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Crime and Security Bill

Part of Bill Presented — Pedicabs Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:44 pm on 18th January 2010.

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Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Conservative, Woking 6:44 pm, 18th January 2010

The Minister, for whom I have a great deal of respect, is clearly listening. Although many of the points that I am making would be better made in Committee-I think that I am old enough now to be released from Standing Committees; after a while one gets to that stage-I thank him for what he has just said.

However, the relationship between DVPNs and other parts of statute is quite important. Let us have a brief look at what is going on. Clause 21 says that a superintendent can issue a DVPN. Well, fine-the superintendent will issue it him or herself, but on the basis of what a police constable says. So the police constable wanders up to the superintendent and says, "Now boss, will you please issue a domestic violence protection notice?" "Well," says the superintendent, "what do you think? Tell me what's going on." So then the policeman gives an account of what is going on. "Okay. I am satisfied," says the police superintendent. "I have reasonable grounds for believing that there has been violence or the threat of violence. I will issue a notice under subsection 2(a)" which he or she does. The next subsection says that the superintendent must consider the opinion of the victim before issuing a DVPN, but oddly enough the next subsection suggests that he can ignore it completely if he wishes to, although he must consider it. That is just a little odd.

Then there is the notice. I assume that the Minister will confirm that some of it involves paperwork-I thought that we were trying to stop bureaucracy and paperwork, but there must be some. Presumably the constable will have taken a written statement from the lady concerned-the Minister really must confirm that, because there is no requirement, by the way, to take one, even though they must, otherwise it will be double hearsay and the application for the order, which comes later, could not possibly succeed. Anyway, the superintendent then issues a notice saying, "You must not molest"-it stops the party molesting. "Molesting" is one word, although it is used more in our civil law than in our criminal law, for the obvious reason that "molesting", properly defined by the Chambers and Oxford dictionaries, does not amount to a criminal offence. For example, molesting means to interfere with in a troublesome or vexing way, to annoy or to pester in a hostile way. That is not exactly a criminal act, but here again, in a criminal statute-

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