Criminal Law

Part of Theft from Shops (Use of Penalty Notices for Disorder) – in the House of Commons at 5:01 pm on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Government Equalities office) (also in the Ministry of Justice), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 5:01 pm, 11th March 2009

I will, but I will answer one point before taking another.

It is important that we trust the professionalism of the officer on the beat, who knows what they see in front of them. There is always a balance to be struck. Hon. Members often complain about the bureaucracy surrounding the police and the paperwork that they have to fill in. We have to be careful not to prescribe precisely what should happen in every circumstance. We have to trust the professional judgment of the officers concerned, and I am content to do that.

We are seeking an arrangement that will enable that officer to use their professional judgment, while enabling us as a society to show the escalating effect of repeated offences, which we have not had until now. That will allow us to make clear to those who continue to wander about in possession of this drug that that is not acceptable. After a certain period of time, certain leeway and certain warnings, they will be taken before the court and dealt with appropriately.

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