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Viscount Brookeborough: The noble and learned Lord has linked this to Section 32. The DPP stands for co-operation with local communities. Co-operation is co-operation whether a community is hard-line or not. It is not that the police would not be trying to carry out their functions. If they were working in co-operation with a very hard-line community, it could mis-direct them and attempt to control them.

Section 16 of the 2000 Act deals with the functions of DPPs. DPPs do not have control of the police. They provide views, they monitor, they make arrangements for obtaining views and they act as a general forum. We had an argument about that when that Bill went through. Section 16(1)(e) says,

This would appear to me to be that other statutory function which can now come in under the DPPs as the policemen, with the police having an obligation to co-operate with any local community if it is deemed as such. Since the Government in their wisdom seem to want to divide Belfast into hard areas, I can see no way that the DPP has anything other than a statutory duty to co-operate with that community under Section 16(1)(e) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are confusing two completely different things. We should go back to

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Section 31A and the functions of police officers defined in Section 32 of the Act. They are quite separate from the functions of the DPP in Section 16 of the Act. Someone on the DPP is not obliged to take measures to protect life and property, to prevent the commission of offences or to take measures to bring the offender to justice. We must keep these concepts distinct. What is said here is, "Under the general arch of your functions as defined in new Section 31A you must try, as a matter of principle, to secure the support of the local community and to act in co-operation with it". That is exactly what Patten said: "You will never have an effective police force unless you get local community support". That is a truism. We will not get effective policing unless we get the co-operation of the local community. That is an aspiration and a principle which is set down and is perfectly sensible.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, in his first response he said that the clause was admirably drafted. I wonder whether it can be quite so admirably drafted if it has given rise to the difficulties that have been voiced by our colleagues today, leave aside myself. All I ask is that the Minister should think again. It may be that on reflection it will occur to all of us that it is admirably drafted. At present I am not in that happy state. After all, we are trying to make life a little easier for ordinary police constables, who are faced with extraordinarily difficult public order situations from time to time, and for their immediate commanders on the ground. I should like the Minister to again consider this and to perhaps give a little less cursory response. I see the argument he put forward but whether that would be as clear if there were a declaratory sentence inserted into the Bill is perhaps for consideration.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Fitt: In the rarefied atmosphere of this Committee it is hard to realise the difficult situation we are discussing. Anyone in Northern Ireland last weekend would have been able to watch a BBC Northern Ireland programme called "Interface". On Sunday night the programme depicted what it was like to live on the Catholic side of a peace line and on Monday night—I have not seen it but I am getting the tape—what it was like on the other side. From what I saw of the Sunday night episode, in Ardoyne the police were being stoned, bottled and firebombed. There was no way that a policeman could enter that area without wearing all sorts of gear and protection from the army and the rest.

On the other side of the peace line, it was exactly the same. The so-called peace line between them is either barbed wire or a wall. Incidentally, there are 21 peace lines in Belfast. Where do we get a representative of that community, as it is called? Does that community take in a radius of 500 or 600 yards? We would have someone from the Catholic community and someone from the loyalist community, and the police would be faced with a terrible difficulty. So, do not let us underestimate the difficulty in trying to find a community representative who will be acceptable to

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both sides of the peace line. That will not happen. There will be one from the loyalist side and one from the other side. They are the people who will dictate, in no uncertain way, whether or not policemen are allowed into that area.

Lord Glentoran: The intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, made the point yet again that Patten was, in his own words, written for a normal, peaceful society. My point, which I have laboured all the way through, with which I shall continue and which stands, is that the time is not right for the Bill. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, for making the point so clearly.

Lord Rogan: Perhaps I may add to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Fitt. From what he says, the situation on the ground is far worse. Most people coming from Belfast would identify the Shankill as one area and the Falls as another. The Shankill is a very defined area of Belfast and has been for generations. In the minds of most people it would be a single community. Yet we all know that because of what has happened in the Shankill over the past few years it is at least two communities if not three, so it is worse than just across the divides.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I do not disagree with anything that has been said—certainly not with what the noble Lord, Lord Fitt said. I hope that my response was not cursory, because I have returned to the Act three times and explained it carefully. I urge the Committee to keep distinct the principle that attaches to a police officer's core functions and the problems that may inure from DPPs, which I do not overlook.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: I am somewhat disappointed that the noble and learned Lord has not responded to my serious point about consistency. We have not grasped the difficulty in a practical sense. It has perhaps been acknowledged but not grasped in a practical sense. I shall not enlarge upon what the noble Lords, Lord Fitt, Lord Rogan, or Lord Glentoran, have said on the matter.

Whenever the time may come for the Bill, it is not and should not be now. Society in Northern Ireland is not ready for it. The terminology that is being used here is confusing. Whatever leadership I had, I should not like to be a young police officer aged 19 or 20 trying to interpret what were my priorities as I policed some of the most difficult areas of Northern Ireland.

Nor, in fact, would I as a young policeman—or as a much older individual—be able to define what is a community in Northern Ireland. No one lives in a box. Whatever happens in one geographical area impacts on the adjacent one. The people who live in one geographical area interface with people in the adjacent geographical area, so there is no simple definition of what is a local community. None the less, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 38 not moved.]

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Lord Shutt of Greetland moved Amendment No. 39:

    Page 9, line 15, at end insert ", and

(c) protecting human rights"

The noble Lord said: We are here in similar territory to that of previous amendments. The noble and learned Lord mentioned Section 32 of the 2000 Act. New Section 31A is to be inserted in front of that. The Act mentions "the police" and "general functions". The Government have deemed it necessary to insert New Subsection 31A, entitled "Core policing principles", in front of that. Whereas Section 32 deals with "functions"—we have heard that they include protecting life and property, preserving order, preventing the commission of offences and so on—the core policing principles come before that.

Although I am not certain whether new Section 31A(1)(a) and (b) are entirely correct and new Section 31A(2) mentions other functions, the new section seems really to be about the aim and purpose of policing. It is fair enough to say that it is about "securing the support" of local people and "acting in co-operation" with local people, but there is another dimension—we have human rights. If it is so important to have this clause of core principles, protecting human rights should be one of them. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I sympathise entirely with the thinking behind this and I hope I can reassure the noble Lord and the Committee that because of the Human Rights Act 1998, all police officers are obliged to act compatibly with the European Convention on Human Rights. The clause makes it clear that the code of ethics is the guide for all police officers, which they must attend to. That code is fully compatible with the ECHR and other international human rights standards. Apart from that, the board has a duty under Section 3(3)(b) of the 2000 Act to monitor the performance of the police in complying with the Human Rights Act and under Section 3(3)(d)(iv) to assess the effectiveness of the code of ethics. Therefore, one has here a deeply ingrained human rights protection and, on the basis of those assurances, I hope the noble Lord will not press his amendment.

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