Amendment 26

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 25th October 2021.

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Lord Young of Cookham:

Moved by Lord Young of Cookham

26: Clause 7, page 8, line 25, at end insert—“(3A) Specified authorities which are housing authorities must have particular regard to their housing duties when performing their duties under this section.”

Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Conservative

My Lords, this amendment is grouped with a number of other amendments giving priority for housing for those at risk. As I said at Second Reading, I very much welcome this Bill, particularly Part 2. I gave notice then that I would be tabling some housing-related amendments to make the Bill even better. I am grateful to Stella Creasy in another place, who has championed the cause of young people at risk and whose office has given me some very helping briefings.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blake, and I are job-sharing on this group. She will speak to Amendment 51, the principal amendment. In a nutshell, it seeks to specify in law what the Government say is happening anyway and should indeed be happening if best practice is to become universal in this highly sensitive area of gang violence, child exploitation and abuse.

Basically, the amendment would put children at risk in the same category for priority housing as families fleeing domestic violence—a measure introduced in the Bill as a result of pressure from, among others, my noble friend Lady Bertin. It would ensure that, instead of being forced to gather extensive evidence and demonstrate unique vulnerability—not easy if your life is under threat—such people were given priority for urgent moves. This would be automatic.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blake, will develop the case. I will confine my brief remarks to the other amendments in this group. Part 2 of the Bill outlines duties to collaborate to prevent serious violence. These amendments would ensure that housing authorities and registered social landlords were included in this new duty, and that there is timely information sharing between the police and housing authorities for the purpose of preventing serious violence. Any effective multiagency response must include housing; including housing in the Bill will support a comprehensive public health approach to tackling and preventing serious youth violence. Education, prison and youth custody authorities are listed in this part of the Bill but housing is not, despite the Explanatory Notes on this section of the Bill saying this on page 13:

“The Strategy explained that the Government’s approach was not solely focused on law enforcement, but depended on partnerships across a number of sectors such as education, health, social services, housing, youth services and victim services.”

These amendments complement those tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and others involving the NHS and children’s social care, which we will come to in a moment.

Amendments 26, 29, 31, 38 to 40 and 44 would amend Clauses 7, 8 and 9. They would require the strategy for a local government area, as well as the related powers to collaborate and identify kinds of violence, to include housing authorities so that they are fully consulted as the strategy is drawn up and the actions they need to take are specified. The Minister may argue that, although the Bill specifies who must be involved in the plan—education, prison and youth custody authorities—it does not preclude others from being involved. However, as far as I can see, the Bill does not say that; it implies exclusivity to the three nominated authorities. Without Amendment 38, for example, housing authorities would not have to carry out their role in any plan to reduce violence.

Of the last amendments, Amendment 62 would require housing authorities to disclose relevant information, which they are not required to do at the moment. This is necessary. One serious review case study said that there was

“little evidence of the Housing Service being closely tied into the operational work of the Safeguarding Partnership. As a consequence information that was only known to the Housing Service took time to percolate to the other partners, while the implications of the housing stress under which Child C’s family was placed were not discussed in a multi-agency forum.”

Much of the violence that young people are at risk from is location-based, such as a gang on a particular estate. Housing providers may have an insight into this in a way that others do not. Without Amendment 62, that risk would persist; Amendments 66, 69 and 70 cover the same points.

These amendments would ensure that government policy is effectively delivered by ensuring that housing authorities are included in the Bill as key partners in protecting young people against gang violence. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Blake of Leeds Baroness Blake of Leeds Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, I support the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Young, to which I have added my name. I too pay tribute to Stella Creasy in the other place for her commitment and great foresight, as well as for the support of her team.

As we have heard, the purpose of this chapter is to prevent and reduce serious violence by requiring public authorities to co-operate and develop strategies for tackling this issue. The Government tell us that their aim is to build a public health approach to the reduction of serious violence. That aim is welcome only if we can put in place the right tools to achieve it. What we will keep coming back to throughout today’s debates is that a public health approach works only when it is genuinely focused on prevention and early intervention, and is properly invested in. If not, we will continue simply to treat the symptoms of serious violence, not its causes.

My noble friend Lord Rosser spoke in the last sitting on the need for an early help strategy to identify children who are at risk. These amendments speak to that same need to identify and react to risks before they escalate and before irreparable harm is caused. As the noble Lord, Lord Young, explained so eloquently, this group of amendments would embed housing and the provision of safe accommodation in this part of the Bill; I pay tribute to his generosity in his approach to these amendments, which are supported by a wide and impressive range of organisations, including Shelter, Crisis, Barnardo’s and the St Giles Trust.

As the noble Lord, Lord Young, mentioned, I will focus my remarks on Amendment 51. This proposed new clause would amend Section 189(1) of the Housing Act 1996 to add

“a person at risk of serious violence” to the list of people who have a priority need for housing. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provided a fundamental step forward in recognising victims fleeing abuse as a priority need for rehousing. This amendment would build on that learning and best practice to provide the same support for families fleeing serious violence from outside their home, namely gang violence. At the moment, families who urgently need to relocate to move a child or young family member out of harm’s way—that is, away from a risk of serious violence or threat to their life—are finding too often that they cannot access support because they are not recognised as a priority need under Section 189(1).

I think that the Committee will be distressed but, sadly, not surprised by the harrowing details of cases where risk has not been recognised early enough. A serious case review into a 14 year-old boy known as Chris—not his real name—who was shot in a children’s playground in Newham in 2017, found that there were

“clear gaps in risk assessments and risk management”, including the failure to update the housing manager on the urgent need to relocate Chris out of the area. His mother spoke of how she struggled to get help for housing away from the area where Chris was at risk:

“The most important one for me was housing, to get us out of the area. To be out of the clutches of the gangs so he could continue being a child.”

An offer of accommodation made to his mother was withdrawn shortly before Chris was killed.

When this issue was raised with Ministers in the Commons, the answer given was that this change is not necessary as local councils already have discretion to grant priority need to any person deemed vulnerable. However, in practice, we are being told by organisations working on the ground that this is not translating into support for those who are facing violence. They are falling through the gap. Freedom of information requests have shown that, when asked, only one in four councils has a policy governing how it should determine whether someone at risk of serious violence should be granted priority need. The guidance that authorities are directed to covers only domestic abuse and no other forms of violence.

Similarly, only one in four councils, when asked, could give details of how many applications for priority need they have had in the past three years from people at risk of violence other than domestic abuse. This does not mean that they have had no applications but that they are not being monitored as part of identifying and tackling violence in their local area.

The Government have dedicated a chapter of the Bill to tackling serious violence. This amendment would specifically recognise violence as a reason to relocate a person or household at risk. I do not believe there is any disagreement on the desired outcome—that we want a young person to be moved out of harm’s way before violence escalates or lives are lost—so I wonder why the Government would not prioritise that as part of their action on serious violence. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench 6:15 pm, 25th October 2021

My Lords, I support the amendments introduced so ably by the noble Lord, Lord Young, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake. This has been an example of how good this House is at certain things, with two noble Lords with huge experience in the policy area under consideration—and I understand, in the noble Baroness’s case, a deep understanding of the housing situation in one of our major metropolitan cities, Leeds. We should listen to them with great care; I am sure the Minister will.

Other examples can be given of evidence showing that housing really needs to be included right at the core of all these considerations. A recent initiative by a very experienced retired criminal Queen’s Counsel, Bruce Houlder QC, focused on knife crime. The work that Mr Houlder—a very good friend of mine—is now doing, to some acclaim, demonstrates, among other things, that knife crime becomes a cultural issue in certain housing areas. It requires attention in a Bill such as this.

I want to add something about the Edlington case, which I mentioned earlier. One of the issues that arose in that case, which I included in my report to the Secretary of State, was that housing was not included in the consultative group trying to resolve the florid problems of the two children who became serious offenders. Had it been included, they would have been moved and would not have been allowed to stay in the housing where they were. It was absolutely fundamental as a mistake, and we are now nearly 10 years on.

I hope that the Minister responding to this debate will take on board what has been said and ensure that further consideration is given to these amendments.

Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

My Lords, I rise to speak briefly to this group of important amendments, and declare my interest as a vice-president of the LGA.

The noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake of Leeds, set out the reasons for these amendments, and I fully support them. Those responsible for providing housing have changed over the years, from the time when it was solely the purview of local authorities to now, when it is a mix of elected councils that hold housing stock themselves through to housing associations and registered social landlords providing a mix of accommodation for couples, families and, less frequently, single people living alone.

Whatever their circumstances, tenants all deserve to feel safe in their home and free from violent attack. Women and young people are often the target of violence, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. Some of this will be domestic violence; in other cases it will be gang related. Whatever the cause or outcome, it is essential that the housing providers have a robust strategy in place—first, to prevent violence in the first place and, secondly, to deal with the aftermath once it has occurred.

Housing provider co-operation with the police is essential in dealing with violent abuse. Relying on GDPR protection to avoid releasing information is unhelpful at best and, at the other end of the spectrum, borders on ignoring the violent act itself. Of course, this release of information on behalf of the housing providers does not extend to medical professionals, the subject of the previous group of amendments.

Violence is abhorrent and prevents people enjoying the safety they should feel in their home, whether that is a bedsit or a three-bedroom family home. Local authorities will receive complaints about the behaviour of their tenants from neighbours. This might be about noise or anti-social behaviour. In more serious cases, the complaints will be about violence suffered by children and women, and sometimes men, living in a nearby home. It is difficult for local authority housing departments and RSLs to take action on what might be a malicious complaint, but I believe that where a robust serious violence reduction strategy is in place, officers will have the confidence to act before the violence ends in a tragedy, as in the case study the noble Baroness, Lady Blake of Leeds, mentioned.

I have only one caveat: the Government should ensure that local authorities, whose budgets have been slashed over recent years, have sufficient funding to be able to produce and implement a violence reduction strategy and not be expected to fund additional work on their already overstretched budgets.

Society is becoming immune to the level of violence experienced by some communities. This has to be reversed. A serious violence reduction strategy for each community living in social housing, whoever the provider may be, is a step in the right direction towards raising the profile of the damage that such violence causes and beginning to tackle its reduction. I fully support this group of amendments.

Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Labour

My Lords, I support these amendments absolutely; they are practical and in the real world. From my experience as a police and crime commissioner over five years, it is quite clear that serious violence has a huge amount to do with place and a lot to do with housing in those places. If we are to have the partnership that is presumably behind the Government’s proposals on serious violence, it is absolutely essential that housing and those who control it have a vital role; without them, all sorts of disasters will occur.

When I was a police and crime commissioner, I would hear from police officers or citizens day by day about the problems in areas where they lived and the mismatch, sometimes, between those responsible for housing and their ability to talk to the police and get things done, on either side, as quickly as possible. These are very important amendments, and I hope that the Government will listen carefully to them.

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

My Lords, we support these amendments. It is not just victims of domestic violence who need help and support from housing authorities in escaping serious violence. Young people groomed and exploited by criminal gangs also need and deserve to be urgently rehoused in certain circumstances, as the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, so clearly set out.

Again, this needs to be a truly multiagency approach to reducing serious violence and not a police-led enforcement approach. The police need to provide information to housing authorities where they believe that someone is being coerced into criminal activity and is threatened with serious violence if they do not comply, and that taking that person out of that scenario by rehousing them can reduce the risk of serious violence.

I repeat that option 2 of the Government’s consultation on the serious violence duty is the best option and the one preferred by the greatest proportion of respondents to the Government’s own consultation—that of enhancing existing crime and disorder partnerships. These are the existing and well-established mechanism, where local authorities and police forces work together to prevent and tackle crime and disorder and where the local police chief and the local authority chief executive are equal partners in doing whatever each partner and others can do to reduce crime and disorder.

As I said to an almost empty Chamber last Wednesday evening, the overwhelming response of the non-governmental organisations that I have met, which have concerns about this part of the Bill, is that the Bill is actually about forcing agencies to support a police-led enforcement approach to serious violence, not a public health approach or even a true multiagency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence. I listened very carefully when the Minister said that the Government’s intention is for it to be a public health approach—but we are debating this Bill, and that is not what is in it. We have to address the perception that the Bill is creating: that it is about a police-led enforcement approach.

In a previous group, we discussed the fact that many of the young people involved in county-lines drug dealing had been groomed into criminality and were victims of child criminal exploitation, with adults as much preying on their emotional needs as alleviating their poverty. Once trapped in such criminal enterprises, if they are robbed by a rival drug dealer of either drugs or the cash proceeds of drug dealing, for example, the young person’s family can then be targeted and blackmailed into paying back the drug supplier, with threats of violence against the other family members if the sums are not repaid. The only escape from such a situation is often the parent taking out a loan that they cannot afford, potentially from a loan shark, to pay back the drug dealer—or, otherwise, to flee from the area. It is in exactly this sort of scenario that the police need to work with social housing agencies to provide a route out of the cycle of debt and further violence.

As in the case of child criminal exploitation, the flow of information needs to be from the police to other authorities to enable a non-enforcement solution to a problem of serious violence and not, as is the concern—as I have said—of representatives of those non-governmental organisations that I have consulted, to have the provisions in this part of the Bill be about forcing others to provide information to assist the police in their enforcement role.

We support all the amendments in this group, particularly Amendment 51, so powerfully proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Blake of Leeds, which adds

“a person at risk of serious violence” to the list of those who have a priority need for accommodation under the Housing Act 1989, if the provision would reduce or prevent the risk of that person becoming a victim of serious violence. My noble friend Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville quite rightly raised the issue of funding for local authorities to enable them to fulfil this vital duty.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department 6:30 pm, 25th October 2021

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham for setting out the case for these amendments. I fully agree with him that local authorities and housing associations are able to make a significant contribution to local efforts to prevent and reduce serious violence.

In light of the fact that local authorities have responsibility for delivering services such as housing and community safety in local areas, we expect that such services will be a crucial part of the contribution that they make to the partnership arrangements, as they participate in the preparation and implementation of the serious violence strategy. We believe that they are therefore well placed to provide that strategic overview of, and information about, housing issues in the local area.

The statutory guidance for the serious violence duty, which has been published in draft and to which we have referred a few times this evening, highlights such duties and emphasises their relevance, as part of the work to meet the requirements of the serious violence duty. We do not think that it is necessary to explicitly state in the Bill that local authorities must have due regard to their housing duties as they fulfil the requirements of this duty because there will be a requirement for them to have due regard to the statutory guidance in any case.

Furthermore, current legislation already provides for those in most need to be prioritised for social housing, and statutory guidance makes it clear that local authorities should consider giving priority to those who require urgent rehousing as a result of domestic abuse and other types of violence. We will continue to work with the relevant sectors to ensure that the statutory guidance is clear on this point, ahead of a public consultation following Royal Assent and prior to the serious violence duty provisions coming into effect.

But, of course, we must do all that we can to identify and provide support to the individuals who are most at risk of involvement in serious violence, including those occupying social housing or who may be at risk of homelessness. But including registered providers of social housing within the provisions for the serious violence duty will not be necessary to achieve this.

As part of the work to prevent and reduce serious violence, specified authorities in a local area will be required to work together to identify the kinds and causes of serious violence and, in doing so, establish the groups of individuals who are most at risk in a local area.

Legislation already sets out that, when a local housing authority makes such a request, a private registered provider of social housing or a registered social landlord shall co-operate to such extent as is reasonable in the circumstances in offering accommodation to people with priority under the authority’s allocation scheme. This includes properties provided to those in priority need, including those with urgent housing needs, as a result of violence or threats of violence. Statutory guidance on allocations issues earlier this year, to which local authorities may pay due regard, makes this clear. It is also worth noting that the Tenancy Standard, issued by the Regulator of Social Housing, contains specific provision to ensure that private registered providers of social housing co-operate with local authorities’ strategic housing function.

Those who are at risk of violence should already receive support, if they need social housing and/or homelessness assistance, but local authorities must be able to respond to their strategic housing function and individual needs on a case-by-case basis. There is a risk that these amendments would inadvertently undermine the work of specified authorities to establish the most prevalent crime types and cohorts most at risk by mandating that a particular group falls under this category.

Furthermore, we must make sure that the duties placed on registered providers and local housing authorities are proportionate, bearing in mind both their size—there are, after all, 1,400 private registered providers of social housing in England, some of which are very small, and 165 local authorities that are social landlords—and the extent of their direct levers to deal with serious violence. They may therefore have limited direct capabilities, if any, to help to identify or prevent serious violence in the area. This is particularly true of small communities with reduced capacity and resources. The duties would therefore impose a material and unresourced burden.

We must also bear in mind the risk that social tenants may be inadvertently stigmatised as at risk of serious violence. Stigma was a key theme to emerge from the social housing Green Paper consultation exercise, and we must therefore be particularly careful not to further this perception and feeling.

I turn to Amendment 51. It is vital that all victims of serious violence who need to leave their home in order to escape violence are supported to access safe and secure alternative accommodation. It may be helpful for noble Lords if I explain how the existing provisions in homelessness legislation apply in relation to victims of violence.

A household is considered to be homeless if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to occupy their accommodation. Section 177 of the Housing Act is clear that it is not reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic abuse or other violence against that person or another member of their household. This means that victims of violence or of threats of violence that are likely to be carried out, who need to move because it is not safe for them to remain where they are currently living, are able to access support from council homelessness services. Furthermore, if a housing authority has a reason to believe that a person is homeless, eligible for assistance and has a priority need, Section 188(1) of the Housing Act requires the housing authority to provide interim accommodation while it carries out further investigations.

If homelessness is not successfully prevented or relieved, a housing authority will owe the main housing duty to applicants who are eligible, have a priority need for accommodation and are not homeless intentionally. Households containing dependent children have priority need, as in the examples raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Blake of Leeds, relating to gang-related violence, which was mentioned also by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick.

In addition, a person might be assessed as having priority need if they are considered significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person would be if they became homeless as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation by reason of violence from another person or threats of violence that are likely to be carried out. Homelessness legislation therefore already makes provision for victims of serious violence to receive support to access alternative accommodation.

Many local housing authorities already work with the police and other partners to reduce the risk of serious violence, including through the provision of alternative accommodation. Where this works well, it is clear that it is very important that services such as youth offending teams, educational authorities and the National Probation Service work together locally to provide support for the household and the victim of violence. Housing alone without that support is clearly not a sustainable option. The new serious violence duty will facilitate this and is intended to generate better partnership working locally to further protect this cohort.

The draft guidance is clear that local authorities are responsible for the delivery of a range of vital services for people and businesses in a local area, including but not limited to children’s and adult’s social care, schools, housing and planning, youth services and community safety, so they will have an essential role to play in partnership arrangements. The inclusion of this detail in the guidance for the new duty, alongside the existing homelessness legislation and guidance, is the most effective way of supporting victims of serious and gang-related violence to relocate and start afresh.

While it is so important that those at risk of serious violence who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness are supported to find an accommodation solution that meets their needs and reflects their individual circumstances, we do not think it is right to extend automatic priority need to other victims of serious violence that is not domestic abuse. While the violence or threat of violence may be present in their community, it does not usually take place in the home itself.

We think that the current legislative framework and accompanying statutory homelessness code of guidance, combined with the statutory guidance on social housing allocations, strikes the right balance as it considers the vulnerability of the applicant on a case-by-case basis and is the most appropriate means of determining priority for accommodation secured by the local authority. This approach ensures sufficient provision for homeless victims of serious violence who are vulnerable as a result of that violence, while also ensuring that finite resources, including temporary accommodation, are prioritised effectively and accommodation is there for those most in need.

The second part of Amendment 51 seeks to place a duty on the Secretary of State to

“issue a code of practice” covering Section 177 of the Housing Act. I say to my noble friend at this point that the statutory homelessness code of guidance already provides such guidance for housing authorities when a person at risk of violence or the threat of violence approaches a local authority in housing need. The statutory guidance on social housing allocations also makes it clear that local housing authorities should consider giving preference to such persons.

While I understand that there is particular concern for victims of gang-related violence, chapter 23 of this guidance clearly states:

“Housing authorities should work with police, offender managers and specialist services to coordinate activity to minimise risk and prevent homelessness” for young people who become involved in gang-related activity, either as victims or perpetrators. The passage of the serious violence duty will bring additional guidance to which local authorities will have a statutory duty to have due regard. The guidance accompanying the duty will complement existing homelessness legislation and guidance for this cohort.

Therefore, for ensuring that the statutory guidance on the serious violence duty will work in tandem with the homelessness code of guidance, I think there is already sufficient guidance in place for housing authorities to protect this cohort and adapt their service delivery models as necessary. I do not want to duplicate by adding another code of practice, which may lead to confusion. So I hope that, in the light of the assurances I have given in relation to the guidance and the relevant existing legislation on the matter, my noble friend will be happy to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:45 pm, 25th October 2021

My Lords, can I ask the Minister to clarify something? I think the noble Baroness said that this additional duty was not necessary, as it was with domestic violence, because the violence does not happen in the home. In the example I gave, where a drug dealer owed money harasses and threatens a family to get their money back, surely you could say that that violence is happening on the doorstep, or perhaps inside the home if the drug dealer breaks the door down. Surely there is a need in those circumstances for that family to be rehoused to reduce serious violence and get them out of the way in a similar way to a victim of domestic violence.

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

I think what I said to the House was that households containing dependent children have a priority need and that a person may be assessed as having priority need if they were considered to be significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person would be if they became homeless as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation by reason of violence from another person or threats of violence that are likely to be carried out. In terms of domestic abuse, it is widely acknowledged that domestic abuse crimes are committed inside the home, out of the view of the public, by household members. The changes made to the Domestic Abuse Act to extend priority need to people who are homeless as a result of being a victim of domestic abuse reflected that.

Photo of Baroness Blake of Leeds Baroness Blake of Leeds Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

The Minister is setting great store by the guidance that is going to come forward. Can I ask her for reassurance that there will be adequate opportunity for those working on the ground to put across the point of view of the reality of dealing with families in some of the most distressing circumstances we could possibly imagine?

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

Certainly, I completely concur with the noble Baroness and there will be ample opportunity to look at the draft guidance as well.

Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Conservative

My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have taken part in this debate, beginning with my co-pilot, the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, who made the point that this is all about prevention and early intervention, and housing is absolutely crucial if we are to achieve that. She mentioned the broad support for this group of amendments from organisations such as Shelter and Crisis and made the point that this is simply building on existing provisions and extending what is already the case for domestic violence to gang-related violence—I will come back to that point in a moment. The thrust of the amendment to which she spoke was to embed best practice in statutory guidance; she mentioned the tragic case of the child Chris.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, who referred to the work of Mr Houlder on knife crime—the scourge of many housing estates—and also referred to the Edlington case, which he mentioned in an earlier debate. That underlined the point that there can sometimes be fatal consequences if there is inadequate consultation between the housing authorities and police authorities—a point that was underlined later in the debate by the noble Lord, Lord Bach. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, for her support; she made the point that there is a potential resource implication behind these amendments if they are to be fully effective. Again, the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Bach, as a police and crime commissioner was of real value to the debate; he emphasised the importance of strengthening the link between housing and the police.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, who expressed concern that the Bill was too focused on a police-led initiative. The impact of these amendments will be to broaden the base by including housing; other amendments later on will also help broaden the base. He was anxious that this should not be entirely police-led.

I am grateful to the Minister for a thoughtful, sympathetic and comprehensive response to the debate, informed by her experience as a council leader in the north-west but also by her time as a Minister in what was then the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities—he said with some hesitation. She made the point that she expected housing authorities to participate—they were well placed to do so—and referred on many occasions to statutory guidance. The concern that I have, and some other noble Lords may have, is that there is a gap between statutory guidance and what actually happens on the ground; hence the case for legislation to make it clear that this is not just guidance, there is an obligation so to do.

I recall listening to exactly the same arguments we have heard this evening in resisting what became the Domestic Abuse Act, which gave a statutory right to be rehoused to those suffering from domestic violence. Previously, the argument was, “There are adequate powers for local authorities to do this under the housing legislation.” However, we have now taken the step forward and put it in the Domestic Abuse Act, and this will build on that precedent and extend it to gang violence. I am concerned by the gap between theory and practice, and this would embed best practice in legislation.

Having said that, as I said, my noble friend gave a thorough response which I want to reflect on, together with the contributions of other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 26 withdrawn.

House resumed.