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Viscount Brookeborough: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. I recently read in a responsible newspaper that one released prisoner had been returned to custody. I do not know to which grouping he belonged, his religion or where he came from, but I am reasonably confident that that is a fact.
I must bring my remarks to a close. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, encourages me to continue and there are only two or three specific points that I wish to make. The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said that the Secretary of State was soft on terrorism and the like. I reject that entirely; it is not the case. The noble Lord, Lord Cooke, said that the Government were not interested in protecting people from attacks. That is entirely wrong. The Government take the security of every individual person in Northern Ireland as being a matter of importance. My noble friend Lord Fitt referred to the release of prisoners and the effect on local people of seeing those who had killed their relatives. I understand that. It is extremely painful--we said so at the time of the legislation--for the relatives to see such people coming out of prison. However, I do not accept my noble friend's suggestion that there is any acceptable level of violence. We do not go along with that; there is no acceptable level of violence. I reject the suggestion entirely.
We have had a useful and interesting debate. There is an enormous prize ahead for all of us in the United Kingdom, in particular for the people of Northern Ireland, provided that we have decommissioning and the peace process moves forward. I believe that it will. I believe that we stand on the brink of a significant step forward and one which we cannot afford to miss. We have come too far to contemplate going back. The people of Northern Ireland have voted overwhelmingly for the agreement. They want it to happen; they want it implemented in full. That includes decommissioning, an integral component of the agreement, and it includes the establishment of inclusive democratic government in Northern Ireland.
There is still a sense of optimism in Northern Ireland. I know of the difficulties and I know that people are worried. I join noble Lords today in urging the parties to show the courage and determination which they have exhibited throughout the process and to make the decision necessary to take the next step on the road to a better future for Northern Ireland.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, time is minuscule and I must redeem myself for having spoken for an extra minute by saving time now. The debate will repay careful reading. Therefore, I wish to confine my remarks to only three issues, all of which concern my gratitude. First, I am most grateful to the Minister for the careful way in which he addressed himself to the
Secondly, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in such a knowledgeable, serious, well informed and well attended debate. Again, that will help to bring confidence to Northern Ireland. Finally, I am grateful to noble Lords who made kind remarks about myself and my wife. I comment only that in the case of my wife they are thoroughly well deserved. On that proudly uxorious and deeply grateful note, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I wish to repeat a Statement made earlier in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:
"Copies of the inquiry's report and appendices are available from the Vote Office. Honourable members will themselves want time to read and consider the report, and I can therefore tell the House that my right honourable friend the Leader of the House has agreed that there should be a full day's debate on the report as soon as possible.
"Stephen Lawrence was a bright 18 year-old student with a promising future. He wanted to be an architect and was studying hard for his A-levels. At about 10.30 p.m. on Thursday 22nd April 1993 Stephen was waiting for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks in Well Hall Road, Eltham in south London. He was set upon in an unprovoked knife attack and was killed. There was only one reason for his murder. Stephen was black.
"Any parents faced with the death of their son in such circumstances would have been devastated. But for Stephen's parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, their sense of despair has been compounded by the failure of our criminal justice system to deliver them justice, to secure the conviction of those responsible. I think I can speak for the whole House when I say that Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence's campaign for the truth has been pursued by them with enormous dignity, courage and determination. I pay my personal tribute to them today.
"I first met the family in early 1997 and saw both parents again shortly after becoming Home Secretary in May that year. They persuaded me of the case for a thorough, independent scrutiny of the investigation into their son's murder and the lessons which could be learnt from it. In July 1997 I therefore announced to the House that I had appointed the former judge of the High Court, Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, to
'To inquire into the matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence on 22nd April 1993 to date, in order particularly to identify the lessons to be learned for the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes'.
"The report is divided into two parts. The first covers the police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the second part the wider lessons to be learnt. The main findings of the first part of the inquiry are these:
'The conclusions to be drawn from all the evidence in connection with the investigation of Stephen Lawrence's racist murder are clear. There is no doubt but that there were fundamental errors. The investigation was marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers. A flawed [Metropolitan Police] review failed to expose these inadequacies. The second investigation could not salvage the faults of the first investigation'. (46.1)
'There can be no excuses for such a series of errors, failures, and lack of direction and control'. (46.20-46.23)
"In 1994 a second investigation of the case was established and this attempted to salvage the situation. The inquiry makes clear that this second investigation, led by Detective Superintendent William Mellish, was conducted with great imagination, skill and sensitivity by the officers involved. (46.23 and 46.24)
"The inquiry also identified work by police officers and others at other stages which was exemplary. They have been praised for their unstinting commitment to bring the racist killers to justice. But their efforts, in the view of the inquiry, were not sufficient to overcome the catalogue of errors and basic incompetence in the handling of this investigation.
'no collusion or corruption is proved to have infected the investigation of Stephen Lawrence's murder'. (8.18)
"Sir Paul Condon took over as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in February 1993. Since he came into office he has given strong personal leadership to improving the quality of service which the Metropolitan Police provides to all sections of the community. A great deal has been achieved. For example, reported crime in London is at its lowest for nine years and Sir Paul is tackling the problems of police corruption with vigour. I have asked Sir Paul to continue to lead the Metropolitan Police to deliver the programme of work which is now required. He has agreed. He will use the remaining 10 months of his office to take that work forward, including the agenda set by this report. I shall be supporting him and his successor in the work which lies ahead.
"The central and most important issue for the inquiry was racism and whether and how this affected the handling of the case. The inquiry has addressed this matter with care and sensitivity. On the critical issue of institutional racism the inquiry's definition is as follows:
'The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people'. (6.34)
'institutional racism ... exists both in the Metropolitan Police Service and in other Police Services and other institutions countrywide'. (6.39)
'the catharsis of this Inquiry will lead to constructive action and not to further divisive views and outcomes'. (6.47)
"First, the police service: I have ordered an immediate inspection of the Metropolitan Police Service by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and this includes a thorough scrutiny of unsolved murders and review of each case. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary already incorporates much of the approach of OFSTED in its inspections of police services and will be moving further in the direction of applying standards similar to those used by OFSTED, as the report recommends.
"A new police discipline regime will be brought in from 1st April this year. We will ensure that this is subject to effective monitoring and consider any further changes in the light of that experience. I will make an improvement in the trust and confidence in policing among ethnic minority communities a key ministerial priority for the police. I will use my statutory powers to ensure that every police force sets clear objectives the better to deal with racist crime and establishes effective ways of demonstrating fairness in all aspects of policing.
"I will set targets for the recruitment, retention and promotion of ethnic minority police and civilian staff. I announced last October our plans to ensure that every force reflects the ethnic diversity of the communities which they serve. I will chair a national conference of all chief constables and police authorities on this issue in April.
"Stop-and-search powers under current legislation will remain unchanged, as recommended by the inquiry report. But I will ensure that these powers are used more effectively and fairly. Londoners for the first time will be given a proper say in the running of their police service. From July next year a policy authority for London will sit alongside the new mayor and assembly. Legislation for this is already before the House.
"Clear standards of performance will be put in place to ensure more effective police investigations into racist crime. We have already changed the law to establish new offences of racially motivated crimes. The report makes wider recommendations for the criminal justice system. New guidelines will enable parties to an inquest from next month to
"As the inquiry proposes, we are already ensuring that victims, victims' families and vulnerable witnesses are treated more sensitively and fairly. The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill currently before Parliament will extend greater support to vulnerable witnesses. Yesterday I announced a 50 per cent. increase in funding to Victim Support. I should also tell the House that I will be publishing next week the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary which examines police community relations across the country. The inspectorate's report supports and reinforces the messages which emerge from this inquiry.
"Madam Speaker, this report challenges us all and not just the police service, and I want to use the opportunity which the report brings to tackle discrimination wherever it is found. So today I can announce that we shall be extending the Race Relations Act not just to cover the police, as this report recommends, but to cover all of the public services. That means in the Civil Service, the Immigration Service and the National Health Service, the law will back those who have been the subject of discrimination. The new law will allow the Commission for Racial Equality to investigate what is happening within individual police forces and other public services. Companies and other organisations in the private sector have long been subject to this legislation. But government have so far failed to keep their own house in order.
"Madam Speaker, the Macpherson Inquiry demonstrated the failings of one very important public institution--the police service. The police have a special responsibility in our society because, day by day, they are the immediate guardians of fairness and justice. But we would be deluding ourselves if we believed that the issues thrown up by this inquiry affect only the police. The implications of this report go much wider. The very process of the inquiry has opened all our eyes to what it is like to be black or Asian in Britain today. And the inquiry process revealed some fundamental truths about the nature of our society and about our relationships one with another. Some of these truths are uncomfortable, but we must confront them.
"I want this report to serve as a watershed in our attitudes to racism. I want it to act as a catalyst for permanent and irrevocable change not just across our public services but across the whole of our society. This report does not place a responsibility on someone else; it places a responsibility on each one of us. We have to make racial equality a reality.
"The vision is clear: to create a society where every individual, regardless of colour, creed or race, has the same opportunities and respect as his or her neighbour. On race equality, let us make Britain a
'I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future. He was well loved and had he been given the chance to survive, maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white'.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, the whole House will be grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement of the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary. Today is a very serious day for our country. It is of the utmost importance for the future of our society as a whole that we respond to the multiple challenges raised by this report with both vision and energy.
We have all had a brief time to look at the whole report, but it is long and extremely detailed and needs careful and reflective study by us all. The Home Secretary, as we heard, had the approval of the Leader of another place to announce a day's debate. Can the Minister similarly confirm that this House will have a full debate on the report as soon as convenient?
The report is primarily about a terrible, callous and brutal murder--a racist murder--which should have been investigated with the utmost vigour and expertise, but was not. The first part of the report tells a shameful story of that investigation. The Statement sets out in summary what it found. Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, their family, friends and supporters deserve our full sympathy, but they also have our highest respect for what they have been able to achieve out of this situation.
The blame for the murder itself does not lie with the police. But the failure to investigate the case with the vigour and rigour that it deserved does lie with the policemen concerned. The Home Secretary was quite right to point out in his Statement that some police are praised in the report, and also to confirm Sir Paul Condon in office. But the report also contains a long and important section about the definition of "racism" and particularly "institutional racism".
It is difficult to form a succinct definition, but we all know what is meant by such phrases, particularly "institutional racism". The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, defined it in summary as an institution
Sir William's report has a definition which is more complex and includes, in particular, unintentional racism. We all hate and deplore racism, however defined, and whenever it occurs, both intentional and unintentional. It must be rooted out in the police force and elsewhere. Therefore, we support the principles behind the recommendations which the Government have accepted for extending the Race Relations Act. If nothing were to be done, the reaction to this report might increase alienation within the ethnic minority communities and defensiveness within our institutions, including the police force. It is therefore important to look forward with determination to do better. The police, government and we in Parliament can and must start that process. However, it is important that everyone within the ethnic minority communities who feels upset by what has happened should also work with the police to try to improve the situation. There is no future in feeling alienated, natural though that may be.
Most policemen and policewomen are not racist; they are trying even more as a result of these events and this report to put things right. The actions put in train in the Metropolitan Police Force are evidence of that fact. Since September last year, the number of racially- motivated crimes solved has increased by 73 per cent. However, they need the help of everyone if they are to succeed.
Perhaps I may make a few detailed points. These are, of course, preliminary questions. All 70 specific recommendations need to be studied in detail. The report recommends that double jeopardy should be examined by the Law Commission. We all know of some cases that we would love to see tried again. That is not the preserve of ethnic minorities or of any group. However, it is an extremely difficult matter which has all sorts of consequences. Therefore, I think it is right that the Law Commission should examine it. I hope that that means that the Law Commission in Scotland as well as the Law Commission in England and Wales will consider the matter, possibly jointly. I understand that race relations is a reserved matter as far as Scotland is concerned, although law and order is a devolved matter. However, clearly the Scottish Law Commission should be involved in such considerations.
The report recommends that the new police authority for London should appoint the chief officers of the Metropolitan Police. That is not quite the Government's present proposal in the Bill in another place. However, it is the proposal in an amendment to that Bill tabled by my party in another place. That is in line with the recommendation in the report and I hope that it will find acceptance in due course.
Can the Government give careful thought to the problem I mentioned briefly the other day? I refer to the difficulty of achieving a greater number, and hence a higher proportion, of ethnic minority officers when forces have had to freeze recruitment and cannot afford,
On a slightly lighter note, I am sure that your Lordships were all delighted to know that the Minister cannot have been the source of the disgraceful leak of the report which took place at the weekend, according to what we read in the newspapers. However, the Home Office was responsible for that leak. It failed to take the sort of precautions that, for example, the Treasury takes in looking after Budget secrets. However, unless the Minister can give us any more information about the progress of the inquiry into that matter, I believe that the freedom of the press and the Government's persistent leaking are matters for another day.
Our police do an extremely tough and difficult job on behalf of us all. In the main, they do it better and more sensitively than practically any other police force in the world. However, change is required to retain and, in many cases, rebuild policing by consent. I hope that the report will prove a springboard for better relations, and not only for the police force. It is important that the police and all of us rise to this challenge.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, we welcome the report of Sir William Macpherson's inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. We also welcome the Statement from the Home Secretary. Those who, in the past few days, have concentrated their criticism on the issue of the injunction or the sacking of the Metropolitan Commissioner on the basis of the leaked report have done a great disservice to the central theme of the report. It diverts attention from the real issues facing policing in this country. It also gives comfort to those officers who are corrupt, racist or sexist and who would love to see the back of Sir Paul. We must not give comfort to them. But we are entitled to ask, are we not, now that the recommendations are known: what will Sir Paul do about it?
The report does not demand the commissioner's resignation. It is about pernicious racism that seems to have affected police and policing decisions in London. But, taken in its widest sense, it is about racism that is endemic in our society. Stephen Lawrence died because we all failed in arresting racism that has affected our lives, our attitudes and our society. To discuss injunctions and resignations, as we have seen, is simply to direct attention away from this important publication. We have a record second to none on race relations in the western world. Our race legislation is also second to none in Western Europe. My noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead must be given great credit for introducing that in Parliament. It should be a surprise to no one that persons, be they police, prosecutors, lawyers, magistrates or prison officers, represent the same strengths and weaknesses as the society and community from which they come.
It is now almost 40 years since the Notting Hill disturbances in 1958. Casting my mind back, black people were systematically exposed to violence perpetrated by local youths and supplemented by extreme Right-wing movements in the country. At that time, Kelso Cochrane, a young black man was murdered for no other reason than that he was black. That was 40 years ago. In those days Kelso's death became a uniting force when black and white residents stood together at the funeral procession giving a clear message that they would not tolerate racist attacks. I know because I was there.
Almost 40 years on, I wish I could say the same thing following the death of Stephen Lawrence. The black community has lost confidence and it does not believe that the establishment is able to protect it. That is sad. The sooner we rebuild confidence, the better it will be for our multi-racial society.
In the sorry state of what happened to Stephen Lawrence, few people emerge with credit, and it is right that we should single them out. It took courage for Jack Straw to set up the public inquiry, and we are grateful to him for that. Despite their horrendous suffering, Doreen and Neville Lawrence continue to demonstrate the dignity with which they have pursued their case. They, as individuals, have never lost faith in our system of justice although justice deserted them when they needed it most. In the end, we praise them and they can hold their heads high with dignity and respect from us all. Of course, we failed them, because those who perpetrated this heinous crime are still free.
We can all argue about what institutional racism is all about. However, that too is to distract and divert attention away from the key fact that not only in policing, but also in other key aspects of our institutions, it is now recognised that differential treatment exists. We now have a clear definition and we should accept it as a first step in building a decent, fair and just society. I am glad that Sir Paul Condon now accepts that as a basis for progress.
Some years ago we set up a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice. It then reported on some important research about the position of black people in the criminal justice system. Many of those issues are still surfacing now in Sir William's report. Black youths are especially likely to be stopped by the police and arrested. Although only a small proportion of those arrests result from stops, if only one in 10 results in a criminal justice process, it is no surprise that nine out of 10 have an adversarial relationship with the police in this country. Once arrested, black youngsters are less likely to be cautioned than are whites. The overall pattern of charges brought against blacks differs from that for whites. Black defendants are more likely to be remanded into custody. They are more likely to plead not guilty to the charges brought against them. Black defendants are more likely to be tried in a Crown Court and more likely to be acquitted, but when black
The result of all that is that 18 per cent. of the male prison population and 26 per cent. of the female prison population in this country is black as against their proportion of just under 6 per cent. in the community. The Home Office will have to ask why within the criminal justice system we have produced that discrepancy. Black people see this in the context of the definition provided by Sir William Macpherson's analysis:
But call it "institutional racism" or call it what you like, in the case of Stephen Lawrence this process seems to be evident and he paid with his life. Those who would have been brought to justice remain unconvicted. That is the stark reality of racism if it remains unchecked.
The black community remains unconvinced--and this is confirmed by the report--that those conducting the investigation possessed the appropriate skills and understanding to determine whether institutional racism had any effect on the decisions made by them.
We have a police force which is the envy of the world, but that does not mean that it could not be better. There is a general acceptance that police officers have such far-reaching powers over the lives of ordinary people that there must be effective safeguards against misuse. The fall of public confidence in the police service in recent years has mainly been due to well-publicised cases. What it demonstrates is that we have civilian oversight on the matter of police discipline; we have consultative processes on the matter of community involvement, but we have no accountability in the matter of the operations that the police carry out. Is it not time that there should also be civilian oversight of such matters?
Perhaps I may now refer to a few issues reflected in the report. The first relates to responsibility. Acting on this report (the most important development for race and criminal justice systems since Scarman) is the responsibility of the whole criminal justice system and not only of the police. The Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, the legal professions and the Prison and Probation Services must work with local authorities and communities and must guarantee justice and equality for all.
The Criminal Justice Consultative Council must give a clear lead to the 23 area criminal justice liaison committees to make this their top priority for the coming months. They must play a pivotal co-ordinating role across national and local government agencies.
The second issue relates to repairing the damage. This is an opportunity to repair the damage done to community relations and to redress unfairness and discrimination in the criminal justice system. It is an opportunity which must not be wasted. Confidence in justice must be restored.
Responses to racially motivated crime must be seen in the context of overall police operations. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act, stop and search and other police powers which have a disproportionate impact on black communities must not only be monitored but investigated urgently.
There is also the question of accountability. Accountability and consultation with local communities must be restructured, strengthened and properly resourced. A two-way dialogue between young people and police officers is crucial. A realistic debate is needed on the problem of local crime and police responses to it.
There is also the matter of training, which features heavily in Sir William Macpherson's report. Joint training across the criminal justice agencies should be introduced on how to promote a co-ordinated and consistent approach to fairness and equality in the delivery of justice. Training must have a direct impact on daily operations and working practices. It must tackle the stereotyping and assumptions that lead black people to be perceived as suspects, rather than victims, witnesses, professional colleagues or partners in tackling crime.
The report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has pointed to disturbing evidence of racist banter and discriminatory behaviour directed by the police at their minority colleagues. The question of education is also heavily reflected in Sir William's report.
However, I think that the most important aspect of the report is the review of the race relations legislation. We welcome that initiative on the part of the Government. The Race Relations Act was designed to eliminate discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity. What can no longer be tolerated are the exemptions granted to the police and criminal justice agencies under the provisions of that Act.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, both noble Lords have responded with the decency and scruple that we always expect of them. Both invited me to respond to their request for a full day's debate which Jack Straw has already announced for the Commons. Obviously that is a matter for the usual channels, but I cannot leave this without pointing out the importance which I personally attach to it.
Both noble Lords rightly said that this is a cause of shame and both spoke of the deep respect which we have for Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence. I can confirm that from recent personal experience, having shared a platform with them.
It is right that Sir Paul Condon has been asked to continue. He has a vast amount of work to do. I believe that he is an honest and honourable man. He is also dealing with other deficiencies in the Metropolitan Police service. I believe that it would have been a disservice to that police service and the community generally if he were not allowed to finish the work in which he has been engaged. He has 10 months to go and I think that the Home Secretary was morally right--courageously so--to take that step.
The definition of "institutional racism" is very important. I do not think that it is overstated as set out at paragraph 34 of Chapter Six of the report. I say that because it goes to outcomes. The most dangerous people are those--and they are among us daily--who say, "I don't have a racist bone in my body". They are dangerous because they believe it and they do not look at outcomes. If a young man of 16 asked me: "I am black, why have I been arrested on stop and search five times when your white daughter has never been arrested?", I think we would find the answer in the definition of institutional racism which appears in paragraph 6.34.
The only small caveat I would put in my general response to the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, relates to the fact that he said that the ethnic minorities are upset. That is not right: they are filled with anger, distress, bitterness and fury that we cannot even begin to guess at; and they are right. The noble Lord asked me about the Law Commission. Of course, we would expect the Scottish Law Commission to be involved.
I turn now to the question of the chief officer of police in the new police authority. The presently proposed scheme envisages that the post of commissioner will be a Royal appointment, but there will be an appointment procedure. The police authority would have to advertise the post and shortlist and interview candidates, as happens with chief officers elsewhere. The Home Secretary would then submit the name of the recommended candidate to Her Majesty.
There is no difficulty in setting targets, not quotas, for the recruitment, retention and promotion of those from ethnic minorities. That applies whether they are uniformed police officers or civilian employees, both of whom are important and both of whom are commended and referred to in detail in the report. If any police authority or chief constable says, "Financial pressures prevent us carrying out this elementary duty", I reject it. It should be rejected as firmly as possible.
I can confirm that I was not the source of the leak. Indeed, I am happy to reaffirm what the noble Lord, Lord Cope, said. The latter spoke about the question of the injunction and I shall spend a few moments only on the issue. There was no question here of trying to protect government secrets. Jack Straw made it plain from day one, and before, that he would publish the report in full. He wanted the Lawrence family to have the elementary decency afforded to them of a view of it in full. Was he right?
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