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Lord Hylton: I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for giving us some figures about trafficking. Of course, they can only be indicative

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ones because there is no precise knowledge. However, they point clearly to the major scale of this totally unacceptable practice. I mention that to the best of my knowledge there have been approximately 30 successful prosecutions of traffickers so far. Have there additionally been some unsuccessful cases?

When she comes to reply could the noble Baroness also indicate when Operation Pentameter is likely to be repeated? I hope that it will be very soon this year. It was successful as far as it went first time round.

Ratification of the convention has been mentioned. My strong hope is that signing will happen before the end of March and ratification will follow as soon as practically possible thereafter. I have three Questions for Written Answer down about what changes in legislation will be necessary before we can ratify the convention; I hope we can have a positive answer about that.

Finally, how do we deal with traffickers? Will successful action against traffickers count towards the targets of the various police services and towards the efficiency points which they earn by the work that they do? As to the amendment, like the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, I would prefer to see traffickers being prosecuted rather than hobbled or to some extent interrupted in their activities by these orders. I look forward to the reply.

Lord Lyell of Markyate: I support the points made by my noble friend, Baroness Anelay, particularly in the context of trafficking and lorry drivers. The Minister will be aware of the case of Roth v the Home Office in which the 2001 Act crashed. The provisions for the confiscation of lorries, for demand for immediate payment of £2,000, and for a complete change in the rules of criminal procedure—denying the normal rules of procedure in circumstances which plainly involved a criminal penalty—meant that the Act was struck down. This was all in relation to the problem of illegal immigrants and the use and abuse of lorries coming into this country. The Government tried to control that and they were right to try, but it was not done in the right way. It was not proportionate or compliant with the Strasbourg court. We wish the Bill to succeed in the sense that we all wish to combat effectively this type of serious crime. We are testing it because we do not want to make those same serious mistakes again.

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Against this background, one of the problems in 2001-03 was that at Sangatte—the refugee camp near Calais and the entrance to the tunnel, and the place at which lorries are marshalled before driving on to cross-Channel ferries—there was absolutely no provision for the kind of electronic surveillance, mechanical or physical, which would have made a difference. I suspect that the Home Office is more up to speed on that now. I hope the noble Baroness will confirm that we have the kind of mechanical or technical facility which will show whether lorries driving on to vessels or into the Chunnel are carrying illegal immigrants. A great deal can be done technically; we know that because the

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United States has been down that route and is doing it successfully on the borders with Mexico. Before we decide to take procedural action, or action to change our criminal law and our normal rights and liberties, will the noble Baroness confirm that we are doing the right kind of things at Calais, Felixstowe, Newcastle and all the other places where we suspect, or know, that illegal immigrants are coming in?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: With this area in particular, these orders should never be seen as a substitute for prosecution. Prosecution has to be explored with vigour. We are much better now at interdicting traffickers, but there is a view that we are still not as good as we would like to be and there is more to do. We are developing a UK action plan of human trafficking which will give us an end-to-end strategy to combat all forms of this evil crime. I was comforted that the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and the noble Baroness mentioned in particular those who are trafficked not for the sex trade but to be abused in employment. Illegal working operations can be as pernicious as any others. I was pleased to note that both noble Lords mentioned that, as did the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, who has raised the issue on a number of occasions.

The plan will include chapters on prevention, enforcement and victim support and we are aiming to publish it in the next month or two. The UK Human Trafficking Centre was established, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, mentioned, in autumn last year, which supports the overarching aim of moving the United Kingdom to a leading position in relation to the prevention and investigation of trafficking of human beings. It will be the central point for the development of police expertise and operational co-ordination.

This morning, the Metropolitan Police launched a dedicated team to deal with human trafficking, as the noble Baroness indicated. As well as targeting the criminal networks, the key objectives of the team are to improve knowledge and understanding of trafficking; to give advice and support to other police units involved in investigating trafficking; and to work with partners and communities in seeking to improve the Metropolitan Police’s response to trafficking.

A specific team has been set up because of a real recognition of not only the pernicious nature of the offence but the need to do something aggressive in response to it. The team will work diligently with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the other agencies seeking to interdict this crime. In order to identify who is doing it, a number of agencies often work together. Sometimes they follow the money, sometimes the people and sometimes the activity. I can assure noble Lords that that will continue.

As noble Lords have often heard me say, the United Kingdom is already compliant with the convention provisions on enforcement and the criminalisation of trafficking. But the main concern about the signature to the convention has been the potential impact on the provisions of a reflection and residence period for victims and the requirement to provide support, and specifically the risk that irregular migrants picked up

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during the course of illegal working operations will make false claims to victim status in order to frustrate removal.

At the moment, the United Kingdom operates a case-by-case approach to victims of trafficking, who are removable from the United Kingdom. We will pursue reparation of an individual only if it is considered appropriate to do so. The victims of trafficking who are accepted by the Home Office-funded Poppy Project, about which we have spoken on a number of occasions, will have removal action held in abeyance for about four weeks while they give consideration to whether they wish to remain and assist authorities. If they do remain, they are not removed by the Poppy system.

Much to the delight of many—I confess, including myself—we have been able to move forward on signing the convention. That is being dealt with as expeditiously as possible. As the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, will know, the modus operandi usually adopted by us, and indeed by other Governments before us, is to ready ourselves for signature so that ratification can take place as soon thereafter as reasonably practicable. I can certainly assure noble Lords that, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister having given the indication that we intend to sign and then ratify, everything is being done to expedite that and to make it possible to answer as soon as possible. I am aware that the noble Lord has, as he says, three Questions for Written Answer. As I understand it, the detailed work necessary to respond to him is being undertaken. We will give a full reply as soon as possible.

I understand why we have taken a circuitous route in this debate by which we have had a mini-debate on trafficking. But I say to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, that these prevention orders are not a substitute for prosecution; they are simply another way of preventing the continuance of an activity, particularly if we have identified those who have trafficked people before. We wish to interdict and prevent future trafficking. I am thinking not only of the victims whom we are able to release on that one occasion. Regrettably, as I indicated, there are those who engage almost continually in this practice, and we have to try to stop them. For the victims, prevention can be so much better than cure.

I listened with interest and gratitude to what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said about her sympathy on these matters. I hope that I have said enough to assure the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell, that these matters are being vigorously looked at. The action plan, when it comes out, will cover prevention, what we are doing, what we are co-ordinating and how it will be delivered. We believe that there has been significant improvement in performance.

Lord Lyell of Markyate: Can the noble Baroness clarify whether, for example, the physical structures and so on that assist in monitoring lorries at Calais have improved? Six years ago, the Government, in about their fourth year of power, took draconian action to remove rights and liberties, which has been

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thoroughly unsuccessful. They knew very well then that they would spend very little money on the kinds of technical assistance that would have been of real value. Now, in the 10th year of their administration, what has actually happened?

Lord Hylton: I think that heat-seeking equipment is the answer that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell, is searching for.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have heat-seeking equipment, which I think has been available since early 2000, and sniffer dogs. I am happy to write to the noble and learned Lord. I did not expect that we would have a full debate on the details of trafficking, but I commend the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and his able assistant the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for enabling us to do so. I have to say that I am complicit, too, because I could have simply not replied.

The importance of this work is clear. I remind the Committee that we have put in place the procedure of obliging authorities to go to the High Court to obtain such an order to take into account the fact that the orders have to be proportionate and reasonable and to avoid the difficulty that arose on the previous occasion. We think that this is a good way of delivering on that. I am happy to write further on this to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell.

Perhaps we can now move on to the next amendment. We have had a debate that has lasted 24 minutes.

Lord Dholakia: I thank the Minister for her assurance that prosecution will be at the heart of this matter. Perhaps I may also point out that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, is not an assistant but very much a partner in this particular crime. I think that we have always spoken together on such issues in this House.

I am delighted to receive the Minister’s assurance. More importantly, we accept that there may be occasions when the lesser matter could be more appropriately linked. A clear message must go out from the Committee that such heinous crimes will not be tolerated and that people will be punished with the stiffest possible penalties. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Goodhart: Although my name is not down to the proposal that Clause 1 should not stand part of the Bill, my noble friend Lord Dholakia has suggested that I might be the person to speak to it. Before I begin, I should do two things. First, I declare an interest: I am the chair of the council of Justice, an organisation which submitted a briefing on the Second Reading of the Bill, although it has not as yet submitted a further brief on the Committee stage. Secondly, I speak on this occasion for myself and not on behalf of my party. It is an important distinction to make on this occasion because I shall be making

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certain suggestions which have arisen in my mind as a result of the meeting that the Minister arranged last night. I have therefore not had a chance to clear them properly with my noble friend.

I spoke on this part of the Bill on Second Reading. As I said then, and say again today, it is no answer to the problem that serious crime prevention orders will be made by judges who will act reasonably. We should not create laws that create scope for injustice and rely on the judiciary to apply those laws with moderation. I believe that Part 1 as it stands is incompatible with the rule of law and with the basic principles of our criminal justice system. However, I want to be constructive. I understand the objectives at which the Government are aiming and I want to see whether it is possible to suggest acceptable ways in which those objectives could be achieved.

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I have no great problem in principle with imposing SCPOs on conviction for serious offences, provided that the SCPO is limited—I would want it to be limited in the Bill—to orders that are necessary and proportionate. An SCPO in those circumstances could be regarded as part of the sentence. It is the same principle as imposing a driving ban on a defendant charged with dangerous driving, in addition to a fine or prison sentence, and perhaps more directly similar to placing someone on a sex offenders register, with the effect that that has on the chance to obtain certain kinds of employment. I have more problems with imposing SCPOs after a conviction by a foreign court, but those problems could be overcome, and I do not think this is the time or place for considering how that might be done.

The real problem arises where there has been no conviction because imposing significant restrictions on the liberty of people who have not been convicted of any crime is not acceptable. This potentially goes far beyond the extent of the football ban. The only comparable circumstance is that of control orders under the terrorism legislation, for which there is a much stronger case because it is the aim of some terrorists to commit mass murder. This provision contravenes the basic principles of our legal system. We are facing a real and increasing danger of ASBO-creep; that is, the use of civil orders to evade jury trial and the need for proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Is there any alternative? There may be. The briefing the Minister arranged yesterday was very interesting. I think she has the Chatham House rule the wrong way round because it says that you can tell the world what was said at the meeting but not who said it. She has applied it the other way round. We know, therefore, that the director of SOCA was there, accompanied by one of his very senior colleagues. It became apparent that they were concerned in particular with the activities of people who assist organised crime without necessarily being parties to that crime. We have been given some examples of the way in which that might happen. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, gave an example in relation to drug dealing. Another similar example, which I feel happy to give, as it was used as an example yesterday, is that

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the legislation would include, for instance, an owner who lets a property that a tenant uses as a greenhouse for growing cannabis, where the owner chooses not to go round to see what is happening there. These are all cases in which, under the existing law, there could be no prosecution because the individual was merely providing facilities, was not part of any actual criminal act and was not part of the conspiracy—no doubt having taken great care not to be so.

Facilitating criminal activity by providing goods or services or the use of property should itself be capable of becoming a criminal offence. There is a clear precedent for making such conduct an offence; that is, in connection with the law relating to money-laundering. One has only to look at Part 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, one of the most powerful weapons against organised crime. It provides that if a defendant knows or suspects, or has grounds for knowing or suspecting, that money which he is handling is the proceeds of crime, he commits a criminal offence if he does not report it. That would need some modification but I do not think that would be very difficult. If the defendant provides goods, services or property to be used for the facilitation of a serious criminal offence, and if the defendant knows, suspects or has reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting that the goods, services or property are to be used for that purpose, then that should be a crime—either if it is known when the person enters into the transaction or if he becomes aware of it at a later date and fails to notify the police.

That provision would be a great improvement on the present proposals because the creation of such an offence means that it would be criminal procedure which had to be used in order to obtain a conviction. It would mean imposing criminal penalties on a conviction which could include a serious crime prevention order. I believe it will have every bit as strong a deterrent effect on the facilitation of crime as the Bill now does, and it avoids the creeping threat to the rule of law from the use of civil procedure to impose criminal penalties.

I invite the Government to consider this alternative way of dealing with the issue. I recognise that it is impossible to rewrite Part 1 between now and Report, but it could be removed from the Bill and the Government could then either enact the rest of the Bill or, if they are able to move quickly enough, introduce a new Part 1 when the Bill gets to the House of Commons. Part 1, in its present form certainly, should not be allowed to remain in the Bill and should be dealt with appropriately on Report.

Lord Lucas: I want to clarify my understanding of what Part 1 achieves. It seems that we are all agreed that the first part of it is intended for those who have committed a serious crime and are now at liberty, for one reason or another. It will enable the court, without a great deal of trouble, to have their feet nailed to the floor so that they cannot carry on whatever activity the court thinks they are likely to participate in. Like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I do not have a problem with that—subject to a few safeguards. My difficulty, particularly after the answer the Minister gave me a few moments ago, is

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with the effects on those who have facilitated crime because of the way the Bill is drafted. There could be an entirely innocent action but with devastating consequences.

The Bill is to be used to take out those facilitators who genuinely are criminal because they will not comply with anything and they will then be run down, which I do not particularly object to; but those who merely have their facilities used by criminals unwittingly will be turned into informers on the penalty of losing their business. That is going about things in a very heavy-handed fashion. There is a strong threat if somebody comes to me and says, “We are entitled to take out one of these orders against you, unless you provide us with this information”. It compels businesses, in particular, but also, I imagine, individuals who are scraping a living on the fringes of the underworld to provide the police with all the information that they desire. As I understand it, that has not been our practice previously. The range of penalties under Clause 5 are extreme when applied to those sorts of people, although I can see that they are appropriate for the hardened criminal. I address my own Front Bench as much as anyone else in questioning whether this is really the right way to treat our citizens.

Lord Henley: Before the noble Baroness responds to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I remind her of the position of noble Lords on these Benches. As my noble friend and I made clear, we are sceptical about the prospects of success of serious crime prevention orders. As the Minister made clear, and as my noble friend made clear at Second Reading, we believe that the real answer in the end has to be successful prosecution and that that ought to be pursued. Having said that, like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, we understand what the Government want to achieve. Certainly, at this stage we are not prepared to strike out the whole of Part 1 or even Clauses 1 to 5 and Schedules 1 and 2. We shall want to look very carefully at what the noble Baroness is about to say, particularly in response to our second amendment where we debated, to some extent, the general principle behind Clause 1.

Before we make any final decision, we will want to look at the Government’s response to further amendments that we have tabled to the rest of Part 1 and to Schedules 1 and 2. My noble friend has tabled amendments to explore why some crimes are included in Schedule 1 and others are not. The noble Baroness may remember that we had some sport on that at Second Reading. I am still intrigued as to why it is even necessary to have Schedule 1 at all when one bears in mind that Clause 2(2)(b) makes it clear that the courts can decide to add anything else they want to Schedule 1. To that extent, Schedule 1 seems to be a waste of space. No doubt the noble Baroness will respond to that at the appropriate time. For the moment I remind her that we are sceptical about the prospects of success and we need convincing.

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Henley, for his helpful and supportive scepticism. I understand the anxiety that the noble

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Lord, Lord Goodhart, expressed. I thank him for accepting that these orders could have great benefit in relation to those who have been properly convicted of an offence. He puts his finger on a matter on which a number of noble Lords said they had great anxiety: those cases where there may not have been a conviction but where criminal activity is going on and an order is applied for. I almost tremble to say it but I think that we on this side may be in danger of becoming more like Liberals on this issue than the noble Lord, as we seek to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of individuals but to stop the activity that is complained of.

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