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The Minister has given some explanation of the European arrest warrant provisions under Part 6, but the Government have again ducked the serious issues around the warrant, such as the removal of dual criminality, the need for a prima facie case to be made before an arrest warrant is issuedthat is now no longer the caseand the questions of inequities and the burden of proof required in bilateral treaties, which the Government seem happy to ignore. None of those has been dealt with. The new provisions in the Bill, some of which have been the subject of concern for the Joint Committee on Human Rights, are about the condition of those arrested and reciprocal arrangements for returning those serving sentences. As the Minister described, there are also provisions about those who are accused of crime in other countries. Each raises questions. I anticipate that those provisions will take some considerable time to scrutinise and I look forward to the debates around them.
I turn to Part 8, where the Minister started, which contains one of the most important issues in the Bill and one of the most egregious examples of government wriggling that I have seen. The Minister has drawn attention to the code that has just been issued. It was not available in the other place while the discussions on DNA were taking place and I hope that we will have the opportunity to take part in such discussions during the coming weeks. I do not believe that anybody objects to the taking of DNA for criminal purposes; the problem is with the retention of the samples and the information that is taken from them, particularly for those proved to be innocent. The fact that the Government have been forced into taking action as a result of the European Court of Human Rights is importantand it is important how they implement the judgment. That is what the code is all about. There are still concerns about the amount of time that the Government propose that samples should be kept for. We will want to look at that and discuss the issue.
The House has attempted many times over the past few years to address the whole problem around the retention of DNA. Everybody understands the value that has come from the use of DNA in certain criminal
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The arguments are clear. Whatever benefits some people feel might come from a universal DNA baseand I am extremely sceptical of those benefitsthere can be no excuse for the current system. The retention of DNA samples from people who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime is wrong. In his introduction, the Minister finally admitted that. Yet it appears that even now the Government have not fully appreciated that the details of their proposals are still unclear. Now that the code of conduct has been published, we look forward to discussing it more fully, as I said. I understand that the actual samples might no longer be heldthe prohibitive costs of keeping them no doubt led to that conclusionbut much in the government proposals, such as the retention of information for up to 12 years where there has been no prosecution, is still quite unacceptable.
It is clear that approaching this issue by secondary legislation is not the way forward. We shall be seeking not only to ensure that the Government comply fully with the spirit and letter of the ECHR judgment but also to insert more detail into the Bill. I am confident that once again we will have a strong cross-party consensus on the best way forward. Perhaps this time we will be able to make our amendments stick.
There is work to be done to ensure that this legislation has some useful purpose. We agree with the Government on some areas and we feel that other areas would probably be improved by amendment. My noble friend Lord Bridgeman, as I indicated, will deal with the other parts of the Bill when he winds up, so I have not addressed those, but I look forward very much to the debates to come that he and I will take part in.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the Bill in his customary detailed way. I sympathise with him because I feel that this has become a legacy Bill now that the Home Secretary has announced her resignation. Every Home Secretary since 1997 has wanted to appear tough. In office, they instigate ideas that later in the cool light of the real world they realise are a big mistake. One example would be David Blunkett and ID cards. That wish to act tough has led the Government to put through more legislation, criminalising more and more actions. The first woman Home Secretary might have changed that, but she did not.
The Bill is the 66th criminal justice Bill since 1997. Between them, they have created 3,600 new criminal offences. We feel that the Government have still failed to understand that you cannot solve social problems by making criminal offences of them; you simply fill up our courts and prisons. The prison population has
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On the matter of principle, the Bill further blurs the line between civil and criminal sanctions by imposing orders, which, when not complied with, tip the individual from a civil sanction into the criminal. That is one of the reasons the courts and prisons are filling up.
With regard to this Bill, it is sadI would say even tragicthat the legacy of our first woman Home Secretary will be some legislation that unless we defeat it here makes the lives of some 80,000 women in this country more dangerous. I talk of course of women in the sex industry, working and selling sex. Institutions as diverse as the Royal College of Nursing and the YWCA oppose the legislation and the approach that the Government are taking, as do we.
Far from making women safer, this legislation will force many back on to the streets, leave them more liable to be in prison, separating them from their children, causing those children to go into care and creating exactly the sort of vicious circle that should be avoided. We will oppose the Governments approach.
Baroness Corston: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. Perhaps I may draw her attention to a debate in the other place on 19 May and a very moving speech by the right honourable John Gummer MP, speaking of the experience in his Ipswich constituency of the murder of five women sex workers and referring to the fact that the exploitation of human beings is at the heart of evil. He said that,
Is it not reasonable in a civilised society to say to people whose very act of paying for sex is exploitative, at least to some extent ... Cave emptor. You have to make the decision, and the responsibility is with you? Yes, it is true that we probably would not do this in almost any other circumstance in a free society, but we are not talking about any other circumstance. We are talking about the exploitation of one human being by another.[Official Report, Commons, 19/5/09; col. 1438-39.]
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I would certainly pay tribute to the noble Baroness's record on women's issues, particularly the issue of women in prison. Of course I have read the debates in the other place, and, as I was about to say, trafficking is an appalling crime. Exploited women who are trafficked need the full protection of the law, but legislation already exists to address the issue of trafficking. Is further criminalisation of women working in the industry the way to address the issue? She talked about the issue of men buying sex, but she is being extremely optimistic if she thinks that this legislation will solve a problem that has been around for 3,000 years. We are angry that the Government have not looked at the evidence of what works. Ministers have chosen to turn a blind eye to the constructive approach taken in New Zealand, for example, which has decriminalised prostitution and treats it as the social and health issue that it is. Five years of evidence show that that was a good move.
Nor does the Bill take the right approach to the exploited children in the sex trade. Instead of treating them as the victims they are, it leaves the under-18s to be treated as criminals. That attitude really worries us and will do nothing to help the exploited children in this country or, by example, in the rest of the world. All too often young street-working children in the rest of the world are treated as criminals simply for selling themselves for sex in order to eat. We do not want to replicate that problem here in the UK.
My noble friend Lady Walmsley will outline in more detail our thoughts on how the Bill deals with children, and my noble friends Lord Bradshaw and Lady Harris of Richmond will dissect whether the clauses contain anything worth while to address police accountability. We believe that accountability is an immensely important issue, especially as the Government have given the police so many more powers. As the Minister will know from our many debates, the powers under the police counterterrorism legislation have worried us. They were largely rushed through Parliament, and are sometimes now used in non-terrorist situations. We shall certainly want to look at how accountable the police should be under, for example, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows very wide stop and search powers akin to the old discredited sus laws. Communities are actually barred from knowing in which parts of cities or to which other places Section 44 applies, so it is impossible to know whether it is being used correctly. Such use must at the very least be balanced by proper accountability, an issue which my noble friends will talk about. These Benches will be seeking to amend the legislation so that such powers cannot be misused easily.
In the Bill the Government rightly turn their attention to alcohol misuse, a tremendously serious problem for society in health terms and a driver behind the violence that wrecks some people's Saturday nights and other people's lives. However, as a legislative response, it uses curtailment of individual rights rather than addressing some of the very simple measures that both police and A&E departments say would most improve the situation. For example, a change in the law to allow licensing authorities to require, when appropriate, that substitute materials for glass should be used is a simple one, giving power to local people to solve the problem locally. We will table such an amendment. The Government should listen to the LGAs reservations about these clauses; its members are the licensing authorities and have a realistic view of the locality for which they are responsible. They say that the creation of mandatory licensing conditions will impose blanket regulations across the board that will not take account of local conditions.
The Government should also take as a warning what they did under the Licensing Act 2003, which had such an adverse effect on many small community centres and village halls, by imposing significant burdens on these locally run organisations. The Bill is in danger of doing exactly the same. We hope that it is not another example, but we fear that it is, of the Home Office undermining some of the work of other departments like the DCMS and the DCLG, which are busy trying to support and fund such organisations.
The Government also address the serious issue of gang violence in the Bill. The loss of life of young people caught up in gang violence is obviously incredibly tragic. The fact that many others live in terror is appalling. We on these Benches believe in trying to work with the Government to address these issues but have grave concerns about the legislative response in the Bill. These measures appear to be aimed at the over-18s, but can the Minister say when they would be used against the under-18s? Four in every 10 muggings in Britain are committed by children under 16. The most likely person to carry a knife is a boy between 14 and 19. There is a real issue here. We do not want to curtail the liberties of children but, at the same time, what is the point of introducing measures that do not address the very age group with the problem?
We are concerned that the injunctions are in effect very like control orders, which can be used against individuals without any evidence of their guilt. There is more of a parallel with control orders than with ASBOs. One of the worst aspects of this provision, which needs wide debate, is that it was not debated at all in the Commons on Report. We will have to remedy that here.
The wording in these clauses is very loose. It talks of association, which could simply be being related to, or a friend of, a gang member. The individual themselves might have absolutely no wish or intention to be part of a gang. We will want to establish the Governments evidence base that, where such measures have been used, they have been effective at diminishing the violence associated with gang membership. After all, only the violence should be targeted. There is nothing wrong with belonging to a gang in itself; the intimidation and violence is the problem.
Cybercrime is not in the Bill, but again last week it was highlighted as a major national and international crime issue. In my response to the gracious Speech on 9 December 2008, I talked about the Governments failure to take cybercrime seriously. I mentioned the devastating effect that it would have on individuals, companies and, potentially, whole economies. The Minister has today talked of aviation security, which is of course in the Bill, but you only have to think what an attack on an air traffic control system would do to realise what a severe problem this is.
I would not have expected the Minister to have taken my advice when I talked about it back in December. Now, however, he might like to take a leaf out of President Obamas book. He talked about cybercrime last week and announced that he will take a new cyber tsar to press for action. He said:
Its now clear that this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. Were not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country.
The UK is certainly not prepared. The Government have spent time appeasing the right-wing press through introducing certain sections in the Billtime which could have been spent tackling this very serious threat to individuals and to the UK as a whole.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I am particularly interested in the point that she makes
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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, the noble Lord will discover in Committee exactly what our proposals are, if they are permitted by the Public Bill Office. Unlike the noble Baroness who intervened earlier, I hope that he will remain in the Chamber. I welcome interventions as they make the debate livelier but they are good only if those who make them stay to hear the reply.
My noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford will speak about the extradition provisions. We believe that there is a big problem with the Extradition Act 2003, which leaves untouched the most controversial aspect of our extradition arrangements; namely, the imbalance between the United Kingdom and the United States, whereby a mere statement is adequate in the case of the American authorities but prima facie evidence is required in ours. My noble friend will deal with that aspect of the Bill and the seizure of criminal assets in Committee. The seizure of criminal assets would benefit from judicial oversight being applied to that power.
The Minister will not be surprised to hear that we will table a lot of amendments to the Bill. The way in which the Government treated the Bill in another place on Report made a mockery of the democratic process. Issues of major principle were not even debated at all, including the retention of DNA samples, profiles and fingerprints. The Minister can be assured that we will join with the other opposition party here to remedy many of the deficiencies in the part of the Bill that addresses that incredibly important issue. It is far too important simply to be left to secondary legislation. Some of the principles that are not in the Bill must be spelt out. I appreciate that the Government needed to respond to the European Court of Human Rights and of course we on these Benches accept that DNA has a major role to play in the detection of crime, but we need to get the legislative response right. The technology has grown at a far quicker rate than the legislative framework. We need to ensure that the police have the right tools but we also need to ensure the right safeguards are in place for the public. We will examine the Governments approach to living samples, which sounds as though it is going in the right direction. However, we will scrutinise in great detail all the provisions that the Government are bringing forward and the guidance and the code that the Minister mentioned. I must emphasise that the fact that the other place will not have a chance to do this unless we pass an amendment here weighs very heavily with these Benches. We have a duty in this House to pass such an amendment so that the other place can debate these provisions.
The Minister will be aware that the Report stage in the other place lasted less than six hoursif you take into account voting time. It is appalling to have less than six hours debate on a Bill that amends more than 20 pieces of criminal legislation, including such important ones as we are discussing. We shall redress that lack of scrutiny and bring forward a series of amendments that we believe will strengthen the Bill.
There are good reasons why policymakers and practitioners should continue to be concerned about the misuse of alcohol by children and young persons. Although fewer young people are drinking alcohol, those who are appear to be doing so more frequently and in larger quantities. Average weekly consumption by 11 to 15 year-olds who drink alcohol doubled from five units per week in 1990 to 10 units in 2000 and has remained at similar levels ever since.
Alcohol-related hospital admissions for children have risen by a third in six years with an average of 40 under-18s taken to hospital each day in England. These figures reflect only the most serious cases where the child is admitted for at least one night and exclude those treated in accident and emergency departments and then discharged. Almost 1,000 admissions involved children under the age of 10, and the United Kingdom has the highest admission rate in the European Union for those aged 15 to 16.
The European School Survey Project, which collects data on substance use by 15 and 16 year-olds, measures the number of children reporting that they have been drunk in the past 30 days, and levels of heavy episodic drinking, where five or more drinks are consumed on each occasion. The UK is one of only three countries which scores high on both measures. A recent NHS survey reported that 17 per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds thought that it was all right to get drunk at least once a week, and the British Medical Association has noted an associated increase in drinking to get drunk, with 35 per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds who had consumed alcohol in the previous four weeks having done so with that objective. The BMA also found that heavy episodic drinking was common among young people and was a rising trend, with 50 per cent of 15 to 16 year-olds reporting having drunk heavily in the past 30 days. If that were not worrying enough, it is younger teenagers who are drinking more. While levels of consumption by older adolescents who drink have remained fairly consistent, the level of consumption by 11 to 13 year-olds has risen from 5.6 units a week in 2001 to 10.1 units in 2006.
Such excessive drinking can have negative consequences for young people and their relative immaturity makes it more likely that they will engage in unacceptable behaviour or put themselves or others at risk. There is compelling evidence of damage to their short-term and long-term health, with significant increases in liver cirrhosis among 20 year-olds, almost certainly linked to heavy alcohol consumption in teenage years. There are also strong associations between alcohol use and accidents involving young people, particularly on the roads, but more generally also. The harmful effect of alcohol on a young persons long-term memory has been noted and there is new evidence that it can significantly impair adolescent brain development. Excessive drinking is also strongly associated with a range of other problems adversely affecting the welfare
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In his most recent annual report the Chief Medical Officer referred to the notion of passive drinking, commenting that the second-hand effect of alcohol was more wide ranging in its impact than passive smoking. It is certainly the case that young people who drink too much put not only their own health at risk but may behave in an antisocial manner and contribute to insecurity on the streets. This is associated in part with a shift in where their alcohol consumption occurs.
In 1999, 21 per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds who drank did so in open public places; by 2006 this figure had risen to 31 per cent. Unsupervised drinking by under-18 year-olds in public places has the closest link to crime and antisocial behaviour and causes most public concern. More than half the people who witnessed drunken or rowdy behaviour said that it was due to young people drinking in public places, and such drinking is most likely to put young people at risk of being a victim of violent crime. A recent study in the north-west of England found that 40 per cent of young people who drank outside in public had experienced alcohol-related violence, either as a victim or a perpetrator. Alcohol consumption is indeed one of the key factors associated with young people committing criminal offences, with 10 to 15 year-olds who have been drunk once a month or more in the past year twice as likely to commit offences as those who had not. The pattern of drinking is significant, with heavy episodic drinking and crime being particularly closely related. The most recent British Crime Survey estimated that alcohol-related crime and disorder in England and Wales cost between £9 billion and £15 billion a year, and that between £915 million and £1.15 billion of that was due to drinking by those under 18.
Drinking by young people is also associated with violence. In a recent study, only 15 per cent of respondents aged 10 to 17 drank once a week or more, yet they were responsible for 34 per cent of all violent crime committed by that age group. A high prevalence of alcohol-related violence within an area not only increases victimisation but also affects quality of life, reducing community cohesion, increasing fear of crime and preventing people visiting public spaces associated with disorder. It is in that context that the Bill proposes specific measures to deal with some particular problems associated with young people and alcohol.
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