Criminal Justice Bill
Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Conservative)
With the leave of the Committee, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 24, the last of which is in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley.
At present, detention for up to 36 hours is confined only to what are termed "serious arrestable offences", as defined in PACE. The Government propose to enlarge the range of offences for which detention for up to 36 hours is possible by changing this to "all arrestable offences". My amendments present two alternatives of choice to the Government and to the Committee. The first would change "arrestable offences" to offences "triable only on indictment". Although that would of course allow robbery, at which it appears the clause is aimed, to be covered, I recognise that this would create some anomalies in relation to theft of substantial sums, as was pointed out at col. 88 in Committee in another place.
I have therefore drawn up my alternative set of amendments, Nos. 22 and 23, as a pair. They would retain the existing wording of "serious arrestable offence" but would allow detention of up to 36 hours for other offences as specified by the Secretary of State. That approach would allow the Government to specify offences such as robbery, if that is what they wish; it would give them flexibility while also giving us some certainty and parliamentary scrutiny of what offences would be covered.
I ask the Government at what particular mischief the clause is aimed. Surely the police do not, as a rule, want to detain people for 36 hours for every sort of arrestable offence. I find that difficult to believe. So why have the Government rejected the approach of specifying particular offences such as robbery, for which the power is sought?
I have added my name to the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, but will leave it to her to expound upon it. I simply say here, as I did on a previous occasion, that in this respect, as in others, it is vital that we should consider the interests and welfare of children. I beg to move.