relate to the parliamentary procedure for bringing codes of practice into force. The Bill makes provision to bring a new code of practice into law through the affirmative procedure. However, Clause 92(9) provides a choice of procedure for any subsequent revisions to the code. This enables the right level of scrutiny to be provided, proportionate to the revisions being made to the code. For minor or consequential changes the affirmative procedure would, we believe, be disproportionate. Insisting on the affirmative procedure in all cases could cause unnecessary delays in revising the code, with the result that the code would remain out of date in operational terms for longer than necessary. Amendments 197 and 198 would remove this choice, requiring both the first draft of a new code of practice and any revisions to go through the affirmative procedure.

    The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee recommended in its report on the Bill of 13 July that when using Clause 92(9), the Minister should be,

    “bound by the views of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee”.

    This is similar to the procedure used for revisions to codes of practice for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. My noble friend’s letter of 7 September to the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, chair of the Delegated Powers Committee, accepted that recommendation, so the choice of procedure provided by Clause 92(9) will be exercised with reference to the views of the Home Affairs Select Committee. We believe that this will provide the best approach to ensuring that the appropriate level of scrutiny is provided for any changes to the code.

    I hope I have been able to satisfy noble Lords that these amendments are not necessary and that accordingly the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, will be content to withdraw his amendment.

  • I certainly will withdraw the amendment. Unless I was not paying as much attention as I should have been—and I accept that that is a genuine possibility, and I mean that—I am not sure that I got an answer to the question: what kind of current unspecified category of persons do the Government believe may need to be designated as a law enforcement officer that cannot be so designated clearly and specifically now in the Bill? That related to both Clause 82(3)(g) and Clause 94(3)(e).

    The only other point I would ask for clarification on, which comes back to the question I raised about how the powers could, on the face of it, be used to override the rights of those in need of international protection, is whether in giving the Government’s response the Minister said that it was not intended that the powers be used to override the rights of those in need of international protection, or that they would not be used in that way. The latter is rather firmer than a statement of intent.

  • On the noble Lord’s first point, these powers are necessary to enable the categories of law enforcement officer who may exercise these maritime enforcement powers to be extended in the light of changing operational requirements. For example, both the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 and the Modern Slavery Act 2015 confer powers on Armed Forces personnel and there may be an operational case for extending the powers in this Bill to such personnel in future.

  • Is there any clarification—or perhaps the Minister could write to me subsequently—of what was said in relation to the apparent ability to override the rights of those in need of international protection through the facility to divert a ship to a port elsewhere, or indeed anywhere in the world? Was the response that it was not intended that that power should be used to override those rights, or was it a clear statement that it would not be used to override those rights?

  • I will write to the noble Lord.

  • I thank the Minister very much indeed. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

  • Amendment 196A withdrawn.

    Clause 82, as amended, agreed.

    Clauses 83 to 88 agreed.

    Amendment 196B

    Moved by

  • 196B: After Clause 88, insert the following new Clause—

    “Exercise of maritime enforcement powers

    (1) The maritime enforcement powers may be exercised only in the event that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed which is—

    (a) an indictable offence under the law of England and Wales; and(b) included in a list of offences specified by the Secretary of State in regulations made by statutory instrument.(2) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

  • My Lords, Amendment 196B is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. As we have just been discussing, Chapter 5 of the Bill gives extensive powers to law enforcement officers in relation to maritime enforcement—not just in British territorial waters and not just British vessels but far more extensively—including the power in Clause 86(1) to stop, board, divert and detain the ship,

    “if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that … an offence under the law of England and Wales is being, or has been, committed”.

    The amendment seeks to probe whether the powers are intended to apply if a law enforcement officer suspects that any offence whatever has been committed. For example, if two crew members are involved in a fight, could these powers then be used,

    “to stop, board, divert and detain”,

    the ship? That would appear rather disproportionate. While two crew members having a fight might not be considered a good example, stranger things have happened at sea, apparently. The amendment works on the basis that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It takes its wording from proposed new Section 137B by restricting enforcement powers to “indictable” offences only, and only those offences specified in regulations by the Secretary of State. I beg to move.

  • My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has explained, Amendment 196B seeks to limit the exercise of the new maritime enforcement powers by the police to suspected offences which are “indictable” and specified in the regulations made by the Secretary of State. He indicated that the intention is to limit the use of these powers to serious crimes, so as to ensure a proportionate response to crime that takes place in the maritime context. I do not believe it necessary to limit these powers in this way.

    In other contexts the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has argued that we should put our trust in the operational judgment of chief officers. This is one such area where we should adopt that principle. We should trust in the operational judgment of the police to determine when it is appropriate to commit resources to investigate an offence on a vessel at sea. It is perhaps highly unlikely that resources would be committed to interdicting a vessel for the purposes of investigating a minor summary-only offence, but we should not rule out the possibility that the police would want to exercise these powers in relation to an either-way offence. We do not impose restrictions on the categories of offences that the police can investigate where they take place on other modes of transportation, so I am unclear why we should treat maritime vessels any differently. For these reasons, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

  • I am grateful to the Minister. The reason why this should apply in the case of these maritime powers is that the potential impact of diverting a cargo vessel in the English Channel, for example, is quite significant. While I may have suggested in other contexts that the number of ranks in each police force should be left to the judgment of chief officers, I do not think that the chief constable of whichever force it is will be making the decision as to whether to divert a ship; it will be an officer of relatively junior rank. The Minister also says that the Government should not be restricting the powers to particular offences, in which case I would ask her to explain why proposed new Section 137B does exactly that. But at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

  • Amendment 196B withdrawn.

    Clauses 89 to 91 agreed.

    Clause 92: Maritime enforcement powers: code of practice

    Amendments 196C to 198 not moved.

    Clause 92 agreed.

    Clause 93: Interpretation

    Amendment 199

    Moved by

  • 199: Clause 93, page 111, line 29, at end insert—

    ““designated NCA officer” means a National Crime Agency officer who is either or both of the following—(a) an officer designated under section 10 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 as having the powers and privileges of a constable;(b) an officer designated under that section as having the powers of a general customs official;”

    Amendment 199 agreed.

    Clause 93, as amended, agreed.

    Clause 94: Application of maritime enforcement powers: general

    Amendment 200

    Moved by

  • 200: Clause 94, page 113, line 26, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—

    “( ) a designated NCA officer who is authorised by the Director General of the National Crime Agency (whether generally or specifically) to exercise the powers of a law enforcement officer under this Chapter, or”

    Amendment 200 agreed.

    Amendment 200A not moved.

    Clause 94, as amended, agreed.

    Clauses 95 to 103 agreed.

    Clause 104: Interpretation

    Amendment 201

    Moved by

  • 201: Clause 104, page 118, line 23, at end insert—

    ““designated NCA officer” means a National Crime Agency officer who is either or both of the following—(a) an officer designated under section 10 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 as having the powers and privileges of a constable who is entitled to exercise the powers and privileges of a Scottish constable (see paragraph 11(3) to (5) of Schedule 5 to that Act);(b) an officer designated under that section as having the powers of a general customs official;”

    Amendment 201 agreed.

    Clause 104, as amended, agreed.

    Amendment 201A

    Moved by

  • 201A: After Clause 104, insert the following new Clause—

    “General regulation of construction, use etc

    In section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (authorisation of use on roads of special vehicles not complying with regulations under section 41), after subsection (3) insert—“(4) Any order made under this section must—(a) make provision for the notification by an abnormal load haulier to the relevant Chief Constable to be able to be made by data sentence transfer as well as hard copy, e-mail or fax, and(b) make it clear that the relevant Chief Constable to be notified cannot insist on a notification being made using a particular piece of software.””

  • My Lords, the Committee will recognise that there are legal limits regarding the size and weight of heavy good vehicles operating in the UK. What therefore happens if industry needs to move an abnormally heavy or wide load which, without undue risk or expense, cannot be subdivided into smaller compliant loads? The Secretary of State can make an order under Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 relaxing all or some of the requirements in the construction and use regulations. Since time immemorial this has been done by an SI known as a special types general order—STGO. STGOs cover the majority of industry’s requirements, and I have an interest that I will come to in a moment.

    The Committee will not be surprised to hear that STGO has significant provisions for notification of most proposed movements under STGO to the relevant police, highways and bridge authorities. DfT started extensive work on the current STGO in the early 1990s. STGO is drafted so that notifications have to be made in writing, not by telephone. At the time, realistically the only way of making a notification was by letter or fax. It was only much later that notifications started to be made by email, and online activity was in its infancy. STGOs were drafted taking into account the available technology at the time. There were numerous difficulties. Faxes could get lost, and it was difficult to ensure that all authorities were actually faxed. There are a very large number of relevant bridge and highways authorities, and not all are obvious.

    A few years ago, to address these problems and others, Cascade Software developed software called AbHaulier to help operators plan their routes and make notifications. I should state that I have no previous involvement with Cascade, other than receiving a briefing at a trade association meeting. The Highways Agency, now Highways England, developed its own system called Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads—ESDAL. This system allows operators to plan their route and then make all the necessary notifications. I will not weary the Committee with a full description of the functionality of either system.

    It is here that I should declare my interest as I own and operate a tank transporter, used under STGO, in conjunction with the REME Museum. Nowadays, I use ESDAL to make all my notifications. While the system still has some glitches, it is pretty good. For a repeat movement, I can now make a notification for an 80-mile journey in about seven minutes. I would like to comment on the ESDAL helpline and its staff. It is really very good and a credit to Highways England and the previous Labour Government who must have agreed to the expenditure. There is debate within industry about which system is better, and I suspect that there are pros and cons for each.

    However, apparently Merseyside Police is insisting that operators cannot email notifications and that they have to either use ESDAL or post—I should point out that there is no prospect of me ever having to make a notification to Merseyside Police. This means that hauliers cannot use the Cascade AbHaulier system.

    Not only do ESDAL and other systems generate email notifications in the prescribed format but ESDAL has additional functionality for the notifiable authorities, including the police. For instance, in the case of Merseyside Police, rather than manually sorting through a large number of email notifications, only a small proportion of which are of interest and concern, it can now use ESDAL to set filters so it can properly prioritise its activity. I understand from the Minister’s officials that the labour savings in this one force alone are considerable, and of course there are many forces. However, some in the industry claim that ESDAL is slow and takes more time for operators, which costs them money. However, I am deeply concerned that the Merseyside Police action is ultra vires, and might also have an adverse effect on competition and innovation, because it would put Cascade and any other software house in a weak position.

  • The problem is that STGO requires notice to be given. As I understand legislation, notice means in writing and not verbally. It is obviously necessary to inform the relevant authorities in writing so that there can be no misunderstanding about what is proposed. As far as I am aware, a notification by email is in writing and meets the requirement of STGO. Of course, email is far better than fax because there is a very good audit trail and an email cannot get lost.

    I have several questions for the Minister. First, am I correct in asserting that an email notification to the relevant authority, including the police, is compliant with STGO even if that authority or police force purports not to accept them? Secondly, where in STGO does it say that a relevant authority, including the police, can exclude a certain ubiquitous means of communication? Thirdly, if an operator notifies a police force by email, even though that police force says that it does not accept email notification—although presumably they will negotiate by email—could that operator be in legal difficulties? If so, what?

    In answer to my third question, the Minister may say that that is a matter for the courts or that the operator could resort to judicial review. I do not think that would be a good answer. Operators will not want to damage their relationship with the police by deliberately getting a matter into the courts, and judicial review is expensive and disproportionate to the problem. This is a policy matter about how we run a safe and efficient industry, to be determined by Ministers and Parliament, not one for a handful of judges making a decision that either turns on a fine legal point, or where they determine the policy but dress it up to look like the former.

    If the Minister decided that at some point in the near future all notifications would have to be made using the ESDAL system only, I would not have a fundamental objection. Obviously, it could be fatal to Cascade’s AbHaulier system, and there may well be strong objections from industry. We would also have to recognise that it would be a slightly Stalinist intervention that would tend to stifle innovation because ESDAL and AbHaulier are currently competing products.

    However, there may be another way around this. It might be possible for competing solutions such as AbHaulier to automatically send the necessary data to ESDAL so that the notifiable authorities can still access and prioritise notifications online using the ESDAL system. My proposed new subsection 4(a) about data sentence transfer was drafted before I knew that notifiable authorities benefited from ESDAL functionality, so it is not ideal but does point to a solution for the future.

    I am sure that my noble friend would like to reach for the “do nothing” option, but it has dangers. Many highways and bridge authorities use a Cascade commercial software package called AbLoads to manage the abnormal load notifications that they receive. My fourth question is: would a highways or bridge authority be able to state that they do not accept an email notification generated by ESDAL, or anything else, and that operators must use that operator’s online system, which could be a mixture of AbLoads and AbHaulier, or does ESDAL have some special status? If so, what is it?

    In conclusion, Merseyside Police is to be congratulated on increasing efficiency, but what is my noble friend doing to ensure that it is not operating ultra vires? I beg to move.

  • I think the noble Earl raises an interesting point—I feel that I have learned something. I am not convinced that the amendment should be in the Bill; it is the sort of thing that should be sorted out in guidance or in a letter to the various police forces. If the noble Earl is right, it should be sorted out quite simply.

  • My Lords, I begin by declaring that I am not the owner of a tank-carrying vehicle and I therefore hope that I speak from a neutral point of view.

    I am grateful to my noble friend for his explanation about abnormal loads and, in particular, the electronic service delivery for abnormal loads, or ESDAL. It is a government-funded portal built for this purpose and free to use. However, some hauliers prefer to use other methods of transmission, as he pointed out, such as fax, email, hard copy or proprietary software.

    The decision on which methods to accept lies with individual chief constables. As my noble friend is aware, the provisions for use of abnormal loads are laid out in the Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003, to which he referred. Schedule 5 to the order, which deals with notices to police states:

    “The Notice must be in a form acceptable to the recipient and should be agreed by both parties.”

    Commercial software owners and hauliers may argue that a chief constable is not complying with the 2003 order if he or she limits the methods for accepting the notification and the haulier does not agree. However, the order makes it clear that the form of notification must be acceptable to the recipient and there is very good reason for that requirement. Obliging chief constables to accept notification in all the forms proposed in the amendment could have negative practical and resource implications for the police. Moreover, as a matter of principle, it would not be appropriate to intervene in operational matters in this way.

    I also suggest to my noble friend that this is not an appropriate matter for primary legislation, given that the Secretary of State already has the power to amend the detailed provisions laid out in Schedule 5 to the 2003 order.

    Notices to road and bridge authorities are covered separately in Schedule 9 to the 2003 order. Again, it does not specify the form the notice should or could take, but states that it must be acceptable to the authority to which it is to be given and should be agreed by both parties. So a bridge or highway authority would not be obliged to accept email notification generated by ESDAL if it was not reasonably acceptable to it.

    My noble friend asks about the consequences of an operator notifying a police force by a means which is not accepted by the recipient. It is a condition of an operator obtaining authority to transport an abnormal load that it notifies the police in accordance with Schedule 5. If it provides notification in a form which it has been informed is not acceptable to the recipient, it would be difficult for it to claim to have met the conditions set out in the 2003 order.

    If an operator has not met these conditions, it will not be authorised to use on the road a vehicle that does not,

    “comply in all respects with the standard construction and use requirements”.

    On that basis, if it were to proceed with an abnormal load movement on a road, it would be committing an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. I know that my noble friend will have hoped for a rather different response, but I hope that, having had this opportunity to debate this issue, he will be content to withdraw his amendment.

  • Before the noble Baroness sits down—and I should say that I am not the owner of a tank either—I do not see why it can be said that an electronic means of communication in the 21st century is an unreasonable way of giving this type of notice. Something like this cannot be beyond the wit of man to sort out. If we are just going to rely on the post it really is not a very efficient way of doing things.

  • What I have said is that the order specifies that the notice must be in a form that is acceptable to the recipient. If the recipient—Merseyside Police, for example—insists that it is an online application, then that is the form in which it is acceptable. But it should be agreed by both parties—in other words, it is not “must” but “should”.

  • Are we saying that it would be acceptable if they insisted on receiving only a letter? That seems ridiculous in the 21st century.

  • No, an online application may be acceptable, an email may be acceptable, pigeon post may be acceptable—but it has to be acceptable to the recipient.

  • My Lords, my first question for my noble friend the Minister is, why is an email not acceptable?

  • My Lords, it has to be acceptable to the recipient—an email may not be acceptable to the recipient. The order says that it should be acceptable to the recipient.

  • My Lords, it rather seems as if my noble friend cannot explain to the Committee why it is acceptable for the police to say that they will not accept an email notification. It is an extremely reliable system of communication with a good audit record. I think some inspiration might be coming from the Front Bench so I shall sit down.

  • I think what is coming from my left is probably what I was going to say anyway, which is that it is entirely a matter for Merseyside Police, for example, on which method it accepts. It is an operational decision for the chief constable.

  • I thank the Minister for that reply but she seems to be struggling on the point of why a police force can say that it will not take an email. I think that Ministers need to be rather careful about teasing noble Lords when they declare an interest; it is vital that we can declare an interest in an issue without being teased by Ministers. This is the second time on this Bill that I have been teased by Ministers regarding declaring an interest.

    I want to make it clear to the Committee that I tried to avoid even tabling this amendment, because I knew that it would involve a lot of work within both the Department for Transport and the Home Office. Unfortunately, I could not encourage the Government to deal with this matter offline. That is why I had to table an amendment and speak to it in your Lordships’ House.

    The Minister said that the police force can determine what the form should be—how the notification is laid out and whether the width and the weight are described. It does not say in the STGO what the means should be, only the form—what it looks like when it comes out of the fax machine or in the email—but not the means. I am not convinced that the system is watertight.

  • My Lords, I cannot say that I have followed every detail of this, but the noble Earl seems to be complaining that the Minister is not the recipient. He is putting the burden on the shoulders of the Minister, but she has explained that it is a matter for the recipient as to what form will be acceptable. Is the question not whether the Minister will accept that it should be email but that the regulations should be reconsidered as to whether they say something different?

  • The noble Baroness is absolutely right: the underlying problem that I tried to explain in my poor way is that the STGO is out of date and does not take into consideration modern means of communication. It does not mention email and certainly does not consider doing things online. It is completely silent on that. Sadly, it seems that the Government want to wash their hands of this and allow bodies such as Merseyside Police to try to become more efficient but without giving them the tools to do so, and leaving them vulnerable to all sorts of legal difficulties and upsetting operators. I have done the best I can with this issue. I do not intend to return to it. It sounds as if industry will have to battle it out itself.

  • I apologise to my noble friend. I was attempting to be self-deprecating rather than teasing him. I hope that he did not get that impression.

  • I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

  • Amendment 201A withdrawn.

    Clause 105: Extension of cross-border powers of arrest: urgent cases

    Amendments 201B to 201S

    Moved by

  • 201B: Clause 105, page 121, line 14, leave out from “offence”” to “section” in line 15 and insert “has the meaning given by”

    201C: Clause 105, page 121, line 16, at end insert—

    “(A1) In section 137A, “specified offence” has the meaning given by this section.(A2) An offence committed in England and Wales is a specified offence if it is—(a) an offence (including an offence under the common law) that is punishable by virtue of any statutory provision with imprisonment or another form of detention for a term of 10 years or with a greater punishment,(b) an offence specified in Part 1 of Schedule 7A,(c) an offence of attempting or conspiring to commit, or of inciting the commission of, an offence mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b), or(d) an offence under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (encouraging or assisting crime) in relation to an offence mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).(A3) An offence committed in Scotland is a specified offence if it is—(a) an offence (including an offence under the common law) that is punishable by virtue of any statutory provision with imprisonment or another form of detention for a term of 10 years or with a greater punishment,(b) an offence specified in Part 2 of Schedule 7A, or(c) an offence of attempting or conspiring to commit, or of inciting the commission of, an offence mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).(A4) An offence committed in Northern Ireland is a specified offence if it is—(a) an offence (including an offence under the common law) that is punishable by virtue of any statutory provision with imprisonment or another form of detention for a term of 10 years or with a greater punishment,(b) an offence specified in Part 3 of Schedule 7A,(c) an offence of attempting or conspiring to commit, or of inciting the commission of, an offence mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b), or(d) an offence under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (encouraging or assisting crime) in relation to an offence mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).”

    201D: Clause 105, page 121, line 18, leave out from “instrument” to end of line 19 and insert “amend Part 1, 2 or 3 of Schedule 7A so as to add an offence to, or remove an offence from, the offences for the time being specified in the Part.”

    201E: Clause 105, page 121, line 20, leave out from beginning to “only” and insert “Regulations under subsection (1) may add an offence to a Part of Schedule 7A”

    201F: Clause 105, page 121, line 24, leave out “specify it for the purposes of section 137A” and insert “add the offence to the Part”

    201G: Clause 105, page 121, line 37, at end insert—

    “(6) In this section—(a) a description of an offence in subsection (A2)(a) or (b) or (A4)(a) or (b) includes such an offence committed by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring;(b) a description of an offence in subsection (A3)(a) or (b) includes such an offence committed by involvement art and part or by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring;(c) “statutory provision” means any provision of—(i) an Act or subordinate legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978;(ii) an Act of the Scottish Parliament or an instrument made under such an Act;(iii) a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales or an instrument made under such a Measure or Act;(iv) Northern Ireland legislation or an instrument made under Northern Ireland legislation.”

    201H: Clause 105, page 123, line 12, leave out “regulations under subsection (5)” and insert “the modifications made by Part 1 of Schedule 7B”

    201J: Clause 105, page 123, line 17, at end insert—

    “(ca) section 31 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (separation of children and young persons from adults in police stations, courts etc);”

    201K: Clause 105, page 123, line 22, leave out “regulations under subsection (5)” and insert “the modifications made by Part 2 of Schedule 7B”

    201L: Clause 105, page 123, line 26, at end insert—

    “(c) section 51 of that Act (duty to consider child’s well-being);(d) section 52 of that Act (duties in relation to children in custody).”

    201M: Clause 105, page 123, line 29, leave out “regulations under subsection (5)” and insert “the modifications made by Part 3 of Schedule 7B”

    201N: Clause 105, page 123, line 35, at end insert—

    “(ca) article 9 of the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I. 1998/1504 (N.I.9)) (separation of child in police detention from adults charged with offences);”

    201P: Clause 105, page 123, line 40, leave out from “instrument” to end of line 47 and insert—

    “(a) amend this section so as to add to the provisions that for the time being apply as mentioned in subsection (2), (3) or (4),(b) amend this section so as to remove any of those provisions that were added by virtue of paragraph (a),(c) amend Schedule 7B so as to alter the modifications for the time being made by that Schedule, including by adding a modification or removing one,(d) amend Schedule 7B so as to provide that any of the provisions that for the time being apply as mentioned in subsection (2), (3) or (4) do not apply in cases or circumstances set out in the Schedule.”

    201Q: Clause 105, page 123, line 47, at end insert—

    “( ) The Secretary of State may not make regulations under subsection (5) unless the Scottish Ministers and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland consent to the making of the regulations.”

    201R: Clause 105, page 124, leave out lines 4 to 9

    201S: Clause 105, page 124, line 9, at end insert—

    “(2) After Schedule 7 to that Act insert, as Schedule 7A to that Act, the Schedule set out in Schedule 14A to this Act.(3) After Schedule 7A to that Act (as inserted by subsection (2) above) insert, as Schedule 7B to that Act, the Schedule set out in Schedule 14B to this Act.”

    Amendments 201B to 201S agreed.

    Clause 105, as amended, agreed.

    Clauses 106 and 107 agreed.

    Amendment 201SA

    Moved by

  • 201SA: After Clause 107, insert the following new Clause—

    “Power to remove disguises

    In section 60AA(6) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (powers to require removal of disguises) leave out “that is not practicable,” and insert “it is not practicable for an authorisation or direction to be given in writing, it shall be”.”

  • My Lords, it is with some trepidation that I drag your Lordships’ attention from the interesting subjects of tank transporters, pigeon post and emails.

    Amendment 201SA stands in my name and those of the noble Lords, Lord Donoughue and Lord Campbell of Pittenweem. The noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, has asked me to say that he is not able to speak to the amendment due to the lateness of the hour but he would have done so, as would the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu.

    The amendment concerns Section 60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which gives the police powers in some circumstances to require the removal of facial disguises. An authorisation is required under that section. The authorisation is strictly time limited, and is specific in many ways, particularly as regards location and time. It gives a power to uniformed police to require the removal of, among other things, masks, balaclavas and scarves if it is suspected that the purpose of wearing those disguises is wholly or mainly to conceal identity. The authorisation gives the police the power to seize those balaclavas et cetera, and provides that any person who fails to remove them when required commits an offence. A police inspector can authorise the removal of those articles if he or she reasonably believes, first, that offences are likely to be committed and, secondly, that the authority to remove them is expedient. It follows from that that one is dealing with demonstrations and prospective incidents of disorder which are foreseen or advertised to the police. The authorisation has to be in writing, has to be signed by the inspector and has to specify all the grounds—locality, period of time and so on—before it is valid. That brings me to the wording of Amendment 201SA, which seeks to remove “that is not practicable” and insert the words printed in the Marshalled List.

    Somebody listening to me or reading the amendment may wonder whether it is splitting hairs. In a sense, it is, but there is a reason for that. As I said, the law as it stands deals with anticipated demonstrations—those that are pre-advertised in one way or another. The police know that such a demonstration is going to take place and can take pre-emptive action by issuing an authority in writing. However, there is a problem—and it has been a problem for some years now. It is what is often called, in popular parlance, “flash demos”. These are demonstrations of which the police have had no prior knowledge and which have erupted suddenly and spontaneously—a sort of “hit and run”, if you like. There is no doubt that in some cases the people who organise those flash demos—if I may continue to use that phrase—are working on the presumption that they can organise them because of the growth of communication by social media, which makes it much easier. They also know full well that if the police have no prior knowledge, the numbers of police officers available to deal with that intended disorder are likely to be very few. Those police officers on the street, faced with that sudden eruption of violence or disorder, will be faced with a dilemma. Quite simply, in their terms, if they effect an arrest, those two officers—or one officer or whatever—will go off the scene and then nobody is left to deal with the disorder. So one sees a degree of deliberation behind all this.

    The point of the amendment is that there is some confusion at the moment in the minds of the police about whether the Act allows the permission to be written ex post facto—in other words, the police officer at the scene faced with the demonstration will usually use the radio to ask an inspector at the base station for permission—and whether or not it is correct within the existing law for the inspector to give the permission and write it when the officer is already dealing with the situation with which he is confronted.

    I think that my amendment has full support; I hope that it has. Certainly there is full support for that change from the police service at the top level. From the police’s point of view, it will clarify their position, give them a degree of certainty and enable a much speedier response to deal with disorder, either impending or actual. I hope that I can say with some certainty that there is support from all around the House. On that point, we shall learn more in a moment. There have been some discussions with officials, who, without any commitment at all, have indicated a sympathy to discuss this further. I ask the Minister to recognise that and, in the light of whatever is said in this Chamber tonight, to consider taking this issue away and bringing back an amendment at a later stage. On those grounds, I beg to move.

  • My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dear, has raised a potentially important issue, and I think he is right to put it in the terms that he has. Particularly with the growth of social media and the very rapid organisation of demonstrations, there may be an issue here that needs to be addressed. Indeed, if the Minister, having thought about it, agrees to take it back and bring forward a proper amendment which addresses all these points at the next level—which I think is the noble Lord’s preferred course of action—there are a number of other issues that perhaps would usefully be addressed at the same time.

    We have to be more explicit about what constitutes a disguise and the circumstances in which it happens. You could have a situation in which what would appear to a police officer on the scene as being a disguise might turn out to be a veil worn for religious purposes; or it might turn out to be the fact that it is extraordinarily inclement weather and no sensible people would go out without a scarf wrapped around their face; or it might be that they wear face masks—I have seen this; it is quite common particularly among Japanese tourists, although I am not sure that it is unique—allegedly to protect themselves from the notorious levels of air pollution in our capital city. All I am saying is that the definition of “disguise” that may have seemed to work in the 1994 Act may need to be reviewed and looked at in the context of whether it continues to make sense. There have to be some safeguards with regards to the way in which decisions are taken and recorded, which ensure that the power is not used in any way which could be deemed discriminatory, as that would be extremely unfortunate. I am sure that that is not the intention, but it is important that safeguards are built into this. While the process by which this happens should be able to respond quickly to the sorts of situations that the noble Lord, Lord Dear, outlined, it should also be amenable to ensuring that the power is not misused or used in a way which in retrospect turns out to be highly inappropriate.

    The noble Lord, Lord Dear, has identified an issue that should be addressed, but it needs to be developed quite carefully to avoid some potential pitfalls in the future.

  • My Lords, can I just put on the record what Section 60AA(2) of the 1994 Act says? To the best of my knowledge, it has not raised any problems in law so far. It says:

    “This subsection confers power on any constable in uniform … to require any person to remove any item which the constable reasonably believes”—

    those words are a well-known test in law—

    “that person is wearing wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing his identity”.

  • Briefly, I agree with my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey, that the noble Lord, Lord Dear, has raised an important issue. However, it needs careful consideration for the reasons that my noble friend outlined. I therefore hope that the Minister will agree that the Government will take this away and have a look at this issue. We all want to make sure that the police have the appropriate power, but equally, of course, we should ensure that the proper safeguards are built in so that unintended consequences, which no one would want to occur, do not cause problems as well.

  • My Lords, I did not intend to speak on this matter but the issues the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, raised, particularly around religious dress, need to be considered very carefully. I bear in mind the scenario that the noble Lord, Lord Dear, presented us with where constables on the street, faced with individuals who they interpret as deliberately trying to conceal their identity, are radioing an inspector for authority who is not at the scene and cannot make that assessment himself or herself. That is potentially difficult. I am not a lawyer and I may have misread it, but my reading of the existing legislation was that it allows for a scenario where written authority could be given contemporaneously with the actions of the officers on the ground. Can the Minister therefore help the House by saying whether the Government think that the amendment is necessary? However, I absolutely accept that flash mobs and spontaneous public disorder are becoming an increasing problem, as we saw in the riots in London only a few years ago, which were driven by social media.

  • The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, is right that the permission in writing can be given after the event, but we now find that that is not an ideal situation. On what the noble Lord, Lord Dear, proposes, both national policing leads and others would welcome a clarification on this matter. The noble Lord, Lord Dear, answered the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for me, but I will repeat it, as it is important. With regard to removing face coverings for religious reasons, for example, the Act states that when an authorisation is in place, a constable can require a person to remove a face covering only if the constable reasonably believes that the person is wearing the item,

    “wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing his”,

    or her “identity”. Of course, it is for individuals to ensure the fair and proportionate use of their powers.

    If the noble Lord is content to withdraw his amendment—it sounds as though he is—I will give the matter further sympathetic consideration in advance of Report.

  • My Lords, at this late hour I am grateful for the contributions that have been made. I am encouraged by and grateful to the Minister for what she has said, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

  • Amendment 201SA withdrawn.

    Amendment 201SB not moved.

    Amendments 201T and 201U

    Moved by

  • 201T: Before Schedule 15, insert the following new Schedule—

    “SCHEDULE 14ASCHEDULE TO BE INSERTED AS SCHEDULE 7A TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC ORDER ACT 1994“OFFENCES SPECIFIED FOR THE PURPOSES OF SECTION 137APART 1OFFENCES UNDER THE LAW OF ENGLAND AND WALES1_ Any of the following offences at common law—(a) false imprisonment;(b) kidnapping;(c) indecent exposure; (d) cheating in relation to the public revenue. 2_ An offence under any of the following provisions of the Offences against the Person Act 1861—(a) section 20 (inflicting bodily injury);(b) section 24 (administering poison etc with intent);(c) section 27 (exposing child whereby life is endangered etc);(d) section 31 (setting spring-guns etc with intent);(e) section 37 (assaulting an officer etc on account of his preserving wreck);(f) section 47 (assault occasioning actual bodily harm).3_(1) An offence under any of the following provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 1956—(a) section 10 (incest by a man);(b) section 11 (incest by a woman);(c) section 30 (man living on the earnings of prostitution);(d) section 31 (woman exercising control over a prostitute);(e) section 33A (keeping a brothel used for prostitution)._(2) An offence under section 12 of that Act (buggery), other than an offence committed by a person where the other person involved in the conduct constituting the offence consented to it and was aged 16 or over._(3) An offence under section 13 of that Act (indecency between men), where the offence was committed by a man aged 21 or over and the other person involved in the conduct constituting the offence was under the age of 16.4_ An offence under section 4 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 (assisting offenders).5_ An offence under section 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 (living on the earnings of male prostitution).6_ An offence under any of the following provisions of the Firearms Act 1968—(a) section 1(1) (possession etc of firearms or ammunition without certificate);(b) section 2(1) (possession etc of shot gun without certificate);(c) section 3(1) (manufacturing, selling etc firearms or ammunition by way of trade or business without being registered as a firearms dealer).7_ An offence under section 106A of the Taxes Management Act 1970 (fraudulent evasion of income tax).8_(1) An offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (improper importation of goods), other than an offence mentioned in subsection (5B) of that section._(2) An offence under section 68(2) of that Act (exportation of prohibited or restricted goods)._(3) An offence under section 170 of that Act (fraudulent evasion of duty etc), other than an offence mentioned in subsection (4B) of that section.9_ An offence under section 4 of the Aviation Security Act 1982 (offences in relation to certain dangerous articles).10_ An offence under section 127 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (ill-treatment of patients).11_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Child Abduction Act 1984—(a) section 1 (abduction of child by parent etc);(b) section 2 (abduction of child by other persons).12_ An offence under section 1 of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 (prohibition of female circumcision).13_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Public Order Act 1986—(a) section 2 (violent disorder); (b) section 3 (affray). 14_ An offence under section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (possession of indecent photograph of a child).15_ An offence under section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences).16_ An offence under section 72(1), (3) or (8) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (fraudulent evasion of VAT etc).17_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997—(a) section 4 (putting people in fear of violence);(b) section 4A (stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress).18_ An offence under section 29(1)(a) or (b) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (certain racially or religiously aggravated assaults).19_ An offence under section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000 (information about acts of terrorism).20_ An offence under section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 (sexual activity with a person aged under 18 in abuse of a position of trust).21_ An offence under section 35 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 (tax credit fraud).22_(1) An offence under any of the following provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003—(a) section 13 (child sex offences committed by children or young persons);(b) section 16 (abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child);(c) section 17 (abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity);(d) section 18 (abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child);(e) section 19 (abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act);(f) section 40 (care workers: sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder);(g) section 41 (care workers: causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act);(h) section 52 (causing or inciting prostitution for gain);(i) section 53 (controlling prostitution for gain)._(2) An offence under section 25 or 26 of that Act (family child sex offences) where the offence is committed by a person under the age of 18._(3) An offence under section 47 of that Act (paying for sexual services of a child), where the offence is committed against a person aged 16 or over.23_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006—(a) section 1 (encouragement of terrorism);(b) section 2 (dissemination of terrorist publications).24_ An offence under section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (participating in activities of organised crime group).25_ An offence under section 67 of the Policing and Crime Act 2016 (breach of pre-charge bail conditions relating to travel).PART 2OFFENCES UNDER THE LAW OF SCOTLAND26_ Any of the following offences at common law—(a) culpable homicide;(b) treason;(c) rape;(d) assault, where the assault results in serious injury or endangers life; (e) assault with intent to rape or ravish; (f) indecent assault;(g) abduction with intent to rape;(h) public indecency;(i) clandestine injury to women;(j) lewd, indecent or libidinous behaviour or practices;(k) sodomy, other than an offence committed by a person where the other person involved in the conduct constituting the offence consented to it and was aged 16 or over;(l) abduction;(m) mobbing;(n) fire-raising;(o) robbery;(p) fraud;(q) extortion;(r) embezzlement;(s) theft;(t) threats;(u) attempting to pervert the course of justice.27_ An offence under any of the following provisions of the Firearms Act 1968—(a) section 1(1) (possession etc of firearms or ammunition without certificate);(b) section 2(1) (possession etc of shot gun without certificate);(c) section 3(1) (manufacturing, selling etc firearms or ammunition by way of trade or business without being registered as a firearms dealer).28_ An offence under section 106A of the Taxes Management Act 1970 (fraudulent evasion of income tax).29_(1) An offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (improper importation of goods), other than an offence mentioned in subsection (5B) of that section._(2) An offence under section 68(2) of that Act (exportation of prohibited or restricted goods)._(3) An offence under section 170 of that Act (fraudulent evasion of duty etc), other than an offence mentioned in subsection (4B) of that section.30_ An offence under section 4 of the Aviation Security Act 1982 (offences in relation to certain dangerous articles).31_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982—(a) section 51(2) (publication etc of obscene material);(b) section 52 (taking, distributing etc indecent photographs of children).32_ An offence under section 6 of the Child Abduction Act 1984 (parent etc. taking or sending a child out of the United Kingdom).33_ An offence under section 1 of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 (prohibition of female circumcision).34_ An offence under section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences).35_ An offence under section 72(1), (3) or (8) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (fraudulent evasion of VAT etc).36_ An offence under any of the following provisions of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995—(a) section 7 (procuring prostitution etc);(b) section 8(3) (unlawful detention of women and girls); (c) section 10 (parents etc encouraging girls under 16 to engage in prostitution etc); (d) section 11(1)(b) (males soliciting etc for immoral purposes).37_ An offence under section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000 (information about acts of terrorism).38_ An offence under section 35 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 (tax credit fraud).39_ An offence under section 313 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 (persons providing care services: sexual offences).40_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006—(a) section 1 (encouragement of terrorism);(b) section 2 (dissemination of terrorist publications).41_ Any of the following offences under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009—(a) section 8 (sexual exposure);(b) section 9 (voyeurism);(c) section 11 (administering a substance for sexual purposes);(d) section 32 (causing an older child to be present during a sexual activity);(e) section 33 (causing an older child to look at a sexual image);(f) section 34(1) (communicating indecently with an older child);(g) section 34(2) (causing an older child to see or hear an indecent communication);(h) section 35 (sexual exposure to an older child);(i) section 36 (voyeurism towards an older child);(j) section 42 (sexual abuse of trust);(k) section 46 (sexual abuse of trust of a mentally disordered person).42_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010—(a) section 38 (threatening or abusive behaviour);(b) section 39 (stalking).43_ An offence under section 2 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 (disclosing etc an intimate photograph or film).PART 3OFFENCES UNDER THE LAW OF NORTHERN IRELAND44_ Any of the following offences at common law—(a) false imprisonment;(b) kidnapping;(c) riot;(d) affray;(e) indecent exposure;(f) cheating in relation to the public revenue.45_ An offence under any of the following provisions of the Offences against the Person Act 1861—(a) section 20 (inflicting bodily injury);(b) section 24 (administering poison etc with intent);(c) section 27 (exposing child whereby life is endangered etc);(d) section 31 (setting spring-guns etc with intent);(e) section 37 (assaulting an officer etc on account of his preserving wreck);(f) section 47 (assault occasioning actual bodily harm).46_ An offence under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 (indecency between men), where the offence was committed by a man aged 21 or over and the other person involved in the conduct constituting the offence was under the age of 16. 47_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Punishment of Incest Act 1908—(a) section 1 (incest by a man);(b) section 2 (incest by a woman).48_ An offence under section 4 of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 (assisting offenders).49_ An offence under section 106A of the Taxes Management Act 1970 (fraudulent evasion of income tax).50_(1) An offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (improper importation of goods), other than an offence mentioned in subsection (5B) of that section._(2) An offence under section 68(2) of that Act (exportation of prohibited or restricted goods)._(3) An offence under section 170 of that Act (fraudulent evasion of duty etc), other than an offence mentioned in subsection (4B) of that section.51_ An offence under section 4 of the Aviation Security Act 1982 (offences in relation to certain dangerous articles).52_ An offence under Article 8 of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982 (S.I. 1982/1536 (N.I. 19)) (living on the earnings of male prostitution).53_ An offence under section 1 of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 (prohibition of female circumcision).54_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Child Abduction (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (S.I. 1985/1638(N.I. 17))—(a) Article 3 (abduction of child by parent etc);(b) Article 4 (abduction of child by other persons).55_ An offence under Article 121 of the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 (S.I. 1986/595 (N.I. 4)) (ill-treatment of patients).56_ An offence under Article 15 of the Criminal Justice (Evidence, Etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (S.I. 1988/1847 (N.I. 17)) (possession of indecent photograph of a child).57_ An offence under section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences).58_ An offence under section 72(1), (3) or (8) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (fraudulent evasion of VAT etc).59_ An offence under Article 6 of the Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/1180 (N.I. 9)) (putting people in fear of violence).60_ An offence under section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000 (information about acts of terrorism).61_ An offence under section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 (sexual activity with a person aged under 18 in abuse of a position of trust).62_ An offence under section 35 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 (tax credit fraud).63_ An offence under section 53 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (controlling prostitution for gain).64_ An offence under any of the following provisions of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (S.I. 2004/702 (N.I.3))—(a) Article 3(1)(b) (possession etc of firearms other than handguns without certificate);(b) Article 3(2) (possession etc of ammunition without certificate); (c) Article 24(1) (manufacturing, selling etc firearms or ammunition by way of trade or business without being registered as a firearms dealer).65_ An offence under either of the following provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006— (a) section 1 (encouragement of terrorism);(b) section 2 (dissemination of terrorist publications).66_(1) An offence under any of the following provisions of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 (S.I. 2008/1769 (N.I. 2))—(a) Article 20 (child sex offences committed by children or young persons);(b) Article 23 (abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child);(c) Article 24 (abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity);(d) Article 25 (abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child);(e) Article 51 (care workers: sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder);(f) Article 53 (care workers: sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder);(g) Article 62 (causing or inciting prostitution for gain);(h) Article 63 (controlling prostitution for gain);(i) Article 64 (keeping a brothel used for prostitution)._(2) An offence under Article 32 or 33 of that Order (family child sex offences) where the offence is committed by a person under the age of 18._(3) An offence under Article 37 of that Order (paying for sexual services of a child), where the offence is committed against a person aged 16 or over.67_ An offence under section 67 of the Policing and Crime Act 2016 (breach of pre-charge bail conditions relating to travel).””

    201U: Before Schedule 15, insert the following new Schedule—

    “SCHEDULE 14BSCHEDULE TO BE INSERTED AS SCHEDULE 7B TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC ORDER ACT 1994“RIGHTS OF PERSONS ARRESTED UNDER SECTION 137A: MODIFICATIONSPART 1ARRESTS IN RESPECT OF OFFENCES COMMITTED IN ENGLAND AND WALES1_(1) This Part sets out the modifications mentioned in section 137D(2), that is, modifications of the provisions which apply in relation to persons arrested under section 137A in respect of a specified offence committed in England and Wales._(2) Except as expressly provided by this Part, a reference to a constable in any of those provisions is to be read as a reference to a constable of the arresting force._(3) In this Part, references to the arresting force and the investigating force have the same meaning as in section 137C (see subsection (8) of that section).2_(1) Section 56 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (right to have someone informed when arrested) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (1) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the case where a person has been arrested and is being held in custody in a police station or other premises) it referred to the case where a person has been arrested under section 137A and is being detained under section 137C._(3) Subsection (2)(a) does not apply._(4) Subsection (2)(b) is to be read as if (instead of referring to an officer of at least the rank of inspector) it referred—(a) in relation to delay during the period of 24 hours beginning with the time of the arrest under section 137A, to an officer of the investigating force of at least the rank of inspector; (b) in relation to delay during any remaining period for which the person may be detained under section 137C, to an officer of the investigating force of a rank above that of inspector._(5) Subsection (3) does not apply._(6) The reference in subsection (5)(a) to an indictable offence is to be read as a reference to an offence that is an indictable offence under the law of England and Wales._(7) Subsection (5A)(a) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the person detained for the indictable offence) it referred to the person detained under section 137C._(8) Subsection (6)(b) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person’s custody record) it referred to the record made by the arresting force in relation to the person’s arrest under section137A and detention under section 137C._(9) Subsection (8) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person detained at a police station or other premises) it referred to a person detained under section 137C.3_(1) Section 58 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (access to legal advice) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (1) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person held in custody in a police station or other premises) it referred to a person detained under section 137C._(3) Subsections (2) and (9)(b) are to be read as if (instead of referring to a person’s custody record) they referred to the record made by the arresting force in relation to the person’s arrest under section 137A and detention under section 137C._(4) Subsections (3) and (5) do not apply._(5) Subsection (6)(a) does not apply._(6) The reference in subsection (6)(b) to an officer of at least the rank of superintendent is to be read as a reference to an officer of at least that rank in the investigating force._(7) The reference in subsection (8)(a) to an indictable offence is to be read as a reference to an indictable offence under the law of England and Wales._(8) Subsection (8A)(a) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the person detained for the indictable offence) it referred to the person detained under section 137C.4_(1) Section 34 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (attendance at court of parent of child or young person charged with an offence, etc) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (2) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the case where a child or young person is in police detention) it referred to the case where a child or young person is being detained under section 137C._(3) Subsection (3) is to be read as if (in addition to the information mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c)) it also mentioned the information set out in section 137D(1)(a) and (b)._(4) The reference in subsection (9) to a child’s or young person’s rights under section 56 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is to be read as a reference to that section as modified by this Schedule.PART 2ARRESTS IN RESPECT OF OFFENCES COMMITTED IN SCOTLAND5_(1) This Part sets out the modifications mentioned in section 137D(3), that is, modifications of the provisions which apply in relation to persons arrested under section 137A in respect of a specified offence committed in Scotland. _(2) Except as expressly provided by this Part, a reference to a constable in any of those provisions is to be read as a reference to a constable of the arresting force._(3) A reference to a person in police custody in any of those provisions is to be read as a reference to a person detained under section 137C._(4) In this Part, references to the arresting force and the investigating force have the same meaning as in section 137C (see subsection (8) of that section).6_(1) Section 38 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 (right to have intimation sent to other person) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (6) applies as if (instead of the provision made by that subsection) it defined “an appropriate constable” as being—(a) in relation to delay during the period of 24 hours beginning with the time of the arrest under section 137A, an officer of the investigating force of at least the rank of inspector;(b) in relation to delay during any remaining period for which a person may be detained under section 137C, an officer of the investigating force of a rank above that of inspector.7_(1) Section 40 of that Act (right of under 18s to have access to another person) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (5) applies as if (instead of the provision made by that subsection) it provided for a decision to refuse or restrict access to a person under subsection (1) or (2) to be taken only by—(a) in the case of a decision to refuse or restrict access during the period of 24 hours beginning with the time of the arrest under section 137A, an officer of the investigating force of at least the rank of inspector;(b) in the case of a decision to refuse or restrict access during any remaining period for which a person may be detained under section 137C, an officer of the investigating force of a rank above that of inspector.8_(1) Section 41 of that Act (social work involvement in relation to under 18s) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (6) applies as if (instead of the provision made by that subsection) it provided for a decision to refuse or restrict access to a person under subsection (4)(b) to be taken only by—(a) in the case of a decision to refuse or restrict access during the period of 24 hours beginning with the time of the arrest under section 137A, an officer of the investigating force of at least the rank of inspector;(b) in the case of a decision to refuse or restrict access during any remaining period for which a person may be detained under section 137C, an officer of the investigating force of a rank above that of inspector.9_(1) Section 42 of that Act (support for vulnerable persons) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (5)(b)(ii) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person appointed as a member of police staff under section 26(1) of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012) it referred to a person who performs a function which is equivalent to a function performed at a police station in Scotland by a person appointed as a member of police staff under section 26(1) of that Act.10_(1) Section 43 of that Act (right to have intimation sent to solicitor) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (1) is to be read as if the list of matters of which a person has a right to have intimation sent to a solicitor— (a) did not include paragraph (d), but(b) did include the matters mentioned in section 137D(1)(a) and (b).11_(1) Section 44 of that Act (right to consultation with solicitor) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (3) applies as if (instead of the provision made by that subsection) it provided for a decision to delay the exercise of the right under subsection (1) to be taken only by—(a) in the case of a delay during the period of 24 hours beginning with the time of the arrest under section 137A, an officer of the investigating force of at least the rank of inspector;(b) in the case of a delay during any remaining period for which a person may be detained under section 137C, an officer of the investigating force of a rank above that of inspector.12_(1) Section 51 of that Act (duty to consider child’s wellbeing) is modified as follows._(2) Subsection (1) is to be read as if it did not include paragraphs (a), (c) and (d).PART 3ARRESTS IN RESPECT OF OFFENCES COMMITTED IN NORTHERN IRELAND13_(1) This Part sets out the modifications mentioned in section 137D(4), that is, modifications of the provisions which apply in relation to persons arrested under section 137A in respect of a specified offence committed in Northern Ireland._(2) Except as expressly provided by this Part, a reference to a constable in any of those provisions is to be read as a reference to a constable of the arresting force._(3) In this Part, references to the arresting force and the investigating force have the same meaning as in section 137C (see subsection (8) of that section).14_(1) Article 57 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (right to have someone informed when arrested) is modified as follows._(2) Paragraph (1) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the case where a person has been arrested and is being held in custody in a police station or other premises) it referred to the case where a person has been arrested under section 137A and is being detained under section 137C._(3) Paragraph (2)(a) does not apply._(4) Paragraph (2)(b) is to be read as if (instead of referring to an officer of at least the rank of inspector) it referred—(a) in relation to delay during the period of 24 hours beginning with the time of the arrest under section 137A, to an officer of the investigating force of at least the rank of inspector;(b) in relation to delay during any remaining period for which the person may be detained under section 137C, to an officer of the investigating force of a rank above that of inspector._(5) Paragraph (3) does not apply._(6) The reference in paragraph (5)(a) to an indictable offence is to be read as a reference to an offence that is an indictable offence under the law of Northern Ireland._(7) Paragraph (5A)(a) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the person detained for the indictable offence) it referred to the person detained under section 137C._(8) Paragraph (6)(b) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person’s custody record) it referred to the record made by the arresting force in relation to the person’s arrest under section 137A and detention under section 137C. _(9) Paragraph (8) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person detained at a police station or other premises) it referred to a person detained under section 137C.15_(1) Article 59 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (access to legal advice) is modified as follows._(2) Paragraph (1) is to be read as if (instead of referring to a person held in custody in a police station or other premises) it referred to a person detained under section 137C._(3) Paragraphs (2) and (9)(b) are to be read as if (instead of referring to a person’s custody record) they referred to the record made by the arresting force in relation to the person’s arrest under section 137A and detention under section 137C._(4) Paragraphs (3) and (5) do not apply._(5) Paragraph (6)(a) does not apply._(6) The reference in paragraph (6)(b) to an officer of at least the rank of superintendent is to be read as a reference to an officer of at least that rank in the investigating force._(7) The reference in paragraph (8)(a) to an indictable offence is to be read as a reference to an indictable offence under the law of Northern Ireland._(8) Paragraph (8A)(a) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the person detained for the indictable offence) it referred to the person detained under section 137C.16_(1) Article 10 of the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (duty to inform person responsible for welfare of child in police detention) is modified as follows._(2) Paragraph (1) is to be read as if (instead of referring to the case where a child is in police detention) it referred to the case where a child is being detained under section 137C._(3) That paragraph is also to be read as if (in addition to the information mentioned in sub-paragraphs (a) to (c)) it also mentioned the information set out in section 137D(1)(a) and (b)._(4) The reference in paragraph (6) to a child’s rights under Article 57 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 is to be read as a reference to that Article as modified by this Schedule.””

    Amendments 201T and 201U agreed.

    Schedule 15 agreed.

    Clause 108 agreed.

    Clause 109: Eligibility of deputy police and crime commissioners for election

    Debate on whether Clause 109 should stand part of the Bill.

  • I do not intend to hold things up, nor am I necessarily expecting that the Minister will be able to respond—I had not given notice of this—but I hope that she might be able to respond well in advance of Report.

    Clause 109 relates to the eligibility of deputy police and crime commissioners for election. Noble Lords may recall that on day 1 in Committee I raised the complexities of the position of the proposed deputy mayor for fire, but I then referred to the complexity of the position of the deputy mayor for policing and crime, it being a politically restricted post. As I understand it, deputy police and crime commissioners are politically restricted posts, yet here we have a very sensible clause which I believe creates an arrangement whereby deputy police and crime commissioners can stand for election. If deputy police and crime commissioners are politically restricted, we are now creating a situation that goes against that provision by saying that they can stand for election.

    Between now and Report—perhaps in good time before Report—can the Minister tell us, first, what the rationale is for deputy police and crime commissioners, let alone deputy mayors for policing and crime, to be politically restricted under certain circumstances; and, secondly, whether this restriction is still necessary and, given that this clause assumes that it is possible for deputy police and crime commissioners to stand for election, whether the original idea that deputy police and crime commissioners should not be politically restricted can be adjusted? I think that this issue needs to be tidied up. It is certainly a matter that I intend to return to on Report unless we succeed in clarifying it before then.

  • My Lords, it seems like ages ago but I remember the debate and I remember what I thought at the time, although I cannot for the life of me think of an answer for the noble Lord at such a late hour. However, I said that we would reflect on the points that he raised because at the time—on day 1 of Committee, as the noble Lord said—they seemed very pertinent, and we will respond ahead of Report. I hope that he is happy with that.

  • Will there be a response on that point?

  • Clause 109 agreed.

    Clause 110 agreed.

    Amendment 202

    Moved by

  • 202: After Clause 110, insert the following new Clause—

    “Police and crime commissioners: parity of funding at inquests

    (1) When the police force for which a police and crime commissioner is responsible is an interested person for the purposes of an inquest into—(a) the death of a member of an individual family, or(b) the deaths of members of a group of families,under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the Commissioner has the duties set out in this section.(2) The police and crime commissioner must make recommendations to the Secretary of State as to whether the individual family or the group of families at the inquest require financial support to ensure parity of legal representation between parties to the inquest.(3) If a police and crime commissioner makes a recommendation under subsection (2) then the Secretary of State must provide financial assistance to the individual family or the group of families to ensure parity of funding between the individual family or the group of families and the other party to the inquest. (4) The individual family or the group of families may use funding authorised under this section solely for the purpose of funding legal representation at the inquest.(5) In this section, “interested person” has the same meaning as in section 47 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.”

  • My Lords, this amendment and its associated new clause seek to establish the principle of parity of legal funding for bereaved families at inquests involving the police, the lack of which and the associated injustice was highlighted by the sorry saga of the Hillsborough hearings and the extent to which the scales were weighted against the families of those who had lost their lives. But Hillsborough was not a one-off—it was simply that the proceedings received a lot of publicity. Many bereaved families can and do face a similar situation when they go to an inquest and find themselves in an adversarial and aggressive environment where they are not in a position to match the spending of the police or other parts of the public sector in what they spend on their own legal representation. At times, the families feel that they are being made to look like the perpetrators responsible for what happened, rather than the victims.

    The public sector is in a position to spend taxpayers’ money on hiring the best lawyers to defend its reputation. Bereaved families have to find their own money, sometimes even to the extent of remortgaging their house, to have any sort of legal representation to mount a challenge. Public money should pay to establish the truth, and that surely means parity of arms. If the argument is that an inquest will get at the truth anyway, irrespective of the extent and quality of legal representation, why do the police and the public sector turn up at such inquests with their own array of lawyers?

    Margaret Aspinall, who was the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, has told of the lengths to which she and other members of the group had to go to raise money for the legal fund. It is surely not right, and surely not justice, when bereaved families trying to find out the truth, and who have not done anything wrong, find that taxpayers’ money is being used by the other side to paint a very different picture of events in a bid to destroy their credibility.

    It might also help if we had inquisitorial rather than adversarial inquests. In the case of Hillsborough, the Lord Chief Justice made a specific ruling when he quashed the original inquest: he hoped that, given that the police had tainted the evidence, the new inquest would not degenerate into an adversarial battle. However, that is precisely what happened, and the lies and innuendo about Liverpool supporters at the match were repeated by a lawyer being financed at public expense and presumably acting under instructions from the public body involved.

    I hope that the Government will be able to respond in a more helpful way than they did when this matter was debated during the Bill’s passage through the Commons. If there is to continue to be an adversarial battle at inquests involving the police, we should at least ensure that bereaved families have the same ability as the public sector to get their points and questions across and, in the light of what can currently happen, to defend themselves and the loved ones they have lost from attack, and, if necessary, to challenge the very way proceedings are being conducted. This is a bigger issue than simply Hillsborough: it relates to the situation that all too often happens to too many families, but without the same publicity as Hillsborough. We surely need to act now to change a process and procedure that appears at times to be geared more to trying to grind down bereaved families than to enabling them to get at the truth and obtain justice. I beg to move.

  • My Lords, I rise briefly to support the amendment to which I have added my name. I declare an interest: I gave evidence for the de Menezes family at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, whom noble Lords will remember was shot by accident by the police, suspecting him to be a suicide bomber. Sadly, I experienced the adversarial nature of inquests at first hand. Indeed, during the lunch break on the day that I gave evidence, the coroner had to warn the legal team for the Metropolitan Police and basically tell them to “cool it”.

    A very adversarial system operates at the moment, whereas it should be an inquiry after the truth. Having experienced it first hand, I can say that it is absolutely necessary for the families of the bereaved to be as well represented as the police where there has been a death at the hands of the police, or a death in police custody, to use the technical term. For those reasons, I support the amendment.

  • I speak to my amendment in this group, which is similar except in terms of who ends up paying. I tabled this amendment very much for the reasons mentioned by my noble friend Lord Rosser and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick—the nature of inquests and the importance of creating a level playing field to enable the coroner to get to the truth of what has happened in cases of tragic death. The cases that I have been involved with relate to deaths in custody. For a number of years, I was chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody, which was concerned with not only police custody and deaths following police contact, but with deaths in prison and in secure mental hospitals. On a number of occasions, I spent time with the families of those who had died, as far as they were concerned, at the hands of the state.

    I remember one family very movingly describing the experience of the inquest. They wanted to know what had happened to their loved one. They were not necessarily looking to apportion blame or for someone’s head on a platter. They just wanted to know the facts. They were confronted with a complicated legal system, with everybody else being fully represented—at public expense. They were having to fight for legal representation through the legal aid system.

    I do not know how many noble Lords have been in a coroner’s court when such matters have been discussed. They are not always the easiest of environments. I remember one person describing that there was one small area for everyone to wait—counsel, witnesses and the bereaved families themselves. There were not sufficient chairs in the waiting room for everyone concerned. They described walking down the corridor and hearing behind them the trundle of wheeled suitcases filled with legal papers being dragged by highly paid legal officials, employed by the state to argue and create confusion around what had happened to their loved one. For that reason, we should consider the proper operation of the inquest to enable the truth to be obtained.

    What concerns me about the present system is that when this issue was raised in the past, we were told that families were eligible for legal aid. But it is not as simple as that because there are strict criteria on the income that people can have in order to obtain legal aid. Of course, when a case relates to a family, it is not related to an individual, so before eligibility for legal aid can be established, the financial means of every single member of the family has to be assessed, whether or not they are actively engaged in the process. That can be long and drawn-out, extremely intrusive and not helpful. The reality is that the legal aid pot is tiny, and it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with cases humanely.

    The purpose of my amendment is slightly different from that of my noble friend Lord Rosser. Yes, there should be parity of funding, but rather than an off-the-top call on the legal aid fund—therefore diminishing the amount of aid available to people who need it for criminal cases, for example—the agency that had custody of the individual at the time of their death should provide the funding. The agency will almost certainly be paying a substantial number of legal costs. In the case of a death in a police custody suite, it is probable that several police officers were involved, all of whom may be legally represented separately at the expense of the state. The police force itself may be represented separately, and at the expense of the state. Then there is the bereaved family, who may be quite traumatised by what has happened and facing extreme difficulties because they do not know what to do. If it were not for charities like INQUEST, with which I have worked over the years, which provides support for such families and has a panel of lawyers to assist them, many families would essentially go unrepresented at inquests. Yet it is important that those families have the right to challenge the evidence being presented to make sure that they are satisfied that as far as possible, the truth has been obtained at the inquest.

  • The extra costs that would be imposed on the police and crime commissioner in this instance—I would actually like to see this principle applied in other areas where the state has an Article 2 duty—would be small by comparison. That would not draw down the legal aid budget but it would mean that families would get the help they need. There might also be, if you like, an incentive on police services or indeed any other agency in a similar position to go that extra step further to avoid situations in which a death occurs when someone is in their custody.

    The purpose of my amendment is to say that where such a death has occurred and an interested family is involved, it should be recognised that the legal costs will be paid by the police and crime commissioner. It may be said that there are no precedents for doing this. I can cite a precedent because I was responsible for it, although it was not exactly the same situation.

    Some years ago when I was the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, there was an extremely difficult death in custody case which, in the nature of these things, dragged on for many years. An inquest verdict was reached and as a result a challenge was mounted against it on behalf of some of the police officers involved. Because essentially their legal costs would ultimately be borne by the Metropolitan Police Service, the Metropolitan Police Authority, after some considerable deliberation, agreed that it was right and proper that the authority should fund the costs due to the representative of the family to try to resolve the issue, which was then going on to judicial review. So there are precedents, and I think that this is the right principle. There should be equity of funding to ensure appropriate access to representation for the bereaved families in these circumstances, and the right location for taking responsibility for this should lie with the police service or the agency concerned which was responsible for the person at the time of their death.

  • My Lords, I believe that we all sympathise with the intention of the amendment. These new clauses draw on the experience of the Hillsborough families, and their fight for justice has been a long time coming. As noble Lords will be aware, the Hillsborough families received public funding for their legal costs at the fresh inquest. That was a bespoke scheme. We need to ensure that any similar action we take in the future is appropriate and proportionate. It is for these reasons that the former Home Secretary commissioned Bishop James Jones to compile a report on the experiences of the Hillsborough families, and the Government believe that it is appropriate that we should wait for his report before considering these issues further.

    In relation to the funding of former police officers, this was a decision taken by the police and crime commissioner taking into account relevant case law and guidance on this subject. Separately, the former Home Secretary took a decision to provide a special grant to the South Yorkshire PCC in order to assist with the legal costs incurred as a result of the former officers’ legal fees. In arriving at this decision, the former Home Secretary put the concerns and interests of the families at the forefront of her thinking, together with the principle of justice and the continuation of the inquests.

    Additionally, in taking her decision on providing a special grant, the former Home Secretary was clear that it was important that justice should not only be done, but be seen to be done. It would have been wrong to leave police and other witnesses vulnerable to claims that justice had not been done because they lacked proper legal representation. The decision was taken specifically in the context of the Hillsborough inquests and should not be seen as setting a wider precedent.

    In the light of these issues, it would be premature at this stage to commit to any further legislation, should it be required, before we have received Bishop Jones’s report and seen its recommendations. Without prejudice to our consideration of Bishop Jones’s conclusions and recommendations, it is important that I put on record that these amendments would place a significant financial burden on the Secretary of State or, in the case of Amendment 203, on PCCs. The cost of the legal representation for the 103 families at the fresh inquest into Hillsborough amounted to £63.6 million. Clearly, the Hillsborough inquests were an exceptional case, but it does at least provide an indication of the level of financial commitment these amendments imply. It is right that your Lordships’ House takes this into consideration fully. On Amendment 202, it is also unclear to me why a PCC has a role in making a recommendation to the Secretary of State when the financial implications of that decision fall solely on the Secretary of State.

    There are other technical issues with these amendments. For example, how would a PCC be in a position to know the funding available to other interested persons, which can include other public bodies? A PCC has no powers to inquire into the legal costs of the ambulance service or a health trust, for example.

    The reference in the amendments to “parity of funding” also requires careful consideration. There will be significant differences between the legal advice required by a police officer or former police officer who could potentially face criminal charges and the family of a victim who are seeking justice. Does parity mean the cost, or the number of solicitors and counsel, or the level of their qualifications, with, for example, both legal teams headed up by a QC?

    On Amendment 203, it is not clear to me whether a PCC has discretion to consider the merits of the representations he or she receives, or whether the PCC is bound to provide funding by virtue of the fact that representations have been received.

    I accept that these are all detail points, which, while they will need to be addressed, are secondary. As I have said, the Government are firmly of the view that we should wait for Bishop Jones’s report and then determine, in the light of it, the most appropriate way forward. On the understanding that this issue is firmly on the Government’s agenda, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

  • My Lords, before my noble friend responds, could we first have clarity as to the scope and terms of reference of Bishop Jones’s inquiry and whether it will look not at circumstances where large numbers of families are potentially involved, but at situations where there is one bereft family who are perhaps traumatised by what has happened and then face the full panoply of all this legal representation?

    I note that the noble Baroness said very carefully that the former Home Secretary, in agreeing the funding in respect of the Hillsborough inquests, said that she was not setting a precedent. I appreciate that that is what one would do under such circumstances, but Hillsborough was a unique tragedy. I am not trying to gauge the size of tragedies and their impact, but the fact that for every person who died in Hillsborough their families were bereaved, shocked, appalled and in a terrible state does not alter the fact that individual families, perhaps whose 16 year-old son has died in a police cell or whatever else it might be, are suffering just as much as any of the Hillsborough families. Whether parity is the right word, as raised by the Minister, is a genuine question. It is quite complicated. However, what is important is the principle that it should be possible for families to seek representation of their choice and for it to be funded. I appreciate that they would be seeking to get to the bottom of what had happened, whereas police officers, who might be subject to criminal charges, would have a different set of objectives, but I hope that the Government, when they have fully considered this, will take on board the principle that those families should have the right to representation.

  • My Lords, the Government will see and respond to Bishop Jones’s review in due course. He is considering the terms of reference for his review with the families and intends to publish them shortly.

    The noble Lord spoke of the suffering. He is absolutely right: it is not just the suffering of one person but the suffering of everybody associated with them, so I do not undermine the noble Lord’s point at all; in fact, I share his view. Let us see what Bishop Jones says and the Government will respond in due course.

  • I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate and the Minister for her response. I shall not pretend that the response was a tremendous shock, since it was not dissimilar to those given previously. I am not quite sure how the report by the bishop will necessarily address the issue of what could happen at inquests generally where the police are represented, as opposed to the rather special circumstances of Hillsborough. The point that I was trying to make—obviously to no avail—is that this issue is not about Hillsborough; it goes way beyond that to looking at inquests generally where the police are represented, where there is a distinct inequality of arms and the consequences that arise from that. I was disappointed to hear again the issue of the money being raised as a key point. Some might think that if spending that amount of money enabled us at long last to get at the truth over Hillsborough then maybe it was not money badly spent, but clearly the Government have a different view about that.

    On the arguments about the technicalities of the amendments and on whether the wording is appropriate or a bit vague in certain areas, if the Government wanted to be serious about doing something they would not put that argument forward. They would say that there were issues with the amendments that my noble friend Lord Harris and I had put down, but that they accepted the principle of what we were trying to achieve and would come back on Report with an amendment of their own, or alternatively that they would have discussions about the appropriate wording. But that has not been the Government’s response.

    Although I do not want to pretend that I am somehow shocked at the Government’s reply, since it is consistent with what has been said previously, I am disappointed with it, since I have not heard any guarantees that the report from the bishop will address the wider issue of inquests generally where the police are represented as opposed to what happened at Hillsborough. There was nothing in the Minister’s response to indicate that it would do that. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Obviously, we will have to consider whether to bring it back on Report.

  • Amendment 202 withdrawn.

    Amendment 203 not moved.

    Clause 111 agreed.

    House resumed.

    House adjourned at 10.14 pm.