I would like to explain my concerns to the Minister. In order for a police officer to make an arrest, all the police officer will need is a reasonable cause to suspect that the person is committing the offence. Therefore, the “reasonable excuse” defence provided in the Bill does not come into play. I accept that no Crown prosecutor would prosecute something that is clearly an innocent mistake, for example by someone clicking on to information. But my concern is that there is nothing to stop a police officer arresting a person, and the person being detained, until there is detailed consideration about whether this is a grey area, or whether it is reasonable or not.
Can the Minister give me any reassurance, other than what the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, has said about most police officers being reasonable? The particular offence that I am thinking of, which is no longer on the statute book—Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 —of being a suspected person,
“loitering with intent to commit an indictable offence”,
was routinely abused by the police in order to arrest people who were innocently going about their business. I am concerned that offences like this, which are very widely drawn and rely on a “reasonable excuse” defence, do not protect the innocent person from arrest and detention by the police.