Amendment 102

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Report (4th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 10:45 pm on 10th January 2022.

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Baroness Chakrabarti:

Moved by Baroness Chakrabarti

102: After Clause 172, insert the following new Clause—“Duty to establish statutory inquiry into lessons to be learned from the death of Sarah Everard(1) The inquiry into matters arising from the death of Sarah Everard, announced by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 22 November 2021, is to be held as an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. (2) The Secretary of State must ensure that the terms of reference of the inquiry include the wider lessons to be learned for the professional culture, funding, vetting and organisation of policing, the prevention of violence against women and the investigation and prosecution of misogynistic crimes.(3) If on the commencement of any provision of this Act, the inquiry does not have a panel of members which includes at least one member with experience in the area of violence against women, the Secretary of State must ensure that such a member is appointed.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment converts the existing Home Office inquiry into the matters arising from the death of Sarah Everard into a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. It also ensures that the Inquiry panel includes at least one member with experience in the area of violence against women and girls.

Photo of Baroness Chakrabarti Baroness Chakrabarti Labour

My Lords, here we are, quite late into the evening, to discuss the group of amendments refined from amendments tabled in Committee in response to the horrific rape and murder of Sarah Everard and, I am afraid to say, a wholly inadequate response from some of the most senior police leaders in our country.

I do not want to dwell too much on this, but I do not think that it reflects incredibly well on the way we do business in your Lordships’ House that this group has miraculously come to be debated at this particularly late hour, not least given the fact that I have been around all day and have heard some very lengthy, florid, colourful, relaxed speeches on all sorts of subjects all afternoon and evening from all sorts of delightful Members of your Lordships’ House who have been infrequent engagers with this Bill and most of whom, for all sorts of reasons, are no longer here. I do not think that this self-regulating House has done justice to women and girls in this country, nor, indeed, have those who effectively control the agenda and have allowed this group to be opened at approaching 10.50 pm.

I feel the need to put that on the record for Hansard so that the various women’s groups and victims’ groups who have been waiting for this group to come up will be able to understand exactly what has gone on. I was particularly concerned about some of the debates that went on just before the dinner break with no concern for time—and sometimes not much concern for kindness or the dignity of our fellow human beings, but enough of that—no intention of a vote and no real intention of changing the law. I have also noticed the way in which some of us are censored for our length at strategic moments and others are not in this so-called self-regulating House.

This group deals not just with the Sarah Everard outrage but with the public concern about it and the way that women and girls have been treated in our criminal justice system more generally, and what that means for a crisis of confidence, potentially, in our police service, which is so essential to the rule of law.

I am grateful to noble Lords from parties and groups from all across your Lordships’ House for their consistent support for the calls for a full statutory inquiry, particularly into the broader matters arising from the Sarah Everard scandal. It makes the earlier remarks necessary. Of course, for all sorts of completely legitimate reasons—not least that people come from all over the country, have different health conditions and are of different ages—it is not possible for everyone who wanted to be here to be here right now.

Amendments 108 and 109 are in my name. Amendment 108 is supported by the noble Lords, Lord Carlile of Berriew and Lord Paddick, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, while Amendment 109 is supported once more by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier. These two amendments deal with the specific issue of it being lawful at present for arrested people—that is, people who are suspects but have not been charged and are therefore not defendants, or at least believe themselves to be suspects when they are stopped by a police officer, as poor Sarah Everard was—to be taken away in a vehicle by a lone police officer. Noble Lords, particularly those who have engaged with this issue and were here in Committee and at earlier stages of the Bill, will appreciate that that possibility has understandably caused a great deal of concern, in particular since last autumn when Wayne Couzens’s sentencing hearing revealed some of the truly horrific details of that case.

Amendment 108 would prevent a single officer ever lawfully taking suspects away in a vehicle. Amendment 109 takes a slightly gentler approach—helpfully suggested to me by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, I might add; I am grateful to him—to the same problem. It does not create an absolute legal bar to a lone officer taking a suspect away in a vehicle, with all the dangers that that one on one creates for both the officer and the suspect; instead, Amendment’s 109 approach is to amend PACE—the Police and Criminal Evidence Act—so that the Secretary of State would be required to issue a full-blown PACE code of conduct to deal with the transportation of suspects.

Given who is left at this time of night, I know that the noble Lords here are engaged with these issues and understand the importance of PACE codes in particular. They are required in relation to things like detention and the questioning of suspects in a police station. Since 1984, they have been a really important protection for citizens in the police system. Amendment 109 is a new amendment—I did not table it in Committee—and I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. I really want to hear any conceivable argument against this mild amendment, which would add “transportation” to the list of activities in relation to suspects for which the Secretary of State should issue full-blown statutory PACE codes of conduct.

When one considers Amendment 108—my previous amendment, unenlightened by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile—with its absolute bar on single officers taking suspects away, or the amendment to PACE, it is worth noble Lords remembering some of the quite bizarre and hubristic public comments that were made. They included, I am afraid to say, comments made by a police and crime commissioner who is no more, as well as by certain retired and serving police leaders, about women being naive in going along with a police officer who stops them late at night. They said that there is something wrong with them—that it is the woman’s fault. Some ridiculous public comments were made.

Equally, however, there were other comments suggesting that this practice should be changed and things should be done. If things can be done by way of police administration, why can they not be somehow reflected in this Bill? This would give greater confidence to the young women and girls in particular—wholly law-abiding people—who have been feeling such anxiety and such a crisis of confidence not just since Sarah Everard’s murder during a lockdown, at a very difficult time for our country, but since the Wayne Couzens sentencing hearing. I hope that I can persuade the Minister to reflect on that particular issue and on how to grapple with what I am proposing in Amendments 108 and 109.

Then, of course, we return to Amendment 102, which calls for a statutory inquiry. It is not only my repeated call: it has been a call from so many people. I am so grateful to my noble friends in the leadership of the Opposition, to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and his noble friends and to the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove. She and my noble friend Lady Lawrence are, in my view, two of the greatest champions of victims’ rights, cutting across all vested interests, all party interests and all bureaucracy. The noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, has been with me in relation to this amendment from the very start; it is nearly 11 pm, and she is still sitting there and is with me now. I thank her so much.

This is a call for a full-blown statutory inquiry, not an administrative inquiry, under the Inquiries Act 2005. It follows resistance and hubris, I am sorry to say, from senior police leaders who, as we obviously know by this time, do not want an inquiry of this kind. To put it in context once more—I know that I am taking time, but I feel the need at least to do this argument justice—I mention the relatively recent inquiry and damning report of the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan. Not much longer than six months ago, she spoke about the obstruction that she faced from the Metropolitan Police—including from the commissioner, I am sorry to say—in reporting on the Daniel Morgan scandal. I need not paraphrase, because noble Lords have heard from the noble Baroness in the past and her report, including the shortened press summary, is there for all to read, along with her speeches in Hansard. She faced obstruction, and said specifically in her findings that she knew that she had been hampered by not having the statutory powers that would have been available under the 2005 Act. I give that as a piece of evidence in my call for a statutory inquiry into the matters arising from Sarah Everard’s murder.

I also give the tin-eared and insensitive—to say the least—policing of the Clapham Common vigil. We know in your Lordships’ House that this was contrary to the original working and decisions of the borough command and the police service on the ground, who were working with women’s and victims’ groups to facilitate a peaceful vigil. Senior leadership and senior officers in the Met decided that was not to be. We can now trace back the timeline, because it is all in the public domain if one takes the time to look at the newspaper reporting. We can tell that those decisions about the disproportionate, tin-eared and counterproductive policing of the Clapham Common vigil would have been made at a time when the senior police leadership knew things that we only now know about Wayne Couzens, what he had done—because he had interviewed at this point—his policing career, and various things that obviously went wrong. I know that that is embarrassing, but that is why we must have a statutory inquiry. All institutions made up of humans feel the need to close ranks when things terribly wrong. That is precisely the moment when outside forces, including your Lordships’ House, need to prevent that closing of ranks.

Weeks and months have gone by since then and there have been further scandals involving abuses of police power, in particular in relation to women, living and dead. We do not need to go into all the horrific details, but this is not helping to rebuild the trust and confidence of women in the police service, which I know that every single Member of your Lordships’ House would want. That is particularly in the light of the terrible attrition rates in relation to violent and sexual offences going back years, which are stopping young women in particular and women in general coming forward. Stories appearing in the newspapers, day after week after month, about the attrition rate between the number of reported rapes or sex offences and how many come to trial are not helping.

I am grateful to the Minister for our discussions about these issues. I know that she personally takes them incredibly seriously, so I hope that she will understand that nothing that I have said is intended in the slightest to be a criticism of her. I am delighted that just today, late this morning, her department published the terms of reference for phase 1 of the non-statutory inquiry that the Government have announced. I have said before in your Lordships’ House that I am equally delighted that Dame Elish Angiolini has been appointed to chair that inquiry. She is a lawyer and a person of great reputation, but you could not come with greater credentials than the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan. I repeat my point: it is no criticism of Ministers or of lawyers or chairs of inquiries to say that I have residual concern that all the evidence, going back years and perhaps decades—I shall not even cite the Hillsborough programme that people have been watching on Channel 4 —suggests that without powers to compel co-operation from witnesses, from police officers serving and long retired, and retired at convenient moments in the disciplinary process, we will not get the kind of inquiry that is required.

To develop that point further, the inquiry that has been announced to date is phase 1, which even on the basis of the very welcome terms announced today, is really quite specific to Sarah Everard’s demise, Wayne Couzens and how that came to be. It is understandably fairly narrowly drawn. I still have questions, and so do people all over the country, about the wider issues of culture, professionalism and practices in our police service in relation to crimes against women and girls, as well as in relation to women police officers, their treatment and what they have to face. We have not had our Lawrence moment.

All sorts of stories have appeared about how that is how people see the world and about the obstruction that was faced when my noble friend Lady Lawrence sought her inquiry all those years ago, not just for her family or herself, but for the treatment of black people by the police service. If she had gone quietly, that inquiry would never have happened. I believe that our country and our police service would have been poorer for that, and it is high time for a broader statutory inquiry into not just matters arising from the Sarah Everard case but from the culture in the police service in relation to the treatment of women and girls and crimes relating to women and girls in particular, because none of the data is positive. Only last year, the Home Secretary and the former Justice Secretary had to apologise to women because of the attrition rates to which I referred.

What are the arguments against me? In recent months I have read carefully various statements from the Home Department. One argument repeatedly made is about speed. There is the suggestion that a statutory inquiry is inevitably more cumbersome and longer than an administrative inquiry. That is not always the case. I contrast the inquiry chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, into Daniel Morgan—I think the original plan was that it would be dealt within a year or two, but it took eight years—with the Lawrence inquiry, with all its ground-breaking success, which took two years.

Another potential argument is that a statutory inquiry is inevitably some kind of huge media circus that is very painful for those closest to it. I am of the view that that need not be the case. It is all down to the person trusted to chair it. In any event, the Government have already taken the decision to have a phase 1 and a phase 2 inquiry. Therefore, it is perfectly possible to shield, for example, Sarah Everard’s family from a wider inquiry into the culture in the police service. That begs the question of why there is no statutory inquiry, at least for phase 2. Now that the Minister has done so much and got us to phase 1, with the terms of reference which were announced today, I would like her at least to consider what it would take to broaden it. My Amendment 102 is not just about giving statutory power to the chair, but broadening the terms of reference and insisting on a panel including at least one person with expertise and experience at the grass-roots level in dealing with violence against women, which is what women’s and victim’s groups need. It would comfort them in participating, as they should be invited to do, in this process.

I cannot think of any credible argument against phase 2, at least, being a full-blown statutory inquiry. I cannot help but feel that the Government are dealing with intransigence from the most senior echelons in the police, and they are wrong. In my view, the police service in our country was improved by the Lawrence inquiry and it would be improved further, all these years later, by a proper Everard inquiry into the wider issues for women and girls in the criminal justice system and the police’s part in that. If the police cannot see that, if institutions are going to close ranks, it is an issue for other institutions, including your Lordships’ House. What is the point of an unelected, independent Chamber if not this? I am sorry that I have taken a few minutes so late at night, but I hope noble Lords will agree that this is vital to public confidence in the police service, which is vital to the rule of law.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench 11:00 pm, 10th January 2022

My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, in support of her amendments. I want to start by paying tribute to the Minister of State, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, who has been extremely accessible and helpful. In an attempt to resolve these issues there have been several discussions, some of them initiated by her, and I am sure that those of us involved would like to place our gratitude on the record. I thank her very warmly.

I reassure your Lordships that I do not wish to repeat what I said in Committee. Indeed, the amendment I put down in Committee has not been tabled on this occasion because of things that have occurred since then. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, I regret very much that we are dealing with this important debate at such a late hour. Speaking at 11.10 pm takes me back to my days in the House of Commons in the 1980s when, routinely, we had debates at this time of night on matters of importance and principle—something that is now avoided because it is known to be poor practice. Furthermore, I must say to the usual channels, particularly the Government Whips, that there must be oblique reasons behind holding this debate at this time of night. If we look at the result of the last Division, which took place a few moments ago, it is clear circumstantial evidence that if you want to get out of the way something you think you would lose a vote on if it took place mid-afternoon, hold that vote—if it is to take place—somewhere around midnight and you will be quite safe. Those tactics do absolutely no credit to the reputation of this House and I regret very much that my representations were rejected a little time ago by the Government Chief Whip.

This is not just about Sarah Everard or Wayne Couzens. Without commenting on any pending case, there are proceedings pending in which it is alleged—it may not be proved, of course, and I do not wish to comment on any individual case—that other police officers have acted in every bit as outrageous a way as Wayne Couzens. I am in the lucky position of being in a family with five daughters. It may well be that our daughters, who would generally, I hope, defer to instructions given to them by police officers, will now feel unsafe on the streets of London, where they live, unless further protection is given.

This is about a broad principle. We know, because it has been proved in other cases—the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, for whom I have the greatest admiration, has demonstrated this in a major inquiry that she undertook—that the police will sometimes strain every sinew to avoid being held fully accountable. Unfortunately, the reaction to the Sarah Everard vigil was outrageous, as the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, said, and it never received the sort of apology it should have from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, whose position in this leaves one very concerned. Where, in the end, does ultimate accountability for the police lie when people from the diplomatic and parliamentary division are the culprits in the most serious cases, as Wayne Couzens was?

That is a particular reason why I think it pretty outrageous to be asked to debate these important issues at this time of night. That is not a repetition of a Second Reading point; it is a discourse upon the way in which procedure in this House is, in my view, being abused on this Monday evening.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, for her kind remarks, which were not wholly merited, about Amendment 109. I urge the Minister to reflect on Amendment 108 or Amendment 109. If young people, especially young women, are to have confidence in the safety of talking to police officers when they are walking home at night, as they are perfectly entitled to, across Clapham Common, Victoria Park or wherever it happens to be, they need more protection. At the very least, the use of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act codes of practice would cause no operational difficulties for the police. It would give some level of reassurance, and it would enable us at least to test whether the right action had been taken. I simply urge the Minister to reconsider the resistance to Amendment 108 or Amendment 109.

I turn to Amendment 102. One of the things that has happened since Committee is that we have seen the terms of reference of the Angiolini inquiry. We saw them this morning, and we are grateful for the opportunity to see them before this debate took place. I have a suspicion that that was done to help us, under the urgings of the Minister of State who will reply to this debate. If so, I am personally very grateful for that. They were accompanied by a statement from Dame Elish Angiolini about her approach to her inquiry.

I am delighted that Dame Elish has been appointed to this inquiry. She is very good and she has the right experience: she has, in effect, been the chief prosecutor of Scotland—she has been the Lord Advocate; she has run, sometimes in difficult circumstances, a college in which inquiries had to be undertaken that made life uncomfortable for her and for the college; and she is a very good analyst. She knows how the criminal process works and she is concise, as she has proved in reports that she has written in the past. I absolutely support her appointment. I am sure that Dame Elish will want to complete her inquiry in good time and with great thoroughness.

I agree with the Minister, and, I believe, with Dame Elish—I understand that this is her view—that the first part of the inquiry can be completed satisfactorily without it being made statutory. There is no difference between me and the Government on that. The question is what happens after that. Again, I do not have much difference with the Government about the terms of reference; the terms of reference are what they are. Having done many independent reviews, I know that terms of reference are only the first line of the first movement of the concerto, which is varied an enormous amount while it is developed in the concert—forgive that rather clumsy metaphor, but it is very late at night. I am sure that Dame Elish, like all of us who have done these kinds of inquiries, will extend the terms of reference to whatever extent is necessary, so the terms of reference do not cause me much concern.

But what happens if she is obstructed by the police, the Home Secretary or the Government? When I was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, I saw Home Secretaries—some of them very distinguished, some less so—come and go through the revolving door of the Home Office, with undue regularity on occasions. And who knows? We may have a different Government and a totally different Home Secretary in every way by the time that Dame Elish comes to complete the second part of her inquiry. So whatever the intentions of this Government in 2022, we cannot assume that they will be the intentions of the Government or the Home Secretary in place when the report is produced. What will happen if Dame Elish finds that she is not getting the co-operation that she needs and therefore could do with a statutory inquiry to be able to complete her job? I have drawn this to the attention of the Minister.

Sky News, which is normally very careful about what it writes on political issues, and usually accurate, published something today which contained the following:

“But Dame Elish will be able to convert it to a statutory inquiry if she needs to fulfil the terms of reference set out on Monday.”

If that was the position offered by the Government, I would say amen and sit down, because that would be entirely satisfactory. She would have been assured that, if she were not able to complete her inquiry, she would be able to have it converted to a statutory inquiry. If that was said by the Minister from the Dispatch Box, I would not vote against the Government if a Division were called.

My understanding of the situation at the moment is that the Home Secretary is saying that it would be possible to convert it to a statutory inquiry in certain circumstances. That is one of the most meaningless statements in this context that I have ever heard. Of course it is possible to convert it to a public inquiry; we could have a public inquiry on the knowledge of Ministers about the price of milk, or almost anything for that matter, if the Government chose to do it—it was rather better done, of course, by the “Today” programme, but there we are.

In this serious context, the vagueness of what has been said by the Home Secretary and the Home Office is wholly unacceptable. It gives no reassurance to your Lordships, and it gives no reassurance to those many intelligent young women who are judging the reaction of the Government to what happened to Sarah Everard and other young women who have been attacked by police officers. It is just not good enough. Something has to be done about this, and I regret very much that I have to express these views to a pretty empty Parliament at just after 11.20 pm on a Monday evening.

Photo of Baroness Newlove Baroness Newlove Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 11:15 pm, 10th January 2022

My Lords, I have listened to everybody speak, and I appreciate that it is late at night, but I ask my colleagues around this Chamber to remember that we are talking about a human life that was horrifically and brutally taken. We have a family broken to bits. I have to say that, as somebody who has been through the criminal justice system, and as a mother of three daughters, my emotions are running high, because it was at this time of night that Sarah went missing and the searches began. Yet here in this Chamber we are arguing over having a statutory inquiry for the soul of Sarah Everard. We have colleagues here waiting to see whether we are going to divide, and saying that we are going on too long and are going round in circles. I feel ashamed to listen to these conversations, when we in this Chamber should be thinking of Sarah Everard and her family.

Let me tell you that it is not easy for the family; every day is hard. We are talking about a family that is traumatised. Any information that has come from any Minister or any government department will not be absorbed, because they are trying to get through every minute of every day. I am not saying this to be emotional—“Oh, calm down, my dear”—and I am not a legal eagle, as my fellow colleagues are who have just spoken articulately, but what I can say is that it is absolutely shameful that this Government are putting this inquiry into two parts.

That is not to say I cannot thank the Minister for taking the time to discuss this. The shame of it is that we are going to go through part 1, which deals with all the things that we already know, and that is why it is quite quick, and then, following advice to the Home Secretary, she or he—I have worked with several Justice Ministers as Victims’ Commissioner, and it is quite right that there is a carousel—will make a decision. It is unfortunate to think that an adequate and eloquent lady will give advice to the Home Secretary only for that person to yet again make a decision with no timeline.

It could be one of your daughters who they find. You could have to go through these media perceptions, asking what she was doing out late at night. Yet we protected an ex-police officer by saying that we do not know what has gone on and will have to find out. We are fighting here to discuss the place of a statutory inquiry. Given the public interest and all the window dressing from politicians across the House—because this Bill does go back to the Commons to be debated once again—I think that is shameful.

This House works best when we work together but tonight, at half past 11, I have been on my feet and travelling for 14 hours. I have health issues; I have taken my painkillers to be here to speak up for Sarah Everard. To walk a mile in the shoes of this family, in this horrific case shows that they are now relying on people giving messages, with no legal intervention. Yet we, as the unelected Chamber, can fight for this important inquiry. It is disgraceful that it is in two parts.

At this time of night, we are playing politics. Maybe the Government will win this Division and maybe we will, but it is shameful. Everyone in this Chamber needs to be aware that this could happen to them and they would go through the same system. It does not matter who you are—at the end of the day, we owe it to the public to make demands. We have asked the Government to order a statutory inquiry. Only then will the police be held accountable, only then will we stop police forces and officers marking their own homework and only then, speaking from my former role as Victims’ Commissioner, will they be truly accountable. In any other role, we would be sacked. We would be going through a civil investigation, a duty of care, vicarious liability—whatever it may be.

We are talking about a human life, a young woman who committed to go into a car with a police officer. For absolute assurance, for the public interest, for public safety, for our young and future generations, for our daughters and our sons, we owe it to help the public gain confidence in a system that is supposed to be there to protect us. Most importantly, what we see as the ethos of the police officers who put that uniform on has disintegrated.

We must have a statutory inquiry for the soul of Sarah Everard and, indeed, for the sake of humanity. If we do not, this will be a shameful decision that we will always regret having made.

Photo of Baroness O'Loan Baroness O'Loan Crossbench

My Lords, I am pleased to support this amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, as well as those of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, who has spoken so eloquently and passionately on this subject. The Government claimed that the inquiry that was established would be quicker as a non-statutory inquiry; from my experience, that is not necessarily the case. The reality is that in phase 2 of this inquiry, if not in phase 1, we need an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, which is not limited to the activities of one officer but embraces the very important issues of recruitment, vetting, funding and resourcing of anti-corruption activity, and the fact that the IPCC is so underfunded for the anti-corruption work that it has to do.

My inquiry and others before it have pointed out the serious deficiencies in the management and funding of those elements of police responsibility that are dedicated to identifying criminals within police ranks and dealing effectively with them. I reported in June last year. Given my experience of investigating matters involving the MPS, the IPCC and the Crown Prosecution Service over some six years, I do not believe that a non-statutory inquiry can act as effectively as one armed with the power to compel witnesses and the discovery of documentation. My panel was to report within 12 months of receiving documentation. We received our first documents in January 2015 and our last in March 2021. We reported three months later, saying:

“It is very important that lessons are learned about planning and preparation before the appointment of panels and similar public scrutiny bodies to avoid unnecessary distress to the families of those affected and unnecessary delays and costs to the public purse.”

I am sure that everybody’s thoughts tonight are with the family of Sarah Everard and with all those women who are listening, as the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, has said, and who will be affected by the outcome of this inquiry. Earlier, as we sat waiting for this amendment to be called, a number of Members—noble Baronesses—were discussing what it feels like as a sole woman to walk out of your Lordships’ House at this time of night and later, and try to find our way safely to the places that we stay in.

Security clearance processes and vetting for police officers and police staff are fundamental to any anti-corruption strategy. Regular updating of the security status of each individual is essential to identify any concerns and to enable action to be taken in respect of such concerns. We said that the Metropolitan Police should remain vigilant at all times to ensure not only that it vets its employees in accordance with its new measures but also that it has adequate and effective processes to establish whether its officers are engaged in crime. This is what happened in the case of Sarah Everard. The failure to deal with her murderer may have left him free to kill.

We received evidence from officers who sought to bring wrongdoing to the attention of their managers but the matters they raised were not effectively dealt with. We recommended that HMIC should do a thematic investigation of the operation of the practices and procedures introduced following the adoption of the code of ethics in 2014 to determine whether there are sufficient resources to protect police officers, police staff and whistleblowers who wished to draw wrongdoing to the attention of their organisations.

We identified the fact that the Metropolitan Police placed the reputation of the organisation above the need for accountability and transparency. That lack of candour and the repeated failure to take a fresh, thorough and critical look at past failings are symptoms of institutional corruption, which prioritises institutional reputation over public accountability.

Most people become police officers to serve the public, not to engage in wrongdoing and acts of crime. They do very difficult and, at times, dangerous work, most of them without compromising their integrity. I accept that the management of policing is a very complex process, but there has been a failure over decades to tackle police corruption in all its forms and to resource anti-corruption work properly. We know that Wayne Couzens abused his position as a police officer.

There is evidence that, despite efforts over many years, a culture still exists that inhibits both organisational and individual accountability. The response to corruption and wrongdoing in all its forms must comply with the law and demonstrate candour and adherence to the police code of ethics. The internal and external structures designed to ensure integrity and ethical conduct must be properly resourced in order for policing to be truly accountable, for corrupt officers to be confronted and for honest officers to be affirmed.

That is why the inquiry should be a statutory one, capable of investigating much more than matters relating only to Wayne Couzens. That is why this amendment, which comes so late tonight, is so important for the future of British policing. I thank the noble Baronesses and the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, for this amendment. It has my full support.

Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 11:30 pm, 10th January 2022

My Lords, I started off with a set of notes that said, “The Green group fully backs all these amendments”, and that we would have attached one of our names, had there been space. However, that is not really where we are now, is it? This is now a question of procedure. The noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, was clear but extremely restrained in her tone when addressing how we come to be at this point tonight—it is now 11.34 pm. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, was very blunt and clear, and we have heard passionately from the noble Baronesses, Lady Newlove and Lady O’Loan, about how inappropriate this is.

This is the service that your Lordships’ House is providing to Sarah Everard’s family, to women’s and girls’ groups, to the people who have campaigned and worked so hard on this amendment: to be here at 11.34 pm. A vast amount of work has gone into this and it is, at our current point, a travesty of democracy. Oddly enough, your Lordships’ House often manages to be quite democratic, but what we are doing at this moment is no way to run a country.

I have a whole lot more notes along those lines but will not deliver them, given the hour. I am simply going to move to the point of my speech: to move a Motion now that debate on Amendment 102 be adjourned to a subsequent day. I am told that this is unusual but possible.

Now, I can count; I can look around and see what your Lordships’ House looks like. But I believe there is a crucial matter of principle here that has to be asked. We are supposed to be the self-governing House. Noble Lords on the other side of the House have, I hope, listened closely to the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove. I am giving them an opportunity to provide a full, democratic chance for the entire House to make a judgment on this group of amendments, rather than doing it tonight at this hour.