Motion D1 (as an amendment to Motion D)

Domestic Abuse Bill - Commons Amendments and Reason – in the House of Lords at 2:45 pm on 27th April 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon:

Moved by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Leave out from “42F” to end and insert “, do disagree with the Commons in their Amendments 42G, 42H and 42J and do propose Amendments 42K, 42L and 42M in lieu—

42K: Before Clause 69, insert the following new Clause— “Strategy for prosecution and management of offenders(1) The Secretary of State must, before the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, prepare and publish a document setting out a strategy for—(a) detecting, investigating and prosecuting offences involving domestic abuse,(b) assessing and managing the risks posed by individuals who commit offences involving domestic abuse, including (among others) risks associated with stalking and an individual’s past pattern of behaviour; and(c) reducing the risk that such individuals commit further offences involving domestic abuse.(2) The Secretary of State—(a) must keep the strategy under review;(b) may revise it.(3) If the Secretary of State revises the strategy, the Secretary of State must publish a document setting out the revised strategy.(4) In preparing or revising a strategy under this section, the Secretary of State must consult—(a) the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and(b) such other persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.(5) The Secretary of State must, before the end of the period of 3 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, publish revised statutory guidance on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements to provide that—(a) a person assessed by the responsible authority to pose a high risk of stalking; or(b) a person assessed by the responsible authority to pose a high risk of domestic abuse,must be placed under Category 3 in Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.(6) When assessing a risk of stalking or repeated domestic abuse the Responsible Authority must take into consideration a person’s past patterns of behaviour involving stalking or domestic abuse.(7) The Secretary of State must make arrangements to require—(a) an individual who is convicted on more than one occasion of a specified domestic abuse offence;(b) an individual who is convicted on one or more occasions of a specified stalking offence,to be automatically risk-assessed in Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.(8) Where a person is—(a) risk-assessed under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements; or(b) placed under Category 3 in Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangementsas a result of offending which involves either domestic abuse or stalking, notice of this must be given to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for the purposes of a report on these decisions to inform the strategy on an annual basis.(9) Subsection (4) does not apply in relation to any revisions of the strategy if the Secretary of State considers the proposed revisions of the strategy are insubstantial.(10) In this section, the reference to “risks associated with stalking” is to be read in accordance with section 1(4) of the Stalking Protection Act 2019.(11) In this section—“responsible authority” has the same meaning as in section 325 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003;“specified domestic abuse offence” means an offence where it is alleged that the behaviour of the accused amounted to domestic abuse within the meaning defined in section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021;“specified stalking offence” means an offence contrary to section 2A or section 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.”

42L: Page 59, line 8, after “section” insert “(Strategy for prosecution and management of offenders),”

42M: Page 60, line 32, at end insert—“( ) section (Strategy for prosecution and management of offenders);””

Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Labour

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her full response, including to my amendment, which followed the Government’s revised amendment passed in the Commons last night. I am also grateful to her for our very constructive meeting and for the letter responding to the issues raised by me and my colleagues in our meeting; I think it was last Friday, but it feels a long time ago.

Yes, we have come a long way with this very good Bill, and indeed on the perpetrator strategy on both stalking and domestic abuse. I am glad our various debates have highlighted the fact that the current system is not working. Indeed, it is indefensible and leads to thousands of women living in fear and hundreds murdered. It is for this reason that the noble Baroness and I are in complete agreement that there must be a change. The change that I believe would be most effective, and will continue to argue in favour of, is the inclusion on the new database of all serious and serial high-risk perpetrators of stalking and domestic abuse. I am perplexed by the articles in the press—I think it was in the Times at the weekend—suggesting that a comprehensive database would soon be forthcoming. Nothing has been said at the Dispatch Box in either your Lordships’ House or the Commons to confirm this. I leave that to one side.

I was confused last night when listening to the Minister in the Commons address the issue of the MAPPA categories, although the noble Baroness the Minister has been much clearer and more explicit. The new policy framework is welcome, but can the noble Baroness again confirm that domestic abuse and stalking will be flagged in category 1, so that when assessing risk or managing a sex offender, consideration will have to be given to whether he poses a domestic abuse or stalking threat? I believe that to be the case, but I would like her to make that point once more. I am grateful for her assurance in writing that all category 3 offenders will be on ViSOR and therefore on MAPPS.

Listening to the Minister in the Commons last night, my biggest concern was that she did not propose a significant expansion to category 3—quite the contrary; she rejected the repeated suggestions from my right honourable friend Yvette Cooper. She repeated the current practice: that it will be up to the professional judgment and professional curiosity—I find that quite a strange and unfortunate phrase—of the relevant authorities as to whether they think a domestic abuse or stalking case could benefit from being managed through MAPPA. That is not good enough.

The Minister spoke of the flexibility of MAPPA 3, which, as my honourable friend Jess Phillips pointed out, was part of the problem, in that there is no proper direction for its use, and the resources are so stretched that the authorities cannot use their professional judgment. But that flexibility is also part of the solution, in that its use will now be expanded. It is very good to hear that category 3 will not be restricted to people who have been sentenced for one year or more. I believe that to be the case and would like the Minister to reiterate that. We all agree that that is a major gap: that people who have not been sentenced but are serial perpetrators and whose actions escalate into heinous crimes are still out there, and no information about them is being exchanged.

Adequate resources are critical. If sufficient funding is not available, the people making the decisions will be constrained in their actions. Last night the Minister mentioned an additional £25 million. Will any of that be ring-fenced for MAPPA 3? If not, what additional resources will be specifically allocated to MAPPA 3?

Currently there are only 330 offenders in total under category 3 MAPPA, compared with more than 60,000 in category 1 and more than 20,000 in category 2. MAPPA includes all offences, but in future it absolutely must include the thousands of high-harm repeat perpetrators of stalking and domestic violence. The Minister has been very clear that when assessing a risk of stalking or repeated domestic abuse, there must be consideration of a person’s past patterns of behaviour involving stalking or domestic abuse. That is a major step forward and is very welcome.

It is only with the new guidance mentioned by the noble Baroness that we can ensure that practice really is changed, so that serial and high-harm domestic abuse and stalking perpetrators are flagged to MAPPA and heard there. But that guidance must be informed by experts, by the people who will use the guidance, who are frustrated that the current system is not working. Everyone using the new guidance must be trained in order to effect the change so desperately needed. That must be included in the guidance and the requisite funds made available. We expect the head of MAPPA to ensure that this happens. The ever-vigilant noble Lord, Lord Russell, noticed that NOMS is looking for a new head of MAPPA. I am sure he will speak to this, but I merely urge that the current job description be updated to reflect the changes being introduced in this Bill.

I am glad to hear that the guidance will be dynamic. A debate on the guidance in the autumn is an excellent idea. May I also have an assurance from the noble Baroness that specialist domestic abuse and stalking services will be invited to attend MAPPA? Timing is of the essence. The Minister has given her assurance that the MAPPA guidance will be revised before the Summer Recess; I thank her.

I am grateful for the explanation of the current plan, that oversight will be undertaken through the responsible authority national steering group. I may be wrong, but it does not sound as if that is an impartial body. It sounds as if it will be required to mark its own homework, and we believe that the oversight must be independent. The Minister said,

“I have no doubt that the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the Victims’ Commissioner will also be monitoring the impact of the strengthened guidance and the other actions we are taking.”

However, I firmly believe that the independent monitoring and oversight must be undertaken by the domestic abuse commissioner, who clearly has the powers and must have systematic access to all the information relating not just to people included in MAPPA 3 but to those whom she might believe should be included in MAPPA 3. In this way the commissioner, your Lordships and the wider world will be able to measure and judge the success of the actions outlined by the Minister, including the strategy and the revised guidance. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Brinton Baroness Brinton Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Health) 3:00 pm, 27th April 2021

My Lords, I too wish to start by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, for her helpful speech from the Dispatch Box this afternoon and for the repeated emails and meetings with some of us to try to progress matters. We recognise that some of the things we would like to see in this Bill are better placed in statutory guidance and I thank the Minister for her reassurance and the offer of showing us that draft statutory guidance to bring these perpetrators to justice. It was also encouraging to hear details about the thresholding document.

Herein lies the problem, which the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, referred to in part. We need to substantially change the culture and practice inside the criminal justice system to tackle these particular perpetrators. We have said repeatedly that the consequence is that these fixated, obsessive, serial and high-risk perpetrators escalate their behaviour—far too often resulting in serious violence and murder. That is why we welcome the changes to the current arrangements for a perpetrator to be considered for MAPPA category 3. The assessment of past patterns of behaviour is vital—something we asked for in the stalking law reforms of 2012—including convictions at a lesser level. I thank the Minister for her words on that.

One of the consequences of an effective risk assessment for these serial and high-risk perpetrators is that MAPPA teams need more resources than they currently receive. It should not be possible for these cases to be disregarded because of resources. I echo the question that the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, asked about how much of the extra perpetrator funding the Minister outlined during the passage of the Bill will be dedicated resource for local MAPPA areas to manage a larger numbers of offenders. This is one of those few times when it will be good to see numbers going up, because it will provide reassurance that these perpetrators are being managed properly. This Bill and these arrangements will fail without those resources—and this Bill must not fail.

The noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, cannot be in her place today, but she specifically asked me to make the following points to your Lordships’ House on her behalf. She joins those of us who signed the amendment on Report in expressing concern that serial and serious high-risk perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking must be included and therefore on the database.

Can the Minister give the House some assurance that domestic abuse and stalking experts and agencies will be included as a matter of course in the MAPP meetings? Their expertise at a local level will be vital; risk assessments of patterns of past fixated behaviour will not be effective without their input. It is the early identification of these patterns of behaviour that can change the experience of the victim and, with appropriate support, can help the perpetrator too.

The noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, also asks whether the domestic abuse commissioner and the Victims’ Commissioner will have access to MAPPA data— especially, but not only, that relating to those serial and high-risk stalking and domestic abuse perpetrators. It is vital for them to be able to hold those making decisions inside the criminal justice system to account. She makes the point that this is particularly important because, until the victims law the Government have promised comes into force, it will provide powers for the Victims’ Commissioner. Until then, there will be no powers for the Victims’ Commissioner to perform that role. It is vital that both the domestic abuse commissioner and the Victims’ Commissioner have similar powers to hold the Government and agencies to account.

I will end by looking both backwards and towards the future. This month marks the 16th anniversary of the start of the harassment and stalking campaign of which I was the principal target. It took three years before the perpetrator was caught and my many discussions with the police mirrored far too many of the cases we have heard of elsewhere. I swore to myself that no one should have to repeatedly explain incident after incident to the police as if each one were the first—but that is still the case far too often.

During the passage of this Bill we have all spoken of the tragic deaths of far too many women at the hands of stalkers and abusers—currently between two and five per week. This morning on Radio 4’s “Today” programme Zoe Dronfield spoke movingly of her own experience. She discovered, after escaping a violent attack with her life, that her previous partner had stalked and attacked a dozen women before her. This Bill and the arrangements for the statutory guidance the Minister outlined have the capacity to start to change the experience of victims such as Zoe, but only if every single part of the criminal justice system engages with these changes to make them work. That is why the expertise that exists in pockets of good practice in the police and probation needs to be mainstreamed into MAPPA—and the work before MAPPA in call centres, front-line policing and the court system—with effective training throughout to watch for the red signals and pick up on this type of behaviour.

I want Parliament to hear of reductions in attacks and murders, of an increase in the number of offenders successfully managed by MAPPA, and a world where victims can start to live their lives no longer in fear—knowing that they can turn to the police and others for help. This Bill is the start of a very long journey to be continued in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the domestic violence and violence against women and girls strategies. We will watch with interest and, in fulfilling our duty, we will return to challenge and scrutinise how these important changes are being effected. At the end of the day, lives depend on the Government and everyone in the police and criminal justice system getting it right.

Photo of Lord Russell of Liverpool Lord Russell of Liverpool Deputy Chairman of Committees

My Lords, at the last stage of the Bill I started by saying it felt dangerously like

“déjà vu all over again”.—[Official Report, 21/4/21; col. 1935.]

I am very pleased to announce this afternoon that it does not feel like déjà vu any longer. I think we are in mortal danger of actually moving forward—for which I thank the Minister very warmly.

It is perhaps no coincidence that this group of amendments, which in many ways is at the heart of the Bill, is coming right at the very end of it. The reason for that is that it is probably the most difficult part of the Bill to deal with. Almost all the excellent work done in both Houses up until this point has been dealing with some of the effects and after-effects of domestic abuse. What we are talking about in this group is trying to identify the causes and early signs of domestic abuse: in other words, trying to stop it happening rather more efficiently and effectively than we have done in the past.

To the Government’s credit—and this is not easy to admit—they have admitted that the current system is not working well. You just have to look at the weekly litany of deaths and some of the stories behind them to realise that it is not working. But it still takes a certain amount of courage to admit that one has not got it right and that one needs to change—so I am very grateful for that.

Although I have played an insignificant part, I am also extremely grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Royall and Lady Brinton, the latter of whom is an expert on stalking, for putting forward such compelling arguments for stalking to be included that the Government have acceded to the strength of their arguments. I am extremely grateful for that.

I am also grateful that new statutory guidance will be forthcoming. But at this point I want to issue a very strong health warning. I apologise to the Minister, who heard me go on a bit about this earlier this morning. For any new guidance to be effective, it must be created and then applied in a fundamentally different way from the way it has been done in the past. Part of that is that it needs different voices and experiences around the table. The individuals responsible for MAPPA at a national level and in the 42 different MAPPA areas all around the country—effectively, each police force—are largely the same group of people from the same organisations that have been responsible for trying to make the MAPPA system work over all these years.

However, part of the Government’s recognition of the complexity behind the causes of domestic abuse—in particular the addition of stalking—means that there is a compelling need to bring these new experiences and knowledge to the table. They have to become an integral part of MAPPA. They must have the same power of voice and vote around the table. Part of what needs to happen is for MAPPA to evolve and develop a different way of looking at all this. It needs to develop a new language, and new forms of assessment and forecasting, and to do so in a dynamic way, not looking at things every six months or every two years. It has admitted that part of the reason why the statutory guidance is now online rather than printed is that it has probably already been out of date by the time it has been printed. Putting it online means that it can be updated constantly; I genuinely welcome that.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, said, I managed, by googling away, to find the job description for the new head of MAPPA, who Her Majesty’s Government are currently seeking. Some of your Lordships may have seen a slip of paper in the past couple of weeks, before the election of the Lord Speaker, where, after 30 or so years of being a head-hunter, I put pen to paper—actually finger to iPad—and wrote a brief description of some of the attributes I thought were important in the role, as well as, very importantly, some of the deliverables. The glaring omission in the job specification for the head of MAPPA is any definition of relevant experience. There is nothing whatever to indicate what type of prior experience and knowledge would qualify the candidates to be on that shortlist. I put it to the Minister that whoever becomes the next head of MAPPA must have a breadth of knowledge, an openness of mind, and an ability to manage and argue compellingly for change of a different order of magnitude from what has been required before. That will be absolutely fundamental.

I finish my rant by again thanking the Minister very much indeed. We have made considerable progress. I look forward to not forgetting about the rear-view mirror —as a dedicated cyclist I know that would be extremely dangerous; indeed I have rear-view mirrors on both of my bicycles. I congratulate the Government on the progress they have made, but I ask them to take what I have said seriously to heart and to try to make sure that we get it right this time. The test will be when the awful metronomic death toll of the work done week in, week out by the Counting Dead Women initiative starts going down, and the number of people on the MAPPA system starts going up with the right sort of people. At that point we can feel that we are actually doing something that all these victims and their families have been looking for, for so many years; that will be really good news.

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

A Member in the Chamber has indicated his wish to speak. I call the noble Lord, Lord Paddick.

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

My Lords, I should be sitting on a Back Bench, but there is no space on our Back Benches. Noble Lords might perhaps just assume that I am speaking from the Back Benches.

I have not spoken on this issue before but, as a former senior police officer, I feel that I should say a few words. I agree with the Minister that this is largely a failure of implementation rather than of legislation, but the movers of these amendments have had to resort to legislation due to frustration with the lack of progress in improving the situation. This could potentially be the result of a lack of resources, or, as my noble friend Lady Brinton said, there is a need for a change of culture—something to which the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, also alluded. It is very welcome that the Government are looking to refresh and strengthen the MAPPA statutory guidance. I recommend that, if at all possible, they consult with Laura Richards; I was going to say that she is an acknowledged expert, but she is the expert in this area.

One question I have for the Minister that causes me some concern relates to her remarks about stalking “within a domestic abuse context”. Stalking needs to be addressed both within and without the domestic abuse context. Can she please reassure us on that point?

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Does anyone else in the Chamber wish to speak? No? Then I call the noble Baroness, Lady Burt of Solihull.

Photo of Baroness Burt of Solihull Baroness Burt of Solihull Liberal Democrat 3:15 pm, 27th April 2021

My Lords, my group and I wish to avoid putting this Bill in jeopardy by doing our own bit of disagreeing with the Government and forcing another round of ping-pong just before Parliament is dissolved. We have achieved so much for victims in this Bill, with the exception, yet again, through the Government agreeing to Motion C, of failing to treat all victims equally and thereby failing to meet the criteria of the Istanbul convention, as my noble friend Lord Paddick said. The right reverend Prelate must be as disappointed, as so many of us are, that this was the only amendment to “go the distance” and be substantially modified, but still get no movement from the Government. Anyway, I digress; I have no wish to detain the House.

I feel reassured at the Minister’s words regarding Amendment 42. If I have misunderstood anything that she has said at the Dispatch Box, will she please disabuse me in her final remarks? My understanding is that, first, experts in domestic abuse and stalking will be included in the MAPPA process, assessing patterns of behaviour to decide which category an offender should be placed in. I particularly welcome the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, on how MAPPA should change the way it works.

Secondly, I understand that the assessment of MAPPA categories will depend on patterns of behaviour, not on the sentence received—I was going to say, “if any”, but from what the Minister said I understand that there must have been a conviction, not necessarily with the one-year criteria.

Thirdly, I understand that the domestic abuse commissioner and the Victims’ Commissioner will get access to the figures on stalking and domestic abuse from MAPPA under the duty in this Bill to co-operate. References to the inclusion of stalking by the Minister have been heard loud and clear.

Finally, I reiterate what my noble friend Lady Brinton said: we are at only the start of this process. We have heard so many stories from victims of how their repeated calls for help have been ignored and threats and actions underplayed until the worst happened. Our culture must change; our responses must improve. Only then will we be able to say that the Bill has achieved its purpose. However, it is a great tribute to the Minister and her ministerial colleagues that we are where we are on the Bill today.

Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing)

My Lords, we on these Benches are grateful for the movement from the Government that we have heard in the debate, including the inclusion of domestic abuse-related stalking in the perpetrator strategy. I pay tribute to the Minister for all her work on the Bill and for the many welcome changes, including these, that have been made during its passage. That is not to say that we do not still have some concerns that the proposed changes to the MAPPA guidance will not be strong enough. We welcome the idea of a debate in the autumn on the effectiveness of the guidance.

I pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Royall of Blaisdon for all her work on the issue of stalking, not only in the context of this Bill but over many years of campaigning in this House. The progress that we have made to date would not have been possible without her work. I also pay tribute to the work and support of the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, and many others in this House.

I think we have all accepted that the system as it stands is not working—it is not catching the perpetrators where the Minister claims it should be. I would like her to be clear about what it is specifically about this change to the guidance that will make it work. If it is simply about a change in the guidance, we could have done that before. What is it about this amendment to the guidance that is going to deliver change?

Like the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, I listened to the “Today” programme this morning and heard the contribution from Zoe Dronfield; I do not know if other Members have. It was harrowing to listen to what that poor woman has gone through. She met someone and, after a few weeks, thought it was going to work, but then there were all the phone calls, the texts, the knock on the door and then her front door being kicked in. At no point did she get help from anyone—the police said, “He hasn’t really done anything, has he?”—and it had to get to the point where he nearly killed her before action was taken. That is totally wrong. These amendments are trying to stop the situation where you have to be nearly killed before any action is taken. We need a guarantee that serial and high-risk offenders will be risk-assessed and, where the risk of harm is identified, be included under MAPPA —otherwise, what is changing?

The noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, is right that the death toll has to come down for us to see that the guidance and the Act are working. If we do not see that happen then we are failing victims, their families and campaigners. In the weeks and months ahead we have to see effects from this. If we do not then we have failed in our duty.

It is key that an offender’s past behaviour must be considered. Zoe Dronfield told the “Today” programme that she was not the first case; the person who attacked her had previously abused and attacked 12 other women, but she knew nothing about it. We have to ensure that the system starts to recognise the reality of these crimes and where the risk escalates—otherwise, what are we doing here today?

My noble friend Lady Royall has asked a number of detailed questions and I am sure the Minister will respond to them. The debates that we have had, particularly on this issue, have shed light on the failures of the past and current failures, and we all agree that we have to do better. I look forward to seeing the effective action that is going to happen.

I know that my noble friend and other campaigners, in this House and elsewhere, will be back if this does not work. We have the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, as well as other debates and issues—this is not going to go away; for too long victims have wanted to get this sorted out. The Government have done loads of good work on this and a good job with the Bill, which we are very happy with. But if there are issues that have not been sorted out, we will be back to ensure that they are, because we owe that to the victims and their families.

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

My Lords, to take the words that the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, has just spoken, I would expect the House to be back if the measures that we have put into the Bill and the accompanying guidance and practice around them were not working. He asked what it was about this Bill that would change things. The noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, has said that this last bit is the hard yards, because it asks the question: where in practice will what is in the Bill change things? That is absolutely the right thing.

In no particular order, I shall go through the various questions that noble Lords have asked. The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, asked about domestic abuse and stalking in category 1. The revised guidance will address the management of domestic abuse perpetrators at level 1 for category 1 sexual offences. In addition to guidance, and to ensure that there is maximum accessibility and clarity, we will, as I have said, publish a succinct thresholding document to guide practitioners in deciding on the most appropriate level of management. The different levels of management under MAPPA are set to ensure that resources are directed to, and properly targeted at, those offenders who pose the highest risk and are the most complex to manage. However, we need to ensure that action is taken where there are indicators of escalating harm, as a number of noble Lords have mentioned, for those managed at the least intensive level. HMP Prison and Probation Service will therefore issue a policy framework for its staff setting out clear requirements for their management of all cases at MAPPA level 1.

On the question about a person not being sentenced for something, and therefore where the information is, the guidance will make very clear that convicted offenders who demonstrate a pattern of offending behaviour that indicates either serious harm or an escalation in the risk of serious harm relating to domestic abuse or stalking but which is not reflected in the charge for which they were actually convicted—I think this is what the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, was referring to—should be considered for category 3 management. The guidance will set out the importance of being mindful of the totality of an offender’s behaviour in domestic abuse and stalking cases. The noble Baroness reiterated her points, and I know this is an important issue for her. She wanted me to say it again, and I hope she is happy with that.

On MAPPA category 3, there is no minimum sentence for those who can be managed under that category. On commissioners monitoring the impact of the actions that I have outlined, they are independent but I am certain that they will be monitoring the impact of those actions, because one of the first things that will be on the commissioner’s desk when she is formerly in post is the Domestic Abuse Act and the implications and practices arising out of it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, talked about the very important issue of the sharing of information. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill specifically clarifies that information can be shared with non-duty-to-co-operate agencies—for example, specialist domestic abuse organisations—if they can contribute to the risk management plan.

The noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, talked about the job description for the head of MAPPA. He said that whoever does it will need a breadth of knowledge and a broadness of mind. Perhaps they might refer to Hansard for inspiration from the passage of this Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked whether stalking was covered within and outwith domestic abuse. The answer to that is yes.

The last thing that I must talk about is funding. Funding was set out in the Budget but MAPPA is clearly a set of arrangements for managing high-harm offenders and, as such, is resourced from within the existing budgets of responsible authorities. However, the Government are committed to an additional 20,000 police officers, of which 6,600 have already been recruited. As I have already said, we are investing £25 million in additional funding to tackle perpetrators in 2021-22. We will continue to work with specialist domestic abuse organisations and the domestic abuse commissioner to ensure that that funding is spent effectively. We will continue to push to maintain that investment in perpetrator programmes as part of the next spending review.

As a House of Lords, we have come a long way with this Bill. We have revised it for the better. The Government have acquiesced to virtually all that noble Lords have asked in order to make this the excellent Bill that it now is. I hope that noble Lords will not divide on this matter and that they wish to see this Bill pass. The test will be the difference it makes to the lives of so many women and children.

Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Labour 3:30 pm, 27th April 2021

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this hugely important debate. I thank the Minister for her responses to this most difficult part of the Bill. The thresholding document she mentioned will be extremely important, as will the policy framework.

The guidance is critical. I am grateful to the Minister for saying that we will have this before the summer, and we look forward to being consulted. It is crucial that we see it before the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill reaches this House. If it is seen to be in any way inadequate, and if it is not accompanied by a statement of the funding allocated to its implementation —including for training—we will revisit this issue then.

The noble Baroness suggested that funding came from various departments. I accept this answer, but it is not enough. Some funding needs to be ring-fenced. This will ensure that MAPPA 3 can be implemented, as we all believe it should be, in order to increase the number of perpetrators encompassed by MAPPA 3 who are assessed and managed accordingly.

The Minister has made many commitments, for which I am grateful. We will continue to follow their realisation closely. In a year’s time, my noble friends and I will table a debate to enable a progress report. We expect to see that the number of murders has greatly diminished.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Newlove, and the noble Lords, Lord Russell of Liverpool and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, are most definitely my noble friends in this context. I thank them for their support. We shall continue to work together, doing everything possible to ensure that the perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking are identified, assessed and managed, so that their actions are not repeated and escalated. We wish to bring about the necessary change in culture. The number of people in MAPPA 3 must go up and the number of murders must go down.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, spoke about Laura Richards, the global expert on stalking. She is the most extraordinary woman who should be consulted at every step of the way.

I thank all the brave women, such as Zoe Dronfield and Rachel Riley, who have come forward to tell us of their appalling experiences. I thank the families of victims who have used their pain and grief to campaign for change which will benefit others—the Cloughs, the Ruggles, the Gazzards of this world, and many more.

I also thank the Minister for her amazing work on this excellent Bill, for the progress she has made and for her time and shared determination to bring about change. This will prevent women living in fear and prevent murder.

As so many noble Lords have said, this is the beginning. We have much work to do, but together we can do it. The debate today is another step in the building block towards bringing about the necessary change. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Motion D1 withdrawn.

Motion D agreed.

Sitting suspended.