Amendment 22

Part of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 2:15 pm on 3rd December 2020.

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Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 2:15 pm, 3rd December 2020

My Lords, the dividing line between a police state and a democratic society with a liberal, humanitarian base is sometimes hard to define. It is not absolute and the dividing line wanders around a certain amount, but one principle should be clear above all, and that is that in the kind of society in which we want to live, the tradition is that the police do their job by public consent. The objective is to maximise good will between the public and the police, to forestall the danger of alienation from the police and the building up of a hostile relationship between police and large sections of the public. That is why, on matters of this kind, it is so important to ensure that it does not become just a convenient device that can be used pretty much at random for interests that cannot be well substantiated in the context of liberal democracy.

For that reason, I believe that this group of amendments has raised some very important points indeed, which we must all take seriously. I do not want to live in a society in which the police have this as a useful technique, with certain, modest restraints. I want to live in a society where this is not normal and where, if it is needed, exceptionally, those grounds can be properly justified in terms of national priorities, in the interests of our people as a whole. Good will between the public and the police is crucial to our stability as a society, and the holding of public confidence in the police is crucial too. We must be careful that we do not place that in jeopardy.