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We still think that it is inappropriate to give the power to detain to people who are not proper police officers. One can envisage considerable problems over time, as accredited people detain people here, there and everywhere. That act of detention will be completely ineffective without the fairly rapid attendancewithin 30 minutesof a police constable. We have argued all along that we ought to use any resources available to the police to bring more constables onto the streets.
This measure is, at best, a stopgap. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, made the important point that the power to detain and arrest is immensely significant. Such action should be undertaken only by a constable. In any event, the power of arrest can be exercised only by a constable, which negates the rather feeble power to detain given to the accredited persons.
There is no point in detaining the House any longer over Amendment No. 61. Amendments Nos. 62 to 67 pick up some of the powers of the community support officers and would make them applicable under the supervision of a constable. There might be circumstances in which that was helpful. However, those are, in a sense, secondary issues, compared with the first issue, which we regard as a matter of principle.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I support the amendment. As has been said, accredited persons will have powers to stop someone whom they suspect of having committed an offence and hold him for 30 minutes, while they call for a constable.
Only real policemen should have the power to detain. In any case, I do not believe that one could get a constable to attend a low-level crime within 30 minutes: ask anyone who has had his car radio stolen or his fence broken. The warden will hold the person for 30 minutes, looking at his watch every second. If the constable does not arrive in time, the warden will have to let that person go. That is plain daft.
There is a recognition in some of the amendments of the enhanced role that the accredited persons can play. In fact, some of the amendments add to the powers that the Government wish to make available to chief constables; that might be a way of telling us that we have got our approach right, notwithstanding the speeches made by noble Lords. Some of the amendments would add to Schedule 5 and, therefore, they go against the thrust of amendments proposed by noble Lords that sought to remove powers from community support officers. It is an astonishing group of amendments, if taken literally.
Although there are just a few amendments in the group, there are some that add to the powers in Schedule 5, some that remove the powers and some that limit the powers. In preparing the schedule, we worked hard to ensure that we extended to those people not employed or deployed by the chief constable only strictly limited powers. Thus I do not think that any of the amendments in this group which seek to add to the powers for this group of people, who are not part of the police service, are at all appropriate.
There is a massive contradiction here. The noble Lord seeks to confer powers that we have defined as those which should be given only to people employed by the chief constablecommunity support officerson people who are not part of the police. It does not matter how closely employers might work with the police, they retain responsibility for their employees. I do not think that even local authorities would be willing to accredit their own staff undertaking, say, community regeneration work, powers such as, for example, the ability to enforce cordons under the Terrorism Acts. It is weird.
Although these provisions are enabling, I do not think that chief officers would want someone outside their direction and control, even if supervised by a police officer, to perform such essential functions. The strength of warden schemes, shopping centre security guards and others outside the criminal justice system who contribute to community safety is that they are
As the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, pointed out in his brief contribution, it is true that the power to use reasonable force to detain a person in order to prevent him or her from making off is there for a community support officer, an employee of the chief constable, but is not there for an accredited person. However, it is true that the power to ask a person who has refused to give his name and address to wait for 30 minutes is available to both. The noble Lord cited an example of where that might not be practicable. Ultimately, it will come down to training and the choice of chief constables as to which powers they will seek to deploy.
I shall keep my remarks brief, as did the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. However, I have to say to the House that, as was the case with an earlier grouping, Amendments Nos. 62 to 67 are not consequential amendments. If Amendment No. 61 is carried, I shall have to ask the view of the House on the other amendments. Because the amendments are not consequential, I have no authority whatever from the Home Secretary simply to cave in on them. It would not be appropriate.
Because I have not been in this House for very long and because the procedures at Third Reading are not quite the same here as they are in the other place, I appreciate that this may be the last time today when I shall be on my feet to address the House. Although later I shall move a technical privilege amendment on the final part of the Bill, I should like to take this opportunity to thank noble Lords for all their contributions to our many debates. To put it at its mildest, I have found this to be quite an interesting Bill.
I thank also the Bill team. The excellent staff have given me first-class notes, some of which I have used and some of which I have not. In particular I should like to thank my colleagues on the Front Bench, my noble friends Lord Bassam and Lord Davies for their contributions. I should like also to thank all those who actually voted with the Government. It goes without saying that that has been very helpful, although at the moment we have a bad track record of votes.
To that end, I must give notice that in the other place the Home Secretary will seek to restore, whether in the same or in an amended form, most of the provisions that have been removed from the Bill. At some point in the summer, probably when we should all be elsewhere, I look forward to coming back to the House to debate with noble Lords some of these issues.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, as regards Amendment No. 61, we have devoted a great deal of time to the question of the power to detain. Again, I see no point in repeating those arguments. However, before I come to the crux of the matter, because the Minister has offered his thanks and rather than speak on Bill do now pass, I should like to place on the record the fact that it has been a great pleasure to deal with this Bill.
In all seriousness, I would like to thank the Minister for the many concessions he has made throughout the Bill on consultation and so forth. He has proved to be a listening Minister and he has paid attention to what has been said. Although we have not always agreed, our disagreements have been amicable. As it leaves the House, the Bill is different and much-improved.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.