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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is today laying before Parliament the report submitted to him by the Police Complaints Authority. This has been made under Section 97 (2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which allows the authority to make a report to the Secretary of State on any matters coming to its notice to which it considers that his attention should be drawn by reason of their gravity or other exceptional circumstances.
The report sets out the main findings resulting from an investigation carried out by officers from Kent Constabulary, under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, into the way in which the Metropolitan Police Service handled the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
The report concludes that the Metropolitan Police Service has committed substantial resources over several years to the investigation of this appalling crime, and that there is no doubt that a considerable amount of hard work has been undertaken. The report also concludes that the police operation undertaken immediately after the assault was well organised and effective and that there was no evidence of racist conduct by police officers. The report concludes,
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has told my right honourable friend that he broadly accepts the findings of this initial report and now awaits the full report from the Kent investigation. He has told my right honourable friend that the Metropolitan Police has moved forward significantly in the investigation of major crime since 1993 but will address all of the shortcomings identified in the supervision and management of this investigation. They will also consider carefully the lessons to be learned.
This report and its conclusion will now be considered by the inquiry which we have established under the chairmanship of Sir William Macpherson of Cluny to inquire into the matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence in order particularly to identify the lessons to be learned for the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes. The inquiry intends to begin public hearings in February.
The Police Complaints Authority report also identifies several issues which are relevant to the handling of serious crime by the police generally. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crime Committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers are examining national standards in the investigation of major crime with a view to producing a model for the handling of major inquiries. During 1998, the inspectorate will also be conducting a thematic inspection of major crime investigation across the police service.
The Police Complaints Authority report also draws attention to the shortcomings in first aid skills possessed by the officers who were first to arrive at the scene of the murder. All chief constables have already been recommended to deal with this issue within their forces, by a report of a thematic inspection on officer safety by Her Majesty's Inspectorate which was published in October.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: One hundred and eighteen responses were received. A list of respondents and a summary of the main points raised can be found in the Library, in a document entitled: Responses to the Home Office Consultation Document on Racial Violence and Harassment.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: By 8 December 1997, a total of 297 responses had been received to the consultation paper Tackling Youth Crime (published 25 September); 250 responses to the consultation paper New National and Local Focus on Youth Crime (published 9 October); and 177 responses to the consultation paper Tackling Delays in the Youth Justice System (published 15 October). Summaries of the responses to each of the three papers have been placed in the Library.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: We intend that the provisions of the Police Act 1997 relating to the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) and the National Crime Squad should be fully implemented on 1 April 1998. We have determined, following the consultation process required under the Police Act 1997, that the key objectives and performance indicators for the National Criminal Intelligence Service and National Crime Squad for 1998-99 will be:
Performance indicator: 5 per cent. increase in the number of intelligence reports disseminated which include material obtained from overseas and which fall within the highest two levels of the NCIS quality matrix.
1. To secure, in co-operation with the Scottish Crime Squad and other law enforcement agencies as necessary, consistent improvement in the quality of operations leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals or
2. To secure, in co-operation with the Scottish Crime Squad and other law enforcement agencies as necessary, consistent improvement in the quality of operations leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals or disruption of criminal enterprises engaged in serious and organised crime within the United Kingdom.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government's first priority is to secure the complete ban on handguns which will be achieved when all .22 handguns are surrendered for compensation. We shall then consider whether any further steps are required to secure public safety. No timescale has been set but we propose to consult widely with all interested parties if we consider further steps to be necessary.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is for the Association of Chief Police Officers, in consultation with individual chief constables, to determine whether to conduct a multi-force scrutiny as proposed into the administration of firearms in the United Kingdom.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary look at all aspects of police administration, including firearms licensing, as part of their inspection process. They have no plans at present for a thematic inspection on firearms licensing.
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