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However, Amendment 76 would remove the word "regularly" from new Section 136C which deals with the content and service of a closure notice. A closure notice is issued by the police before an order can be applied for from the court. Under the current provisions, this must state that only those who regularly reside on or own the premises may remain on them.

The amendment would have the effect of allowing people who reside on the premises to visit the premises on an occasional basis. We believe that this widening is not appropriate. It could lead to people who had been using the place for prostitution staying overnight-perhaps on a visit from another city-claiming that that they could stay because they had visited the place before. That is not our purpose. The amendment would also make the closure notice more difficult to police because of difficulties in establishing who could be said to reside at the premises, however infrequently.

We believe that in circumstances where a closure notice has been issued-namely where a police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the premises are associated with certain serious criminal offences-it is reasonable to expect people for whom the premises are not a sole or main residence to refrain from entering the premises. For these reasons, we resist the amendment.

I shall seek to deal with the precise point made by the noble Baroness. When a closure notice is made, those who regularly reside on the premises can remain there. In other words, in the period between the notice and the court's decision, the owners or people who regularly reside there can stay. However, if the court makes a full closure order, no one is then allowed to remain. The court will of course consider representations from those affected. As I have said, people are free to go back to the court within the three-month period.

Closure orders are more likely to be used when police have covertly surveilled the premises and, therefore, may well have knowledge of those living on the premises as a result of that surveillance and other inquiries made during the investigation. We do not believe that the amendment is necessary; it would widen the aspects, and there is a distinction between the two parts of the legislation-between notice being given and court appearance, when there is a closure order. If that is not absolutely correct or clear, I will seek to write to the noble Baroness in greater detail.

Baroness Hanham: Perhaps I may press the Minister further, because I hope that I asked-I meant to, if I did not-what agencies will be involved other than the court agencies? Earlier in the Bill it is stated that local authorities will have to be consulted. You can consult

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a local authority for all sorts of reasons. One may simply be to ask whether it knows of the premises, and whether it is bothered about it or has had concerns. Another reason might be that it is perfectly possible that people will be evicted or be out of the premises for two or three months-people may be on drugs and will need care. Who else will be involved? You cannot just tip people out; if you are going to make a closure order, you are going to prosecute because you are concerned about the nature of the activities that have taken place, which are likely to have been illegal-that, as I understand it, is the reason for the closure order-but you may also find that there are people there who are not acting illegally. What other agencies will provide support to the police? I am certain that a court would want to know the answers to these questions.

5.45 pm

Lord Brett: The answer in terms of how these orders are implemented in practice will lie in guidance to be issued. It would seem reasonable to say that the relevant social security or other agencies are to be alerted and able to assist people who are not directly to be prosecuted and who are thought not to be directly involved, but are put to hardship. I will seek to confirm that in writing to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Hanham: I would be grateful to the Minister if he did that to help us decide what we do at the next stage. For today, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 76 withdrawn.

Amendment 77

Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

77: Schedule 2, page 143, line 43, leave out "two" and insert "three"

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: This amendment seeks to ensure that all three of the conditions, instead of just two-which is all that the Bill requires at the moment-are satisfied before a closure order can be authorised. For example, what would happen if, as regards the third condition, reasonable steps had not been taken to establish the identity of any persons residing on the premises? You might be closing the premises although you had the wrong person. I should like to probe the Minister on why only two out of the three conditions apply, although the Bill specifies that three conditions need to be met. Why is it reasonable to revert to only two of them? We have specified in Amendment 81 that:

"The third condition is that the court is satisfied that the authorising officer has satisfied himself of the identity of the ... parties".

This may be a technicality which the Minister can answer quite satisfactorily. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: This goes on a little further from my previous probing question. I hope that the Minister can reassure the Committee that closure orders will not be imposed out of the blue. Closure orders, as we have said, are very blunt instruments and, given the

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limited nature of the order, will not prevent the exploitation moving elsewhere. Can he give us a little more information on the closure orders being imposed, particularly with regard to drug offences, and how they will be accompanied by arrests and convictions?

Lord Monson: Once again, the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, has tabled a commonsensical pair of amendments, which I certainly support.

Lord Brett: One of the conditions that will have to be met before the police can issue a closure notice is that reasonable steps have been taken to establish the identity of any person who resides on the premises or who has control of, or responsibility for, or an interest in, the premises. The closure notice must then be served on those people who have been identified. If the police have failed to serve the closure notice on those who appear to have an interest in the property or they fail to take reasonable steps to identify such people, the notice will not have been validly served and the court would be expected to refuse to entertain the application for a closure order on those grounds. In this respect, the provisions are the same as those found in Schedule 20 to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 for premises associated with persistent disorder or nuisance.

We may have a straw man here. If it went to court in the manner that has been suggested, the court would not find it difficult to come to the view that the order had not been served correctly, and would dismiss the claim. Had there been a financial loss to the organisation or persons responsible, they would be able to raise that issue as well.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I shall read carefully what the Minister said. I understand that he is disputing the fact that my amendment would mean that it is more likely that the closure notice would be properly served. He is saying that, as the Bill is drafted, it would be certain that the notice would be properly served. I am still puzzled. If there are three conditions that should be satisfied, why does the Bill specify two out of three? However, I will read the Minister's comments carefully.

Lord Brett: Before the noble Baroness withdraws her amendment, I will respond to a point that I missed. The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, asked what the courts would do in relation to drug offences. The offences covered in this part of the legislation relate only to prostitution and pornography, not to drugs.

Baroness Hanham: The trouble with a debate like this is that it raises questions as you go along. I want to check whether the Minister said that the closure order notice has to be served on everybody in the premises-if I sound questioning, it is because I am-because that is not what the legislation says. The legislation says what a closure notice must state, but does not say who it must be served on-just that it must be fixed to the door. Is everybody on the premises served with the notice before the closure order is made? Is it the owner of the premises? Who is the responsible recipient of a notice? I may have misheard

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the noble Lord, but I think that he said that everybody had a notice served on them. That is not what is set out in the legislation.

Lord Brett: For the record, I shall repeat what I said. It is necessary for the police, before they can issue a closure notice, to take reasonable steps to establish the identity of any person who resides on the premises, or who has control of, or responsibility for, or an interest in the premises. The closure notice will then be served on those people who have been identified.

Baroness Hanham: I thank the Minister for that explanation. I would be fascinated to know where in the legislation this is set out. It is certainly not in the sections that we are discussing.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, has put her finger on the point. I, too, am confused. The Minister is saying one thing-perhaps it is an interpretation-but our reading of the Bill is completely different. This does not seem to be what the Bill says. I am encouraged because the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, with all her expertise on the Bench and so on, is probably much better at interpreting this than I am. If she, too, is puzzled, then we have a problem.

Lord Brett: I will try to resolve this. If the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, looks at proposed new Section 136B(7)(b) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, that may resolve her dilemma.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I am glad that the Minister pointed that out. We will look at it at leisure and mull it over well during the long period before Report. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 77 withdrawn.

Amendment 78

Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

78: Schedule 2, page 144, line 17, at end insert ", and that no other measures will prevent the premises from being used for such activities"

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: For a reason that I cannot identify, I have already spoken to this amendment, and the Minister replied to both Amendments 78 and 80, although they are clearly in this group. I shall not weary the House by repeating what I said-and I think that the Minister replied. In case he has anything to add, I beg to move.

Lord Brett: I pointed out, when the noble Baroness moved Amendment 73, that she had also sensibly grouped with her contribution Amendments 75, 78, 80 and 82. They were not in one group, but in two groups of two and a singleton. However, I answered them all, and I recall that she included Amendment 82. I take it that the debate on these issues has been concluded.

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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: The confusion deepens, because I did not speak to Amendment 82-I will do that when we get to it. I may correct myself. We have another amendment to debate before that one. I will look again at my notes. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 78 withdrawn.

Amendments 79 to 81 not moved.

Amendment 81A

Moved by Baroness Stern

81A: Schedule 2, page 144, line 24, at end insert-

"( ) If a child under 18 is resident on the premises, no action shall be taken until a multi-agency assessment of the child's needs has taken place."

Baroness Stern: The Minister will be glad to hear that this modest probing amendment will give him the opportunity to put on the record what plans there are to meet the needs of children who are resident in premises that are closed by a closure order. This is a particular concern of the Standing Committee on Youth Justice.

It is accepted entirely that closing, temporarily or permanently, premises used for trafficking or for the sexual exploitation of children is required by the Council of Europe conventions on trafficking, and has a role to play in safeguarding children who would otherwise be victims of exploitation. However, children need special protection under the Government's view about safeguarding children, and our international human rights obligations. The amendment suggests that the Government may wish to ensure that, before any children are made homeless by the closure provisions, an assessment is made by the local authority involving a number of agencies to ensure that the arrangements made will leave the children in a better position than they were in before. It would be helpful if the Minister would give the Committee an indication of whether that is what the Government intend-and, if so, where it will be made clear. I beg to move.

Lord Brett: I hope to satisfy the noble Baroness in respect of her probing amendment. Its effect would be that a closure order could not be made in relation to premises where a child is resident unless a multi-agency assessment of that child's needs has taken place. We recognise that it is important that these orders are not used inappropriately, and that the impact of any closure order on those living at the premises is considered carefully, particularly when those people are children. However, we believe that there are already sufficient safeguards within these provisions and other relevant legislation to ensure that the needs of children are considered fully.

As I have noted, a closure order will be made only if a court believes that it is necessary to prevent the premises being used for activities related to one or more specified offences of prostitution or pornography. If these offences are being committed on premises where children are resident, it should be a priority to take whatever action is necessary to prevent these offences occurring. In some cases, the child will be a victim of the offence. In such circumstances, it is clearly imperative to take all necessary steps to prevent

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the activity continuing and to remove the child to a place of safety as soon as possible, using powers available under the Children Act 1989. In such circumstances, a multi-agency needs assessment should be conducted at the earliest opportunity, and we do not believe that a court should be prevented from taking any action that could help the child until such an assessment has been conducted.

The police are under a general duty to have regard to the need to safeguard and protect the welfare of children under the Children Act 2004 when exercising their functions. This would include the exercise of their powers under closure order provisions. Guidance on the premises closure orders introduced by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 draws attention to this general duty, and states that children's services should be involved from an early stage in action which may result in a closure order being made. Statutory guidance on the closure orders made under these provisions will echo these statements. I hope this satisfies the noble Baroness and that she will be able to withdraw her amendment.

6 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: Can I ask the Minister a question before the noble Baroness comes to reply to his assessment of the situation? We are assuming, with the Minister's reply, that the premises are pretty small, but they could be enormous and multifloored with only one door. The children may be living far away from the offences and have no part in them at all, but by virtue of the closure order-I seem to remember when the Minister was replying to a much earlier amendment he said it might be a matter of great urgency and the closure order would have to be issued then and there-the children would become homeless and so would their parents. The likelihood is that they would be taken into care, which is pretty traumatic. Obviously, if the child is the victim in this situation, that is one thing, but if this is just somewhere the child lives and they are not involved in any of the activity, surely that is a completely different case.

Lord Brett: The noble Baroness is building a hypothesis. The police will be raiding premises such as this only either on the basis of covert surveillance or because they have identified the people resident within it. It would make every sense for the police, recognising their responsibilities under the Children Act, to ensure that they made contact with the children's department of the local authority to discuss with it the likely outcome in terms of homelessness for the people concerned. While the noble Baroness raises a point, the reality is likely to be somewhat different. I think removing the child without any unnecessary delay would be sensible. I do not see too many brothels being likely to provide crèches and facilities that segregate children, as the people who run those kinds of organisations do not tend to have that degree of scruple.

Baroness Hanham: Can I go back a bit and thank the Minister for pointing me to proposed new Section 136B(7)(b)? I am satisfied with that reply so there is no need for anyone to write to me. I apologise for raising the matter incorrectly.

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Baroness Stern: I am grateful to all those who have spoken and to the Minister for his reply. I have to admit that I feel that the complexities of what is likely to happen when there is a closure order are being oversimplified to suggest that all will be well for any children who happen to live there. I am not sure that it is completely fair to talk about crèches in brothels. People who work in this industry may well have children and work hard to keep them separate from whatever it is they are doing, but they may need to share a front door. To that extent, I am not sure that we have got to the point of feeling content that all children will be protected. However, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment and reflect a little further.

Amendment 81A withdrawn.

Amendment 82

Tabled by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

82: Schedule 2, page 151, leave out lines 13 to 20

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: The Minister was quite right that we have spoken to this amendment, and he replied, so I will not go any further with it.

Amendment 82 not moved.

Schedule 2 agreed.

Clauses 21 to 25 agreed.

Amendment 82A

Moved by Baroness Hanham

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