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(1A) A community safety accreditation scheme is a scheme for the exercise in the chief officer's'.

No. 27, in page 42, line 2, after "force", insert—

'(other than the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)'.

No. 28, in page 42, line 4, at end insert—

'(3A) Before establishing a community safety accreditation scheme for the metropolitan police district, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis must consult with—
(a) the Metropolitan Police Authority;
(b) the Mayor of London; and
(c) every local authority any part of whose area lies within the metropolitan police district.'.

No. 29, in page 42, line 5, leave out "subsection (3)(b)" and insert "subsections (3)(b) and (3A)(c)".—[Mr. Denham.]

10 Jul 2002 : Column 979

Clause 43

Railway safety accreditation scheme

Amendments made: No. 30, in page 44, line 46, after "Police" insert "Force".
No. 31, in page 45, line 3, after "Police" insert "Force".
No. 32, in page 45, line 38, after "Police" insert "Force".
No. 33, in page 45, line 43, after "authorities;'insert—

'(ea) the Mayor of London;'.
No. 34, in page 45, line 46, leave out from beginning to end of line 47.—[Mr. Denham.]

Clause 44

Removal of restriction on powers conferred on traffic wardens

Amendment made: No. 35, in page 46, line 7, leave out from beginning to end of line and insert—

'(1) Section 96 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27) (additional powers of traffic wardens) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2)(c) (powers under the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) which may be conferred on traffic wardens), after sub-paragraph (i) there shall be inserted—

"(ia) section 67(3) (which relates to the power of a constable in uniform to stop vehicles for testing);".

(3) In subsection (3)'.—[Mr. Denham.]

Clause 45

Power to amend Chapter 1

Amendment made: No. 2, in page 46, line 16, leave out Clause 45.—[Mr. Denham.]

Clause 46

Code of practice relating to chief officers' powers under Chapter 1

Amendments made: No. 37, in page 47, line 33, after "police;" insert—

'(fa) persons whom he considers to represent the interests of local authorities;

(fb) the Mayor of London;'.
No. 38, in page 47, line 39, at end insert—

'(6) For the purposes of subsection (3)(fa), "local authorities" means district councils, London borough councils, county councils in Wales, county borough councils, the Common Council of the City of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.'.—[Mr. Denham.]

10 Jul 2002 : Column 980

Schedule 4

Powers exercisable by police civilians

Mr. Paice: I beg to move amendment No. 7, in page 145, line 15, leave out paragraph 2.

I do not intend to detain the House long. Those who have followed the proceedings of the Bill know that what the Minister says is more important than the amendment. The House knows that the power of detention to be given to civilians is highly controversial. The other place rejected it; it was re-inserted by the Government in Committee, and the amendment seeks to reverse that and restore the schedule to the state in which it returned to this place.

The heart of the matter is whether we should allow civilians to be so intrusive into civil rights as to detain somebody for 30 minutes. There are many practical issues, such as what happens if a police officer does not arrive within 30 minutes, and what happens if, when he does arrive, he does not agree with the decision to detain the individual. There are issues such as the principle of policing whereby after a person is detained or arrested, he is removed from the street as soon as possible, so that he does not become the focus of further agitation, disruption or disorder. All those are serious problems.

I shall not rehearse the arguments, as they have been thoroughly rehearsed before. When we debated the matter in Committee, I acknowledged that at least one sector of the police force—the Metropolitan police—wants to be able to give the power to some of its civilian officers. We have made a point of listening to the various voices of the police throughout the country. We recognise that there is a demand for the power of detention, but we remain immensely concerned.

I suggested that if the Minister were prepared to consider some sort of pilot arrangements, we would view them favourably. I am anxious to hear whether, after much deliberation, he intends to present such proposals. We remain of the view that the power of detention generally should not be available to civilians, but we are prepared to consider some form of test process.

Mr. Denham: I shall not speak long, as a number of Back-Bench Members wish to speak in the debate. It would be helpful to place on the record the intention—indeed, the commitment—of the Government with regard to the introduction of community support officers with the power to detain with reasonable force, and how we will approach the matter of piloting. I do not wish to rehearse the debate about the powers themselves other than to say that I fully recognise that concerns have been expressed about CSOs' power to detain with reasonable force.

In the light of those concerns, the Government have considered how we can ensure that the power is introduced in a controlled manner. We want to allow for it to be tested in practice in a sufficient number of varied forces to gain experience of its operation before it is made available to all police forces in England and Wales. First, we invited Sir Keith Povey, Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary—and he agreed—to monitor and to take responsibility for evaluating the use of the power in the first two years after the commencement of this part of the Act. Secondly, during the first two years after the commencement of the Act, the maximum number of

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forces that will be allowed to deploy CSOs with the power to use detention with reasonable force will be six. We settled on that number following consultation with the chief inspector of constabulary. We will use the commencement powers in clause 103 to enforce that limit. Thirdly, no other forces will be allowed to deploy CSOs with the power of detention until the report of the chief inspector's evaluation has been published and laid before the House, allowing chief officers in particular—as well as others, of course—to consider its conclusions before deciding whether to deploy CSOs with those powers. I should make it clear that that approach would not preclude other police forces from employing CSOs, but without the power of detention with reasonable force.

One of the forces that wishes to deploy CSOs with that power is the Metropolitan police service, which in itself constitutes a significant part of the police service in England and Wales. I have discussed with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis how widely he expects to deploy CSOs with that power over the next two years. Understandably, he does not wish to impose an arbitrary limit, especially given the interest shown by a number of boroughs in working with the MPS to provide additional CSOs. To avoid confusion, the commissioner wishes all CSOs based in the community in London to have the same powers. With the exception of those employed on transport routes in conjunction with Transport for London, CSOs will normally be deployed in one particular borough by agreement with the local authority. It is difficult at the present time to estimate the level of take-up, but there is nothing to suggest that any more than half the boroughs—that is, 16—will take up the option within the next two years, and I believe that the figure may be somewhat lower than that. That is the best indication that I can give of the position in London.

I hope that in the light of such undertakings hon. Members will feel that rather than delete the power entirely from the Bill, this framework will allow the pilots to take place and to be evaluated independently of Ministers, and for the results of that evaluation to be released before the power is made more generally available across the police service, which would itself depend on the outcome of the evaluation.

Norman Baker: The Minister will know that there has been considerable disquiet about the suggestion that non-police officers should have the power to detain. That has been expressed not only by Liberal Democrat and Conservative Members, but by the Association of Chief Police Officers and by police officers around the country. It is therefore welcome that the Government have listened. It is welcome that they have removed detention powers from accredited officers. It is also sensible that they have decided not to go hell for leather in going as far as they can with CSOs in the initial stages. It may seem churlish to say that we cannot support what the Government have done because we would like them to go further. We are in favour of a pilot scheme, but one that tries out CSOs without the power of detention, and then allows police forces to say that they have not worked without the power of detention. That would be a safer route than trying them with the power of detention.

The hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice) rehearsed some of the arguments as to why there is significant opposition to giving the power of

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detention to people who are not police officers. There is insufficient time to go through those arguments again, as there is only five minutes to go before the guillotine comes down. However, the fact that neither the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire nor I have rehearsed the objections does not undermine their validity because they are serious and widely held. By giving non-police officers the power to detain, we cross the rubicon, and we are unhappy about that.

The Minister said that there would be some safeguards. I welcome the involvement, as far as it goes, of the chief inspector of constabulary. That is a sensible move. I also welcome the fact that a maximum number of forces will be involved. However, I am bound to say that the opposition to CSOs generally, which chief constables throughout the country have expressed, means that it is unlikely that more than six forces will wish to have them, let alone those with the power to detain. The Minister scrabbles around, mentions the Met and Northamptonshire and subsequently runs out of places that have expressed a wish for CSOs without having their arms twisted. He will be hard pushed to find more than six forces to accept them; he has not therefore made that much of a concession.

The Minister has accepted some of the legitimate arguments against the power to detain. I acknowledge that he has tried to devise a compromise that allays anxieties. I welcome the distance that he has travelled, but I regret that he has not gone far enough for my Liberal Democrat colleagues and me. We cannot accept the principle of giving non-police officers the power to detain.

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