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The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I should like to speak to Amendment No. 133, which is grouped with Amendments Nos. 130 and 134. Clearly, this is a probing amendment. What I want to understand is why, in the event of a breach of a child safety order, the only disposal will be reception into care. I recognise that there is also the power to reorganise the terms of a child safety order in order to increase or lower the scale. However, I wonder why the use of a domiciliary supervision order is not included in the responses to a breach of a child safety order.

Lord Monson: I should like to express my support for Amendment No. 130. The principle is the same as that in Amendment No. 115, except that no criminal penalty is involved. Nevertheless, I believe that it is still desirable and worth supporting.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am speaking to Amendments Nos. 130, 133 and 134. Amendment No. 130 requires that one must take into account a "reasonable excuse" for failure. As the noble Lord, Lord Monson, indicated, we discussed this earlier. Perhaps, therefore, I can be reasonably economic in my reply. We believe that this amendment is unnecessary. If one looks at Clause 12(6), it will be seen that there is ample opportunity for the court to consider the reasonableness of any failure to comply with the terms of an order when it considers an application by the responsible officer. I echo what my noble and learned friend the Solicitor-General said earlier; namely, that if there is a reasonable excuse,

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the responsible officer has the opportunity to decide whether to take the matter before the court. We believe that Clause 6 gives ample opportunity for the court to consider reasonableness, or otherwise, of failure.

I turn now to Amendment No. 133 tabled in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, and Amendment No. 134 tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. Amendment No. 133 would allow the courts the option of making a supervision order in addition to a care order. Amendment No. 134 would replace the option of making a care order with the option of a supervision order. We do not believe that either amendment is particularly appropriate. If a child fails to comply with the terms of a child safety order, the court needs the option of a higher sanction, so to speak, although it does have the discretions which are allowed in Clause 12(4) and (6).

We do not believe that it is appropriate simply to impose a supervision order as a response to comply with the requirements under a child safety order because those requirements are likely to more burdensome--or at least more demanding--than those under a supervision order. There is nothing to stop local authorities using their existing powers under the Children Act if they so wish. If these are probing amendments, we believe that they are centred on fears which are not properly based. In our view, the regime of Clause 12 gives sufficient discretion to the courts in these general circumstances.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: For my part, I do not propose to pursue Amendment No. 130. In the circumstances, therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 131 to 135 not moved.]

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Appeals against child safety orders]:

[Amendments Nos. 136 to 141 not moved.]

11 p.m.

Lord Henley: I ask one brief point on Clauses 11, 12 and 13 relating to child safety orders. As I understand it, this is one part of the Bill that affects only England and Wales and there do not seem to be mirror clauses for Scotland. The same is true of other aspects of the Bill which we shall certainly consider when we discuss racially aggravated offences. I should be interested to know either from the noble and learned Lord or the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, why it is that in Scotland child safety orders are not necessary whereas in England they seem to be.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The collective muttering leading to the collective wisdom which I individually present is that there are sufficiently appropriate arrangements in Scotland already under

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the children's panel and therefore we do not need this remedy for Scotland. The noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, nodded twice; therefore I am sure I am right.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Local child curfew schemes]:

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws moved Amendment No. 142:

Page 12, line 5, after ("considers") insert ("that there are exceptional circumstances which make").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment requires a local authority to be satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances justifying a local child curfew before imposing such a curfew. I think every one of us would agree that children under 10 should not be roaming the streets at night without adult supervision, and clarifying police powers to take them home would not be unreasonable. However, the proposed curfew power is sweeping. It would apparently apply not just to children in moral danger but to nine year-olds playing football near their homes at five past nine on a summer evening. It is difficult to see that it is a good use of police time to have them sort out who is nine and who is 10 in such a group, and then to decide to take them home if they fall into the former category. Our concern is about the sweeping nature of blanket local curfews. It is our view that they should be used only in exceptional circumstances. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I think it has been a theme in relation to a number of the provisions of this Bill that we believe that more needs to be done to help prevent children under the age of 10 from turning to crime. I think we would all agree that what happens to children when they are very young can influence their chances of becoming offenders. Research shows that the younger the age at which children begin to offend, the more likely they are to continue offending.

Everyone knows that some neighbourhoods are troubled by the criminal and antisocial activities of unsupervised young children. Gathered in public places at night they can cause real alarm and misery to the local community. They can also encourage each other into antisocial and criminal habits. To address such concerns we believe that local councils, following consultation with local communities, should have the option of using local child curfews as a response to a particular identified problem. Local child curfews will form one part of a wider community safety strategy and will be applied at the instigation of the local authority concerned because it believes that there is no other way of dealing with the particular issue of unsupervised young children.

The aim of local child curfews is twofold. Not only will they aim to protect communities from the activities of young children, but they will also aim to protect the young children themselves. The amendment proposed by my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws will have the effect of ensuring that a local child curfew notice is applied only if the local authority considers that there are

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exceptional circumstances which make it necessary to use the power to apply such a notice. This is clearly designed to ensure that such proposals are used sparingly and as a measure of last resort.

I suggest to my noble friend that such an amendment is unnecessary. As is apparent on the face of the Bill the powers for local child curfews are not mandatory; they are entirely permissive. Once a local authority concludes that such a proposal will be helpful as a response to the problem of unsupervised children, it must consult the police and the local community. This must be done not only prior to submitting the proposals for a scheme to my honourable friend in another place but also after my right honourable friend has given his confirmation of the scheme and before a local child curfew notice is applied.

So the local authority has to decide in its discretion that it wants a local child curfew. Once it is minded to have one it has to consult both the police and the local community. Once it has done that, it has to submit the proposals to the Home Secretary. He then has to approve or confirm them. Then when it comes back from the Home Secretary the local authorities have to consult again. With those provisions built in, this will not be an order that is made at the drop of a hat or in other than unusual circumstances.

I am glad that my noble friend has given me the opportunity to set out the thinking underlying the Government's approach to these provisions. I very much hope that as I have gone through the procedure it has become obvious that this occurs only after pretty thorough consultation and debate.

Baroness David: How much time will it take? A small child will have to wait while all this is going on.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Perhaps I may explain. By the nature of the order, it is not directed at one small child but to a problem in an area where a group of children under 10 are causing a disturbance or are on the streets regularly unsupervised. There will be no child waiting to know whether the Home Secretary will confirm the order. That is the wrong way to look at the issue.

I do not know how long it will take to go through these steps. I believe that it is appropriate that there should be these steps before such an order is made. If I may say so, the anxieties of my noble friend Lady David are misplaced.

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