Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Cooke of Islandreagh Lord Cooke of Islandreagh Crossbench 8:00 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 20. Those all concern the district councils and the district policing partnerships. They have a single purpose; namely, to ensure that the councils and the district policing partnerships carry out what they are intended to do and, if they fail to do so, that there is some recourse. In its present form, the Bill does not achieve that to the extent necessary.

Amendment No. 13 is designed to strengthen Clause 15. As it stands, the Secretary of State can compel a district council to rectify a default only if that council has failed to comply with the provisions of Clause 14(1) or Schedule 3. Our amendment seeks to change that.

Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 20 relate to Clause 16 which is concerned with the general functions of the district policing partnerships. Amendment No. 14 is based largely on the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. I believe that it is positive to have the district policing partnerships obligated to formulate a strategy for the reduction of crime and disorder. Surely it is important that that should be done.

Like Amendment No. 14, Amendment No. 16 is drawn from the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, applicable in England and Wales. What objections does the Minister have to increasing the role of district policing partnerships in that positive manner?

Amendment No. 15 is a consequence of my objection to policing partnerships in the future acquiring a budget to enlist private security firms for policing functions. That should not happen.

Amendment No. 20 relates to Clause 18 and is, again, in the same vein. If a DPP fails to meet any of its obligations under this clause, the board shall make such an order as it deems necessary to ensure that it complies with its duties in that regard.

The amendments have been tabled for a particular reason. It is known that some of those district councils are within areas where councillors will be representing one side or another, or one paramilitary side or another. They may well wish to carry out those actions which suit them and distort the working of the police in their area. These amendments are tabled simply to ensure that if they do that, they can be brought to book by the police board. I hope that the amendments will be approved by the House and that the Minister will look at them favourably. I beg to move.