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Lord Cooke of Islandreagh moved Amendment No. 13:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 20. Those all concern the district councils and the district policing partnerships. They have a single purpose; namely, to ensure that the councils and the district policing partnerships carry out what they are intended to do and, if they fail to do so, that there is some recourse. In its present form, the Bill does not achieve that to the extent necessary.

Amendment No. 13 is designed to strengthen Clause 15. As it stands, the Secretary of State can compel a district council to rectify a default only if that council has failed to comply with the provisions of Clause 14(1) or Schedule 3. Our amendment seeks to change that.

Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 20 relate to Clause 16 which is concerned with the general functions of the district policing partnerships. Amendment No. 14 is based largely on the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. I believe that it is positive to have the district policing

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partnerships obligated to formulate a strategy for the reduction of crime and disorder. Surely it is important that that should be done.

Like Amendment No. 14, Amendment No. 16 is drawn from the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, applicable in England and Wales. What objections does the Minister have to increasing the role of district policing partnerships in that positive manner?

Amendment No. 15 is a consequence of my objection to policing partnerships in the future acquiring a budget to enlist private security firms for policing functions. That should not happen.

Amendment No. 20 relates to Clause 18 and is, again, in the same vein. If a DPP fails to meet any of its obligations under this clause, the board shall make such an order as it deems necessary to ensure that it complies with its duties in that regard.

The amendments have been tabled for a particular reason. It is known that some of those district councils are within areas where councillors will be representing one side or another, or one paramilitary side or another. They may well wish to carry out those actions which suit them and distort the working of the police in their area. These amendments are tabled simply to ensure that if they do that, they can be brought to book by the police board. I hope that the amendments will be approved by the House and that the Minister will look at them favourably. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, Amendment No. 13 would enable the Secretary of State to act if a council was in default under any part of Part III, instead of the current provision which gives the Secretary of State default powers on appointments.

Amendment No. 20 would enable the board to make an order requiring the DPP to comply with its report-making responsibilities. The amendments seek to place what we regard as undue control in the hands of the Secretary of State or the board. The Government sought to put proportionate safeguards in the Bill, bearing in mind theconsultative and explanatory nature of these bodies, and the amendments would not meet that test. They are overbearing.

For example, proportionate safeguards include the fact that appointments will be properly made or there is a default provision; appointments are to be made by the board, not councils; the board will be required (if government Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 are accepted) to issue a code of practice; if DPP members fail to comply with their terms of appointment or are unable or unfit to discharge their functions, the board, or the council with the approval of the board, may remove them under Schedule 3, paragraph 7. As the Government said in Committee, we recognise the concerns raised about DPPs and have therefore put in place safeguards where we believe them to be necessary and justified.

Amendments Nos. 14 and 16 seek to place a responsibility on DPPs to formulate crime and disorder strategies in their areas. While the Government have sympathy with the need to tackle crime and disorder in a more strategic way, our

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position is that set out when responding to Patten on 19th January; that is, that DPPs will not be given a wider community safety role until decisions have been taken on the Criminal Justice Review. The Government are still considering the detailed responses to consultation and will make a further announcement in due course.

Amendment No. 15 has not yet been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, and therefore I shall not deal with it. Amendment No. 17 would require a DPP to comply with the board's code of practice. DPPs are governed, even if there was no guidance, by their statutory functions. Guidance can only explain the functions. The Government do not think it right that the guidance should be prescriptive. Although a matter for the board, we anticipate that it may well apply differently to different DPPs. So in Belfast or Lisburn, for example, it may comment on the need to have local consultative arrangements involving solely business interests. There may not be such a need in every DPP area.

The other amendments in this group have not yet been moved and I shall therefore not address them at this time. In the light of my remarks, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Laird: My Lords, I listened to the noble and learned Lord with care and am pleased to note that in one instance he will be issuing a statement later. I hope that in due course the Government do not wish they had accepted some of these amendments, because they may have trouble with the DPPs. But that will be their problem. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 13A not moved.]

Clause 16 [General functions of the Board]:

[Amendments Nos. 14 to 19 not moved.]

Clause 18 [Reports by district policing partnership to Board]:

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Clause 19 [Code of practice for district policing partnerships]:

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Skelmersdale): My Lords, in calling Amendment No. 21 I have to inform the House that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 22.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 21:

    Clause 19, page 9, line 32, leave out ("may, with the consent of the Secretary of State,") and insert ("shall").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 21, it may be convenient also for me to speak to Amendments Nos. 22 to 26.

In Committee on 23rd October the Government accepted in principle an amendment tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Cooke, Lord Rogan, Lord Laird and Lord Molyneaux, placing a requirement on the policing board to issue a code of practice to DPPs.

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Amendments Nos. 21, 23 and 24 give effect to that change. Amendment No. 24 also seeks to meet concerns about the overpowering role of the Secretary of State in consenting to the code. That has been changed to agreement.

Amendment No. 22 is on the same point as my Amendment No. 21. I will not deal with Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 until they are spoken to later. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, the amendment standing in my name and that of my noble friend is subsumed in the Government's amendment. We are grateful for that and I do not intend to move it.

Lord Laird: My Lords, noting the Government's Amendments Nos. 21 and 23, we appreciate the consideration given to the arguments that we pressed in Committee and will not be pursuing our Amendment No. 22.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 23 and 24:

    Clause 19, page 9, line 33, after ("and") insert ("may").

    Clause 19, page 9, line 34, at end insert--

("( ) The Board shall obtain the agreement of the Secretary of State before issuing a code of practice, or revised code of practice, under this section.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

Lord Laird moved Amendment No. 26:

    Clause 19, page 10, line 17, at end insert--

("( ) Nothing in this section shall require a district commander or his nominee to answer any question or disclose any information which conflicts with the general duty of police officers under section 32 of this Act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, nothing in Clause 19 should require a district commander to answer questions or disclose information that would compromise his general duty as an officer. When one reads the general duties of a police officer in Clause 32, one sees they involve protecting life and property, preserving order and preventing crime.

We cannot at this point be certain that all DPPs will have the desired goal of facilitating community consultation and reducing crime within the district in partnership with the police services. Therefore Amendment No. 26 provides protection to sensitive information of which the district commander may have knowledge and protects against DPPs or members of DPPs who wish to use their position for destructive rather than constructive purposes. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, this amendment seeks to protect the police from being

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required to answer questions or to disclose information which would breach their general duty in Clause 32.

In Committee I explained that, while I expect the police to work with DPPs--indeed, I am sure they will want to do that--they are not required by the Bill to breach their duty in their dealings with them. The bodies are consultative and explanatory; there are no obligations on officers to answer specific questions. In the light of that explanation, I hope the noble Lord will not feel the need to press the amendment.

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