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Crime and Security Bill

Part of Bill Presented — Pedicabs Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:54 pm on 18th January 2010.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:54 pm, 18th January 2010

The hon. Gentleman is right, and the victims also need to be kept informed. The decisions are taken by the agencies, but no one bothers to tell the people who complain. The best way to build confidence in the system is to ensure that complaints are investigated and, if sufficient evidence is found, a prosecution is brought, justice is done and the victims are informed in good time to attend court and make their views heard. We need to ensure that the CPS does its job effectively.

I am concerned about two areas-stop and search, and the DNA database. As far as stop and search is concerned, it is right that we take every opportunity to reduce the amount of bureaucracy with which the police have to battle. I am sure that senior police officers have been telling the Home Secretary that since the very moment he took office. Probably every Home Secretary in the 23 years that I have been in this House has talked about the need to reduce police bureaucracy and release officers to the front line to deal with the issues that concern members of the public-our constituents. I am sure the Home Secretary will find, on reflection, that some of the requirements imposed by this Government will need to be removed-so we have added to the bureaucracy of the police, although we have also provided more resources for the police than any other Government in history.

The Home Secretary is right to use this Bill to reduce police bureaucracy, because that is in line with what Sir Ronnie Flanagan said in his important report two years ago, and with what the Home Affairs Committee said in our report "Policing in the 21st Century". It also takes on board the comments made by the very robust and clever Jan Berry when she presented her report to the Home Secretary. There is no need for the Home Secretary to be embarrassed by the fact that someone like Jan Berry is prepared to make radical proposals, because they are in line with what Ronnie Flanagan said, with what the Committee said and with what the Home Secretary in fact believes.

I felt a little concerned about the fact that the Home Secretary said, "Well, it takes a long time to get things rolling." Why does it take so long? I wrote to the previous Home Secretary following a visit that my hon. Friend Mrs. Dean and I made to Staffordshire police headquarters. We were told about a form, which the force expects its police officers to fill in, that will reduce 24 pages to one page. I thought that that was excellent, so I wrote to the previous Home Secretary and said, "This is a great idea. It's best practice, so don't let's just circulate it; let's have it adopted. Let's just say to chief constables, 'This is a wonderful way of saving paper'-it reduces 24 sheets of paper down to one-'and saving time, which means less bureaucracy and more police officers out on the beat, rather than filling in forms.'"

The Home Secretary gave me a Home Secretary's response today-that it takes time to get things done-and I regret that. If a good idea is being used by one police authority to save time and reduce bureaucracy, it ought to be used all over the country. I still do not know whether the Staffordshire example has been followed. I raised the matter with the Home Secretary when he gave evidence to the Select Committee-David T.C. Davies was there when we had those discussions-and with my right hon. Friend Jacqui Smith. If it has been adopted across all 43-

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