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Lord Newby: My Lords, unlike the previous Measure, this Measure has significant implications for the Church of England. The cost of fulfilling its obligations to clergy pensioners is such that half the capital assets of the commissioners are likely to be spent over the next 60 years in settlement of those obligations. It will have a major impact on the funding of the Church and on the scope of the commissioners.
The Church has an obligation to provide for its pensioners. I should add that my wife is not covered by the Measure, so I have no personal interest in it. It is an example of the Church leading, in the sense that it is accepting and living up to its obligation, even though that may be painful. Many companies might benefit from considering that example. We support the Measure.
I shall add one thing. As the Church Commissioners' capital is used for past pension service, so a new fund is being built up, so the total impact on the Church's total resources is not quite as it might appear.
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the order has been seen by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. With the approval of this House and of another place, it will bring into effect from 1st April 2003 the revised code of practice for the exercise by police officers of statutory powers to stop and search a person, without first arresting him, and to stop and search a vehicle, without first making an arrest. The order has been made under Section 67 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which I shall call "PACE" from now on. It cannot have effect until it is approved by resolution of each House.
Under Section 66 of PACE, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has a duty to issue codes of practice to regulate the police in the exercise of their powers. There are six codes of practice, entitled A to F. The current version of PACE Code of Practice A for the exercise by police officers of statutory powers of stop and search came into force on 1st March, 1999. Since then, a variety of legislative changes have amended the powers of stop and search available to police officers. It is time to update the code.
Since 1999, there has been a wide-ranging public debate about the use of the powers and, in particular, the question of whether the powers have been exercised by officers in a way that discriminates against members of minority ethnic communities. The debate was brought into focus by the report of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, published in 1999, which highlighted the importance of the use of stop-and-search powers in the context of relations between the police and the community and made a number of recommendations in that area.
In accordance with the provisions of Section 67 of the PACE, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary prepared and published in March, 2002 a draft of the code of practice, considered representations made to him about that draft and modified it accordingly. The consultation draft was prepared in collaboration with the Association of Chief Police Officers, as well as the other staff associations, police authorities and independent advisers drawn from diverse organisations and communities. Many were drawn by the Lawrence steering group, which oversees the implementation of my right honourable friend's action plan in response to the Lawrence inquiry report.
The revised draft code covers the exercise by police officers of the statutory powers of stop and search. There is a separate issue relating to the recording of stops or non-statutory encounters. That will be the subject of phased implementation and is not part of what we are debating today.
I hope that the proposed revisions to Code A are not contentious. The objective in revising Code A has been to ensure that the powers of stop and search are exercised in a way that would be as effective as possible in reducing crime but would also promote trust and confidence in policing in all communities. It is clear that, in order to achieve those objectives, stop and search powers must be used in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory way. Furthermore, research evidence shows a clear link between fairness and effectiveness. In other words, when the powers are used in a way that is likely to increase trust and confidence, their use is more likely to reduce crime. The revised code, therefore, includes important new provisions for searches and ethnic monitoring which will significantly increase the confidence of the public and of officers using the powers.
The revised code also states that an officer carrying out a search must explain the grounds for reasonable suspicion. In the revised code, an officer who has carried out a search must make a written record at the time unless that would be wholly impracticable, such as in situations of public disorder or when the officer's presence is required urgently elsewhere. A copy of the record must be given immediately to the person who has been searched. Generally, the revised code is clearer throughout and simpler for officers and the public to understand, something that was commended in the public consultation.
Statistics published on 7th November, 2002, show that 714,000 stops and searches were recorded in England and Wales in 200102. Of those, 12 per cent were of black people, 6 per cent of Asian people and 1 per cent of other minority ethnic groups. Black people were eight times and Asians three times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in 200102. Although more work must be done to understand fully what the statistics mean, they are still deeply concerning. The new provisions for searches and for ethnic monitoring should help us better to understand and address any disproportionality in the use of the powers.
The revision of Code A has long been awaited by the police service. There is an eagerness for this important step in the reform of the overall process. As far back as 26th May 2001, the Association of Chief Police Officers council agreed to introduce the 2001 census ethnicity classifications for, among other things, stops and searches, and issued detailed guidance on 12th March 2002. The Association of Chief Police Officers also issued a good practice guide on stop and search in August 2001. The revised Code A essentially follows the principles and provisions of stop and search which were laid out in this guide and at the 14th meeting of the Lawrence steering group in January 2002. ACPO was keen that the revised draft should be put out to consultation without delay. The police service wants this revision and I urge its acceptance. I commend the order to the House.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, first, I apologise for not being in my place at the start of the debate. From this side of the House we support the order as a sincere attempt to address this sensitive subject and to adjust
I commend a letter by the Minister, Mr John Denham, to the Independent on 11th November, which I believe set the scene well. He made the point that any figures released on this subject produce a predictable but sterile debate. However, he suggested one or two reasons for that; namely, the possibility that some types of crime have a greater prevalence in some communities than others, and that some types of crime are associated with areas of poverty, deprivation and weak, fragmented communities which reflect ethnic mix, as opposed to ethnicity, which is an important distinction.
I suggest that that sets in context the figures recently released by the Home Office showing that blacks are eight times more likely to be stopped than whites, which gives an indication of the problems that that type of code of practice faces. On the other side, another consideration is that following publication of the Macpherson report there was evidence that police officers were reluctant to stop and search blacks or Asians in view of the sensitive climate that prevailed .
On this side of the House, we feel that the draft code attempts to address those problems. It cites three important considerations: first, respect for the individual and no unlawful discrimination; secondly, the intrusion must be brief and as near as possible to the location of the stop; and, thirdly, no search is to be made where there is no authority under legislation to do so.
The draft code makes clear the positive intentions, and that should not be forgotten. Stop and search, with all its potential hazards and pitfalls, is a means to enable officers to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals without exercising their powers of arrest. As such, that can play an important role in the prevention and detection of crime. I have just one question for the Minister. The whole problem of race relations and crime is a constantly moving one. Will the Minister reassure me that the problem is being kept under continual review and that the Government will not hesitate, should the situation arise, to issue a further revised code in the light of experience?
Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, we on these Benches offer our support for this statutory instrument. We do so because we are satisfied that the draft code has been prepared in consultation with key police and community organisations. It has, as we have heard, the backing of the Lawrence steering group which monitors the Home Secretary's action plan in relation to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report. Here, I must declare my interest as a former chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Authority and deputy chairman of the National Association of Police Authorities.
Stop-and-search powers are an important police tactic. The effective and targeted use of stop and search can contribute to preventing and detecting crime. And that is why the public are generally supportive of the police having extensive powersextensive and, in many ways, intrusive powers. A police officer can stop one in the street while about one's normal business. He or she can search one's person and ask for pockets or bags to be turned out, and even remove outer clothing. That is why it is so important that people are stopped only with good reason and that police use of those powers is rigorously scrutinised by police authorities and local people.
However, recent figures published by the Government give cause for concern. As the noble and learned Lord reminded us, black people are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, Asians three times more likely. We need to exercise great caution in the claims that the drop in stop and searches has produced a rise in street crime. It is hard to see how that could be so because only about 12 per cent of stops produced an arrest. In reality, even if there were a clear-cut link between the use of stop and search and crime rates, there could be no argument of returning to the old days of racially biased use of the powers.
The figures are disturbing. It is not surprising that stop and search isas we knowone of the main causes of mistrust and conflict between the police and minority ethnic communities. That has to be a major cause of concern because policing by consent works only if we all have confidence and trust in the police service. We all need to work hard to build greater trust in policing among minority ethnic groups. I know that it is a priority for all police authorities, as it is for the Government. The new unit set up by the Government to look at the issue will be helpful.
Part of the difficulty is the way that officers handle those encounters: people want to be treated fairly and with respect. Clearly, there is a key issue here for police training. The new code could help, but pilot studies have proved the need for better use of such powers.
It is disappointing that the Government have not taken the opportunity to implement the recommendation in the Stephen Lawrence report that the police should make a record of stops as well as searches. The record is important because it enables a person to understand why he has been stopped and on what grounds. The draft code which the Government issued for consultation earlier this year included proposals to implement that recommendation. The version of the code we are discussing today does not include it.
In spring 2001, the first ever nation-wide consultation was carried out by all police authorities on this issue. Generally, the response from communities was that they wanted the police to record stops. They saw it as a way of making the police more
However, the Government have now chosen to implement Recommendation 61 on a phased basis in seven police areas. I believe that that could mean a further two years' delay before it is implemented fully across the country. I know that we are not discussing it today, but I know the noble and learned Lord will take note of my concern.
I know that police authorities across the country will work closely with forces and the Home Office to find practical and effective ways of implementing the recommendation. None of us wants to add unnecessarily to police paperwork. I suggest that mobile terminals will almost certainly provide a way forward. We must also draw on good practices.
Therefore, in welcoming the new code, I urge the Government to press on with full implementation of Recommendation 61 and give a commitment to its introduction across the country as quickly as possible. We shall certainly ask for a proper system of monitoring the use of the code to ensure that it delivers what it set out to do without reverting to stereotyping people.
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