Amendment 55

Domestic Abuse Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 2:47 pm on 1st February 2021.

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Baroness Hamwee:

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

55: Clause 17, page 11, line 29, at end insert—“(aa) the disclosure of any immigration information (see subsection (5A));”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment, along with the other amendment in the name of Baroness Hamwee to Clause 17, would ensure that the bill did not authorise the disclosure of any immigration information.

Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration)

My Lords, we have Amendments 55 and 56 in this group, and my name is also to Amendment 154 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher.

From the moment the Data Protection Bill, as it was, arrived in this House, we opposed paragraph 4 of Schedule 2, which exempts data processed for purposes relating to “effective immigration control” from the protection provisions. Our reasons range from the ethical, for instance, solicitors being unable to obtain what the Home Office knows or thinks it knows about a client; to the humanitarian, for instance, deterring asylum seekers from seeking assistance to which they are entitled; to the practical, for instance, there are obvious implications for public health if people seek to stay under the radar.

The vulnerability of migrants subjected to domestic abuse is recognised by the commissioner-designate, and we have more amendments to come on different issues. It is recognised by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, who has recently said:

“Victims should have every confidence in approaching the police for protection. They should expect and receive protection at times when they are vulnerable and so desperately need the assistance of the agents of the state. Victims should never be in a position where they fear the actions of the police could unintentionally but severely intensify their vulnerability and thereby strengthen the hands of organised criminals and others whose motives and objectives are to inspire fear and do them harm.”

There is an obvious read-across from that. The vulnerability and fragility I mentioned are also recognised by the Government, but by way of a pilot.

As well as the stand-alone proposed new clause, which is Amendment 154, it seems to us necessary to address the issue in the specific clause regarding disclosure of information both by and to the commissioner. Patient information is dealt with; nothing requires or authorises its disclosure, and that is right. Nothing requires or authorises disclosure that would contravene data protection legislation. That does not preclude processing—the term used—of personal data for

“the investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control.”

We very much support Amendment 154, whose authors have thought through many aspects of this. They urge that we do not put the commissioner in a position where information may not, out of fear, be confided in her, or where she is required to disclose immigration information. As so often happens when one returns to an amendment, I can see Amendments 55 and 56 might be more nuanced and detailed, but it is important, at this point, to get the matter on to the table. I beg to move Amendment 55.

Photo of Baroness Meacher Baroness Meacher Crossbench

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 154 in my name. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Wilcox and Lady Hamwee, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London for supporting it.

The key point is that victims of domestic abuse and their witnesses must be able to divulge personal data in the context of seeking or receiving support or assistance related to domestic abuse without the risk that such data may be used for immigration control purposes. Proposed new subsections (1) and (2) require the Secretary of State to make arrangements to honour this key principle and proposed new subsection (4) requires them to issue guidance to relevant officials and others affected by the new clause.

Migrant women with insecure immigration status are, in my view very understandably, reluctant to report domestic abuse to the statutory services. Would you, one might ask, particularly to the police? This reluctance is due to the current data-sharing agreements between statutory services, including the police and the Home Office, for immigration control purposes. This means that women affected cannot seek support or a safe place to go, with the most appalling consequences, as one can very easily imagine. Perpetrators are not being brought to justice.

In 2019, the Step Up Migrant Women campaign found that half of migrant women with insecure immigration status do not report abuse to the police for fear of detention and deportation. The use of insecure immigration status by perpetrators as a tool of coercive control has been highlighted for many years. CEDAW highlights this problem and calls on states to repeal restrictive immigration laws that leave migrant domestic workers vulnerable in this way. Imkaan’s vital statistics report shows that no less than 92% of migrant women have reported deportation threats from their perpetrator.

The Government’s draft statutory guidance framework for the Bill recognises the situation; indeed, it recognises the need for more support if these women are to seek help, but this support is not available in this Bill. The Government’s response has been to announce a pilot scheme to assess the needs of migrant women and provide those with no recourse to public funds with emergency accommodation. This is really concerning. As I have said, we know very well what the issues are and their consequences for migrant women. We know perfectly well what their needs are—the same as those of other women or men subject to domestic abuse—so I do not believe that we need this pilot. We need legislative protection for the women involved. If the Bill is passed without a solution to this problem, it could be years before the next appropriate piece of legislation. I really hope the Minister will agree that the proposed pilot is redundant and therefore not appropriate at this point.

The briefing sent to us by Step Up Migrant Women and others includes a number of heart-rending cases—I am very happy to pass them on to the Minister, but I have a feeling she already has them. She might want to make that clear.

In view of the serious crimes that go unpunished because of the fears of women with insecure migrant status, it is not surprising that the Equality and Human Rights Commission supports this and related amendments. The EHRC refers to a joint report of several policing bodies, including the HMICFRS, which found that victims of crime with insecure or uncertain immigration status are fearful that, if they report crimes to the police, their information will be shared with the Home Office. It concluded that the current system of information sharing between the police and the Home Office was causing significant harm to the public interest. I hope the Minister will respond to this particular concern in her response.

I put on record that, in 2019, the draft Bill committee made a clear recommendation to the Government to establish

“a firewall at the levels of policy and practice to separate reporting of crime and access to support services from immigration control”.

That is exactly what this amendment seeks to do.

Finally, as the Minister knows, without this amendment, and no doubt others, the measures in this Bill will not be compliant with Article 4(3) of the Istanbul convention, which states that

“provisions of this Convention by the Parties, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as … national or social origin … migrant or refugee status”.

The Minister will know that, in December 2019, the Government stood on a manifesto pledging to support all victims of domestic abuse. Can we discuss how to deal with this before Report? I am tremendously aware that she is responsible for, I think, three Bills—overwhelming, I must say—and is clearly extremely busy, but I would very much welcome even 10 or 15 minutes to try to clarify where we might go on Report. I realise that these are complex issues but very much hope that the Minister will work with her colleagues to achieve government support for this amendment or something like it.

Photo of Baroness Wilcox of Newport Baroness Wilcox of Newport Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues)

My Lords, it is an absolute pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, who has such knowledge and experience of these issues as a former social worker, and to speak in support of her Amendment 154, calling on the Government to ensure that the personal data of a victim of domestic abuse in the UK is processed only for the purpose of that person requesting or receiving support or assistance related to domestic abuse and not for immigration control. We need to separate these distinct areas of immigration enforcement and the necessary protection of victims of domestic abuse. We cannot continue to ignore this perilous area where migrant women are put at continuing risk from their perpetrators while fearing deportation.

During the research for this amendment, I read moving testimony from many women, some of whom have been helped by Safety4Sisters in the north-west—a small, committed group of Manchester-based feminist and anti-racist activists. They speak to many migrant women who continue to receive piecemeal, inconsistent and, on occasion, downright dangerous responses from state and non-state agencies. I was particularly moved by the response of one of their clients, who summed up her experience so succinctly yet so movingly:

“We just have humiliations, a lack of dignity, we are powerless next to the man abusing you.”

The organisation offered a place to migrant women where they were treated with dignity and respect, and as citizens. Women talked frequently about feeling that they were not seen as human beings, either by family or by external agencies. Being treated as illegal was an all-too-frequent experience, which acted as a powerful deterrent to asserting their rights and engaging with wider society. It also acted as a label that had a profound effect on the women’s sense of self-worth, intensifying the threatening messages that violent partners and families had already employed to control the women and keep them from leaving. Time and again, migrant women reported that as part of the pattern of violence, abusers would constantly state that they were worth nothing and threaten that the authorities would deport them and remove their children if they reported the violence. By positioning women as outsiders, abusers were able to maintain their power over their victims.

Freedom of information requests in recent years to the 45 police forces around Wales and England found that 27 forces had shared victims’ details with the Home Office for immigration control purposes, while only three forces responded that they did not hand over victims’ information. The rest of the forces responded with neither “yes” nor “no”, while some said that they did not have any information. These figures show that there are no clear rules or guidance for forces on how to treat the potential immigration offences of victims of crime. Some forces identified that it depended on individual police officers to refer victims to immigration control, while others advised that they would do so only if the victim posed a significant risk. As a result, there is no consistency in practice, and victims are reluctant to come forward due to lack of trust in the police. This situation surely cannot continue to be supported.

In terms of community support from the police, I had the pleasure of working closely in partnership for many years with Gwent Police when I was leader of Newport City Council. Indeed, we are extremely fortunate to have an excellent chief constable and a police and crime commissioner who both recognise, validate and foster community working. It cannot be easy for them to determine what to do in cases of abuse of migrant women when there is no clear guidance for police forces. These amendments would ensure that this support would be in place and that there was clarity. It is imperative that the Government and public agencies understand that when victims leave an abusive situation and report abuse, they are more likely to be harmed or murdered by the perpetrator. It is therefore essential that the Government put in place a safe reporting mechanism and put an end to data-sharing policies when victims approach the police.

The police should then comply with their duty to prevent serious harm and crime, and prosecute perpetrators of this violence. Systems can facilitate abuse and unintentional and collateral damage can be used by perpetrators as tools to inflict suffering. Victims should be treated with respect in a non-discriminatory way. Articles 4 and 59 of the Istanbul convention, which the Government have signed and are committed to ratifying—this year, I hope—require victims to be protected regardless of their immigration status. We need to establish safe reporting mechanisms that will give victims the confidence to report perpetrators and allow them to access support from statutory services and safeguarding.

We have an unacceptable gap in the legislation. The Government are aware of the struggle of migrant victims, but their response falls short of guaranteeing that all victims of domestic abuse can access support and protection equally, regardless of their immigration status. In this House, we can close that gap in protection and by doing so ensure that the United Kingdom meets the highest internationally recognised standards for the protection of women, as enshrined in the Istanbul convention.

Photo of The Bishop of London The Bishop of London Bishop 3:00 pm, 1st February 2021

My Lords, I add my voice to those of noble Lords who have welcomed this Bill. I thank the Minister for all her work in this area. As other noble Lords have already said, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the crime of domestic abuse, which affects more than 2 million people a year in the United Kingdom. However, the Bill continues to overlook one of the most vulnerable groups affected by this form of violence against women and girls—migrant women. I too will address Amendment 154, which calls for the Secretary of State to ensure that the personal data of victims of domestic abuse in the UK is processed only for the purpose of that person requesting or receiving support or assistance relating to domestic abuse, not for immigration control.

Government policy is clear that victims of crime should be treated without discrimination. Therefore, the separation of immigration enforcement and protection of domestic abuse victims who are migrant women must be delineated. Failure to do this puts migrant women at risk of a double jeopardy of danger from their abuser and fear of deportation. As has already been highlighted, the Istanbul convention, the landmark international treaty on violence against women and girls, which the Government have signed and are committed to ratifying, requires in Articles 5 and 59 that victims are protected regardless of their immigration status.

However, freedom of information requests reveal that 60% of police forces in England and Wales share victims’ details with the Home Office, prioritising immigration control over the victims’ safety and access to justice. While some services may need to share data to ascertain an individual’s immigration status and right to access services—some NHS services for example—there is no legal requirement for any data sharing with the Home Office relating to domestic abuse victims. As we have already heard, without any national policy guidance on this practice the police approach to safeguarding migrant victims of crime will remain inconsistent.

The blind spots in this Bill are resolved by this amendment. Organisations such as the Latin American Women’s Rights Service have been in touch with me to highlight evidence from people whose stories demonstrate the benefits of this amendment. One Ecuadorian woman who came to the UK in 2014 met her partner at work and later came to know how controlling he was and that he continually lied to her about her immigration status. In 2019, violence escalated when she became pregnant. During this time, isolation, emotional abuse and manipulation were exerted in addition to threats of deportation and separation from her child if she reported the abuse to the police. Although she has since received some support from specialist organisations such as the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, she has not yet reported the abuse to the police since she is too fearful of deportation and possible separation from her child.

I fear that this blind spot enables offenders and abusers to use police involvement as a threat to their victims, rather than the source of protection that it should be. Various countries around the world have demonstrated that firewalls can be and are being implemented in different ways to create separation between public services and immigration enforcement. It is entirely possible that the training and cross-sector relationships that we are calling for through this Bill can establish safe reporting pathways that include access to specialist support and legal advice to address a victim’s immigration status as necessary.

One of the other consequences of putting immigration control above the safety of victims is that perpetrators can commit these crimes with impunity. This is a risk not only for survivors but the wider community. Better trust in the police to protect victims of abuse and investigate crime against migrant women will improve responses for all survivors and the public. Like my co-sponsors, I call on the Government to establish safe reporting pathways by incorporating a clear statutory obligation that prevents public authorities and other support services sharing data with the Home Office for the purpose of immigration control. Will the Minister ensure that safe reporting will be established for all women, regardless of their immigration status?

The direction of the Bill is hopeful, and I look forward to the Minister’s response and to discussions with the Government before Report regarding the specific action taken on this amendment.

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Labour

My Lords, I am pleased to support the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, on Amendment 154. I do not want to appear negative, but I had a year at the Home Office dealing with immigration, nationality and citizenship, and while I well understand the pressures on civil servants, I do not think that the Home Office is as trusted as it used to be. We can go back to the hostile environment started by Theresa May which led to Windrush. The Home Office has a long way to go before it builds up trust again. The key thrust of this amendment provides a chance for the Home Office to send a signal to other public bodies that the Home Office is not going to abuse or misuse information on domestic abuse for immigration control purposes. It is bad enough that the staff of the commissioner will be Home Office civil servants, and that the accounting officer for the whole function is still going to be the Home Secretary. The Home Office has some way to go in distancing itself from the misuse of information on domestic abuse for immigration purposes.

I know that civil servants will want to make the system work, but there is a lack of trust and some big moves need to be made to rebuild it. Accepting an amendment such as this would go some way to sending a signal to the police, the immigration authorities, social services and others dealing with domestic abuse and immigration issues to realise that a massive wall has been built between the two. The Bill will fail unless an amendment such as this is accepted.

Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green

My Lords, it is a pleasure to offer the strong support of the Green group for, and to speak in favour of, the amendments tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Meacher. I associate myself with powerful contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport, particularly her focus on the Istanbul convention, the importance of which was also highlighted by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. All the speakers before me have covered the issue in depth and with clarity and power, so I will be brief.

I begin by noting the widespread support for this Bill from all sides of the House and the Government’s stated commitment to protecting victims of domestic abuse and ensuring that the law does not act as a facilitator of abuse. If ensuring that domestic abuse victims have a route to safety and perpetrators are brought to justice is the highest government priority, they need to ensure that not just those who might be subjected to immigration control but those who might fear being subjected to it, whether rightly or not, are not prevented from accessing the protections. Immigration status is a complex area and we know from the tragedy of Windrush that even citizenship is not always an adequate protection from detention and deportation.

It is not just those who might face immigration controls who need the reassurance of these amendments, but those who fear becoming entangled in the horrors of the Home Office’s hostile environment as a result of reporting abuse or seeking help. They might have no real reason to fear that, but history will tell them that there is cause for concern. We need not only to protect them and make sure they are safe but to ensure, by stating it loudly and clearly in the Bill, that reporting abuse and seeking safety and justice will not entangle them in that hostile environment. This needs to be set out in government publicity so that there is a clear understanding across the community.

Photo of Baroness Crawley Baroness Crawley Labour 3:15 pm, 1st February 2021

My Lords, I wish to support in particular Amendment 154 in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Meacher, my noble friend Lady Wilcox of Newport and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. I also welcome the important contributions that have been made on this group of amendments.

Recently, Gill, an abused Brazilian woman of insecure immigration status, spent three days in the middle of winter sleeping on our streets with one of her children. How she got there is a heartbreaking tale of police misunderstanding of the guidance, Home Office incompetence and, indeed, laws that are not fit for purpose. Gill’s is one of several case studies presented to us by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, which is constantly seeing migrant victims of domestic abuse, as the right reverend Prelate has said. It sees the lack of trust and confidence that these victims have in our institutions, which are meant to protect them but often end up only harming them further. It knows, as does anyone who originates from a diaspora, that trust is a rare commodity and has to be built up step by step and law by law, as my noble friend Lord Rooker suggested in his reflections on the Home Office and the hostile environment.

Migrant women face many additional barriers to safety because, as has been said, abusers commonly use women’s fears of immigration enforcement and separation from their children to control them. The End Violence Against Women Coalition has pointed to the particular vulnerabilities experienced by migrant women: no recourse to public funds, homelessness, the financial impact of the inability to work due to their immigration status, forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence and much more. Add to that the harm that this amendment seeks to address, which is the fear that their information will be passed on by the police and other organisations to Immigration Enforcement, and it is no wonder that many, including the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, my noble friend Lady Wilcox and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London do not believe that the Bill in its present form—however much we welcome it, and I certainly do—is compliant with the requirements of Article 4, paragraph 3 of the Istanbul convention.

During the passage of the Bill in the Commons, MPs, including the Minister, stated that all victims of domestic abuse are treated first and foremost as victims, regardless of their immigration status. However, for that to happen certain things have to change. Accepting this amendment would be a good place to start, backed up by the conclusions of the super-complaint investigation by Liberty and Southall Black Sisters on policing and insecure immigration status. The report on this was published in December 2020 in collaboration with the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The super-complaint has been taken seriously by the police because it underlines, among other things, the ongoing danger to public safety of migrant victims’ perpetrators, who are sometimes part of criminal gangs, going free and undetected outside the law because their victims fear reporting them to the police. The super-complaint concludes that for victims of domestic abuse, a complete separation or firewall must be in place between the police response to a victim who is reporting domestic abuse and the handling of their immigration status, as is provided for in the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher.

While the amendment obviously goes further than interaction with the police, the focus of the super-complaint and its call for all chief constables to stop immediately the sharing of information on domestic abuse victims with Immigration Enforcement provides welcome ballast for this important amendment. I hope that the Minister sees the need to accept the amendment and will not wait for the findings of the support for migrant victims scheme.

Photo of Baroness Butler-Sloss Baroness Butler-Sloss Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee), Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee)

My Lords, I refer to my interests on the register. I support Amendments 55, 56 and 154. My main concerns relate to victims of modern slavery and of forced marriage who are from overseas. Some victims of modern slavery suffer from domestic abuse and may not go through the NRM. If they do not, their immigrant status will be not just uncertain but probably not acceptable. It may not be safe for them to be returned to their own country.

I refer particularly to a group of foreign wives who marry men in this country but whose marriages are not registered. An example, but not the only example, is a nikah in a Muslim marriage. If that marriage is not registered, as everyone knows, it is not legal in English law. Consequently, wives will not receive the spousal visa or have the protection of being a wife—although they believe of course that they are wives. This is very serious, and I ask the Minister to look at this group of women, some of whom may be in a forced marriage, while others may be in a perfectly good arranged marriage where the husband has walked out on them or turfed them out and they are completely lost, because they do not have the appropriate immigration status as a wife.

Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My Lords, as my noble friend Lady Hamwee has explained, our Amendments 55 and 56 in this group are designed to prevent information about victims of domestic abuse that could be used for immigration control being disclosed by the domestic abuse commissioner. These amendments go further than Amendment 154, as they talk about information provided to the domestic abuse commissioner whether a request for support has been made or not.

The danger is that the information, supplied by either the domestic abuse commissioner or somebody seeking support, is shared with the police. There have been numerous reported examples where the police have passed the details of victims and witnesses of crime to immigration officials, including a case in 2017 of a woman who alleged she was raped and kidnapped. She was first taken to a haven, a centre for victims of sexual assault, but was subsequently arrested and questioned about her immigration status.

In 2015, the last year for which I can find figures, police tip-offs to the immigration service of the details of crime victims and witnesses occurred on over 3,000 occasions—in one year. As the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, said, such sharing of information makes genuine victims of domestic abuse less likely to come forward to receive the help and support that they so desperately need. These victims are likely to be even more vulnerable to coercive control than those with regular immigration status.

Amendment 154 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, similarly requires the Secretary of State to make arrangements to ensure that personal data of a victim of domestic abuse that is processed for the purpose of requesting or receiving support is not used for immigration control purposes, along with domestic abuse witness and victim data. We support these attempts to prevent the disclosure of this information for immigration control purposes.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Meacher, for setting out the case for these amendments, which seek to prevent personal information about victims of domestic abuse being shared for the purposes of immigration control. I recognise that the effect of Amendments 55 and 56 is more narrowly focused on the sharing of information under Part 2 but, in responding to these amendments and Amendment 154, I will focus my remarks on the broader issue.

I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, will understand that I will leave the debate on migrant women, who feature in Amendment 148, until we get to it, because this group is about data sharing. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, I point out that “hostile environment” was of course coined by the Labour Government back in 2007, not under my right honourable friend Theresa May.

The main purpose of these amendments is to make sure that migrant victims of domestic abuse are not deterred from reporting that abuse or seeking support for fear that immigration enforcement action will be taken against them. I want to be absolutely clear: our main priority is to protect the public and all victims of crime, regardless of their immigration status.

A number of noble Lords mentioned guidance on this. In our response to the Joint Committee in July 2019, the Government were clear that all victims of domestic abuse should be treated as victims first and foremost. This is set out in relevant guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council—in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox.

In addition, assistant commissioner Louisa Rolfe, the national policing lead on domestic abuse, in giving oral evidence to the Public Bill Committee in the House of Commons, was clear that there will be circumstances where information sharing between the police and immigration authorities is in the interests of safeguarding a victim of abuse. There can be many benefits to sharing information, as it can help to resolve a victim’s uncertainty about their immigration status—referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley—but, most importantly, it can remove the desperate situation in which the perpetrator’s controlling and manipulative behaviour continues because of their status: this too was referred to by the noble Baroness. When victims come forward for support, sharing information can help prevent them facing enforcement action, if they are identified by immigration enforcement in an unrelated setting.

To ensure that victims’ needs are put first, the National Police Chiefs’ Council strengthened its guidance in 2020, setting out a clear position on exchanging information about victims of crime with immigration enforcement to encourage a consistent approach across the country. This gives us confidence that data sharing will operate in the interests of the victim.

Alongside our duties to protect victims of crime, the Government are equally duty bound to maintain an effective immigration system, not only to protect our public services but to safeguard the most vulnerable from exploitation because of their insecure immigration status. The public rightly expect that individuals in this country should be subject to our laws, and it is right that, when individuals with an irregular immigration status are identified, they should be supported to come forward under our immigration system and, where possible, to regularise their stay. This data exchange is processed on the basis of public interest, as laid out in Articles 6 and 9 of the general data protection regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.

The noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, also referred to the outcome of the super-complaint relating to police data that is shared for immigration purposes. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services published its report into the super-complaint in December last year and made a number of recommendations, which we are carefully considering and to which we will respond in due course. It is right that we properly take account of the recommendations in this report. In response to the report, we have committed to review the current arrangements and to publishing the outcome of the review within the six months set by the inspectorate, which is by June. I expect the outcome of this review to be implemented through further updates to the NPCC guidance or other administrative means, and that primary legislation will not be required. To enable us to complete this review in line with the inspectorate’s recommendations, I ask that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, withdraws her amendment.

Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration) 3:30 pm, 1st February 2021

My Lords, I do not think this is going to be the end of our discussion regarding victims whose immigration status is insecure, or they believe to be insecure. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, talked about a “tool of coercive control” and someone else—I am afraid I did not make a note who, but it might have been the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox—talked about the power of an abuser. We should not be contributing to the power of the abuser, nor contributing a tool to the abuser.

The Minister has confirmed, and I am glad to hear it, that the Home Office’s approach is to treat an abused person as a victim first, but this needs to be followed through. Providing data to police or other authorities does not answer the issue to which noble Lords have been speaking. What if the victim knows that she or he is unlikely to be able to regularise their status? The Minister referred to the HMI report following the super-complaint. As stated in its press release, the investigation’s recommendations included:

“the Home Office should review the relevant legal framework and policy to establish sound and fair priorities regarding migrant victims of crime and migrant witnesses to crime, with insecure or uncertain immigration status”.

The Home Office is reviewing that. But this is the opportunity to deal with the matter in legislation and surely, given our data protection legislation, it needs primary legislation and not just guidance. I believe we will come back to this amendment on Report, but for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment 55 withdrawn.

Amendment 56 not moved.

Clause 17 agreed.

Clauses 18 to 20 agreed.

Photo of Baroness Barker Baroness Barker Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Voluntary Sector), Deputy Chairman of Committees

We now come to the group beginning with Amendment 57. I remind noble Lords that anyone wishing to speak after the Minister should email the clerk during the debate. Anyone wishing to press this or any other amendment in this group to a Division must make that clear in debate. I should inform the Committee that if Amendment 57 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment 58.

Clause 21: Provision that may be made by notices