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Lord Henley: Before the Minister leaves that point, will he give some guidance as to when the Secretary of State might be making that prescription and what consultation he will have before he makes that prescription? In other words, will we be able to have some input into the type of persons and bodies that should be included?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I should have thought it extremely unlikely that the Secretary of State would wish to conclude that process before the Bill has gone through another place. That would be constitutionally inappropriate. Anyone who wishes to make representations to the Home Secretary is more than welcome to do so. We do not intend--if I may give some assistance--to rule out any voluntary organisation. Anyone locally, within the general umbrella to which I referred when answering the question of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, could be invited to participate by the local partners if they have anything to contribute.

There are two questions of consultation here. One is the process of consultation with the Home Secretary, and I repeat that we are more than happy to have representation from anyone who has an interest in this field. There is the secondary consultation which will be at the local level between the partners, as it were, and those who are active and able within their particular areas.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Formulation and implementation of strategies]:

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws moved Amendment No. 102:

Page 5, line 37, after ("disorder") insert (", and fear of crime and disorder,").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment seeks to ensure that the crime and disorder strategy takes account also of the fear of crime and disorder in an area. Fear of crime has long been considered a vital component of

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community safety. Local authorities have strategies which are founded on community-based action to inhibit and remedy the causes and consequences of crime, intimidation, and other related anti-social behaviour.

The purpose of those strategies is to secure real reductions in crime and fear of crime in local communities. The absence in the Bill of the concept of the fear of crime has been commented upon by practitioners. If the Government's definition of "crime and disorder" is too narrowly defined, they will miss an important dimension of how crime impacts on communities.

The Government might well feel that having that formulation on the face of the Bill might not be helpful. It is hoped that my noble friend the Minister will take the opportunity to state that the fear of crime needs to be taken into account in the development of new local strategies. It would also be helpful if my noble friend could state whether the guidance currently being developed for local authorities and the police by the Home Office will deal with that issue. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I support the amendment. The fear of crime has a disproportionate effect on people. I shall give an example, once again, from Scotland. My brother is a parish minister in Argyll, in the picture postcard country of Kilmelford. He finds it impossible to persuade elderly folk to attend any events because of fear of crime. In practice that is ludicrous in that area. They have seen so much of it on "Crimewatch" and similar programmes, that they believe it is happening. They may accept the social work diktat that feelings are facts: if you think it is out there, it is out there, and so you stay at home. The crime and disorder strategies should perhaps reach as far as television.

The Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): As my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws said, the effect of the amendment would be to require that on the face of the Bill one of the matters that the strategy would have to address would be the fear of crime and disorder. I should make it clear that we in government are aware of the enervating, destructive and corrosive effect of the fear of crime. We hope that the strategies will address that important aspect of fear in our society. However, we do not believe that stating it on the face of the Bill as one of the aims of the strategy would be sensible, because the strategies would be based upon an audit of local crime and disorder problems. That would have to be done in conjunction with other agencies, business, the local community, and all the persons on the relevant teams. It is unlikely that any partnership would be able to tackle all the problems identified by the audit. So they will inevitably have to prioritise those problems with which they can deal.

An obligation to reduce the fear of crime may well lead to any area experiencing a high fear of crime being given an artificially high priority simply so that the partnership could demonstrate that it was taking steps to combat the fear of crime. This could lead to an inappropriate diversion of resources, away from poor,

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high crime areas to affluent, low crime areas which can demonstrate a high fear of crime. I fear that if the provision is put on the face of the Bill there will be an inappropriate diversion of resources simply in order that the strategies appear to be achieving something.

My noble friend Lady Kennedy asked whether the guidance will deal with the fear of crime. The answer is, yes, it will, which is a recognition of the importance we attach to the issue. I hope that in the light of that explanation my noble friend will withdraw her amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Will the publication of the results of the audit lead to a further and greater fear of crime?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: That would depend on the results of the strategy, but, no, I do not believe that it will. The purpose of the strategy is to identify the aims of the local community in dealing with crime. The example given by the noble Earl indicates that one does not need a strategy to create a fear of crime; it already exists. I do not believe that the audit will have a material effect on the anxieties he has raised.

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws: I am reassured by the Minister's words and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Northbourne: Is it intended that the strategy should cover not only the control of punishment of crime but also crime prevention measures, diversion from crime and strategies attacking the causes of crime? That is not clear from the Bill.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Absolutely, yes.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Supplemental]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 103:

Page 6, line 40, at end insert--
("( ) The Secretary of State shall within two years of this section coming into effect make a report to Parliament on the working of crime and disorder strategies.").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to a similar amendment at the end of our debate on Clause 1. I implied that I would not return to the other amendments, but I return to this amendment in order to obtain the same helpful reassurance. Can the Minister assure the Committee that all the new provisions of the Bill will be kept under review by the Government and that they will make the review public and allow Parliament to consider the matters? I beg to move.

Lord Renton: I hope that the Minister will give a sympathetic answer. The provision should be made not only from the point of view of Parliament, but the Home

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Office should know that it must prepare a summary of its actions which will become public. There is great advantage in that.

Lord Hylton: I support the amendment and express the hope that any report from the Secretary of State will take into account the large amount of unreported crime. That aspect gives rise to the fears mentioned in our debate on Amendment No. 102. We know that crime goes unreported because people believe that nothing will be done about it if it is reported.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I understand the thinking behind the amendment. It was clearly put by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. Your Lordships heard the response which was given to a similar amendment tabled earlier in Committee. There are differences between this provision and the provisions in Clause 1. Local strategies involve the appropriate area preparing a strategy, which will mean 400 strategies throughout the country. It will be virtually impossible for my right honourable friend effectively to discharge any obligation to report to Parliament. Even if he were to require those responsible for developing and implementing the strategies locally to report to him at the end of the two-year period--which the Bill does not at present oblige them to do--he would be poorly placed, on the evidence of such reports alone, to make worthwhile judgments about the effectiveness of local action in more than 400 areas. Furthermore, he would be poorly placed indeed to assess the real relevance of the strategies to local needs and circumstances, which must be their primary focus.

I must emphasise that the Government do not intend to wash their hands of these strategies once they are in place. We would certainly wish to be actively involved in the process of helping to identify and disseminate good practice and, resources permitting, would expect to be involved in research-based analysis of the activity of the local partnerships and evaluation of the outcomes achieved. As regards parliamentary debate, one would hope that at some stage it would be appropriate, but that must be arranged through the usual channels.

I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

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