Select Committee on Unopposed Bill Committee Minutes of Evidence

Sections 680-699

London Local Authorities Bill [HL]

Wednesday 19 February 2003

680. MR KHAN: My Lords, the Mayor sets the budget whereas the MPA does the police authority, and that does draw from its membership members of the London Assembly, which is a Member of your Lordships' House.

681. CHAIRMAN: Indeed he is.

682. LORD ELTON: I think the substantive point is that the police authority is no longer the Home Office.

683. LORD TORDOFF: How do you define "Balkanisation"?

684. MR PAPALEONTIOU: Balkanisation is a term that the Secretary of State's report was largely based on comments of the Deputy Commissioner Blair. By "Balkanisation" we mean the fragmentation of policing responsibilities.

685. LORD TORDOFF: That is what I assumed.

686. CHAIRMAN: Just to ask you again, the powers of the new Community Support Officers are pretty similar to what the parks police have at present.

687. MR HEPPLE: The powers of Community Support Officers are largely for lower-level, anti-social, minor disorder offences - the type of offences that would be useful in open spaces and parks but would not actually give them a power of arrest and they do not have the power to stop and search which are powers which, I think, are being sought for the parks constabularies.

688. CHAIRMAN: How are these community support officers allocated around the place?

689. MR HEPPLE: That is a matter for the chief officer of police. They are all employed by the police authority and the operational matters are dealt with by the chief officer. At the moment it would be for the Commissioner to decide where to allocate them in London.

690. CHAIRMAN: So the London borough itself has no influence on the number of community support officers that it might have allocated?

691. MR HEPPLE: I do not think that is the case at the moment but I think the Deputy Commissioner in particular is looking to see if some of the London boroughs would like to contribute to the costs of community support officers. Under section 96 of the 1996 Police Act conditions can be attached whereby they would be allocated to a particular borough.

692. CHAIRMAN: You say in your paper that wealthy boroughs could get more police basically than poorer boroughs. That was given as a disadvantage to this proposal and you have just said that actually wealthy boroughs could hire some more community support officers.

693. MR HEPPLE: Yes, I agree that is inconsistent with what we said there. I know this is an issue that the Deputy Commissioner is particularly concerned about and I think that the Metropolitan Police's management will want to make sure that does not happen whereby policing support is only bought in by wealthy boroughs and other boroughs are being neglected.

694. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Unless there are no further questions at this point ----

695. LORD ELTON: I would like to ask the Promoters to go back to my question. I apologise for working from the PACE Bill of 1984 but I was the minister who took it through the House and it is the most recent Act with which I am familiar and I think the groundwork is familiar to most people concerned with the police. It seems to me that what is the need that has been exposed is principally in Part 3 of the Bill on arrest. Once you get into Part 4 and detention you attract a whole panoply of duties, requirements and supervisions from outside which I would not have thought you were contemplating. Are you, for instance, intending to have places in which you can detain arrested suspects or are you still proposing to take them to police stations?

696. MR LEWIS: Mr Ausling is probably the best person to answer in detail the question you have raised, my Lord. I passed him a note the instant you asked it saying "could you please list the powers in PACE which you would like to have". I think you are broadly correct in saying, and Mr Ausling will correct me if I am wrong, that it really is the Part 3 arrest powers that the parks constabulary are really interested in. I do not think there is any question of them seeking the additional powers of detention and setting up, if you like, their own detention centres.

697. LORD ELTON: It does seem to me very surprising if what you want is really Part 3. You have not excluded in your request the, how many are there, eight other parts and six schedules, seven schedules, which you would be hanging around your neck to no purpose. It seems a very large request that you are making.

698. MR LEWIS: If I am right in what I have just said we can certainly seriously think about an amendment which would restrict those powers under PACE.

699. CHAIRMAN: Could I ask an additional question to Lord Elton's. He asked about detention, somewhere to take offenders or suspects, or whatever you would like to call them. What about follow-up when you actually have to present yourself in court as a witness which the Metropolitan Police has to do now? Would that not require a considerable change in the way you presently operate?

(Mr Ausling) My Lord, with regards to the question you posed just now, during the training I have been giving officers, training in the presentation of evidence at court, on many occasions officers from the parks police service do attend court to give evidence locally at magistrates' court and later at the Crown Court.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003