|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: I support the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. As I understood itperhaps I have misunderstood; if so, I apologisethe 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 powerI certainly welcome itfor 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.
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.
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
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.
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 amendmentwhich would insert,
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.
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.