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Lord Ackner: Will the Minister confirm that an arrested person has the right, in relation to these telephone methods of dealing with the case, to be represented at the interview if he so requests? If the Minister can confirm that, I do not follow why there is any resistance to the suggestion that the arrested person should be so informed of that right to ensure that he exercises it if he wants it.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The position is that a person who is so detained is advised on arrest that he or she can have legal representatives there when interviewed. That is standard practice. A person who is providing legal advice will be advised of the review and will be able to make representations on behalf of the person who it is considered should be further detained. The provision, significance and involvement of the person able to give legal advice is there at all stages, as it always has been.
Lord Ackner: Before the Minister answers the noble Lord's question, can he answer mine? Simply, what is the basis of the Government resisting Amendment No. 20? By all means, then reply to the noble Lord's question.
Viscount Colville of Culross: Can the Minister confirm my recollection about these reviews? They are of the utmost importance to the person being detained. One of the ways in which they are important is that the reviewing officer should reassure himself that the people carrying out the investigation are getting on with it. It is not something for which the defence solicitor will be much use. He may wish to know it but he will not be able to assist. What the reviewing officer wishes to know is that there are still grounds for detention in that ongoing inquiries are actively taking place. In the type of geographical circumstances mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord BassamI remind him of the Dyfed-Powys force and some of the other Welsh forces where the distances are very great indeedit is extremely important that the reviewing officer should talk to the people on the ground who are at the police station and carrying out the investigations. That is as much of a safeguard for the person who has been detained as having the solicitor present in the course of the review. There is a better balance here perhaps if looked at in that way.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord makes a very important point. For operational reasons, which in a sense is the counter-argument raised by my noble friend Lord Brennan, the significance of having the facility to review these very few but appreciable cases and recognising the importance of the individual's liberty, obviously is as important as anything else. Operationally, that facility must exist.
The answer to the question of why we are resistant to Amendment No. 20 is simple. As it is, with the proposition that it contains, Amendment No. 20 could create long delays in many cases while waiting for a solicitor to attend the police station. If it is difficult for the police officer to attend the police station to conduct the review in person, it may equally be the case in large geographically spread out police authority areas for the solicitor or legal representative to attend
The criteria for extending detention are and will be clear. The reviewing officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that continued detention without charge is necessary to secure or preserve evidence or obtain evidence by questioning. That very important criteria, which in some circumstances will be limited, must be satisfied. The criteria will be very clear and will have a bearing on the judgment made by a senior police officer. Understanding the importance of that should impress upon Members of the Committee who have been raising and pressing these amendments. I understand the concern about the individual's liberty, but the operational advantages and, coincidentally, the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, about the benefits to the arrested person, are also important considerations. Efficiency and effectiveness are key parts of our argument. While we respect the liberty of the individual, we must have regard to the importance of operational matters in these situations.
Lord Dholakia: Before the Minister sits down, I asked about the Youth Justice Board which expressed serious concern about the detention of young people in this provision. The Minister replied that the Government are giving serious consideration to this matter. We should like to know precisely what is the intention of the Government in relation to the representation made by the Youth Justice Board? Would it not be wise for the Government to withdraw this clause until they are in a position to come back and inform the Committee about the action they intend to take?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The answer is plainly "no". Parliament recognised the importance and significance of this power in earlier legislation. We greatly respect the advice that is given to us from all quartersnot least, of course, from the Youth Justice Board, which does brilliant work and has an excellent track record.
Obviously the guidance will have to be clear where juveniles are concerned and we are listening to representations on that issue. It would not be appropriate to withdraw the clause or power while we take on board the comments and observations being made. Ultimately, the guidance will be critical to the way in which the provision is operated. That is common in this kind of legislation and in many other kinds of legislation.
Lord Alexander of Weedon: The noble Lord kindly referred to the broad support that I give to the principle of the clause but, having listened to the debate and the question of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, will the Minister consider whether the effectiveness of the process includes its validity? If it does, would it not be sensible to accept unreservedly that a person has the right to the presence of legal representation, and to be told that he has that right?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I respect what the noble Lord says about the validity of the processthat is an important considerationbut there is no need for legal advice to be physically present. Representations can be made over the phone and the amendment does not take us any further in that regard. Amendment No. 20 is not needed. Legal representatives do not always attend physical reviews at present. The operation of the review process has worked very well and we are not aware of any wholesale abuse of it. We believe that we have got the balance about right.
I listen to what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has to say about this because I know of his great experience in this field. Obviously we will continue to consider the point he has made as we go through the legislation, but we are content with the way it is drafted.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the Minister for his response, particularly because in this complex debate he has been called upon to respond at different times to different points as it has developed. Detention is a serious matter. As the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, said at the beginning of the debate, this is a serious, sensitive matter of civil liberty.
We believe that a senior officer should be involved. I was intrigued by the Minister's response that a senior officer, an inspector, was involved. He referred to a senior officer in middle management, so suddenly "senior" is "middle". I am not too sure where the logic is in that, but never mind.
I am concerned with the issues raised by my noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon about the integrity of the whole process. The Minister has directed us time and time againboth in this debate and before itto the issue of guidance. I shall dream tonight that guidance will form the third, fourth or fifth volume of the Bill. There is a deep concern that without the safeguards in my amendments the Government have not justified their stance on Clause 4.
The killer blows came from two quarters. First, from the noble Viscount, Lord BledisloeI beg the Committee's pardon, from the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. I am looking at the right person but saying the wrong name. I apologise to the noble Viscounts, who are both in their places. One killer blow was delivered by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, when he referred to the fact that the reviewing officer needs to be there to check upon this serious process. The second lethal blow was dealt by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. We have not been told the response to the Youth Justice Board.
Although I shall not press my amendments, I believe that the Government need further time to consider the whole issue and to bring forward a good Clause 4. When we get to clause stand part I shall maintain my objection. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.