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Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: I support the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. As I understood it—perhaps I have misunderstood; if so, I apologise—the amendment of my noble friend Lady Anelay related to the delay between the person originally being bailed and eventually being taken to the police station. If so, my understanding is that the present position is that we have a welcome power—I certainly welcome it—for a constable, on arresting someone, to bail him at somewhere other than in a police station. That provides flexibility and saves much potential wasted police time and it means that people do not have to be unnecessarily taken to a police station, which may be a considerable distance away, and that they do not have to be detained while the various documents are gone through. That is all sensible, desirable and welcome.

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On the other hand, as the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, mentioned, there should be some time limit on the time in which a person is required to attend at a police station. New Section 30A(3) states:

    "A person released on bail under subsection (1)"—

which I understand to be a person released on bail other than at a police station—

    "must be required to attend a police station".

However, no time limit is put on the time during which that should take place. I believe that Justice and the Law Society are right to say that there should be some limitation on the period during which that bail should last. Presumably by its very nature, bail for someone on the point of arrest in relation to street bail is likely to involve an offence of a lesser degree of seriousness than that involved if he had been formally taken to a police station. If the person is merely told that he can go home on bail but not told anything about when he must appear at a police station, he may well go home to another part of the country, stay there for some weeks and suddenly find, out of the blue—when he has pretty well forgotten about the whole issue—that he has been summoned to go to a police station.

I say that because new Section 30B makes it clear that the notice that the person is given at the time must,

    "inform him that he is required to attend a police station".

However, it is purely discretionary in that he merely "may" specify the police station and the time when he is required to attend. He may well be told to go home on bail without any indication at that stage—other than being told that he must attend a police station—of when that will be. I should have thought that it was sensible that there should be a final time limit of four weeks, as the Law Society and Justice suggest, before the end of which he should be required to attend at a police station.

I say to my noble friend Lady Anelay that the only matter that makes me hesitate is that if I am right that her amendment could have that effect, it is rather a long-winded way of saying what I should have thought could have been met if one merely added the words "within four weeks" at the bottom of the second line on page 3 of the Bill.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have had a valuable discussion on this matter. The amendments relate to the new capacity that we want to introduce to enable the police to bail arrested persons from the point of arrest, which has become known as street bail. We recognise that we are breaking significant new ground here and I appreciate the fact that considerable support has been expressed for it. In particular the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, recognised the value of the flexibility that this will introduce into the system. However, the new flexibility must be balanced against the need to ensure that, first, it works well and, secondly, it is not abused. We accept that striking that balance is creating some difficulty for us all.

The question of time limits concerning the period of time between arrest, street bail and appearing at a police station is dealt with in the next grouping, which

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contains Amendment No. 12. It would probably be better if I deal with that issue when we reach the grouping. Amendment No. 8 is directed towards imposing limits on the delay allowed in taking an arrested person to a police station or street bailing them when their presence elsewhere is required to carry out urgent investigations. The capacity for such a delay in relation to removal to a police station is long established, and the clause extends similar provisions to street bail. I think that I can say with some confidence that any delay in such circumstances will not generally be very long, although in certain situations it may be for longer than two hours.

Such a delay might be absolutely essential; indeed, it could be completely counter-productive for it to be anything other than that. I cite, for example, the circumstance where an arrested person is needed to attend a complicated search of premises. However, the police must be able to justify the delay and they will be required specifically to record the reasons for that delay. Imposing what might be described as a somewhat arbitrary time limit does not seem justified in those circumstances. In effect it would restrict a measure of flexibility that has been in place and available to the police for many years. Further, it should be placed on the record that the procedure has apparently operated without any great difficulties and has not noticeably infringed the rights of arrested persons.

So, although it is possible that the delay between the time of arrest and street bail being granted could be significant, searches of premises can take some time. While it is obvious that such investigations must be undertaken quickly, I am sure that we can all think of cases or examples in which they may need to take longer and in which having the apprehended person present at the time would be of immense value to the quality and conduct of the investigation.

Amendment No. 9 refers to the written record of any delays occurring when the arrested person first arrives at the police station or is released on street bail. It would require the arrested person to be given a copy of that record forthwith. In practice, the reasons for any delay will normally be apparent to the person arrested and often will be explained to them by the officer concerned. A record of those reasons will always be available in the detained person's custody record, the police officer's pocket book or the documentation that the arrested person receives when they are street bailed. With that in mind, the absolute requirement that the amendment would impose to provide an immediate copy of the written record in every case seems an unnecessary burden.

The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, discussed the requirement for the arrested person to attend the police station. That is a very right and proper matter to raise. The noble Lord suggested that the police station ought to be reasonably proximate to the arrested person's home. That is not unreasonable on the face of it, but let us consider the different circumstances under which someone might be arrested. For example, if a suspect is arrested in Newcastle, but lives in Truro, why make the police travel to Truro? What would be

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the justification for doing that? I do not think that we could reasonably—either operationally or in terms of the effective use of police time—impose a strict stipulation that the police station that an arrested person should attend must be reasonably proximate to their home. That could create great difficulties for the police themselves. However, it may be that sensible arrangements could be made for the arrested person to attend a police station.

The noble Lord also raised the issue of free legal advice. The current situation will pertain. Suspects will be given free legal advice, as they are under the arrangements as they currently operate. We see no difficulty in that. Indeed, I believe that there is wide agreement that the present arrangements work very well. If the noble Lord has a further point which he thinks we should consider, then of course we shall listen to what he has to say.

I hope that, with those comments, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: The Minister said that it would be better to deal with the question of whether there should be a final date in a later grouping; that is, when we come to the amendment which, at page 3, line 18, specifies after the word "subsequently" a period of two weeks. Surely the present position is that there is no time limit from the date of the granting of bail until the person is required to turn up at the police station either in Clause 3 or in the later clause. Thus the effect of the amendment on the later clause would be merely to state that if an arrested person is not given notice of the time when he has to attend the police station, then within two months he should be given notice of that time. I sought to make that point that a limit should be put on the time from the date of bail until the requirement to appear at a police station. With respect, the noble Lord has not dealt with that point.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I have not dealt with it because I thought that we might address those issues when we look at Amendment No. 12. If I am reading my notes correctly, the aim of that amendment—which would insert,

    "within the period of two weeks from the date on which bail was granted"

after "subsequently"—would be more usefully included in the discussion we shall have when we reach the next grouping, of which Amendment No. 12 forms a part.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Carlisle of Bucklow for pointing out that there are two types of time limit involved here. That is why I asked for Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 to be degrouped from the following set. I anticipated that there could be just this kind of difficulty in dealing with these matters.

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In practice, the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, has outlined so sufficiently the arguments that I would have put in support of Amendment No. 12 that it would not be right for me to seek to repeat them. When we reach the next grouping, I shall simply drop those remarks from my speech and rely on the arguments already put forward by the noble Lord.

I am grateful to the Minister for advancing the argument further than was possible in another place and I shall read carefully what he has said about the time limits addressed in this group of amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

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