Police Reform Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 12th March 2002.

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Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, Government Whip, Government Whip 4:30 pm, 12th March 2002

Perhaps it would help if I explained the purpose of Clause 52. The clause gives the police the powers they need to tackle the anti-social use of motor vehicles to which the noble Viscount referred. Each decision by the police to exercise those powers will obviously turn on the facts they find when confronted with that situation. We take the view that rather than laying down blanket exemptions on the face of the legislation, we should trust the police to exercise their discretion operationally as to when seizing a vehicle would be appropriate.

As a consequence we do not expect the police to exercise their powers to stop and search in respect of emergency vehicles being used for legitimate purposes or others who may be using their vehicles to deal with a genuine emergency. We believe that we have the matter right as it is and we do not see any particular need for the amendment, although clearly the noble Viscount has moved it in an attempt to be helpful.