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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: That is, indeed, a very helpful reply from the Minister. He has clearly highlighted that, on the one hand, there is an expectation and something set down as a standard of behaviour-the breach could be subject to discipline-and, on the other hand, there could be a legal requirement, which the Human Rights Committee suggested there should be, so there are two different paths to be followed here. It will be interesting to see whether the Government decide that the legal requirement would give the public more confidence. We think that it would. However, in the mean time I shall await developments and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"(aa) the handling of complaints made about police strategy or tactics;"."
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, this amendment deals with the ability of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to deal with complaints. There is frustration that it can deal only with individual complaints and not a more general complaint about police strategy or tactics. This is clearly not the moment of the evening to go into all the examples that I could give here, but does the Minister think that it would improve the IPCC's ability to deal with these issues if its remit was widened as I suggest in this amendment? I beg to move.
Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, I have sympathy with this amendment. Could the Minister clarify what the remit of the IPCC is? I went on to the website to have a look and came away not entirely clear about it, as it did not seem to be a very clear statement of the remit. It would make a great deal of sense for the IPCC to include complaints about police strategy and tactics in its remit, if they are not included in the remit of any other body-and, frankly, I cannot think of a more appropriate body for it to be in. I am not sure that it needs to be laid down in statute, but it would be helpful to know what the practical position is and whether there is a body like the IPCC, if not the IPCC itself, that has that issue in its remit.
Lord Brett: My Lords, the IPCC was set up in 2004 to undertake a dual role of ensuring the effective and efficient operation of the whole of the police complaints system for England and Wales, and to raise public
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The Act gives the IPCC the necessary powers to investigate complaints by the public against the conduct of any person serving with the police, and the ability to carry out its own independent investigations into the most serious cases. For example, the IPCC is undertaking a number of independent investigations following complaints about police conduct during the recent G20 demonstrations. The Act purposely does not extend the remit of the IPCC to deal with complaints relating to matters of direction and control, which would of course be the effect of the proposed amendment. However, the powers given to the IPCC include that to make recommendations following an investigation into a complaint, and such recommendations could extend to suggesting a review of strategy or tactics.
I understand the concern that the police should be properly accountable, not only for the conduct of individual officers but more generally. Chief police officers are of course accountable to police authorities. The police are also subject to the law of the land, and their actions can be scrutinised by the courts. The proper body for providing oversight of the more general strategic and operational nature of policing tactics is, clearly, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. As the,
it has responsibility for monitoring the performance of police forces and authorities. The inspectorate is best placed to deal with issues regarding operational and strategic policing, which are not tackled in the first instance by the chief constable of the police authority concerned.
HMIC is about to publish a full and comprehensive review into policing and protest, and we will work with the police service to ensure that its recommendations and conclusions are properly assessed and acted upon. That is the correct way forward, and in the light of it, I hope that this report is helpful and that the noble Baroness will find it unnecessary to leave her amendment on the Marshalled List. I believe that the accounting mechanisms we have are, with strict application, fit for purpose.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I welcome the support of the Conservative Front Bench for this amendment. Despite the Minister's reply, there is an issue here because the public clearly feel that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is the body to which they make complaints. Of the 276 complaints made after the G20 protest, 78 involved tactics-that is, virtually a quarter. All those people, or a quarter of the public who complained, were told, "Well, sorry, but the IPCC can't deal with it". It will undermine public confidence in that body if that reply comes back to so many of them.
I hear what the Minister says about it being the job of the HIMC. Nevertheless, the IPCC was set up-admirably-and now has public confidence. The public are complaining to them, and it would be a pity if that was undermined in the way that I suggest. It
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Where a transport interchange includes a railway station which is within the jurisdiction of the British Transport Police, that jurisdiction may extend beyond the station boundary to include transport links such as station bus stops, taxi ranks, cycle parking and car parking in the vicinity of the station resulting in joint policing of those transport interchanges."
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I will not detain the Committee for long but this is a very important amendment. The fact that we are discussing it so late in the night on the fifth Committee day is no fault of mine.
I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, will reply to the amendment because, all the time that I have known him, he has been a lusty champion of the British Transport Police. The word "integration" must have dropped from his lips so often that they have made a big pile on the floor.
This evening I attended a meeting with the chairman of ACPO, who stressed the importance of police forces co-operating with one another and of breaking down barriers between them. It was fortuitous that I attended that meeting but that is exactly what the amendment is driving at. I have no doubt that we will be told that the British Transport Police can pursue somebody who has stolen somebody's handbag, or that they may pursue somebody under the terrorism powers which we have just discussed. I regularly use Reading station, which has a police presence. However, outside, there is a very nasty car park, lots of unguarded bus stops and unattended cycle racks. I simply ask the Government to consider telling chief constables, or at least suggesting to them, that they should enter into agreements with the British Transport Police to have joint jurisdiction over transport interchanges. I do not believe that the words "interchange" or "integrated transport" mean anything unless the passenger, the customer-or whatever we call him-feels safe around interchanges, because it is there where most offences occur. I beg to move.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I support the amendment. Earlier this evening, we discussed similar issues. I was interested in one of the reasons that my noble friend Lord Faulkner gave for resisting the idea that airport operators should be able to tender for policing services either among adjacent police forces or the British Transport Police. One of the arguments he made was that airports are spread out. It occurred to me that railways are fairly spread out too. They go from the north of Scotland to Cornwall covering most places in between. There is also a need for specialist knowledge,
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The noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, gave a couple of examples. I think of the new station that is being built at Birmingham New Street at vast expense. I have read that £600 million of taxpayers' and Network Rail's money is going into that. I am sure that it will be another glorified shopping centre on top of the existing station with lots of platforms. I think also of the new Crossrail stations at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. Lorries are about to start trundling around London carrying spoil to build them. Where is the boundary between the station and the roads and shops above? Are agreements really needed between these different police forces before they can police these areas properly?
When I hear the responses of my noble friend the Minister, I begin to think that there must be more to these issues than the Association of Chief Police Officers defending their patch as if it is a kind of gold mine against incursions. We should be co-ordinating these matters. I still believe that letting airports go out to competitive tender to allow the BTP to police a bit more transport would be highly advantageous.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I shall not return to the subject of airports, on which there has been some debate. However, during the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, I was reminded of my local station in Taunton, where there is what I still regard as a British Rail car park on one side and a council car park on the other. If, for example, there is a bag snatching in one or the other, it should be possible-I hope that the Minister will confirm that it is-for either the British Transport Police or a constable in uniform to chase the handbag snatcher from one to the other. That is what this amendment is about-although it does not say that and seems rather one-sided. It is probably intended to do exactly what I have suggested and I hope that on that basis the Minister will confirm that it is unnecessary.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I should respond to the charge levelled against me by the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, that I have been an admirer and supporter of the British Transport Police over many years. To that the only response can be, "Guilty as charged". I am a huge supporter of the British Transport Police and have taken part in a number of debates in this Chamber where I have defended it-particularly when there have been outside forces at work attempting either to diminish its role or to abolish it altogether. The fact that the BTP is a highly regarded force and that its recently retired chief constable is regarded as an icon of policing is a measure of how far the force has gone and how far public and parliamentary opinion has moved in its favour. I am sure that it will be
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The situation is complicated and I shall try to be as brief as I can, because I am conscious that the hour is late. The BTP is the specialist police force for the railway. Its constables have much the same powers as constables of other forces. The difference is that the BTP's jurisdiction is limited, broadly, to the railway. I use the word "broadly" with some care. Under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, a BTP officer has jurisdiction,
This means that the BTP's powers already extend to many of the places that would be covered by the amendment. Station car parks, bus stops and taxi ranks will often be on land in which a railway operator has a freehold or leasehold interest. Even where that is not the case, the BTP has jurisdiction elsewhere where it is satisfied that it is using its powers for a purpose connected to or in relation to a railway. The car park in Taunton mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, would certainly be in that category.
Further powers are available to the BTP under Section 100 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. Section 100(2) gives BTP constables the same powers as constables of other forces beyond the railway boundary. Unlike those in Section 100(1), these powers do not rely on the BTP receiving a specific request from another force to assist in an incident. The powers are not limited to dealing with terrorist incidents, but they are limited in other ways. The BTP officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, or is about to commit, an offence, or that the exercise of the powers is necessary to save life or prevent injury and that securing assistance from the local force would result in serious prejudice to the incident in question. The officer must also be in uniform or have documentary evidence that he is a member of the force.
I now believe that the existing legislation is wide-ranging enough to ensure that the BTP is not unduly constrained in carrying out its duties. To take a practical example, an officer may see a mugging take place on a train-possibly on a train to Birmingham International station. If the culprit then gets off at Birmingham International and makes his way to the airport, the effect of Section 31 is that the officer has the power to pursue and arrest him whether or not he is still on railway property by the time the officer catches up with him. This is not to say that there are no limits to the BTP's jurisdiction, but I believe that, where there are such limits, they are well understood by BTP officers. My concern with the amendment is that, far from clarifying matters, it would introduce greater uncertainty. We all know a bus stop or a taxi rank when we see one but determining whether a transport link is or is not,
The noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, referred to Reading station. Indeed, he mentioned it to me a week ago when we were considering this amendment and I made some inquiries about the BTP's powers to police the car park, the bus stop areas and the taxi rank at Reading. The BTP reports that it polices those parts of the station and that it does so under the existing powers in Section 31 covering land held by a rail operator and land used in relation to a railway. Whether or not the noble Lord happens to see BTP officers when he is touring the car park or the bus stops is not a matter for me; it is a matter for the operational commander. However, they certainly have the power to patrol those areas, so, with great respect to the noble Lord, that is not the best example that he could have used.
If we had more time, I would take a while to pay my own tribute to the work of the force. It has been around since 1825 and the very earliest days of the railway. I say only that the force has a very long record of service to the railway and its passengers, and, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, the progress that it has made has been remarkable and a source of great pride to the former chief constable, Sir Ian Johnston.
I hope that it will be clear from what I have said that not only I but the Government as a whole are very strong supporters of the BTP and believe that they have a crucial part to play in helping to achieve the targets that we are setting for increasing rail use by passengers and freight, as well as meeting the objectives set out in this legislation. I hope that the noble Lord will have been sufficiently reassured by what I have said to be prepared to withdraw his amendment, even if, as I suspect, he is not entirely convinced by it. However, I am sure that we will have an opportunity to come back to this matter at some stage in the future.
Lord Bradshaw: The noble Lord is right: I am not convinced by it because I believe that this is a peculiar piece of legislation. To turn to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, if the bag snatcher snatches the bag in the railway car park, the British Transport Police will pursue him. If he snatches the bag in the public car park, unless he obviously runs on to the station saying, "I've just snatched a bag", the British Transport Police will be out of the equation altogether. The jurisdiction is wrong; it should relate to what the public want and what the transport user wants, not to what the bureaucracy or the chief constable wants. I shall come back to this but, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Brett: This amendment seeks to amend Section 23(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the amendments in this group are clarifying amendments. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is the legislative vehicle by which we control dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs.
Section 23(3) authorises a justice of the peace, or in Scotland a justice of the peace, a magistrate or sheriff, to grant a warrant to enter and search premises to any constable acting for the police area if they are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person is in unlawful possession of controlled drugs on the premises, or documents relating to an unlawful transaction in respect of such drugs are on the premises. Those with the powers of a constable, who are working for law enforcement agencies with national jurisdiction such as the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency, and the Serious Organised Crime Agency, do not act under the direct control of a chief constable in a particular police area.
from Section 23(3) of the 1971 Act as we wish to make it absolutely clear that people working for law enforcement agencies with national jurisdiction are nevertheless entitled to obtain a search warrant under Section 23(3) where the court is satisfied that the statutory criteria are met. This is important to ensure that these agencies can tackle serious organised crime associated with drug trafficking.
The omission of these words will also make the position in England, Wales and Scotland consistent with that in Northern Ireland, where these words have already been omitted under Section 23(5) of the 1971 Act. This amendment is primarily a clarifying one. I beg to move.
Lord Brett: Essentially, at the point at which this legislation was going to the other House, representation was received from the SCDEA seeking that this be resolved and we are pleased to bring this forward. The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, supported by the Crown Office in Scotland, and the Serious Organised Crime Agency both supported these proposed amendments because they will ensure that our activities in connection with drugs and other offences in Scotland are more effective.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: So late is the hour that I shall draw attention to the fact that the Monitor seems to think that we are discussing something called constitutional renewal, which is not the case.
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