|Police Reform Bill [Lords]
Mr. Denham: I beg to move amendment No. 192, in page 130, line 37, at end insert
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The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 195, 204, 260 and 261.
Mr. Denham: The amendments improve on the way in which powers are allocated between detention officers and investigating officers under schedule 4. They link the powers that relate to detention officers in the schedule to those that may be conferred on investigating officers. The amendments do not change or alter the scope of the powers.
The two powers in question are, first, the power to arrest at a police station for a further offence, and secondly, the power to require arrested persons to account for matters such as the presence of an object, substance or remark, or their presence at a particular place. On reflection, those are essentially powers that may be needed to support the process of interviewing suspects. That is more properly done by a designated investigating officer, or of course a police officer, if designated investigating officers are not being used. By
Column Number: 280switching the powers of part 3 of the schedule to part 2, the amendments help to maintain the distinction between persons who are responsible for the detention and custody of suspects and those whose responsibility is investigation and interviewing.
Amendment No. 192 will create new paragraph 17A, and will provide a power whereby a custody officer may transfer responsibility for a person in police detention to an investigating officer. That is because section 39(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides that the custody officer's responsibility to ensure that codes of practice are complied with, for example, ceases when the detained person is transferred to the custody of a police officer investigating an offence and is in police detention, or when an officer has charge of that person outside the police station.
Under the Bill, when an escort officer is given lawful custody of a detained person outside a police station, the custody officer's responsibilities can be transferred. However, as the Bill stands, the custody officer cannot be relieved of their responsibilities if the case is transferred to the investigating officer.
The amendment modifies section 39(2)(a) of PACE, so that when the investigating officer is given lawful custody of the detained person in the police station, the custody officer's responsibilities can be transferred. Otherwise, there would be an anomaly whereby the investigating officer would be dealing with the prisoner, but the custody officer's responsibilities would remain in place. That is not what would happen if a police officer were conducting the investigation. In such circumstances, it would be quite unlikely that the custody officer would want to hand the detained person over to an investigating officer, but we do not want to hinder the use of the powers.
The duty under section 39(3) of PACE for the person investigating the offence to report back to the custody officer on how the codes are being complied with once the detained person is returned to his custody will also apply to a designated civilian investigating officer under proposed new paragraph 17B. Amendments Nos. 260 and 261 are consequential and technical.
Mr. Paice: Never have I been more honest than in saying that I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. I wrestled with the amendments but could not for the life of me understand what the Government were up to. I do not have any notes in front of me because I genuinely wanted to hear what he had to say. He has explained the amendments extremely cogently and clearly. I was puzzled as to why he was removing powers when that is what the Opposition have been trying to do throughout the debate. I now understand not only what he is doing but why. The logic is clear and entirely supportable, so I have nothing more to say, other than to thank him again for explaining what the Government are doing.
Norman Baker: The Minister may recall that earlier, in discussion on a large group of amendments, I raised the issue of arrest by civilians at a police station for a further offence. I now take the opportunity to raise it
Column Number: 281again, as what with the huge number of issues raised, he did not respond to it. Why is it necessary for a civilian to carry out an arrest at a police station for another offence, and why is it not possible for a police officer to be summoned to do that? Presumably, police officers would not be very far away.
I confess to the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire that I have not researched section 31 of the 1984 Act in as detailed a manner as I might. I would be grateful if the Minister could put on the record, for Hansard, the offences that are covered by the proposal and the maximum penalty faced by a person who was charged and found guilty of such an offence. I have reservations about citizens carrying out arrests unless it is absolutely necessary, and I am not convinced that such an arrest is necessary if it occurs in a police station.
Mr. Denham: At the risk of sounding like a cracked record from earlier today, I say that the ability to make a subsequent arrest arises in an interviewing police officer's normal practice if a further crime for which the suspect must be arrested comes to light during the interview. As we envisage the possibility of investigating officers being able to carry out interviews in the police station, it is logical that the investigating officer to whom the further offence is disclosed may use the power of arrest. After all, the offender would be sitting in the custody suite of the police station. That is different from arresting people out on the streets and bringing them into the station. The set of powers that will be used by the investigating officer allows completeness.
There is no getting away from the fact that we are using schedule 4 to extend certain limited police powers to civilians who have been properly trained in order to make the maximum use of those civilians and free up the maximum police time for other duties. Our judgment is that the power can be properly extended.
I understand that the penalties that might arise would depend on the offence, so it might be better if I write a slightly longer reply to the question asked by the hon. Member for Lewes on that point.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 193, in page 130, line 39, leave out 'under section 35'.
No. 194, in page 131, line 8, leave out 'under section 35'.
No. 195, in page 131, line 14, leave out paragraph 20.
No. 196, in page 131, line 28, leave out 'under section 35'.
No. 197, in page 132, line 2, leave out 'under section 35'.[Mr. Denham.]
Mrs. Brooke: I beg to move amendment No. 59, in page 132, line 10, leave out paragraph 23.
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We have already rehearsed the arguments on this issue and I suspect that we shall just repeat some of them. I quote from a statement about intimate body searches that was made on Third Reading in the House of Lords by Lord Dholakia. He said:
I understood the Minister's argument in our previous debate on the subject to hinge on the fact that few intimate body searches will be conducted and instances in which there will not be a trained medical person around will be rare and, therefore, it will not matter if the powers are given to a civilian who has received a certain amount of training. I still see the issue from the other angle: if an intimate body search will be such a rarity, why not have the additional safeguard that the search should be carried out by a trained police officer? The issue is sensitive. Some people say that it feels like verbal abuse as well as a physical act on them. In many ways, it is a degrading practice for both parties. It places a burden on detention officers, and because it is so rare, I think that the police could cope with this one exceptional call on their time. The amendment is very important, and I would like to thank the Minister for his comments about it in a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes.
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