Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill

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Schedule 14

Amendments of Part 5 of Police Act 1997

Amendments made: No. 61, in schedule 14, page 201, line 35, at end insert—

    '(c) after subsection (6) (as inserted by section 142(2) of this Act) insert—

    ''(7) In the case of such a body the reference in subsection (5) to a police authority must be construed as a reference to such body as is prescribed.''.'.

No. 62, in schedule 14, page 202, line 7, at end add—

    '14 In section 125, at the end add—

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    ''(6) If the power mentioned in subsection (1) is exercised by the Scottish Ministers, the reference in subsection (3) to each House of Parliament must be construed as a reference to the Scottish Parliament.''.'.—[Ms Blears.]

Schedule 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 141

Criminal records checks: verification of identity

Amendment made: No. 42, in clause 141, page 110, line 18, at end insert—

    '(ba) by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland;'. —[Ms Blears.]

Clause 141, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 142

Certain references to police forces

Amendments made: No. 43, in clause 142, page 110, line 28, leave out

    '(11)(a) to (i) and (12)'

and insert

    '(10)(a) to (i) and (11)'.

No. 44, in clause 142, page 110, line 34, leave out from 'In' to 'after' and insert

    'each version of section 120A of that Act (as inserted respectively by section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 and section 70 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003),'.

No. 45, in clause 142, page 110, line 37, leave out

    '(11)(a) to (i) and (12)'

and insert

    '(10)(a) to (i) and (11)'.

No. 46, in clause 142, page 111, line 3, leave out

    '(11)(a) to (i) and (12)'

and insert

    '(10)(a) to (i) and (11)'.—[Ms Blears.]

Clause 142, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 143

Further amendments to Police Act 1997 as it applies to Scotland

Amendment made: No. 47, in clause 143, page 111, line 13, at end insert 'or 124A(1) and (2)'.—[Ms Blears.]

Clause 143, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 144

Part 5 of the Police Act 1997: Channel Island and Isle of Man

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Heath: I rise simply to ask why the clause is necessary. It would appear to give Her Majesty the power to do something within the bailiwicks or the Isle of Man that she ought to be permitted to do as
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sovereign of those Crown territories without recourse to Parliament. I am not clear about the need for the clause.

Ms Blears: At the moment, the provisions of the Police Act 1997 dealing with information on the local police force do not extend to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. As the Criminal Records Bureau has no jurisdiction there, it cannot directly ask for information from those police forces. We have a sort of gateway arrangement under which the nearest mainland force provides the information. It works, but it is more like a post box, and it is an extra administrative burden.

We want to extend part 5 to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man by Order in Council. That would give us the opportunity to get rid of the gateway and post box function and allow the CRB to request information directly from those police forces.

Mr. Heath: That is commendable. I do not argue with the intention, but I do not entirely see why it is necessary. It will change legislation in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man so that the UK Parliament has a locus there. However, I am happy with the Minister's assurance.

Clause 144 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 145 and 146 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 147

Private Security Industry Act 2001: Scottish extent

Amendment made: No. 48, in clause 147, page 112, line 41, at end insert—

    '( ) In Schedule 2 to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 (asp 11) (persons liable to investigation) after paragraph 90 add—

    ''91 The Security Industry Authority.'''.—[Ms Blears.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

David Cairns (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Lab): The clause is small, but it is significant for my constituency, as it extends the Private Security Industry Act 2001, which currently applies only to England and Wales, to Scotland. It shows the maturity of the devolution set-up that the Bill can be used as a vehicle to extend those important provisions to Scotland, but it puts the onus on those of us who represent Scottish constituencies to ask a few questions of the Minister and probe her on exactly what it will mean.

I understand that the Scottish Executive has been consulting on the possibility of having similar provisions in Scotland to those in the 2001 Act but that it has not yet had time to legislate. It is a testimony to the relationship between the Executive and the Government that an agreement has been reached that allows the Bill to be used as a means of achieving that.

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In parenthesis, I was almost tempted to divide the Committee on the clause, just to watch the spectacle of colleagues who represent only English and Welsh constituencies voting on legislation that applies only in Scotland—an interesting twist on the West Lothian question—but I will not do so.

Mr. Heath: We have been doing that since 1707; it is nothing novel for us.

David Cairns: The hon. Gentleman might have noticed that, since 1707, the Scottish Parliament has been re-established, and we do not generally have bolt-on legislation that applies only in Scotland. He may have been dozing when we passed the Scotland Act.

The concerns about the behaviour of bouncers, private security firms, wheel clampers and so on that gave rise to the 2001 Act in England and Wales obviously do not stop at the border. Those concerns are as valid in my constituency as they are in every part of the kingdom. I know of a constituent whose son—an off-duty police officer—was seriously assaulted by a bouncer in a club. Perhaps he should have known better, but, under severe provocation, he fought back, and lost his job as a result. I suspect every hon. Member will know of an instance of behaviour by bouncers or private security firms that goes well beyond the law as it would apply to any ordinary citizen regarding affray, breach of the peace or assault.

Too many bouncers and private security firms operate as pseudo-gangster operations. Presumably that is why the 2001 Act was brought in. In some of the major cities in Scotland, in Glasgow and particularly in Edinburgh, there is a great deal of concern about the operation of such firms, so the provisions are timely. I do not wish to detain the Committee unduly, because the Private Security Act will have received a great deal of scrutiny, and I am sure it is an appropriate legislative vehicle if it is applying in England and Wales. However, given that the Act has been in operation for three years now, will the Minister tell us her assessment of its impact? How many prosecutions there have been? How many licences have been revoked? Does she believe that there has been a marked improvement in the behaviour of private security firms and bouncers as a result of the legislation being in place? Since the authorities in Scotland will be implementing that legislation upon Royal Assent to the Bill, what lessons have been learnt from its implementation in England and Wales?

Ms Blears: My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (David Cairns) raises some important matters. There has been excellent co-operation between us and the Scottish Executive. I understand regulation of the private security sector is supported not just by the public in Scotland but also by many people in the decent parts of the industry who desperately want to raise standards and get rid of the criminal element that is sometimes present in the security sector.

Our provisions provide for consultation between us and Scottish Ministers to ensure that, when we make decisions, they take into account the situation in Scotland. Although the Security Industry Authority
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has been established for a couple of years now, it started issuing licences only last June, so it is fairly early days. It expects to license about 40,000 door supervisors, and we have been rolling that out on a regional basis across the country. I have no doubt that the experience of the SIA as it has carried out the licensing process will inform its operation in Scotland and it will have learned lessons.

The SIA is not simply about the administrative process of licensing. It is also designed to raise standards in the industry and ensure that it becomes a respectable part of the security field. That is a difficult task. It is about major cultural and transformational change in the industry, but the decent firms want to do that. It is important that we drive out the poor firms.

There is one interesting difference regarding the provisions in Scotland: apparently vehicle immobilisers, or wheel clampers, will not be licensed in Scotland because that is already illegal—it is classed as ''extortion'' north of the border.

We have tried to ensure that all the appeal provisions are correct in relation to the Scottish legal system, so the appeal in the first instance is to the sheriff. I hope my hon. Friend is reassured that the SIA will take its duties in relation to Scotland very seriously. Over the next few years, I hope to see a transformation of the private security industry, with decent terms and conditions for the employees within it and real integrity and probity in the firms that undertake security work, not just in England, but in Scotland.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 147, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 15

Private Security Industry Act 2001: Scottish extent

Amendment made: No. 63, in schedule 15, page 202, leave out lines 42 to 44.—[Ms Blears.]

Schedule 15, as amended, agreed to.

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