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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for his kind words relating to Amendment No. 225. I refer to the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, as regards the fingerprinting of children. It will clearly be the practice that we shall take fingerprints only when absolutely necessary. It is for that very reason that we have inserted the extra safeguard that such fingerprinting will have to be done with the authority of a chief immigration officer or another designated person of the equivalent grade. I am sure that they will take great care and give considerable thought to the way in which that power is exercised. Of course it will be done only in exceptional circumstances.

I can reassure the noble Baroness that Amendments Nos. 223 and 224 are purely drafting amendments and that the word “shall" does not appear elsewhere in the Bill. In the interests of consistency it was replaced by the word “may". I hope that with those assurances your Lordships will feel able to support these amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 224 and 225:


Page 95, line 17, leave out (“shall") and insert (“may").

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Page 95, line 18, at end insert--
(“(11A) An authorised person may not take fingerprints from a person under the age of sixteen unless his decision to take them has been confirmed--
(a) if he is a constable, by a person designated for the purpose by the chief constable of his police force;
(b) if he is a person mentioned in subsection (5)(b) or (e), by a chief immigration officer;
(c) if he is a prison officer, by a person designated for the purpose by the governor of the prison;
(d) if he is an officer of the Secretary of State, by a person designated for the purpose by the Secretary of State.
(11B) Neither subsection (3) nor subsection (11A) prevents an authorised person from taking fingerprints if he reasonably believes that the person from whom they are to be taken is aged sixteen or over.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 139 [Destruction of fingerprints]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 226 to 228:


Page 96, line 2, leave out (“period of ten years") and insert (“specified period").
Page 96, line 5, after (“citizen") insert (“, or
(b) a Commonwealth citizen who has a right of abode in the United Kingdom as a result of section 2(1)(b) of the 1971 Act,")
Page 96, line 41, at end insert--
(“(15) “Specified period" means--
(a) such period as the Secretary of State may specify by order;
(b) if no period is so specified, ten years.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 142 [Use of force]:

[Amendment No. 229 not moved.]

Lord Hylton moved Amendment No. 230:


Before Clause 143, insert the following new clause--

MA“IMUM PERIOD OF DETENTION

(“ .--(1) The maximum period for which a person detained in accordance with Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 to the 1971 Act may be held in a place of detention as specified in paragraph 18 of Schedule 2 to that Act must not in any event exceed six calendar months.
(2) For the purposes of calculating whether the maximum period of detention has been reached each and every period for which a detained person has been held in a detention centre or prison, whether or not the detention has been continuous, shall be taken into account.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, even though the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General is not present, I wish to say that I appreciate the care with which he responded to the general thrust of my amendment. It seems to me that the most unsatisfactory thing about the current practice of detention is the uncertainty as to its duration. Between now and the next stage of this Bill I wonder whether the Government will consider whether--perhaps in conjunction with written reasons for detention--some kind of indication could be given as to at least the

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Government's intentions on the likely length of detention in the case of particular individuals. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I shall reply briefly. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, makes a perfectly reasonable request. As it is a perfectly reasonable request I shall, perfectly reasonably, take it away and we shall consider the matter.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I am most grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 143 [Interpretation of Part VIII]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 231:


Page 97, line 32, at end insert--
(““certified prisoner custody officer" means a prisoner custody officer certified under section 89 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, or section 114 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, to perform custodial duties;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I now turn to the government amendments to Part VIII and Schedules 10, 11 and 12. As your Lordships will know, these amendments concern detention and related matters. There are two consequential amendments in Schedule 13. The amendments are mostly technical and I shall deal with each clause and schedule as it arises.

Clause 143 lists definitions of various terms used in Part VIII. Amendment No. 231 defines “certified prisoner custody officer", which is a term used in Part VIII to cover those prisoner custody officers who are performing custodial duties. They must be certified under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 or the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to perform such duties. This differentiates them from those prisoner custody officers who may perform escorting duties, where the training and certification requirement is different. Amendment No. 233 provides a definition of “prisoner custody officer" for Northern Ireland so as to reflect the relevant provision of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Amendment No. 232 amends the definition of “detention centre" to enable a prison to be used exclusively for immigration detainees without losing its status as a prison and without it having to be reclassified as a detention centre.

Clause 146 authorises the Secretary of State to enter into a contract with another person to provide detainee custody officers or prisoner custody officers to perform custodial duties at a directly managed detention centre. Amendment No. 234 is consequential to Amendment No. 231 and ensures that only prisoner custody officers who have been certified to carry out custodial duties may be engaged under this clause. Amendment No. 235 deletes text from Clause 146 which Amendment No. 231 renders unnecessary.

The objective of Clause 148 is to ensure that visiting committees are appointed to each detention centre and to ensure that rules will be made to set out their functions. Amendment No. 236 ensures, as promised

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in another place, that the core duties of visiting committees of making frequent visits, hearing complaints and reporting matters to the Secretary of State are a mandatory part of detention centre rules.

Clause 149 requires the Secretary of State to make detention centre rules. Amendment No. 237 deletes subsection (3), which refers to short-term holding facilities, as this is superseded by the new clause introduced by Amendment No. 255, to which I shall return later.

Clause 150 makes provision about certification of detainee custody officers. Subsection (5) allows the Secretary of State to use prison officers in place of detainee custody officers if he decides it is necessary and appropriate. Amendment No. 239 clarifies that where they are engaged in this context, prison officers continue to enjoy the powers, protection and privileges of a constable, just as they do in relation to their ordinary duties.

Clause 151 specifies who may carry out custodial duties at detention centres. Amendments Nos. 242 and 265, which are consequential to Amendment No. 231, ensure that only a prison custody officer who has been certified to carry out custodial duties may be so employed. Subsection (2) introduces Schedule 11, which makes provision with respect to discipline and other matters at detention centres. Amendment No. 243 adds reference in Clause 151 to short-term holding facilities as a consequence of various amendments made to Schedule 11, which extend that schedule to such facilities.

Clause 152 authorises the Secretary of State to make arrangements for escorting and related custodial functions and allows him to enter contracts for them to be performed by suitably certified detainee custody officers and prisoner custody officers. Amendment No. 253 inserts reference to the relevant section of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 under which prisoner custody officers are certified to perform escort duties. Amendment No. 254 adds reference to the Northern Irish provision of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 under which prisoner custody officers may be certified to perform escort functions in Northern Ireland.

Amendment No. 255 inserts a new clause after Clause 152 which allows for the extension of any provision of Part VIII, to the extent not already so extended, to short-term holding facilities. Clause 146 already extends to short-term holding facilities and is therefore excluded. The amendment also allows the Secretary of State to make rules for the regulation and management of short-term holding facilities. This will allow short-term holding facilities to be better regulated and more accountable than they are currently. This makes Clause 149(3) unnecessary.

Clause 153 creates an offence of wrongful disclosure of information by a detainee custody officer or prisoner custody officer. Amendment No. 265 is technical and clarifies the definition in subsection (3) of “contracted out functions" which indicates that only detainee custody officers and certified prisoner custody officers may be employed in contracts made under Clause 146.

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Schedule 10 deals with the powers and duties of detainee custody officers and creates the offences of assault and obstruction of a detainee custody officer while he or she is performing his or her duties. Amendment No. 240 rectifies the omission of functions of a custodial nature at short-term holding facilities from the assaulting offence so as to bring it in line with the obstructing offence. Amendment No. 241 deletes sub-paragraphs (2) and (3) from the assaulting offence as they are made unnecessary by Amendments Nos. 281 and 295. Those amendments deal with the more serious offence of carrying out an assault while in possession of a firearm. I shall return to those amendments later.

Schedule 11 makes provision for discipline and other matters at detention centres. Amendments Nos. 244 and 245 add short-term holding facilities to the offences of aiding a person to escape either directly or by conveying, sending or placing a thing in or outside a place of detention with the intention of facilitating escape. As a consequence of Amendment No. 245, Amendments Nos. 246, 247 and 248 are necessary to provide for both detention centres and short-term holding facilities in paragraphs 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b) and 4(2)(c) which each relate to the facilitation offence.

Paragraph 7 of Schedule 11 places a responsibility on the contractor in a contracted-out detention centre, or the Secretary of State in a directly managed detention centre, to display a notice, known as a “penalty notice", setting out the penalties to which a person may be liable for committing offences under paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 of the schedule. Amendments Nos. 249, 250 and 251 are drafting amendments. Amendment No. 252 is required as a consequence of Amendments Nos. 244 and 245 and ensures that a “penalty notice" will be displayed outside a short-term holding facility so as to reflect the extension which is proposed to the paragraph 4 offence.

Paragraph 1 (2) of Schedule 12 specifies the duties of the escort monitor, who will be responsible for monitoring escort arrangements. One of those duties is to investigate and report to the Secretary of State on any allegations made against detainee custody officers in respect of their behaviour while conducting escort-related duties. This should sensibly extend to investigating the behaviour of prisoner custody officers who are engaged in escort duties. Amendment No. 256 rectifies this omission and makes appropriate provision for this purpose. Amendment No. 257 has been added to ensure that a prisoner custody officer is not investigated simultaneously by the escort monitor and prisoner escort monitor where the investigation falls to be conducted by the latter under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 or the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Paragraph 3 of Schedule 12 deals with breaches of discipline by those under escort and specifies that any adjudication should be carried out by the responsible person in the institution to which the alleged offender is being escorted. In the case of a contracted-out detention centre, this would generally be the contract monitor; in a directly managed detention centre, the

20 Oct 1999 : Column 1262

manager; in a contracted-out prison, the controller; and in a directly managed prison, the governor. Amendments Nos. 258, 259, 260, 261 and 262 ensure that no matter whether the escort is being carried out by a detainee custody officer or prisoner custody officer, the disciplinary procedures of detention centre rules apply when the person is being escorted to a detention centre and that prison rules apply when the escort is to a prison. Amendment No. 263 ensures that a person cannot be punished under prison rules for anything for which he or she has already been punished by a court just as it already does in relation to detention centre rules. Amendment No. 264 defines “Prison rules" for the purpose of the paragraph.

Schedule 13 deals with consequential amendments and, as I have previously mentioned, Amendments Nos. 281 and 295 amend the Firearms Act 1968 and the Firearms and Northern Ireland Order 1981, so that the more serious offence of assaulting a detainee custody officer while in possession of a firearm is dealt with under those two pieces of legislation.

I have covered many amendments. In the main, they are technical and straightforward provisions. Generally speaking, they do not alter the substance of Part VIII. I hope therefore that noble Lords will feel able to agree to them. I beg to move.


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