Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill — Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:00 pm on 29th October 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 11:00 pm, 29th October 2013

My Lords, this has been a wide debate, which is not surprising given the content of the Bill. It is a testament to the House that we have been able to hear, from the direct experience and judgment of its Members, interesting and useful observations on the Bill. I hope this will help us in our scrutiny of it as it goes through the House. I thank all noble Lords who have contributed. As I say, it has been a good debate. I was particularly pleased to hear the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Paddick. He brought to it a touch of humour, good grace and a wealth of knowledge from 30 years in policing. When we come to Part 11 of the Bill, I look forward to hearing of his experience and knowledge in that area.

The evidence from today’s debate is that there is widespread support for a number of the measures in the Bill. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, identified a number of areas where the Benches opposite are happy with the proposals, which is a helpful start. These include the measures to tackle illegal firearms and forced marriages; the extension of the Dangerous Dogs Act to cover dog attacks that take place on private property; and the measures to strengthen the IPCC and to reinforce the College of Policing in professionalising the police.

As is to be expected, we also heard some concerns around the House about certain aspects of the Bill, in particular the test for the new injunction under Part 1. There were also some learned criticisms of the test for determining eligibility for compensation for miscarriages of justice. In the time available I shall do my best to cover the points made. Where I am unable to do so, I undertake to write to noble Lords on the points they raised during the debate.

Let me start with the beginning of the Bill, which generated the greatest oratory. I have a list of Peers who spoke about the IPNA test—I will not recite it—and I thank all noble Lords for raising their concerns. My job as Minister is to reassure noble Lords and I will seek to do so as we take the Bill through Committee.

The nuisance and annoyance test is based on the current statutory test, which has worked well in the housing sector since 1996. It is readily understood by the courts and it will allow agencies to act quickly to protect victims and communities from more serious harm developing. This test was reaffirmed by the previous Government in the ASB legislation passed in 2003. So it is not a new test.

In considering an application for an injunction, the court must have regard to the principles of proportionality, or fairness, in deciding whether it is just and convenient to grant the injunction. There is a judicial test against which the injunction is granted. As my noble friend Lady Newlove said, we must not lose sight of the needs of victims of anti-social behaviour. I wholeheartedly agree, and this view has been widely expressed by noble Lords around the House. The test for the injunction will ensure that swift action can be taken if it is needed.

A number of noble Lords—including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lichfield, the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and my noble friend Lady Linklater—mentioned their concern about the impact of the new injunction on young people. I share their desire not to criminalise young people at an early age. We are keen that professionals have the discretion to use informal measures such as restorative justice or acceptable behaviour contracts where they are appropriate for the victim and the community. I believe that such measures will be appropriate for many young people, and our draft guidance makes this clear. Normally a Minister stands here trying to persuade the House to accept that draft guidance is coming, usually saying that it will be here shortly or after the passage of time. However, we actually have the draft guidance and I will make sure that all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate get a copy of it. I think that in some ways it will assuage some anxieties that noble Lords have expressed. With the guidance in place, I believe it will assuage some of those fears.

The professionals and the courts also need to have the necessary powers to protect victims from the small minority of young people who persistently behave anti-socially. Where an injunction is appropriate, it is right that strong sanctions should be available if it is breached. However, unlike the ASBO, these will not result in a criminal record. I am sure that will be seen as a welcome step by the House.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, will forgive me if I do not give him a detailed response to the point that he made. I have full details here but time is short. I will write to him on the issue that he raised about the Secured by Design measures and the consultation that is going on at the moment.