I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Government new clause 54—Powers to seize invalid travel documents.
Government new clause 55—Anonymity of victims of forced marriage.
Government new clause 56—Licensing functions under taxi and PHV legislation: protection of children and vulnerable adults.
Government new clause 57—Powers of litter authorities in Scotland.
New clause 3—Digital Crime Review—
“(1) The Secretary of State shall have a duty to provide for a review of legislation which contains powers to prosecute individuals who may have been involved in the commission of digital crime in order to consolidate such powers in a single statute.
(2) In the conduct of the review under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must have regard to the statutes and measures that he deems appropriate, including but not limited to—
(a) Malicious Communications Act 1988, section 1,
(b) Protection from Harassment Act 1997, section 2, 2a, 4, 4a,
(c) Offences against the Person Act 1861, section 16, 20, 39, 47,
(d) Data Protection Act 1998, section 10, 13 and 55,
(e) Criminal Justice Act 1998, section 160,
(f) Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, section 30(1), (3),(5),(6), 78(5),
(j) Public Order Act 1986, section 4, 4a, 5, 16(b), 18,
(k) Serious Organised Crime Act 2005, section 145, 46,
(l) Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, section 48,
(m) Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2014, section 32, 34, 35, 36, 37,
(p) Crime and Disorder Act 1998, section 28, 29-32,
(q) Criminal Justice Act 2003, section 145, 146,
(r) Communications Act 2003, section 127, 128-131,
(s) Data retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, section 4,
(t) Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992, section 5,
(u) Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015,
(v) Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, section 33(5), 29(6),
(w) Criminal Damage Act 1971, section 2,
(x) Sexual Offences Act 2003, section 4, 8, 10, 62,
(y) Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, section 43,
(z) Magistrates Court Act 1980, section 127,
() Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, section 63,
() Theft Act 1968, section 21, and
() Criminal Law Act 1977, section 51(2)
(3) It shall be a duty of the Secretary of State to determine for the review any other statute under which persons have been prosecuted for a crime falling under section 1 of this Act.
(4) In the conduct of the review under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must consult with any person or body he deems appropriate, including but not limited to—
(a) the Police,
(c) judiciary, and
(d) relevant community organisations.”
New clause 4—Surveillance and monitoring: offences—
“(1) A person commits an offence if the person—
(a) uses a digital device to repeatedly locate, listen to or watch a person without legitimate purpose,
(b) installs spyware, a webcam or any other device or software on another person’s property or digital device without the user’s agreement or without legitimate reason,
(c) takes multiple images of an individual unless it is in the public interest to do so without that individual’s permission and where the intent was not legitimate nor lawful,
(d) repeatedly orders goods or services for another person if the purpose of such actions is to cause distress, anxiety or to disrupt that person’s daily life,
(e) erases data remotely whilst a digital device is being examined by the police or any other lawful investigation,
(f) monitors a digital device registered to a person aged 17 or less if the purpose of that monitoring is to obtain information about a third person,
(g) monitors any other person’s digital device if the intent of the monitor is either to damage or steal data from that person, or
(h) creates a false persona on line without lawful reason if the purpose of such a creation is to intend to attempt to defraud, groom, impersonate or seriously damage the reputation of any other person.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under subsections (1)(a) or (b) is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or a fine.
(3) For the purpose of subsection (1)(a) “repeatedly” shall be deemed as on two occasions or more.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1)(d) is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory limit.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under subsections (1)(e), (f), (g) or (h) is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months.
(6) The Secretary of State shall introduce restrictions on the sale of spyware to persons under the age of 16 and requests all persons who are purchasing such equipment to state their intended use of such equipment.”
New clause 5—Digital crime training and education—
‘(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Home Department to ensure that each Police Service shall invest in training on the prioritisation, investigation and evidence gathering in respect of digital crime and abuse.
(2) It shall be the responsibility of the Home Department to ensure that all Police services record complaints and outcomes of complaints of digital crime and abuse.
(3) It shall be the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to publish annual statistics on complaints and outcomes of digital crime and abuse.”
New clause 6—Offence of abduction of a vulnerable child aged 16 or 17—
“(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence if, knowingly and without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, he or she—
(a) takes a child to whom this section applies away from the responsible person; or
(b) keeps such a child away from the responsible person; or
(c) induces, assists or incites such a child to run away or stay away from the responsible person or from a child’s place of residence.
(2) This section applies in relation to a child aged 16 or 17 who is—
(a) a child in need as defined in section 17 of the Children Act 1989; or
(b) a child looked after under section 20 of the Children Act 1989; or
(c) a child housed alone under part 7 of the Housing Act 1996; or
(d) a child who is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm subject to section 47 1(b) of the Children Act 1989.
(3) In this section “the responsible person” is—
(a) a person with a parental responsibility as defined in the Children Act 1989; or
(b) a person who for the time being has care of a vulnerable child aged 16 and 17 by virtue of a care order, an emergency protection order, or protection from section 46 of the Children Act 1989; or
(c) any other person as defined in regulations for the purposes of this section.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both such imprisonment and fine; or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
(5) No prosecution for an offence above shall be instituted except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
New clause 10—Prevention of child sexual exploitation and private hire vehicles—
“(1) The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 is amended as follows.
(2) After section 47(1) insert—
“(1A) A district council must carry out its functions under this section with a view to preventing child sexual exploitation”.
(3) At end of section 48 (1) insert—
“(c) a district council must carry out its functions under this section with a view to preventing child sexual exploitation”.
(4) Section 7 of the London Cab Order 1934 is amended as follows.
(5) After section 7(2) insert—
“(2A) Transport for London must carry out its functions under this section with a view to preventing child sexual exploitation.””
(6) Section 7 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 is amended as follows.
(7) After section 7(2) insert—
“(3) The licensing authority must carry out its functions under this section with a view to preventing child sexual exploitation.””
This new clause would place local authorities under a duty to consider how they can prevent child sexual exploitation when they issue licences for taxis and private hire vehicles.
New clause 13—Grooming for criminal behaviour: offence—
“(1) A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if—
(a) A has met or communicated with another person (B) on at least two occasions and subsequently—
(i) A intentionally meets B,
(ii) A travels with the intention of meeting B in any part of the world or arranges to meet B in any part of the world, or
(iii) B travels with the intention of meeting A in any part of the world,
(b) A intends to say or do anything to or in respect of B, during or after the meeting mentioned in paragraph (a)(i) to (iii) and in any part of the world, which if done will—
(ii) persuade, or
B with the effect that B commits a criminal offence from which A will, or intends to, profit.
(c) B is under 16, and
(d) A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over.
(2) For subsection (1)(b)(iii) to apply, A does not have to profit directly nor be the sole beneficiary of a criminal offence committed by B.
(3) In subsection (1) the reference to A having met or communicated with B is a reference to A having met B in any part of the world or having communicated with B by any means from, to or in any part of the world.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both,
(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.”
New clause 14—Grooming for criminal behaviour: prevention orders—
“(1) A court may make an order under this section in respect of a person aged 18 or over (A) where—
(a) A has committed an offence under section (Grooming for criminal behaviour); or
(b) the court is satisfied that A’s behaviour makes it necessary to make such an order, for the purpose of protecting one or more persons aged 16 or under from being encouraged, persuaded or intimidated by A into committing a crime from which A intends to profit.
(2) A chief officer of police may by complaint to a magistrates’ court apply for an order under this section in respect of a person who resides in his police area or who the chief officer believes is in, or is intending to come to, his police area if it appears to the chief officer that—
(a) the person has committed an offence under section (Grooming for criminal behaviour); or
(b) the person’s behaviour makes it reasonable to make such an order, for the purpose of protecting one or more other persons aged 16 or under from being encouraged, persuaded, facilitated or intimidated into committing a crime from which others will, or intend to, profit.
(c) the person has acted in such a way as to give reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary for such an order to be made.
(3) An application under subsection (2) may be made to any magistrates’ court whose commission area includes—
(a) any part of the applicant’s police area, or
(b) any place where it is alleged that the person acted in a way mentioned in subsection (2)(b).
(4) A grooming for criminal behaviour prevention order (GCBPO) that includes one or more requirements must specify the person who is to be responsible for supervising compliance with the requirement who may be an individual or an organisation.
(5) Before including a requirement, the court must receive evidence about its suitability and enforceability from—
(a) the individual to be specified under subsection (1), if an individual is to be specified;
(b) an individual representing the organisation to be specified under subsection (1), if an organisation is to be specified.
(6) Before including two or more requirements, the court must consider their compatibility with each other.
(7) It is the duty of a person specified under subsection (4)—
(a) to make any necessary arrangements in connection with the requirements for which the person has responsibility (the “relevant requirements”);
(b) to promote the compliance of the GCBPO subject with the relevant requirements;
(c) if the person considers that the GCBPO subject—
(i) has complied with all the relevant requirements, or
(ii) has failed to comply with a relevant requirement, to inform the prosecution and the appropriate chief officer of police.
(8) In subsection (7)(c) “the appropriate chief officer of police” means—
(a) the chief officer of police for the police area in which it appears to the person specified under subsection (1) that—
(i) the GCBRO subject lives, or
(ii) one or more persons aged 16 or under as mentioned in subsection (1)(b) lives;
(b) if it appears to a person specified under subsection (4) that the GCBPO subject lives in more than one police area, whichever of the relevant chief officers of police that person thinks it most appropriate to inform.
(9) The subject of a GCBPO, in addition to any specific restrictions and requirements detailed within the order, must—
(a) keep in touch with the person specified under subsection (4) in relation to that requirement, in accordance with any instructions given by that person from time to time; and
(b) notify the person of any change of address.
These obligations have effect as requirements of the order.”
New clause 15—Sentencing guidelines review: children—
“(1) With an year of the day on which this Act is passed the Sentencing Council must conduct a review of it sentencing guidelines as they relate to crime against children and crimes where the victim is a child.
(2) The Sentencing Council must publish the findings of its review and lay a copy of that report before Parliament.
(3) In conducting this review the Sentencing Council must consult—
(a) the Secretary of State for Justice,
(b) and any other bodies it thinks relevant.
(4) For the purpose of this section “child” has the same meaning as in section 105 of the Children Act 1989.”
This new clause would require the Sentencing Council to review the sentencing guideline for offences committed against children.
New clause 16—Soliciting via telecommunications order: applications, grounds and effect—
“(1) A chief officer of police may by complaint to a magistrates’ court apply for an order under this section (a “soliciting via telecommunication order“) in respect of a telecommunications service provider if it appears to the chief officer that a phone number (“the relevant phone number”) administered by a telecommunications service provider is being used for the purposes of advertising a person’s services as a prostitute.
(2) The chief office of police may make an application under subsection (1) only if the relevant phone number has been advertised in the chief officer‘s police area.
(3) Such an order requires the telecommunications service provider to take all reasonable steps to prevent calls to the relevant phone number being connected.
(4) It shall be an offence for a telecommunication service provider to fail to comply with terms of an order issued under this section.
(5) An organisation found guilty of an offence under subsection (5) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine no greater than £50,000.”
This new clause would enable the police to request that a magistrate issues an order to mobile phone providers that they block a number if that number is on cards advertising prostitution and create an offence if they fail to comply with a fine of up to £50,000.
New clause 18—Cruelty to persons under sixteen: penalty—
“(1) The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 1(1)(a) leave out the words “ten” and insert “fourteen.””
To increase the maximum tariff for child cruelty from 10 years imprisonment to 14 years.
New clause 33—Police observance of the Victims’ Code: enforcement—
“(1) The Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 5(1B) omit paragraph (a) together with the final “or”.
(3) After section 5(1B) insert—
“(1BA) Subsection (1C) of this section applies if a written complaint is made to the Commissioner by a member of the public who claims that—
(a) a police officer
(b) a police service employee other than a police officer
(c) another person determined under section (1BC) has failed to perform a Code duty owed by him to the member of the public.
(1BB) For the purposes of subsection (1BA) a Code duty is a duty imposed by a code of practice issued under section 32 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (code of practice for victims).
(1BC) The Secretary of State may by regulation amend the categories of person identified in subsection (1BA) as the Secretary of State thinks fit.”
(4) In section 5(4A), after “(1A)”, insert “or (1BA)”.
(5) In section 6(3), at the beginning insert “Except as provided in subsection (3A)”.
(6) After section 6(3), insert—
“(3A) Subsection (3) shall apply in relation to a complaint under section 5(1BA) as if for “a member of the House of Commons” there were substituted “the Commissioner”.”
(7) In section 7(1A), after “5(1A)”, insert “or 5(1BA)”.
(8) In section 8(1A), after “5(1A)”, insert “or 5(1BA)”.
(9) After section 10(2A), insert—
“(2B) In any case where the Commissioner conducts an investigation pursuant to a complaint under section 5(1BA) of this Act, he shall send a report of the results of the investigation to—
(a) the person to whom the complaint relates,
(b) the principal officer of the department or authority concerned and to any other person who is alleged in the relevant complaint to have taken or authorised the action complained of, and
(c) the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses appointed under section 48 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.”
(10) After section 10(3B) insert—
“(3C) If, after conducting an investigation pursuant to a complaint under section 5(1BA) of this Act, it appears to the Commissioner that—
(a) the person to whom the complaint relates has failed to perform a Code duty owed by him to the person aggrieved, and
(b) the failure has not been, or will not be, remedied, the Commissioner shall lay before each House of Parliament a special report upon the case.
(3D) If the Commissioner lays a special report before each House of Parliament pursuant to subsection (3C) the Commissioner may also send a copy of the report to any person as the Commissioner thinks appropriate.
(3E) For the purposes of subsection (3C) “Code duty” has the meaning given by section 5(1BB) of this Act.”
(11) In section 10(5)(d), for “or (2A)” substitute “, (2A) or (2B)”.
(12) In section 12(1), after paragraph (b) of the definition of “person aggrieved”, insert—
“(c) in relation to a complaint under section 5(1BA) of this Act, means the person to whom the duty referred to in section 5 (1BA) of this Act is or is alleged to be owed;”.”
New clause 34—Police, etc. provision for victims’ entitlement: framework—
“(1) The Victims’ Code (a code of practice issued under section 32 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (code of practice for victims)) shall include, but not be limited to, the entitlement of victims to receive as follows.
(2) A victim of crime shall be entitled to receive—
(a) accurate and timely information from—
(i) the police
(ii) such other agencies of the criminal justice system concerned with the detection and prosecution of the relevant crime and with the support of victims of crime as the Secretary of State deems fit;
(b) The police must ensure provision to victims of adequate notice of all relevant court and other legal proceedings, including information about decisions by and discussions between the police and other agencies of the criminal justice system relating to the person convicted of the crime concerned (“the perpetrator”), including—
(i) information about any prison sentence previously served by the perpetrator,
(ii) information about relevant changes to the perpetrator’s circumstances whilst on parole or in custody,
(iii) information about any crimes committed by the perpetrator outside the UK where the victim of the crime concerned is a British national,
(iv) access, where required, to adequate interpretation and translation services, and
(v) information about the direct contact details of the criminal justice agencies and individuals involved in the court or other legal proceedings concerned.
(3) During criminal justice proceedings, the police and other relevant agencies and authorities of the criminal justice system must ensure that victims of crime—
(a) are not subjected to unnecessary delay by any other party to the proceedings;
(b) are treated with dignity and respect by all parties involved; and
(c) do not experience discriminatory behaviour from any other party to the proceedings.
(4) Children and vulnerable adults must be able to give evidence to a court secure location away from that court or from behind a protective screen.
(5) The investigating police force concerned must ensure the safety and protection of victims of crime during proceedings, including but not restricted to—
(a) a presumption that victims of crime may remain domiciled at their home with adequate police protection if required; and
(b) ensuring that the victim and those accompanying them are provided with access to discreet waiting areas during the relevant court proceedings.
(6) All victims of crime shall have access to an appropriate person to liaise with relevant agencies on their behalf and to inform them about, and explain the progress, outcomes and impact of, their case.
(7) Witnesses under the age of 18 shall have access to a trained communications expert, to be known as a Registered Intermediary, to help them understand as necessary what is happening in the criminal proceedings.
(8) Victims of crime shall have access to transcripts of any relevant legal proceedings at no cost to themselves.
(9) Victims of crime shall have the right to attend and make representations to a pre-court hearing to determine the nature of the court proceedings.
(10) The Secretary of State must take steps to ensure that victims of crime—
(a) have access to financial compensation from public funds for any detriment arising from the criminal case concerned;
(b) are given the right to approve or refuse the payment of any compensation order made by a court against a person convicted of a crime against them;
(c) have reimbursed to them, from public funds, any expenses incurred by them in attending in court and in any related legal process, whether in the UK or overseas;
(d) have available to them legal advice where considered necessary by a judge in court proceedings; and
(e) are not required to disclose personal data in legal proceedings which puts their safety at risk unless specifically ordered to do so by a judge.”
New clause 35—Police etc. training: treatment of victims—
“(1) The Secretary of State shall publish and implement a strategy for providing training on the impact of crime on victims and victims’ rights for staff of the following organisations—
(a) the police
(b) the Crown Prosecution Service, and
(c) any other public agency or authority that the Secretary of State deems appropriate.
(2) The Secretary of State may also by regulation make provision for judges, barristers and solicitors involved in criminal cases involving sexual and domestic violence undertake specialist training.
(3) The Secretary of State shall publish an agreed timetable for the delivery and completion of the training required by this section.”
New clause 36—Establishment and conduct of homicide reviews—
“(1) In this section “homicide review” means a review of the circumstances a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, died as the result of a homicide and—
(a) no one has been charged with the homicide, or
(b) the person(s) charged has been acquitted.
(2) The Secretary of State may in a particular case direct a police force or other specified person or body or a person or body within subsection (5) to establish, or to participate in, a homicide review.
(3) It is the duty of any person or body within subsection (5) establishing or participating in a homicide review (whether or not held pursuant to a direction under subsection (2)) to have regard to any guidance and standards issued by the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses as to the establishment and conduct of such reviews.
(4) Any reference in subsection (2) to the Secretary of State shall, in relation to persons and bodies within subsection (5)(b), be construed as a reference to the PSNI or Department of Justice in Northern Ireland as may be appropriate.
(5) The persons and bodies within this subsection are—
(a) in relation to England and Wales—chief officers of police for police areas in England and Wales; local authorities; local probation boards established under section 4 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (c 43); the National Health Service Commissioning Board; clinical commissioning groups established under section 14D of the National Health Service Act 2006; providers of probation services; Local Health Boards established under section 11 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006; NHS trusts established under section 25 of the National Health Service Act 2006 or section 18 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006;
(b) in relation to Northern Ireland—the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland; the Probation Board for Northern Ireland; Health and Social Services Boards established under Article 16 of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 (SI 1972/1265 (NI 14)); Health and Social Services trusts established under Article 10 of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (SI 1991/194 (NI 1)).
(6) In subsection (5)(a) “local authority” means—
(a) in relation to England, the council of a district, county or London borough, the Common Council of the City of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly;
(b) in relation to Wales, the council of a county or county borough.”
New clause 37—Statutory duty on elected local policing bodies—
“(1) An elected local policing body must assess—
(a) the needs of victims in each elected local policing body’s police area, and
(b) the adequacy and effectiveness of the available victims’ services in that area.
(2) An elected local policing body must—
(a) prepare and consult upon an Area Victims’ Plan for its police area,
(b) having taken account of any responses to its consultation and any Quality Standard, publish the Plan in such a manner as sets out clearly how the identified victim needs will be met by the available victims’ services, and
(c) submit its Area Victims’ Plan to the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses on an annual basis.
(3) In this section—
“elected local policing body” and “police area” have the same meaning as in Part 1 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, and “Quality Standard” means the standard published under section 49(1)(f) of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.”
New clause 38—Duties of the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses—
“(1) Section 49 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (general functions of Commissioner) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), after paragraph (c) insert—
“(d) assess the adequacy of each elected local policing body’s Area Victims’ Plans submitted to the Commissioner under section (Statutory duty on elected local policing bodies) of the Policing and Crime Act 2016,
(e) make to elected local policing bodies such recommendations about submitted Area Victims’ Plans as the Commissioner considers necessary and appropriate;
(f) prepare a statement of standards (the “Quality Standard”) in relation to the provision of victims’ services;
(g) publish the Quality Standard in such manner as the Commissioner considers appropriate;
(h) review the Quality Standard at intervals of not more than five years;
(i) in preparing or reviewing a Quality Standard, consult the public, and for that purpose may publish drafts of the standard;
(j) assess the steps taken to support victims and witnesses in giving evidence;
(k) make such recommendations in relation to that assessment as the Commissioner considers necessary and appropriate;
(l) issue guidance and standards for the establishment and conduct of homicide reviews under section (Establishment and conduct of homicide reviews) of the Policing and Crime Act 2016.””
New clause 39—National anti-doping provisions—
“(1) Subsections (2) and (3) apply to—
(a) all athletes participating in sport in the UK who are members of a governing body of sport or an affiliate organisation or licensee of a governing body of sport (including any clubs, teams, associations or leagues);
(b) all athletes participating in such capacity in sporting events, competitions or other activities in the UK organised, convened, authorised or recognised by a governing body of sport or any of its member or affiliate organisations or licensees (including any clubs, teams, associations or leagues), wherever held;
(c) any other athlete participating in sport in the UK who, by virtue of a contractual arrangement or otherwise, is subject to the jurisdiction of a governing body of sport for purposes of anti-doping; and
(d) any person belonging to the entourage of an athlete, whether or not such person is a citizen of, or resident in, the United Kingdom.
(2) An athlete is guilty of an offence if he or she knowingly takes a prohibited substance with the intention, or one of the intentions, of enhancing his or her performance.
(3) A person belonging to the entourage of an athlete is guilty of an offence if he or she encourages or assists or hides awareness of the relevant athlete taking a prohibited substance with the intention, or one of the intentions, of enhancing such athlete’s performance.
(4) A medical professional commits an offence if they proscribe a prohibited substance to an athlete and believe, or ought reasonably to believe, that the substance will be used by the athlete to enhance their performance.
(5) For the purposes of this section a “prohibited substance” is as defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
(6) Any person guilty of an offence under subsection (2), (3) or (4) shall be liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both; or
(b) On conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.
(7) UK Anti-Doping shall discuss the following issues with the World Anti-Doping Agency annually—
(a) the effectiveness of section 11 of the International Standard for Testing (athlete whereabouts requirements) and its harmonisation with EU privacy and working time rules and the European Convention on Human Rights;
(b) the effectiveness of the international work of the World Anti-Doping Agency; and
(c) progress on the development of a universal rollout of athlete biological passports.
(8) UK Anti-Doping shall submit the results of the annual discussions referred to in subsection (7) to the Secretary of State, who shall in turn—
(a) lay before both Houses of Parliament an annual report documenting—
(i) whether the athlete whereabouts requirements are effective in combating the abuse of drug-taking and in compliance with EU privacy and working time rules and the European Convention on Human Rights, and
(ii) the performance of the World Anti-Doping Agency in general; and
(b) determine whether the Government should remain a member and continue to support the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
New clause 41—Local Safeguarding Children Board: prevention of child sexual exploitation—
“(1) The Children Act 2004 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 14 after “children”, insert “and preventing child sexual exploitation, child abuse and child neglect.””
New clause 44—Modern technology: specialist digital unit (child abuse)—
“(1) The chief officer of each police force in Wales and England must ensure that within their force there is a unit that specialises in analysing and investigating allegations of online offences against children and young people.
(2) The chief officer must ensure that such a unit has access to sufficient digital forensic science resource to enable it to perform this function effectively and efficiently.”
New clause 46—Anonymity for victims who have private sexual photographs and films disclosed without their consent with intent to cause distress—
“(1) Section 2 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), after paragraph (b) insert—
(c) an offence under section 33 of the Criminal Courts and Justice Act 2015.”
New clause 47—Compensation for victims who have private sexual photographs and films disclosed without their consent with intent to cause distress—
“(1) Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 is amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (9), insert—
“(9A) The court may order a person guilty of an offence under this section to pay compensation to the victim of the offence, under sections 130 to 132 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000.
(9B) Compensation under subsection (9A) may be awarded for (among other things) any anxiety caused by the offence and any financial loss resulting from the offence.”
New clause 60—Duty to report on Child Abduction Warning Notices—
“(1) Each police force in England and Wales must report to the Secretary of State each year on—
(a) the number of Child Abduction Warning Notices issued;
(b) the number of Child Abduction Warning Notices breached; and
(c) the number of Sexual Risk Orders and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders issued following the breach of a Child Abduction Warning Notice.
(2) The Secretary of State must prepare and publish a report each year on—
(a) the number of Child Abduction Warning Notices issued in each police force in England and Wales;
(b) the number of Child Abduction Warning Notices breached in each police force in England and Wales; and
(c) the number of Sexual Risk Orders and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders issued following the breach of a Child Abduction Warning Notice in each police force in England and Wales and must lay a copy of the report before Parliament.”
New clause 61—Disclosure of private sexual photographs and films without consent and with the intent to cause distress, fear or alarm, or recklessness as to distress, fear or alarm being caused—
“(1) Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) after “disclose” insert “or threaten to disclose”.
(3) In subsection (1)(b) after “distress” insert “fear or alarm or recklessness as to distress, fear or alarm being caused”.
(4) After subsection (1) insert—
“(1A) It is also an offence to knowingly promote, solicit or profit from private photographs and films that are reasonably believed to have been disclosed without consent and with the intent to cause distress, fear or alarm, or recklessness as to distress, fear or alarm being caused”.
(5) Leave out subsection (8).”
This new clause clarifies and expands the definition of the offence of disclosing private sexual photographs and films without consent and with the intent to cause distress, also known as revenge pornography, so that it includes reckless intent. This new clause also makes it an offence to knowingly promote, solicit or profit from private photographs and films that are reasonably believed to have been disclosed without consent.
New clause 62—Meaning of “private” and “sexual”—
“(1) Section 35 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (3)(a) after “exposed genitals” insert “breasts, buttocks,”.
(3) Leave out subsection 4.
(4) Leave out subsection 5.”
This new clause expands the definition of “sexual” and ensures the disclosure of pornographic photoshopped images, posted with the intent to cause distress, fear or alarm or recklessness as to distress, fear or alarm being caused, are covered by the law.
New clause 67—Misconduct in public office—
“(1) A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person is a public officer,
(b) the person wilfully neglects to perform their duty or wilfully misconducts themselves in the performance of their public duty to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public‘s trust in the office holder, and
(c) the person acts without reasonable excuse or justification.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—
(a) in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or, in relation to offences committed, to a fine, or to both;
(b) in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
(c) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine, or to both.
(3) For the purposes of this section, a public officer is an officer who discharges any duty in the discharge of which the public are interested and includes, but is not limited to—
(a) executive or ministerial officers,
(b) police officer, including a police officer in a period of suspension and a former police officer doing part-time police work,
(d) special constable,
(e) community support officer,
(f) employee of a police force with responsibility for the computer system of that police force,
(g) prison officer,
(h) Independent Monitoring Board member,
(i) nurse working within a prison,
(k) army officer,
(l) accountant in the office of the Paymaster General,
(m) Justice of the Peace
(o) district judge,
(p) clergy of the Church of England,
(r) local councillor,
(s) employee of a local authority, and
(t) civil servant or other employee of a public body.”
This new clause seeks to codify the common law offence of misconduct in public office and prescribes a list of ‘public officers’ to which this offence shall apply
Government amendments 107, 108, 111 to 116 and 119 to 122.
I note what the Minister said earlier in support of localism, but would cautiously remind him if he were still in the Chamber that although Wales is one of the four nations of the United Kingdom, it is the only one that has no responsibility for its police forces. The Governments of both Scotland and Northern Ireland are able to acknowledge the specific needs of their communities and direct their police forces to work effectively in response to those needs, but Wales must follow the policing priorities of England.
The four police forces of Wales are unique in the United Kingdom in that they are non-devolved bodies operating within a largely devolved public services landscape. They are thus required to respond to the agendas of two Governments, and to serve a nation whose people have the right to use either the English or the Welsh language. It should be noted that the Assembly’s budget already funds 500 extra police community support officers.
Does my hon. Friend, like me, find it peculiar that other services that are vital to Welsh communities, such as social services, education, economic and health—including mental health—are all devolved? Would it not greatly aid the coherence of public policy in Wales if this particular service were also devolved?
I understand that the very fact of having to work to, and be answerable to, two agendas is the reason our colleagues in the Assembly, and the four police and crime commissioners in Wales, are calling for the devolution of policing.
What I am describing contrasts starkly with the situation in Wales. Power over policing is due to be devolved to English city regions: Manchester and Liverpool, for example. The present approach to devolution has been criticised in a House of Lords Constitutional Committee report, published last month, which described it as piecemeal and lacking a coherent vision. I would strongly argue that the devolution of policing to Wales would benefit the people of Wales, and that they are ill served by the antiquated England and Wales arrangement, which, inevitably, is designed with the priorities of English cities in mind.
Our demographics are different in Wales. The need to maintain effective services in rural areas with scattered populations cries out for better consideration. The impact of tourism—populations rocket at bank holidays and in summer months—stretches resources to the limit. Abersoch, in my constituency, has 1,000 year-round residents, yet North Wales police have to deal with an influx of 20,000 visitors in the summer season. I went on patrol with officers last August, and saw that drunken behaviour meant that police officers had to focus attention on that one community, travelling for hours back and forth along country roads to the nearest custody cells 30 miles away. The current arrangement of policing in England and Wales is dominated by English metropolitan concerns, and fails to provide for Wales's needs.
My hon. Friend is making very strong points. Only recently, the UK Government introduced centralised helicopter services for the police in England and Wales. That did not affect Scotland and Northern Ireland, because their police forces were decentralised. They kept their helicopters, but we lost ours in Dyfed-Powys. Ministers should not smirk; this affects lives in my constituency. The police force in Dyfed-Powys called out the helicopter on more than 40 occasions, and it was sent out on only a handful of them.
Order. This is not like you, Mr Edwards. If you want to speak, you are allowed to speak, but you cannot make a speech and get carried away and start pointing at the Minister. Let us try to keep it calm. If you want to raise any points, there will certainly be time for you to do so. We will not miss you out.
But the question of resources and how those priorities direct them does indeed highlight again the fact that Wales has different needs, and those resources from central Government do get directed to those priorities which best serve England.
When devolution of policing to Wales was discussed in Committee, the Minister present referred to the Silk commission on devolution in Wales, which was established by his party in 2011 with cross-party membership. Part 2 was published in 2014 and recommended devolution. He made much at the time of the fact that there was no consensus on this recommendation as a result of the St David’s day process and “Powers for a purpose”.
Those involved in that process have told me it was little more than a tick-box exercise: if all party representatives liked it, the power was in the bag; if not, chuck it out, regardless of the implications for the governance and needs and, indeed, people of Wales. I note that in Committee Labour indicated a grudging support for devolving policing, albeit in the distant future: 10 years away. It seems pressure from Plaid is driving the accelerator. This is not a matter of jam tomorrow; we are living in hope of this today.
This opportunity is before the House here and now. The contents of future legislation and future amendments lack this certainty. If this House votes for devolution today, policing will be devolved to Wales, and the Government will then have to amend the Wales Bill accordingly at the very start of its journey. Indeed, surely, the Wales Bill deals first and foremost with constitutional matters, but here is our opportunity to make sure. I urge Labour to grasp the opportunity and support the National Assembly for Wales and all four police and crime commissioners in Wales and vote for the devolution of policing today.
I turn now to new clauses 3, 4 and 5 which relate to aspects of digital crime. I would note that these and new clause 44 are probing amendments. The Government state that resources are already provided to counter digital crime in the form of the National Cyber Crime Unit. I would respond that the National Cyber Crime Unit is relatively small, and that the national cyber security programme concentrates primarily on the security of businesses and infrastructure. Action Fraud addresses crime in relation to online fraud. The priorities are business, financial and serious crime, and do not cover the safeguarding of victims of abuse crimes such as domestic violence, stalking, harassment or hate crime.
The first of the new clauses proposes a review of legislation relating to digital crime and to consolidate the numerous Acts into a single statute. There are now over 30 statutes that cover online crime. Criminal justice professionals, including the police and CPS, believe this to be confusing at best and overwhelming at worst. Victims’ complaints are sometimes subject to delay, and there are times when officers are uncertain whether specific activities are criminal or not. The law has developed incrementally as technology advances, and there is an urgent need to codify and clarify the current situation. Consolidation will save police time and money. It will avoid duplication of officers on cases. Swifter action on victims’ complaints will reduce distress and anxiety.
As regards new clause 4, surveillance and monitoring highlights further issues against which there is currently no redress. The identification of these actions as offences will enable the police to counter activities that are evidently related to surveillance with intention to cause distress, and the law should respond appropriately.
New clause 5 addresses the need for training that is fit for purpose. Even in large police areas, fewer than 5% of officers and staff, including call and first response personnel, are trained in cyber-crime. Victims report being advised to go offline and not to use social media by officers. This defies modern communication media. It is equivalent to telling victims of harassment not to venture outside their own homes. The Home Office believes that training is a matter for individual forces, but in the absence of strong central leadership, this can only perpetuate present inconsistencies and variations from force to force. National training would help to raise the status of victims.
Finally, I turn to new clause 44, which calls for the establishment of a specialist digital unit to investigate online offences against children and young people. As I mentioned earlier, there is a real risk intrinsic in dependency on central units, although I acknowledge the work done by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. But, once again, children’s charities report to us that the scale of abuse of children online in terms of offenders, devices and images is leaving police swamped. There are delays in forensic analysis of devices—delays in some cases of up to 12 months. These delays pose risks to the safeguarding of children.
In Committee, the Minister mentioned the child abuse image database, and praised the accuracy of imagery interpretation and how it aids identification. It is of course to be commended that this database will take some of the load from individual forces. I would argue, none the less, that there is precedent for digital units on a similar model to domestic violence units as a means to ensure that all forces direct proper resources to this serious issue.
I commend the hon. Lady for tabling these amendments. Importantly, she talked about the idea of a specialist digital unit within each police force. Does she agree that, if that were to happen, it would be imperative that this would feed back to some central database to ensure the work that was done in each of those individual units had read-across across the country?
Of course, what we need is the expertise of a central unit alongside the work on the ground that individual forces can do, and to ensure that we avoid the risk that the presence of a central unit results in a tendency to treat certain crimes as another agency’s problem. There is also—this is important at individual force-level—a need for specialist approaches to support child victims and their families.
I rise to speak particularly on new clauses 3, 5, 44, 46 and 47, and note the advisement of Liz Saville Roberts that her amendments are set out as probing amendments. Those five amendments tabled by both Liberal Democrat Members and Plaid Cymru Members all have a common theme: to call for reform in connection with the internet and the digital online world.
We all need to get our Government and Governments around the world to wake up to the extent to which crime and criminal activity has now moved online. Our laws are not giving victims the protection they need and our police forces face a revolution if they are to tackle the crime that they face now effectively in the future.
There has been a significant shift in the way people experience harm in this world. New clause 44, as the hon. Lady has set out, calls for the police to have special digital units to deal particularly with child abuse images. Many police forces in this country, including my own in Hampshire, have gone a long way to building up this sort of specialist expertise, but the new clause is an interesting piece of advice on which I will be interested to hear the Minister’s response, as well as the response on police training.
There are serious questions to ask as to whether the providers of online space are doing what they need to do to keep their communities safe. They have not only a corporate social responsibility to do that, but I also think an economic imperative, because it is their brand names that are tarnished, and rightly so, when their products are used for illegal purposes.
Another aspect is not particularly brought up in the amendments today, but I will mention it: the importance of the international implications of all these things. If we are to get a solution to the sorts of crimes that are being committed online in this new digital world that does not respect country boundaries, we need to have some buy-in from international Governments, too. I myself have met companies in the US, but we need to go further than that and see whether we can actually get the sort of action that we need on an international basis by perhaps looking to the United Nations, or indeed the youth part of the UN, to explore how we can get more effective laws in the future that are not constricted by international boundaries.
Our law is struggling to cope. These amendments recognise that. The real need to recognise that online crime is different is a battle that was won when this Government put in place the revenge pornography law a year or so ago. We have already seen 1,000 reports to the police and thousands more people using the revenge pornography helpline, yet two-thirds of those cases that have been reported to the police have seen no action because of problems of the evidence that victims have been able to give or indeed because the victims have withdrawn it. Again, the new clauses are picking up those issues and calling on the Government to consider again. New clause 46 calls for anonymity of victims. That was considered at the time the law was put in place, but the advice then was to wait to see how things progressed. The statistics suggest that now is a time to think again, as new clause 41, which also deals with compensation, also seeks to do.
The myriad of amendments before us today show the level of complexity involved and the level of concern among hon. Members from at least three parties represented in the Chamber tonight—I am sure Labour Front Benchers would share in this, too—but I worry that they offer a piecemeal set of solutions. Liz Saville Roberts picked up on that. Surely what is needed is a wholesale review of the law, police training and the development of international support for digital providers to take seriously the importance of keeping their communities safe online. I support the spirit of these amendments, but I am struck by the need for a more comprehensive review, perhaps in the form of the digital economy Bill, which Her Gracious Majesty announced in the Gracious Speech only last month.
My right hon. Friend is articulating a very serious problem, with which many of us have been involved for some time. Does she acknowledge that with some 70,000 cases of historical child abuse likely to be investigated by the police this year alone and with up to half of cases coming to the courts involving sexual exploitation, many of them historical, the police are overwhelmed in their capacity to be able to deal with this new wave of digital crime against some of the most vulnerable children? Her suggestion for a more holistic overview of this is therefore essential.
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. He of course has an impeccable record of campaigning in this area. Perhaps the very scale of this problem is an indication that our regulatory framework within which these organisations work is not quite as good as it needs to be for the future. We cannot expect our police force simply to put down the work it is doing in every other area to focus solely on online crime, but at the moment he is right to say that the scale of what is being seen is, in the words of some police chiefs, “frightening”. We do not yet seem to be seeing a response to that. I hope that the digital economy Bill will provide the Ministers sitting on the Front Bench today, and perhaps their colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with the opportunity to look carefully at this. It is no longer something that we can simply say is the by-product of a new industry that will settle down over time. Those Ministers will have heard a good deal of evidence this evening to suggest that more action needs to be taken, and I ask them to do what one of them, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend Karen Bradley, agreed to do today in departmental questions: sit down with me and other hon. Members who might be interested to set out how the digital economy Bill can be used as a vehicle to achieve the objective of making our internet safer, both at home and abroad.
I wish to say a few words about new clauses 13 and 14, which stand in my name. New clause 13 would make it an offence for adults to groom children and young people for criminal behaviour, and new clause 14 would introduce a new grooming for criminal behaviour prevention order, which I would call a “Fagin order”. The new Fagin orders would ban criminal adults from contacting a child. Just as with children groomed for child sexual exploitation, we must recognise that young people drawn into criminality and drug dealing have, in the first instance, often been groomed and manipulated.
Currently, we have numerous prevention orders available to the police to combat grooming for child sexual exploitation, including sexual risk orders, sexual harm prevention orders and child abduction warning notices. I would like to see the creation of a similar order to be used where children are being groomed by organised crime to act as drug runners. That would be a practical way of disrupting activities including the phenomenon of “county lines”, whereby criminals groom and coerce children and young people into selling class A drugs many miles from home, often in quiet towns. Organised crime is aggressively creating new markets for drugs, in every seaside town and every small country village across the country. Criminals used to do their own drug running, but now they are actively identifying groups of vulnerable children to use, including those living in children’s homes and pupil referral units, to minimise the risk to themselves. As I said in a previous debate, county lines is the next big grooming scandal on the horizon. It takes many forms, but its basis is using vulnerable children and adults to develop new markets for drugs.
One example I saw involved a 15-year-old girl who was offered £500 to go “up country” to sell drugs. She had the class A drugs plugged inside her but was then set up by the original gang and assaulted on the train, and had the drugs forcibly removed from her. She was told she must pay back £3,000 to the group for the stolen drugs, and had to continue to sell drugs and provide sexual favours. The threat of child sexual exploitation for girls in gangs is known, but the added factor of being trafficked to remote locations compounds their vulnerability. Those young people are at risk of physical violence, sexual exploitation, and emotional and physical abuse. That model of grooming arguably involves both trafficking and modern slavery. Children from Greater Manchester are being groomed by criminal gangs and have been found selling drugs in places as far away as Devon. These gang members are rather like modern-day Fagins or Bill Sikes: hard men who groom youngsters and get them to do their dirty work. They need to be stopped in their tracks.
The recent Home Office report “Ending gang violence and exploitation” said that young girls are often groomed for involvement in criminal behaviour and harmful sexual behaviour as part of gang culture. Indeed, the most recent Rotherham trial showed the connection between organised crime and drugs and child sexual exploitation. I have read the recent Home Office report and also the National Crime Agency report on county lines from August 2015, and I think this development is not fully understood or recognised. Someone, somewhere needs to take ownership of a strategy to disrupt this aggressive organised network, and that strategy needs to put the safeguarding at children first. I am not pretending for one minute that Fagin orders would be a silver bullet, but they would indicate a change in culture and a recognition that the responsibility lies with the adults who groom the children. We really cannot afford to make the same mistakes as we did with child sexual exploitation, where we let terrible things happen to children because we blamed them for bringing about their own exploitation.
Child sexual exploitation and drug running and involvement with criminal activities are often intertwined, which is why we need a two-pronged approach. Just as we have prevention orders for child sexual exploitation, we should have similar prevention orders for adults grooming children for criminal behaviour. We need a response to county lines that ensures that children are found, safeguarded and supported out of gangs, and that adults are stopped as early as possible from grooming and manipulating children, and are punished to the full extent of the law. Until then, it will continue to be the young victims who are exploited, blamed and then punished as their abusers and puppet masters continue with a trade that nets organised crime millions of pounds a year.
I am grateful to you for calling me, Mr Deputy Speaker. I speak in support of new clauses 15, 16 and 18, which stand in my name and those of others. First, however, I wish to add my voice to those of Liz Saville Roberts and my right hon. Friend Mrs Miller—my neighbour. It is clear from the amendments in this legislation and elsewhere that the law is struggling with protecting children online; it is old and ineffective, and it really does not appreciate the dangers that are out there for children on the internet. I sincerely hope that my right hon. Friend is right and that the digital economy Bill is used to increase the protection for children online, not least because part of the reason for not tackling this problem in the way we should is that there is big money to be made here. This is a commercial enterprise: pumping this stuff out on to people’s screens and computers across the country, if not the world. There is therefore a certain sloth, an idleness, in the digital community in dealing with it. The truth is that, technically, we could switch off this stuff tonight if we wanted to. We have no problem stopping children getting into our bank accounts and buying things on Amazon or wherever it might be, and yet children can easily access pornography every day, 24 hours a day, without any protection whatsoever unless their parents intervene. That really is a disgraceful state of affairs.
We should use the digital economy Bill to create the offence of living off immoral earnings for these internet providers, because, by turning a blind eye and not interrogating the data that are coming through their pipes, that is effectively what they are doing. They should turn off such material so that eyes below the age of 18 cannot see it. They are living off immoral earnings and they are not living up to their duty to society and to our children. We need to find some way to make them face up to their obligations.
I have three children, two of whom are very small. I feel as if I am in a daily fight for them with the media—whether it is TV, online or whatever it might be. We carefully ration what they get and what they can see. I hope to God that, as they grow and become teenagers, I can protect them from the worst excesses, but I need some help. I need help from the Government. I also need help from those who control the data and our access to the internet. They can do it in any number of ways and they should be forced to do it on pain of significant financial penalties. It is only when the pound is there and their profits are threatened that they will finally focus and come up with the technical solutions that we need.
I would have liked to have added my name to my hon. Friend’s amendment if I had got my act together in time. I was out with a group of people working for a tobacco company recently. We went on stings to local newsagents and other such places buying illegal, counterfeit and discounted cigarettes. In many cases, those cigarettes were advertised by a phone number, which we then rang up. Very clearly, it could only have resulted in criminal activity. Just as my hon. Friend is very much making the point about prostitution, which clearly is only going to lead to illegal activity, it is so easy for us to be able to use those phone numbers, and those telephone companies should be taking a greater responsibility.
Exactly right. My hon. Friend brings me neatly on to new clause 16, which deals with that matter.
I know that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, have been an aficionado of my political career, so you will know that, 15 years ago, I was charged with getting rid of prostitutes’ cards in telephone boxes. It was costing Westminster council about a quarter of a million pounds a year to remove these things, and so I was given the job of getting rid of them. We tried clearing them out and putting up false cards so that people were misdirected. We tried all sorts of things. In the end, the only solution that we came up with that we and BT felt would work was barring the numbers. I visited all the mobile companies and, as people had landlines in those days, all the landline companies as well—NTL, BT and all the rest. I said to them, “When we notify you of this number, we would like you to bar it,” They said, “We will not do that, but we will if you manage to make placing the cards an offence.” They thought that I would give up at that stage, as there would be too much of a mountain to climb. None the less, we decided to have a go, and so ensued a two-year campaign to get that offence on the statute book. During those two years, I learned the truth about prostitutes’ cards and, indeed, the advertising of prostitution generally. Effectively, being allowed to advertise for free and in an unrestricted way on our streets, in the back of our newspapers and online is organised crime. When someone gets one of these numbers, they are ringing not a prostitute who is a victim, but a switchboard. When they ring the number and say what they want, they will get a menu of women—mostly it is women—trafficked or otherwise, of all ages, creeds and races. They can pick from the menu. Those numbers then gather a bit of value. Once someone is a punter and they have used the number and got what they wanted, they will use it again and again and again. I started to learn that understanding the economics behind these telephone numbers is key to how we can eradicate them. Once we realise that these numbers carry a value and that there is a stream of income attached to them, it becomes even more pressing that we should bar them. When we add to that the fact that the printing of the cards, the advertising, and the websites also cost money—prostitutes’ cards are printed in the hundreds of thousands to make them incredibly cheap—we can see why making it dangerous to advertise a telephone number could become an extremely effective deterrent. If they advertise a number that is gathering income, and it is barred within 24 hours, they lose all of that income. Hitting them in the pocket is the most effective way to do it.
Just for clarity, behind every one of those numbers is a woman who very, very often might have been abused as a child or trafficked into the country. They might have an incredibly violent pimp who is working her. Is the hon. Gentleman looking to prosecute the woman who, in my experience, is usually the victim and not the belle de jour that is often presented, or is he going after the pimps, the manipulators and the gang leaders that are behind it all?
I am absolutely not targeting the women at all. This is about the organised crime that is creating the number, printing the card, placing the card, and victimising the woman. It is about cutting off their access to cash, and therefore restricting their ability to build a business off the back of this free advertising.
Eventually, after a two-year campaign, we got the offence made illegal. I was helped by friends in the House of Lords. The night that it was enacted by Her Majesty the Queen, we arrested the first carder—an Italian law student. I remember it well. He was bailed and disappeared back to Italy. The very next week, I had a meeting with the mobile phone companies and they completely welched on the deal. They did not realise that we would get it done, and that by campaigning for two years and by having a bit of gumption, we would manage to achieve our goal.
The use of the term “welching” in that context is deeply disrespectful to the people of my country, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his comment.
I do unreservedly withdraw it. It was an unfortunate use of the word. I think that the spelling is different, but the hon. Gentleman is quite right. Let me say that the phone companies reneged on the deal—I ask him to forgive me. It is a word in common parlance, but I should not have used it.
The phone companies completely reneged on the deal. As a result, I have been waiting for the opportunity to try to put to the Government the idea that there is this solution to the problem. I present here a simple solution, which is, effectively, if the chief officer of police finds a number being advertised in their area for the purposes of prostitution, they can apply to a magistrate to have the number barred. That means that both the police officer and the magistrate have to judge whether that is a measured thing to do; it is not automatic. It is for the police to decide. I advise the police officers to warn the owner of the number that this is about to happen before they do it. It is a relatively simple solution, and I guarantee that it will result in the disappearance of these cards from Liverpool, Manchester, the west end or wherever they may be.
My hon. Friend Tim Loughton is right that the scheme could be extended. There could be numbers used for dealing drugs and for selling cigarettes. Numbers for prostitution and drugs could be on the internet. People can access such numbers quite freely at the moment. We need to cut the numbers. If we do it swiftly, we will certainly go a huge way towards suppressing the activity and making it difficult for criminal and customer to connect. I do not intend to press my amendment to a vote, but I ask the Government to look at it—the Minister has promised to do so—and hopefully it will come back in the Lords.
I have tabled another two new clauses. You will have noticed, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I have had a theme during my time in this House, which is the protection of children. It has alarmed me for some time that the legislation protecting children is elderly, out of date and very patchy. The offence of child cruelty, which I am seeking to raise the tariff for tonight, dates back to the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. It still includes things such as allowing a child to be burned, which used to arise when we sent them up chimneys. The legislation is very elderly and is really not fit for purpose. The last time the sentence for child cruelty was looked at was in 1988. We have not looked at it for nearly 30 years, and yet the number of offences is rising quite significantly. Clearly, the deterrent effect is not working. I am given to understand that the Sentencing Council will review child cruelty over the coming summer. If it does so, we are duty bound to try to give it a bit of headroom and move the tariff up from 10 years to 14 years for the most severe offences.
New clause 15 is about reviewing all child offences. We have been very good in the House in seeking to protect vulnerable groups by legislation generally. If someone commits a crime against someone who is gay because they are gay, they will get an aggravated sentence. Similarly, if they commit a crime against someone who is black because they are black, they will get an aggravated sentence. If they commit an offence against someone on the grounds of their religion, they will get an aggravated sentence. Yet if they commit an offence against a child because they are a child, they will not necessarily get an aggravated sentence.
Children are not a protected group in law, unlike other minority and vulnerable groups, and they should be. I am grateful to Public Bill Office for helping me try to draft an amendment that would allow me to do that. The best way that we could find to do it was to require the Sentencing Council to review all offences for children within 12 months, to allow us all to have our say about aggravating the sentences when offences are committed against children.
I have attempted to insert this principle in previous Bills—principally, in the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Sadly, the Government would not accept my amendment, which would have ensured that anyone who sold a psychoactive substance to a child would get a stiffer sentence than if they sold it to a 55-year-old man. It seems crazy to me that that would not happen, but the Government would not accept the amendment, so this is my attempt to do something similar.
All my amendments are probing. I am willing to give the Government time, in consultation, to look at them again. I hope that they will come back in the Lords, but if they do not, I gather that, pleasingly, we get a policing and crime Bill along in the House once every six months, so I will get another chance. On that basis, I hope that my hon. Friends will look at the amendments at least and give them a thumbs-up for future consideration.
I rise to speak predominantly to new clauses 6, 10, 41 and 60, which have been tabled by Opposition Front Benchers. The intention behind the new clauses is to provide stronger safeguards against the sexual exploitation and abuse of children and to disrupt the perpetrators of those heinous crimes before they have the opportunity to destroy a child’s life.
I start with new clause 6, which relates to the extension of child abduction warning notices, known as CAWNs, which are a vital tool for the police in the prevention of the abuse and exploitation of children. CAWNs are issued by the police at the request of a parent or legal guardian. They disrupt contact between a child and an adult believed to be in the process of grooming that child for sex. Currently, the police can issue a CAWN in relation to any child under the age of 16, but only a tiny minority of 16 and 17-year-olds, including children who have been taken into care under section 31 of the Children Act 1989, those who are subject to an emergency protection order and those in police protection. All other 16 and 17-year-olds are left unprotected.
By definition, children in care are vulnerable. The last available annual statistics show that 4,320 16 and 17-year-olds who became looked after by the local authority would not be eligible for the protection of a child abduction warning notice. The Minister has previously expressed some scepticism about the proposals to extend the use of those notices to all children in care. I recognise the sensitivities about the law in this area, given that 16 and 17-year-olds are legally able to marry and consent to sexual activity, but that group of children—yes, they are legally children—are living unstable and risky lives. They face a significantly greater risk of sexual exploitation than others and are targeted by adults who exploit their vulnerability, yet the police are denied access to a critical intervention tool that would help to keep them safe.
I agree with the Minister that CAWNs are an imperfect tool, but we agree that children of any age, including those who are 16 and 17, must be able to rely on the state for protection. For three years, I have been pushing successive Ministers to find a solution. The way to deal with complex issues is not to avoid them altogether. We need to persevere and collaborate so that we can find the best possible solutions. It is vital that we get legislation to protect all children up to the age of 18 from abuse, and it is important that we get that legislation right. I know that the Minister is not minded to support new clause 6, so what assurances can she give us that the Government plan to ensure that children up to the age of 18 are protected from the early stages of sexual grooming?
Next, I turn my attention to new clause 60, which, unlike new clause 6, relates to the existing use of child abduction warning notices by the police. CAWNs are not legally enforceable. Breaching a notice is not a criminal offence but does form an evidence base for future action. That further action, according to Government guidance, is meant to take the form of a sexual harm prevention order or a sexual risk order, both of which require a higher threshold to use. They are legally enforceable and punishable with criminal sanctions.
In theory, that is a good system. It allows the police to intervene formally to prevent harm at the earliest possible stage when concerns have been expressed about an adult’s behaviour towards a child. Even when demonstrable evidence is sparse, the police have the ability to take further action, using the breach of a CAWN as evidence. The police currently have the tools to escalate their response to keep, and continue to keep, a child safe. The problem is that police forces in England and Wales are failing to record the breach of a child abduction warning notice. Indeed, they are failing to record the issuing of a notice in the first place and the actions that follow from that breach.
To be clear, if a CAWN is issued because the police suspect that a child is at risk of grooming—the House does not need reminding of the horrifying results of that crime —it is vital that a breach is recorded and acted upon, to keep that child safe from sexual abuse and exploitation. At a national level, the Secretary of State’s Department must have oversight of whether the range of orders involved is working well, yet individual police forces have no idea about their effectiveness in tackling the early stages of grooming, because they simply do not record the data. As a result, the Government are ignorant to the reality of the risk that children face from predatory paedophiles and abusers.
As the tactics of perpetrators change, so must our approach. That involves constant vigilance on how perpetrators operate and constant monitoring of the effectiveness of our response. In that light, failing to record the effectiveness of the current system is unforgivable. If the Minister is unable to assess whether the regime works, how can she assess the safety of the children we have a duty to protect?
New clause 60 would deal with the issue directly by requiring police forces to collect annually the number of child abduction warning notices issued or breached and the number of sexual risk orders and sexual harm prevention orders issued following such a breach. It would require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament annually on those data. We need to get the legislation right: every Member must take responsibility for the children to whom we owe a duty of care. That can be done only by having the proper data to hand. For that reason, I intend to press new clause 60 to a Division.
I turn to new clause 10 and Government amendment 56, both of which relate to the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles. From the experience of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, I know the importance having a robust taxi licensing scheme for protecting passengers and drivers. Both the Jay and Casey independent reports on the disaster in Rotherham recognised the vulnerability of a weak taxi licensing system and what it means for child protection.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this important issue. On
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing up that issue. My deep frustration is that we in Rotherham work really hard to get the legislation right. We have really robust legislation to protect children, but within six weeks of its being implemented, the Government’s Deregulation Act 2015 meant that it was not worth the paper that it was written on. He is right that people from other areas could then be subcontracted and come in and pick up fares, and none of the safeguards that our local authority tried to put in place had any effect whatever. I thank him for raising the issue, which the Government need to look at.
To create the system in Rotherham, there was much consultation not only with taxi drivers but with the survivors of child abuse. Rotherham Borough Council has now implemented a new licensing system, which is one of the points covered in new clause 10. Two years after the horror that we discovered in Rotherham, the Government have failed to take action to make the taxi profession safer across the UK for all vulnerable people in our society. They must learn lessons when such things go catastrophically wrong. In Committee, Labour pushed the Government to place taxi and private vehicle licensing authorities under a statutory obligation to prevent child sexual exploitation.
Taxi drivers are in a position of considerable trust. The overwhelming majority of taxi drivers live up to the responsibility that their role creates for them, but unfortunately a minority do not. Better regulation is needed urgently to improve the training and awareness of drivers, so that they can play a part in keeping vulnerable children safe from harm and so that they know how to report abuse if they see it. All local authorities must ensure that checks are carried out to prevent perpetrators or potential perpetrators from being licensed. Monitoring must be in place, complaints must be investigated and passengers must feel confident.
I am delighted to see that the Government have listened to Labour and have responded to our new clause by tabling one of their own, which would empower the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance to licensing authorities. However, can the Minister give us an assurance that Government new clause 56 would have the same effect as our new clause 10? I notice that the Government’s new clause will empower but not require the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance. Can the Minister confirm that the Secretary of State does intend to issue guidance, and to do so without delay? I would appreciate an indication of the timeline involved, both on the roll-out of the consultation and on when the guidance will take effect.
Although I support much of what my hon. Friend says may be included in the Government’s new clause, is not part of the problem that the local authority that issues the licence receives the funding for that licence to be processed, but if the taxi driver is operating in another part of the country, a local authority very distant from the issuing authority might have the cost of enforcing and investigating them? Do we not need parity of funding according to where a taxi driver is operating?
Once again, my hon. Friend is right. That is why there needs to be a national licensing scheme for which the Government have responsibility.
The Government have been good at making promises about tackling child sexual exploitation, but not so good at following them up with action. Will the Minister make some commitments on taxi licensing? I would appreciate a steer on the contents of the guidance, although I realise that they will be the subject of consultation. The Minister may want to write to me on that point.
Councils continue to report a lack of intelligence sharing by the police on issues crucial to deciding the suitability of applicants for taxi licences. Although the new common-law disclosure policy should allow for information sharing, the interpretation varies and many police forces do not share data. Guidance to councils alone will not resolve the problem. Will the Home Office take steps to ensure that the police co-operate fully with councils so that applicants for taxi licences can be screened effectively?
Finally, will the Minister confirm the status of the guidance? Government new clause 56 states that licensing authorities “must have regard” to it. I hope the Minister will clarify that the guidance must be followed, not just looked at and put in a drawer. If the Minister can provide confirmation on those questions, we are minded to withdraw our new clause and support the Government’s.
New clause 41 would make it explicit in the law that local safeguarding children boards have an obligation to prevent child sexual exploitation and other forms of child abuse. Such boards should bring together professionals in education, law enforcement, social care and the voluntary sector to help protect children. They are collaborative bodies, established by the Labour Government, which have the potential to ensure that the focus of every organisation on the board is the protection and welfare of children. Local safeguarding children boards have the potential to act as the canary to child sexual exploitation and abuse, bringing together professionals who can develop a full picture of the harm being perpetrated against a child. But far more emphasis must be given to the prevention of child sexual exploitation and child abuse.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey has said that in 2015 more than £1 billion was spent on investigating child abuse allegations. Sadly, by the time the police are involved, it is likely that children have already been harmed and will be living with the trauma for the rest of their lives. The Prime Minister has given child sexual exploitation the status of a “national threat” in the strategic policing requirement. I therefore hope that the Minister will support our new clause to explicitly broaden the objectives of local safeguarding children boards to include a focus on the prevention of sexual exploitation.
The hon. Lady is making some good points, but it was my understanding when I was responsible for the child sexual exploitation action plan introduced nationally in 2011 that each local safeguarding children board was responsible for developing its own localised version of that CSE plan. The problem is not so much the plan as the unwillingness of some partners within an LSCB to pull their weight. Does the hon. Lady agree that the recent review undertaken for the Department for Education may need to lead to the introduction of some statutory duties on those partners to do their bit, in partnership with everybody else?
As ever, the hon. Gentleman is superb on this subject, and he is ahead of me by a line of my speech. I completely agree. The problem with the safeguarding boards as they stand at present is that they are very dependent on the skill, determination and bloody-mindedness of the chair. The hon. Gentleman is right. I do not want things to come down to the luck of whether there is a good chair who can implement a good plan. What I want is for every child across the country to be safe and safeguarded in the same way, so I look to the Government to move on that.
I support new clauses 13 and 14. I praise my hon. Friend Ann Coffey, who works tirelessly for the protection of children in her constituency and across the country. She has been a role model and a mentor to me, and I want to put on record my gratitude to her for all the help she has given to me and to all the children in this country. She has been tireless, and I am very grateful for that.
My hon. Friend’s new clauses, which deal with the grooming of children for criminal behaviour, raise an important issue that the House must tackle. Children are not just at risk of grooming for sex. They face exploitation by criminals for terrorism, trafficking and drug-related offences, for instance—we have heard other examples. The Government must take the issue seriously and offer a holistic approach to tackling child grooming and exploitation. Will the Minister work closely with my hon. Friend to turn her new clauses 13 and 14 into legislation?
New clauses 46, 47, 61 and 62 were tabled by Mr Carmichael. Through my campaigning work to prevent violence, exploitation and harm against children, I have seen the most dramatic and shocking increase in the proliferation of sexual images, often taken and shared by children. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the current legislation has been in effect for only a year. I hope he will support my call on the Government to conduct a thorough review of the effectiveness of the legislation, the number of prosecutions and convictions, and the suitability of the sentences given.
I welcome Government new clause 55, which will create lifetime anonymity for victims of forced marriage. The crime of forced marriage is another form of domestic violence. The victims, mostly women, suffer violence, threats of violence, coercion, manipulation, psychological trauma and economic control. As with every other form of domestic violence, victims have their right to determine their own lives forcibly removed from them by their abusers. Anonymity will encourage victims to come forward and seek help from the police. It will give a survivor of this form of domestic violence a chance to regain control and rebuild their life. Now that the Government recognise the benefit of anonymity for victims of forced marriage, female genital mutilation and sexual abuse, I hope they will consider extending anonymity to victims of other forms of domestic and sexual violence and do more to raise awareness of these awful crimes.
I would like briefly to comment on a number of the provisions tabled by the shadow Home Office team, led by my hon. and learned Friend Keir Starmer. It is unfortunate but true that our criminal justice system does not always place support for the victim at its core. I know from my work with victims of domestic and sexual violence that they often feel totally unsupported when reporting a crime or after a prosecution. Many victims face the most horrendous ordeal in court, where they are forced to relive their trauma over and over again. Yet there is no statutory framework in the criminal justice system for the provision of services for victims—there is no legal regime promoting and protecting victims’ rights from the beginning to the end of their engagement with the criminal justice system. Similarly, the role of the Victim’s Commissioner has great potential, but the position is under-resourced and exists without significant powers. Victims’ rights will be taken seriously only if and when they are enshrined in law. I hope the Government will hear our calls today and make that a reality.
I wish to end by commenting on new clause 2, which would devolve responsibility for policing to the Welsh Assembly. I have had the pleasure of working with Liz Saville Roberts on other clauses in the Bill relating to child protection, so I have no doubt that the convictions she has expressed in this new clause are heartfelt and sincere and need to be taken seriously. As my hon. Friend Jack Dromey has outlined, Labour believes that the people of Wales should have a greater say over the policing of Wales, and that should be pursued through the Wales Bill.
I wish to speak to new clauses 46, 47, 61 and 62, which stand in my name. Perhaps I can pick up where Sarah Champion left off, on new clause 2. My hon. Friend Mr Williams would normally speak for the Liberal Democrat party on such matters, but he is, unfortunately, absent from the House today through illness. However, Liz Saville Roberts indicated that she intends to push the new clause to a vote, and I should indicate that, in the event that she does, my party will support her and her colleagues. To devolve substantial portions of the criminal law in relation to Wales without devolving control of the police force that would then enforce that law seems at the very least to be a little illogical, so I wish the hon. Lady and her colleagues well.
I am grateful for the indications of support for my new clauses that I have had from members of different parties, including those not represented in the House. In particular, members of the Women’s Equality party are assiduous and effective campaigners on the issue of revenge pornography; indeed, they were the authors of new clauses 61 and 62.
The hon. Member for Rotherham, who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, rightly said that it was only last year that we undertook the criminalisation of revenge pornography. That was a quite remarkable step, and none of us should underestimate its importance. However, to pick up a point that she made, the statistics already demonstrate that this is a stubborn problem, which will require more action if we are to bring about the changes in attitude that will ultimately see this behaviour reduced and, hopefully, eliminated.
I commend the right hon. Gentleman for bringing these provisions to the House. He reflected on the importance of the law the Government brought in on revenge pornography. At the time, we talked about the importance of recognising that the impact of online crimes is very different from that of offline crimes. Will he join me in saying that, although it can be easy to say that what is illegal offline is illegal online, that misses the point, because the impact online can be so much greater and so much more devastating to the people involved?
Indeed. I will come to the distress that is caused by this conduct in my remarks on new clause 62. The right hon. Lady is absolutely right that, in relation to these offences, we should focus on the outcomes and effects endured by those who suffer the abuse—and when I say “abuse”, I use the term advisedly.
From April to December last year, 1,160 cases were reported, which is quite remarkable, given the period we are dealing with—indeed, those figures are from England and Wales alone. Only 11% of the cases that have been reported have led to charge, with 82 prosecutions and 74 cautions resulting from those charges. That suggests that with regard to the need to see a change in attitude and behaviour, we first need to see it among some of the criminal justice professionals dealing with this—the police officers, prosecutors, and judges.
This takes me back to my early career, when as a trainee and then a qualified solicitor, I worked for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Edinburgh, where one of my first bosses—she was then a senior legal assistant—was Elish Angiolini, who became the first female Lord Advocate, and the first solicitor Lord Advocate, in Scotland. At that time, along with other colleagues, she did tremendous amounts to drive forward improvements in how the victims of sexual abuse in general, but child sexual abuse in particular, were treated by the court system. A lot of it seems very rudimentary and basic stuff now, but in the early and mid-1990s, when we were arranging for court visits ahead of trials so that victims of these sorts of offences could give their evidence from behind a screen or by live link, it seemed pretty revolutionary, and it met with substantial resistance from the police—not so much the police, in fairness, but certainly many within the legal profession. We were right to drive those changes, as has been demonstrated by the way in which the law and procedure in that area has developed ever since. A similar attitude and a similar drive is now required in relation to the offence of revenge pornography.
New clause 46 goes right to the heart of this by seeking to extend the protection of anonymity to victims of revenge pornography. That would mean that we would not necessarily have to wait for a review to look further at where cases and procedures will develop in this area. As we have heard, the principle of anonymity is accepted by the Government in relation to victims of forced marriage. I welcome new clause 55, which extends that protection. However, it surely strikes at the heart of the offence that we introduced last year that we should seek to protect those women—they are nearly all women—who are, in essence, subject to an invasion of privacy. No really meaningful remedy is available to them if making complaints seeking to reinforce the criminal sanctions that come as a result of that invasion of privacy only makes them vulnerable to further invasions of privacy. That is why it is important that at some point, by whatever means—I will listen very carefully to the Minister’s response—we should look at extending the protection of anonymity to these victims.
New clause 47 would allow the court to make compensation orders to victims of revenge pornography. Many campaigning in this field would like a full civil remedy to be available, although that would have taken us somewhat beyond the scope of this Bill. However, we ought to be taking advantage of the quite remarkable degree of consensus that we have seen across the Chamber tonight. I hope the Government will recognise that and take full advantage of it, because that sort of consensus is rare enough, and when we see it we ought to make the most of it.
New clause 61 would extend the test from an intent to cause alarm, as in section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, to include recklessness. This strikes at what is required evidentially to provide mens rea in relation to the commission of the offence. It would bring people in England and Wales into line with the protections that are already afforded to people in Scotland through the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.
The offence would also be extended from one that required disclosure of the material to one that required a threat to disclose it. Research indicates that no fewer than one in 10 ex-partners make that threat. If the outcome is to provide meaningful protection, it would make sense to extend the ambit of the offence to include a threat to disclose. That is being pursued by the #CtrlAltDel campaign, which is being led by the Women’s Equality party and which I commend to the House.
The final new clause standing in my name is new clause 62, which brings me to the point made by Mrs Miller.
Order. Before the right hon. Gentleman turns to his next new clause, I am not suggesting for a moment that he has spoken for too long, because he has not—he has been quite brief—but this debate is time limited. Jonathan Edwards has indicated that he wishes to speak and I trust that he will be brief, because I am sure that the House would be disappointed if the Minister did not have time to answer the many points that have been made to her this evening.
I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for saying that I have not spoken for long, because I have actually spoken for longer than I had intended.
I do not have a great deal to say about new clause 62, but it might assist the House if I explain that, by seeking to extend the definition of the offence, we are striking at the stress caused by, and the actual outcome of, the behaviour suffered by victims of this abuse. At the moment, the definition is drawn tightly, for reasons that I think are understood by all. Those experienced in the field, however, say that the harm and distress caused is the same for those who have suffered this wider disclosure and that it would make sense to ensure that they are equally covered by the criminal law.
I was not going to make a speech, but I thought I had better use this opportunity to explain further my earlier intervention. Before I do so, I would like to apologise to Mr Deputy Speaker and the Minister. I do not usually make it a rule to get worked up in this place, not least because my mother watches BBC Parliament, but I do get very passionate about the issue of the old Dyfed-Powys police helicopter. I am delighted that the Policing Minister is in his place, because we have debated the issue on several occasions and he was kind enough to meet me during the course of those deliberations.
We lost our helicopter in Dyfed-Powys because policing is not devolved to Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland have kept their helicopter services, yet Wales has been put in a centralised service called the National Police Air Service, which means that our helicopter has been pooled from Dyfed-Powys. The only figures available from the month of January—the first operational month for NPAS as far as Dyfed-Powys is concerned—show that 86% of requests by police officers in Dyfed-Powys were not honoured by NPAS.
This is not just about police officers not having the service and support that they deserve; the residents of Dyfed-Powys are also clearly being let down. Let us remember that we are now hitting high season, during which the population of Dyfed-Powys will swell considerably, not least with people who will enjoy our fantastic coastline, so use of the helicopter will become far more important.
Devolving policing is not just about securing equality for Wales. It is devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it will be devolved to cities in England, but why is it not being devolved to Wales?
I am very disappointed that the Labour party is abstaining on this issue, but I am delighted that we have the support of the Lib Dems. Where are the Welsh MPs? Not a single Tory MP who represents a Welsh constituency is here to debate a vital policy issue for my country. Only two Labour MPs from Wales have been in the Chamber—the hon. Members for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) and for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Gerald Jones)—and I am delighted that Jessica Morden is here as well. These debates will be recorded by the people of Wales and they will be reported by the press, I hope. The people of Wales will draw their own conclusions from the lack of action by the Unionist parties.
This has been a wide-ranging debate. Before I respond to the many Opposition and Back-Bench amendments in this group, I hope hon. Members will forgive me if I touch briefly on the key Government amendments and new clauses.
New clause 55 confers lifelong anonymity on victims of forced marriage. I am sure we all agree that forced marriage is an abhorrent practice, and the Government are determined to do everything we can to tackle it. That is why we introduced a specific offence of forced marriage via the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and it is why we are amending this Bill to introduce lifelong anonymity for victims. We are encouraged by the first conviction for the new offence, which was secured in June last year, but there is still work to be done. Part of that is to do all we can to encourage more victims to speak out about this horrific crime. We know that forced marriage can be hidden, and we want to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward so that they get the support that they need and perpetrators are brought to justice. Introducing lifelong anonymity will help to achieve that aim.
The measure is modelled on the anonymity that we introduced for victims of female genital mutilation last year. It will mean that victims of forced marriage are anonymous from the time an allegation is made, and it will prohibit the publication or broadcast of any information likely to result in their being identified to the public. The protection given will be broad and wide ranging. It will cover traditional print and broadcast media as well as information published online, including on social media. Breach of the prohibition will be an offence punishable by an unlimited fine. We believe that this measure, together with the wider package of work that the Government have taken forward on forced marriage, will send a clear message that this abhorrent practice will not be tolerated in the UK.
I turn to Government new clause 54 and amendment 112. The cancellation of travel documents is an important tool in the fight against terrorism and, in particular, in disrupting travel to conflict zones to fight or receive terrorist training. At present, there is a gap in the powers of law enforcement to seize cancelled or invalid travel documents. Both Border Force and the police have the power to seize a cancelled foreign travel document if they encounter it at a port, while the police can seize a cancelled British passport away from a port, but there is no power to seize a foreign travel document away from a port. New clause 54 will fill that gap.
We do not expect the new powers to be used often, because only a minority of those whose documents have been cancelled are likely to seek to travel to the UK, and we expect many of their documents to be picked up at the border. However, the powers will enable us, for example, to seize a travel document that was cancelled after the person holding it entered the UK. To make the new power effective, the new clause will enable a constable to enter premises to search for and seize invalid travel documents, both British passports and foreign travel documents. The new clause will also make it a criminal offence intentionally to obstruct or frustrate a search for a cancelled travel document, as is already the case in respect of a search for a cancelled British passport.
Government new clause 56 covers similar ground to that of new clause 10, which was tabled by Sarah Champion. It deals with the need to spread good practice in how local authorities discharge their licensing functions in respect of taxis and private hire vehicles. It is similar to the amendment tabled by Carolyn Harris in Committee. As I said at that stage, the Government are committed to taking action on the matter. We strongly agree that continued work with the taxi and private hire vehicles sector is needed to reduce the risk to children and young people of sexual exploitation by the very small number of cab drivers who seek to abuse their position of trust.
I turn to the points raised by the hon. Member for Rotherham. I will write to her on some of the specifics; I cannot go into great detail now because of the lack of time. I assure her that we intend to bring forward statutory guidance in respect of taxis and private hire vehicle licensing. Government new clause 56, in common with other legislation relating to guidance, uses the word “may”, but our intention is clear. A duty to have regard to the guidance sets a high bar, and a public authority will not be able to set aside the guidance without good reason. I will write to the hon. Lady about all other matters covered by the statutory guidance and our timetable for implementation. I hope that on that basis she will be happy not to press new clause 10 to a vote.
New clause 15, tabled by my hon. Friend Kit Malthouse, proposes a sentencing guidelines review. I have met him to discuss the new clause and his other amendments, and he also knows from his discussions with the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend Andrew Selous, who is responsible for sentencing, and the Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims that the Ministry of Justice is looking at the matter of sentencing overall with a view to introducing proposals in a Bill that was announced in the recent Gracious Speech. On that basis, I hope that he will agree that it would be right to look at all these matters in the round, rather than looking at them in isolation.
Turning to new clause 16, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire, whose work on soliciting has involved a 20-year campaign. He deserves great credit for all his achievements on tackling soliciting through the use of cards in telephone boxes and through other means. I think we can all agree that telephone boxes across the country—those that are left—are much cleaner and more pleasant as a result of his work. He has indicated that his main focus is on tackling the organised crime groups that profit from the exploitation of vulnerable people. That is a laudable aim that I share, but I hope he will agree that it would be premature to legislate before we fully understand the most effective ways of disrupting a criminal gang’s ability to raise income through prostitution as well as through other means such as drugs and firearms. We need to know more about the extent to which organised criminals derive profits in this way.
We also need properly to consider whether there are existing powers that could be used to disrupt organised crime gangs operating in this way. I am concerned that, without that information, we would simply be providing the police with a power whose application would be onerous—a court order would be required—and whose use could be ineffective if gangs simply chose to change their numbers and print new cards. He explained the business case for those cards very effectively. I have asked my officials to work with the National Crime Agency to develop our understanding of the link between organised crime and prostitution, and I undertake to keep my hon. Friend informed of our progress and intentions.
New clause 67 deals with misconduct in a public office. In the last Parliament, we legislated for a new police corruption offence that supplements the common law offence of misconduct in public office and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. It has been in force since April 2015. New clause 2 covers the devolution of policing, which was raised by Liz Saville Roberts. I hope she will forgive my pronunciation of the name of her constituency. Was that close enough? As we discussed in Committee, my pronunciation is poor but I will keep trying. She argued powerfully for the devolution of policing in Wales, but the Government have been clear that in the absence of consensus on the Silk commission’s proposals on this matter, policing should not be devolved to the Welsh Government and National Assembly until such consensus can be reached.
I know that the hon. Gentleman feels strongly about this. I also accept his apology from earlier; I can promise him that I was not smirking at anything he was saying. The Policing Minister is here and he will be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman again to discuss the specific issue of the helicopter.
The current England and Wales-wide arrangements for policing work well, and the proponents of devolution have failed adequately to address the significant risks that would arise if those arrangements were disrupted. I disagree with the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd when she says that policing in England and Wales is set up for urban areas in England. I represent a rural constituency in England, and the way in which policing operates by devolving power to the police and crime commissioners to ensure that we have the right policing for each area is certainly right for my constituency. However, we are debating the Wales Bill tomorrow, and it will be important to debate these matters fully then, as the hon. Member for Rotherham has also suggested.
I am conscious of the time, and I want to try to get through as much of my speech as possible, so I will turn to digital crime issues. We debated in Committee many of the points that have been raised. My right hon. Friend Mrs Miller made very important and powerful points about the law on digital crime. However, I do not accept the premise that the criminal law is defective in this area. It is important to acknowledge that the crimes are the same; the fact that they are committed online does not change anything. I would not wish to create a whole new suite of offences that may confuse the courts and make it more difficult to get convictions.
Will the Minister take a moment to explain why the police are finding it so difficult to secure convictions, particularly in relation to revenge pornography, if the law in this and other areas of online crimes is so clear?
My right hon. Friend will understand that conviction is not just about the offence in legislation or the precedent in case law; it is about the evidence that can be gathered and presenting that evidence to a jury. I am not in any way saying that we are perfect in this regard, and we could have many debates about how best to get convictions. As I said earlier, I would very much like to meet her, together with my noble Friend Baroness Shields, who has responsibility for the digital Bill in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, because I want to make sure that we are covering these issues and that we make it as easy as possible for the courts to get convictions. I do not accept that the answer is simply to create a whole new suite of offences that may confuse the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. I want to discuss this with her and others to make sure we address these points.
New clause 44—I realise that I am darting about, but I am doing my best to get through my speech—is about a specialist digital unit. Again, we discussed this in Committee. The way operational policing decisions are taken is a matter for chief officers; it is not something on which the Home Office should legislate to say that every force should operate in such a way. That is down to chief officers locally and, of course, police and crime commissioners. [Interruption.] I am now coming to the new clauses tabled by the hon. Member for Rotherham.
I want to take new clause 6 and all the points about child protection together. We have had many debates about the issue of vulnerable young people and children, how best we can protect them and how to stop their going missing. I pay tribute to Ann Coffey, who, as her Front-Bench colleague said, has been such a pioneer in this area. When she talks, I know that she is talking common sense. The hon. Member for Rotherham and other Members will know that I am determined to tackle this issue, but I think we need to do it in the right way. That is why I have convened the round table in a couple of weeks’ time to look at the overall issue of child abduction warning notices. I am not convinced that a warning notice from the police in relation to a child abduction offence is necessarily the right way to make sure we protect such vulnerable young people. I want to consider all issues relating to child abduction warning notices—I think the hon. Member for Stockport has been invited to the round table, but if not, I now extend an invitation to her—and to look at everything we are doing in this area and at ensuring we have the right tools in the armoury for the law enforcement agencies, because it is so important that the police are able to use those tools and to protect young people with the right tools for those young people.
I am extremely conscious of the time and that I need to leave a moment before 9 o’clock, so I will now sit down. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will agree the Government new clauses and amendments, and that they will not press their own.
Just to close the debate, I must first ask why, given that we have had devolution in Wales for 17 years, Wales is being treated differently in terms of policing from the other nations of the United Kingdom and, indeed, from the English cities? Secondly, the policing needs of Wales are different. Our experience of centralising and sharing specialised services, such as the police helicopter, has shown that such services are drawn inevitably eastwards and away from the rural areas where we most need them. Finally, I would strongly argue that the absence of consensus is now a historical issue. There is consensus in Wales for Wales policing—for policing to be devolved to Wales. There was consensus on Silk, then not on “Powers for a Purpose”, but there is consensus in the Welsh Assembly for Wales and among all four police and crime commissioners.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
The House divided:
Ayes 12, Noes 262.