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Policing and Crime Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 7th December 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 3:45 pm, 7th December 2016

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has again argued for the maritime enforcement powers in the Bill to be restricted to the enforcement of serious offences. As I indicated in Committee, we do not believe it is necessary to limit these powers in this way. The Government believe that we should trust the operational judgment of the police to determine when it is appropriate and proportionate to exercise their powers at sea. For example, we do not believe that the police would commit resources to interdict a vessel in international waters where there had been a theft of an item of, say, confectionery from a gift shop—which, incidentally, would be an indictable offence.

However, a police officer on, let us say, a UK-registered ferry should be able to act when the vessel is in international waters where a person commits a common assault on another person, or where a person exhibits threatening or abusive behaviour. In both cases, we are talking about summary-only offences and in both cases the noble Lord’s amendment would prevent the police acting, even though the law of the land applied and the actions of those individuals might none the less be triable in the courts of England and Wales. We do not impose restrictions on the categories of offences the police can investigate where they take place on other modes of transportation, so, again, I am unclear why we should treat maritime vessels any differently.