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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Not surprisingly, I would resist such a move. I should say straightaway what I said in answer to the earlier amendments. The test results may not be used in additional evidence in support of any offences of which the detainees have been charged, or for other investigative purposes, or as an aggravating factor when sentencing. The noble Baroness has concerns and fears about those issues. That is why we have made it absolutely clear that the tests cannot be used for that purpose.
Clause 12 introduces changes to the drug testing provisions in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984PACE. Section 38 of the Act relates to the duties of the custody officer after charge, and Section 63B to testing for presence of class A drugs. We have touched upon those issues earlier today. The clause will allow for persons aged under 18, specifically those aged 14 and above, to be tested for specified class A drugs after charge, and for the custody officer to detain the young person concerned to enable a sample to be taken for that purpose. Where the young person has not attained the age of 17, the clause provides for an appropriate adult to be present from the making of a request that the individual undergo a drug test to the taking of the sample. The provisions are intended to be introduced on a pilot basis.
Section 38 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 currently allows a custody officer, in the areas where that section has been brought into force, to request a sample to be taken from persons aged 18 and over who have been charged with a "trigger offence". We discussed the definition of trigger offences earlier. They are defined in Schedule 6 to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. It allows the custody officer to test for the presence of any specified class A drug, such as heroin and cocaine/crack. A person may be detained for up to six hours after charge for that purpose, and failure to provide a sample without good cause is an offence. Those charged with non-trigger offences may also be tested when a police officer of inspector rank or above authorises the test on the basis of reasonable grounds to suspect that misuse of any specified class A drug caused or contributed to the offence. It is significant that we chose inspector rank at this point; it indicates the weight we believe to be appropriate.
The criminal justice White Paper, Justice for All, confirmed our intention to extend these drug-testing provisions to those aged under 18. We propose to pilot the provisions in respect of young persons aged 14 and above. Should evidence emerge to suggest that we would be justified in extending the measure to include persons under the age of 14, as the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, would probably like us to do, there is provision to do so. Equally, testing may be restricted to those older than 14 if evidence warrants such a change.
Clause 12 accordingly amends the relevant provisions inserted in PACEnamely, Section 38, relating to the duties of a custody officer after charge, and Section 63B, which sets out the conditions for drug testingto enable drug testing to apply to those under 18, and specifically to those aged 14 and above. Subsection (2) makes the necessary amendments to Section 38(1) of PACE, which sets out the exceptions under which the custody officer can detain persons after charge, to allow for arrested juveniles, provided
It is important for us to consider the details of the provisions as they all fit together wellcontrary to what has been said. One can see a synergy. The subsection inserts Section 63B(10), which defines the persons who may act as an appropriate adult. The definition is compatible with the appropriate adult definition as detailed in the PACE code C, which is the code of practice for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers. The minimum age for drug testing under the clause is extended from the age of 18 to 14. Subsection (3) inserts Section 63B(9), which will allow for the drug testing of persons aged under 18 to be introduced on a pilot basis.
If one considers how the provisions fit together, the anxiety that the noble Baroness understandably has about them does not appear to be justified. We would suggest that it is a proper and balanced response to a very difficult, complex and sensitive issue. I invite the noble Baroness, on mature reflection and bearing in mind all that we have said in earlier debates, to be content that Clause 12 stand part of the Bill. However, I can anticipate that at some other stage she may wish to come back to the issue, knowing the acuity with which she has addressed the issue.
Lord Dholakia: I wish to ask the Minister a couple of questions. First, the duty of taking a sample is vested in the custody officer. Is the Minister satisfied that a police officer is the one who will carry out the duties, and not someone delegated with such a responsibility? Secondly, will she give an assurance that there are a sufficient number of women police custody officers, particularly in the case of young girls from whom a sample may be required? Thirdly, the Home Secretary is expecting the police officer to make arraignments in his area. Is the Minister satisfied that every police station has such facilities available, or are there likely to be instances when youngsters will be shuffled from one police station to the other to find appropriate facilities?
Lord Hylton: When the Minister replies, will she deal with several points that were properly and rightly raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley? For example, what will happen to the information and its recording of the results of the drug tests? Could they be used subsequently to blacken the reputation of the person in question? Might they become a bar to the employment of that person? If that should happen, that is one of the things most likely to set the person into a lifetime of crime. Furthermore, the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, observed that magistrates
The Earl of Listowel: I thank the Minister for her reassurance regarding the occasions when the information from the screening would not be used in court. For the sake of clarity, will she say when, if ever, that information would be used in court, and how it would be framed if it were used?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I wish to deal with the issues raised by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. The very first thing I did was to answer the question raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, when she asked what would happen to information regarding results. I thought that I made the position clear but I repeat that the test results may not be used as additional evidence in support of any offences with which the detainee has been charged, nor for other investigative purposes, nor as an aggravating factor when sentencing. Those tests cannot be used for any of those purposes. The whole point of the drug testing after charge is simply as a screening tool.
Lord Hylton: I am most grateful but can the noble Baroness say whether the records will be destroyed? Or will they continue to exist in the form of a statistic which does not name the person in question?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I say straight away that I do not know the answer to the question regarding a statistic. However, I can say that the record will not be capable of being used in relation to the offender. It enables us to target the offender's needs in terms of assessment but it will not be used as a tool with which to beat the offender in any adverse way. That is what I was trying to make absolutely clear to the noble Baroness. It is a matter about which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, will also be concerned as I know of his genuine and long-standing interest in the rights of young people and children. I hope that I have made the position as clear as I know how.
Lord Elton: Before the noble Baroness sits down, can she make something clear? She said that the information will not be used in relation to an individual but are we right in supposing that the identity of the individual will be stripped out of the statistic so that it will not be there to be used?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I do not know the answer to that question save to reassure Members of the Committee that the information will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act. I have not, if I am absolutely frank, looked at the detail because I was reassured that the policy intent was not to use the information in relation to the way in which the offender would be dealt with.
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