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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I have listened with great attention and respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, who has a great deal of experience of the legal system. He has made some important points.
Rather than following his comments, I shall take a slightly different line. If detailed particulars are not served on the prospective subject of a banning order, he does not know the case that he has to face and will be unable to defend himself properly before the magistrates or to call the necessary evidence.
On the other hand, I have a feeling that it is a little unrealistic to expect the constable who detains the suspect to provide him with a lengthy written statement of particulars unless he already has it in his pocket at the moment of detention.
Lord Carlile of Berriew: My Lords, I, too, support what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, has said. If the Government cannot accept the amendments, will they make it clear that constables who deal with such matters will prepare statements at the first reasonable opportunity after their return to the police station and that pre-hearing disclosure will be given to the person against whom the order is sought, so that he and his lawyers may know what case he has to meet before they step into the courtroom? It is the sort of procedure that is followed fairly commonly in the magistrates' court in relation to summary offences and it would go some of the way to meet the real and understandable objections put forward by the noble and learned Lord.
Lord Cope of Berkeley : My Lords, I intervene to support these amendments, having supported them rather feebly in the small hours of this morning. It seems to me that Amendment No. 41, requiring proper particulars to be given to someone who defends himself in the magistrates' court is of the first importance. I do not wish to downgrade Amendment No. 36, but it seems to me that these provisions are required particularly in the court.
Earl Russell: My Lords, if the Minister cannot accept this amendment, he will strengthen my rapidly growing suspicion that he simply does not know what may be reasonable grounds for believing that a banning order will help to prevent violence or disorder and therefore has no idea what type of information any further particulars would contain.
The reality is that a person detained will be held for only a relatively short time and then either will be issued with a notice or released to continue his journey. Of course, the police will not pick on people to check out indiscriminately. It is right that they do so only when there are reasonable grounds, as the Bill now provides.
The amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord goes beyond the kind of requirements which we believe are--I use the term again--analogous to provisions of PACE and the requirements of the common law. I have said that again for the record as he was puzzled. We believe that "full particulars" suggests a rather more substantial document, adding to the bureaucracy with which the police would probably have to comply without the document being of much value to the person detained.
However, by the same token, I recognise that as the noble and learned Lord warned us at Second Reading, there may be a temptation simply to issue a note to the individual explaining that the detention is in order to make further inquiries. I believe that the content of the notice and the detail that ought to be placed there is something that can best be dealt with in guidance to the police. That is our intended course of action here. Much as we are grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, for his suggestion, we believe that the matter can best be dealt with by offering guidance to the police so that the notice contains fuller information.
Amendment No. 39 applies to Section 21A(1)(b). Here the constable is already required to state his reasons in writing for detaining the person. So that requirement is already in place. As we have argued previously, for a variety of reasons we do not consider it advisable to give full particulars in support of a decision to refer a person to the magistrates' court.
The effect of the amendment would simply be to require the constable to repeat to the person the general reason for detaining him without providing further details. That seems to us a rather unnecessary administrative step which may lead to some delays and possibly to a degree of puzzlement on the detainee's part.
In Amendment No. 41 the noble and learned Lord makes the same point in relation to the issue of a notice that he made in relation to the issue of the power to detain under Section 21A. The amendment is based on the premise, which we accept, that people issued with notices commencing a banning order by complaint process need to know the case against them so that they can prepare for their hearing. In those circumstances, simply reciting the wording of the
If the requirement is too onerous, that could lead to an extension of the detention period while a substantial notice is prepared. We would not want to forestall evidence which came to light subsequent to the issue of the notice and it being presented in court. If the police are unable to make their case at the first hearing, the person concerned should, in our view, be free to travel immediately. Where there are substantial issues of fact between the parties, we imagine that the court would probably adjourn the hearing to a later date.
In the light of my assurances that there is no intention that the police should regard it as sufficient merely to state the criteria in Section 21A, and that guidance on this point will be provided to the police, the noble and learned Lord may feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps he would be kind enough to tell me what he envisages will be put under the "reasons" referred to in Section 21A(2). Also, what does he envisage will feature in the "grounds" referred to in Section 21B(2)(c)? What goes in there? Something must go in there. What does the Minister have in mind?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord may want to return to this point. I am not in a position to answer his question this evening. If he wants to raise the point again tomorrow, I shall endeavour at Third Reading to give him a more full explanation.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am more reluctant to follow that second course of action. I am not fully aware of the stage our consultations have reached on formulating guidance. However, if I can give an assurance, clearly I shall. I shall give the noble and learned Lord some idea of what may be contained within the guidance. It may be that the guidance reflects other forms of guidance given in similar situations. We will endeavour to keep the noble and learned Lord advised as to how the guidance is progressing.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, will the Minister also indicate what his objection is to Amendment No. 39, which fills in the lacuna which I suggest exists in relation to Section 21B? I suggest that in Section 21B(2), after the words, "The constable may", there should be inserted,
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we are not sure that we accept the noble and learned Lord's reasoning. However, I undertake to look further at the point. Again, if the noble and learned Lord tables these amendments tomorrow, we will endeavour to respond to this point.
However, the Government have told us that, in most cases, the notices will be served on the individuals concerned before they leave home and set out on their journey to the football match where it is likely that they will cause violence. In such circumstances, it seemed to us that a magistrate's warrant could readily be obtained and served on the person at home. This would mean that the necessity for it to be done urgently by a policeman on the say so of his inspector would not exist. That is why we have put forward these two alternative procedures, as set out in Amendment No. 37. I beg to move.
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