Moved by Lord Coaker
At end insert “and do propose Amendments 6H and 6J in lieu—
6H: Clause 11, page 13, line 30, at end insert— “(7A) Officers exercising the powers conferred by subsection (6) must give to the subject of a search— (a) their name, (b) their badge or shoulder number, and (c) any details of the stop the officer considers relevant.”
6J: Clause 11, page 13, line 37, at end insert— “(9A) Within one year of the passage of this Act, all police forces must establish a charter on the use of the powers in this section, setting out how, when and why they will be used. (9B) The charter must— (a) be drawn up in consultation with local communities, (b) be evaluated independently, and (c) explain how Body Worn Video footage will be used. (9C) Each police force must produce an annual report on the use of the powers over the year, broken down by location. (9D) Within one month of the powers in this section being used, the authorising officer must publish a statement giving reasons.””
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for his continued engagement over this difficult issue and indeed the further concessions that he has clearly made. I am sure they are very welcome as part of the deliberations between us.
We need to start by considering why we are here and what today’s debate is about. First, it is not about not having suspicionless stop and search. We believed, as did many in this Chamber, that the whole of Clause 11 should have been taken out—that suspicionless stop and search for protests should have been taken out of the Bill. But we lost that; that vote was lost. With this being a revising Chamber, we believed it was necessary to consider whether further mitigation of Clause 11 was therefore needed, given that it was going to stay in the Bill.
But the Government threw out our mitigation completely, although the Minister has now come back with some words about communication. We wanted that point about communication in the Bill and said that the seniority of the officer allowing the suspicionless stop and search should be increased, but that was thrown out. The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, can no doubt speak for himself but I remind the Minister, who prayed him in aid, that the noble Lord voted for my amendment at our last debate—the Minister can check Hansard. He ought to recognise that. After the Government threw out our mitigation, the Casey review and the report from the Children’s Commissioner into stop and search of children came along.
Let me deal with some of the things that I think the Minister will say in response. He will throw up smoke—when in trouble, the Government always do. I suspect there has been a huge debate in the Home Office on suspicionless stop and search at protests, and the Government have conceded that they perhaps ought to communicate a bit better. As he has said when we have debated this before, the Minister will no doubt say that the public support stop and search for knife crime, gun crime and so on. This Bill has nothing to do with that at all. Of course I support suspicionless stop and search if it stops stabbings, murders and serious violence, but Section 60 of the 1994 Act is completely irrelevant to the Bill. Yet the Minister in the other place used the public support for stop and search because it stops serious violence as a reason for including suspicionless stop and search in the Bill. It is completely irrelevant.
As was raised in a previous debate, even the Conservative- led Government in 2012 changed suspicionless stop and search in respect of terrorism because they believed that the power in the 2000 Act went too far. To their credit, the then Prime Minister Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May said that it had gone too far and that they would restrict it, narrowing the criteria even for terrorism. I have not checked who was in the Committee that passed it, but some noble Lords sitting on the Conservative Benches will have voted for it in the other place—quite rightly; it should be a matter of pride that they did so, even for terrorism.
This suspicionless stop and search power does not relate to terrorism or serious violence. It relates to protest —whether someone has a padlock or some glue. If it has been agreed by an inspector, not the chief superintendent, you can search people without suspicion on the basis that they may have those things in their pockets. It is a complete overreach of the law, one of the most serious powers that this Parliament can give the police to use on the streets. I cannot believe that anybody thought it would be used for protests. If the British public, all of sudden, not just around Parliament but in the middle of another city or wherever, find themselves being searched on the basis of suspicionless stop and search, they will just not believe that it is because they are at a protest, and neither will their friends, parents or family.
The Minister will no doubt say that this is all covered by PACE Code A, and indeed he has said that there will be some changes to that code. That is a complacent response to the scale of what we are facing. It ignores the evidence that those two recent reports have put before your Lordships; it flies in the face of those reports.
My Motion A1 has laid out all the recommendations in there, based on the Casey review. If I were the Government I would have said, as a statement of intent and good will toward the Casey review, and as a Government who are using that review, “We are shocked by its findings. We want to support the vast majority of hard-working police officers, and to do that we as a Government are going to make a statement of intent that this is a line in the sand and the way we will go forward to support the police in a better future”.
We cannot ignore statistics—others will no doubt speak more movingly about some of them—and it is worth reminding ourselves of some of the statistics in the Casey review. Sir Mark Rowley is not ignoring them, and police officers will not ignore them, but they are worth stating given the current situation with stop and search. It is relevant to this because they show the disproportionality under existing stop and search regulation and law, and we are seeking to expand that with respect to protests. The recent reports examining every year since 2016 show that those between 11 and 61 who appear to be black have been at least five times more likely to be stopped and searched by the Met than their white counterparts. This is unacceptable, and we propose to extend suspicionless stop and search for protests? I do not believe that. Stop and search for serious violence? Yes, do that, I understand that—but where are we going with this?
The Government have accepted the Casey review; they have quibbles about one or two bits of it, but they have accepted it. A recent report examining the experience of black communities nationally regarding stop and search says that while 77% of black adults support it in relation to suspicion of carrying a weapon, less than half of those who have been stopped and searched felt that the police had communicated well enough with them. The Government are seeking to do something about that, but you can go on—statistic after statistic laid out in the Casey review highlights the disproportionality of stop and search. What my Motion seeks to do is to build on the recommendations in the Casey review which seek to do something about this, and I would have thought the Government would have embraced that. We have also had the Children’s Commissioner’s report, which as we know came out a couple of days ago. It listed the number of strip-searches of children and some of the issues raised by that.
I have laid out the Motion before you. The Minister says that everything is in PACE Code A, and I am sure others will also say that. All that my Motion seeks to do is to say that such is the importance of this, and such is the necessity for us to draw a line in the sand, that it must be put on the face of primary legislation. It should be not in statutory guidance tucked away on page 602, but on the face of the Bill. Do not say that it is in PACE Code A because, if so, why does the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, say that there is a need for all the recommendations that she has put forward? Why are they necessary if they are already all covered? Proposed new subsection (7A)(a), (b), and (c) to Clause 11 is lifted straight from her report, yet the Minister will say, “It is okay, we do not need it because it is in PACE Code A”. I am lifting this out of the Casey review to say, “This is what is needed, and this is what she recommends”—and that is what I am saying to this Chamber that we should vote on.
The other points are about establishing communication and consulting with various communities and looking at the figures on how this is doing. I highlight proposed new subsection 9B(c), which says that the charter must
“explain how Body Worn Video footage will be used.”
I will not go through each one, but one of the reasons I put that in there is because the Casey review said that there are stop and searches taking place where cameras are not turned on. It may be in the PACE review that they should be turned on, but sometimes they are not. We should put this in the Bill, in primary legislation, and take it forward.
No doubt many others wish to contribute. I finish where I started: this is about suspicionless stop and search, which in certain areas to do with serious violence or terrorism may be necessary. It cannot be necessary in a free and democratic society to have suspicionless stop and search for protest-related offences. This is overreach by the Government, and noble Lords should support my Motion as a further way to try to mitigate the impact of a clause that should not really be there in the first place.
My Lords, I stand only to amplify what the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has said. Anybody who reads the Baroness Casey Review: Final Report will find it a great shock. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has tried to put her words very simply. Paragraph 10 in one of her recommendations says:
“The use of stop and search in London by the Met needs a fundamental reset.”
We cannot simply go back and say, “We’ve been doing it this way”. She goes on:
“The Met should establish a charter with Londoners on how and when stop and search is used, with an agreed rationale, and provide an annual account of its use by area, and by team undertaking stop and searches. Compliance with the charter should be measured independently, including the viewing of Body Worn Video footage. As a minimum, Met officers should be required to give their name, their shoulder number, the grounds for the stop and a receipt confirming the details of the stop.”
At the end of our Stephen Lawrence inquiry, we talked about stop and search. We said that stop and search should be retained because it is a useful tool for preventing crime, but we had a similar attitude and gave similar statements to the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. John Grieve was tasked by the then commissioner of the Met to carry out work on how this could be done. There was a pilot. It worked, but of course some newspapers did not like it and saw it as bureaucracy that prevented the police’s work too much, and it was then stopped. This has now come home to roost. Had we sustained what was started by Sir Paul Condon, we would be in a very different place, but we are not. We have a review suggesting that what is in Motion A1 would be a good thing. I do not see how that could go wrong.
Finally, as I said in the last debate on this, if the Bill is about public order, we have extended stop and search beyond belief. People are protesting—let us say young people—about climate change, injustice and unfairness. There is really no need for it; I cannot see why they should be stopped and searched. Most of all, these protests are at the heart of being in a free society. Most of us did not want Clause 11 but, now that it is in there, these provisions would be a safeguard so that the extension of stop and search does not do greater damage and hurt to our young people, who really want to protest.
Remember when they left school for a day to protest about global warming. If you stopped and searched them because you believed there was a reason to do so, most parents would have been offended. I would have been. Stop and search has been extended in the Public Order Bill and not for the rest of crimes, which I would wholeheartedly support. In many ways this amendment would limit the abuse that could occur because we went for believing as opposed to having grounds to suspect.
My Lords, this Bill was always about political signals, not sensible policy. Finally, even signals must change. I respect the Minister, but others in the Home Office have been slow to respond to the concerns of the British public about abuses of broad police powers.
Much has happened and even more has been exposed since this Bill began its passage last May. Last July Wayne Couzens lost an appeal against a whole life sentence for the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard while he was a serving police officer, after a purported stop and arrest for breach of lockdown laws in March 2021. Last month David Carrick was imprisoned for 30 years for an unrestrained 18-year campaign of rape and abuse while he was a serving police officer.
Also last month, YouGov reported that 51% of Londoners do not trust the Metropolitan Police very much or at all. Last week, as we have heard, the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, called for a “fundamental reset” of the use of stop and search, which she said is
“currently deployed by the Met at the cost of legitimacy, trust and, therefore, consent.”
Just yesterday the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, found that nearly 3,000 children aged between eight and 17 had been strip-searched under stop and search powers between 2018 and 2022. Nearly 40% of them were black. Half of those strip searches had no appropriate adult present.
All this relates to the use and abuse of current police powers. Still, today we are being asked yet again to green-light new powers to stop and search peaceful protesters without even a reasonable suspicion of criminality. When trust in policing and the rule of law is in jeopardy, if this House does not exercise its constitutional duty to say “enough”—no more power without at least the modest statutory responsibilities set out in Motion A1 in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker—what are we for?
My Lords, I had not planned to speak, but it is important to remember that we are not dealing simply with peaceful protests. I remind the House of what I said on a previous occasion in respect of these amendments. We are dealing with organised, large-scale disruption, using implements. The purpose of the disruption, as the disrupters make plain, is not simply to protest but to stop citizens going about their lawful business for a disproportionate length of time. As I reminded the House previously, the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg has said more than once that such activity is unlawful and that protests that go beyond merely protesting can legitimately be stopped by government.
We are talking about plainly unlawful protest, not a march as we all remember. I have told the House once that I have marched too in the past, and my daughter has marched, but we are not talking about that. We are talking about locking on, sitting tight and blocking the thoroughfare for hours and hours. There has to be a balance between someone saying that they do not like climate change, which is legitimate and real, and on the other hand stopping everybody else getting to hospital, to their jobs and to school—doing what they all want to do. If you want to complain about climate change or anything else, you can do so, but you cannot legitimately stop the world at large—the citizens of this country—going about their business. We are talking about plainly unlawful disruption, using unlawful means, which is damaging to the health and well-being of the innocent citizens of this country, of which we are all members.
These are extreme situations. I am sorry that we have ever arrived at this point, with people in this country behaving like this. But they do, and therefore we now need these rather extraordinary powers. I never thought I would support powers such as these, but on this occasion I do.
My Lords, what a pity the noble Lord does not care about what the Government are doing to the country, because I say that what they are doing is a lot more illegal than what these protesters are doing. The noble Lord has to understand that disruption is part of protest and that, as we have heard throughout the debate, the police have enough powers to arrest people who do anything that is not peaceful. Disruption on the roads and within our cities does not necessarily stop people going to hospitals or schools; it is the Government who are stopping people going to hospital because they are underfunding the NHS and stripping out our doctors and nurses by not paying them properly. They are responsible for a lot more damage to our society than these protesters are. Thank goodness the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has brought this back so that we can say to the Government that they do not know what they are talking about.
My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of the national police ethics committee, but obviously I am not speaking on behalf of it today. I had hoped not to have to speak at all this afternoon but after the contributions of other noble Lords I feel I must say a few words.
I want to get us back to the focus of this amendment. Although I have much sympathy for what I have heard around the Chamber of late, this is an amendment around how police use suspicionless stop and search powers. I wish we had had the Casey report and the report we have just received on the strip-searching of children earlier in the consideration of the Bill. They would have informed our deliberations very helpfully at that stage. However, we have them now. I feel that we need to put something in the Bill that recognises that we have heard what was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, and in the other report that came out in these last few weeks. We need something to say that we are putting down a marker—a signal, as the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said a few moments ago—that, whatever we have done in other legislation, now we are in a different world.
I am passionate about the confidence that we have as the citizens of this land in our police force, about good and effective policing, and about the country having respect for its police. However, I worry that, if passed unamended, this legislation will further damage that relationship. It will not lead to public order but to further public disorder. Therefore, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, gave us a passionate reminder of the reason why there is so much public hostility to a lot of the types of tactics that have been used by protesters over the last year, which have undoubtedly fuelled support for the headlines associated with this legislation. As it happens, those arguments have been well rehearsed in this Chamber by all sides. It seems that, despite that, the demand for stop and search without suspicion will do absolutely nothing to tackle the problems that are described. I want to state that again: stop and search without suspicion. It seems extraordinary to me that anyone would imagine that that would have any impact whatever on the protesters that the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, described, but it will definitely have a chilling impact on protest in general.
As it happens, the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, is incredibly reasonable. It does not fly in the face of anything the Government are trying to do. It asks for some checks and balances, which, having read the report of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, you would think that the Government would welcome. In all seriousness, anyone reading that would have to think, “Oh my goodness—what happened?” To have a balancing amendment, which is what Motion A1 is, seems very sensible.
Finally, on Sunday, a group of women, some of whom I know, went to Speakers’ Corner as part of the Let Women Speak campaign. They were kettled and mobbed by hostile opponents. Regardless of what you think of that event, I mention it because the police stood by and did nothing. At one point, when things got really hairy, they walked off, leaving those women facing a lot of aggression.
The difficulty is that the police have acted inconsistently, erratically and almost in a politicised fashion when policing different demonstrations. I would like the police to use the powers they have—goodness knows, they have plenty of them—to police this country and protect those under attack. We do not need to give them new powers that they do not need to police this country or to police any aggressive demonstration that disrupts the lives of everyone, as noble Lords have said. We just need the police to do the job that they are paid to do. They do not appear to be doing so, and that is what the Casey report shows.
It is worse than that. We will do damage to the reputation of the police if this House, just for headlines, thinks that the Government will improve things—they will not. I urge your Lordships to support the police by not being disproportionate, and to support the public by asking the police to do their job without bringing in suspicionless stop and search, which is draconian in any country.
My Lords, having been mentioned by both Front Benches, I thought I ought to speak for myself, just to make clear my position.
We are not debating whether there is suspicionless stop and search but the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. To make clear my position, I support smart, effective stop and search, done according to the law, but it can cause problems, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, mentioned, and sometimes it causes a problem disproportionate to the benefit it produces. For as long as I was involved—certainly in London, but wherever I have worked—I have always supported its being used wisely.
In 2017, after the riots London experienced, one of my conclusions was that one of the causes or aggravating factors was the amount of stop and search being carried out. Over the two preceding years, people had either been stopped and searched or, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, mentioned, stopped and accounted around 2.6 million times. Bearing in mind that, at the time, there were only 8.4 million people in London and the vast majority stopped were men, that was an awful lot of times that some people were getting stopped. For that reason, we reduced stop and search by about two-thirds, and Section 60 searches—the suspicionless option—by 90%, and yet we arrested more people and reduced crime. So it is entirely possible to do it better and less. I support stop and search when done properly; that is my broad point.
On the back of what I just described, I introduced 23,000 officers with body-worn video. It can make a difference. It reduces complaints and proves that either the officer was performing badly or there was a lie being told about the officer. Either way, it should improve police behaviour, and on the whole it has. I go on to say that, at the moment, it is being switched on when there is an event to be filmed. I think there is a growing argument for it to be on all the time.
There are consequences to that, not least in cost and intrusion into privacy, particularly, perhaps, when an officer talks to a family or anybody with a child. The first thing they have to say is just that straightforward discussion that they are going to film it. It is not the best introduction anybody could have, but I think that the wider use of body-worn video is probably wise.
On a point that the Minister raised, I am glad to see the acknowledgement that there might be more communication of this suspicionless stop and search at protests. I do not support suspicionless stop and search in the Bill, and I voted against it, but that was not the amendment that was brought back, so I could not do anything about that. My point in that debate was that the communication should happen at the border of an area that people are about to enter where suspicionless stop and search is about to be exercised. Currently, whether it is a Section 60 or a protest, if you walk into that area, you just do not know. I do not think it is good enough to say, “Well, if you’d consulted the website, you’d have found out. Somebody has published a notice”. It is entirely possible, either digitally or by putting up posters—there are any number of ways. If you say to someone, “If you go into this area, there’s a protest or we have got Section 60 as there’s a lot of violence, and you run the risk of a without-cause stop and search”, I think you assist the officer in carrying out their job. So my point is about communication at the boundary at which you cross and where the suspicionless stop and search might be exercised.
That said, I do not entirely agree with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. There is one part of it which I do, but I am really not sure that this is the right way. I take the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, that this might be a way to send a signal, but I am not sure that this is the way for me.
In terms of officers exercising the powers conferred by subsection (6), the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, has made the point that she would prefer these particular amendments. Actually, within the Bill and the code, I think there is a stronger set of rules for the officer. They have to say what they expect to find, give a reason, explain why they are legally allowed to use the searches—Section 1 or Section 60—and that you can have a record of that search at that time or subsequently, within a year. Now, it seems to me that these are strong powers, and if you want to amend the things the Government have said they want to, the way is to amend the code. If you put these conditions in the Bill, you will end up with Section 1 and Section 60 searches going by the code and the protest ones being covered by the Bill. I think that there is at least a risk of confusion, and there needs to be consistency. The code might be amended in the way described but I am not sure that these powers alone form an awful lot of additional powers or, frankly, reassurance compared with what is already in the code.
The amendment says:
“Within one year of the passage of this Act, all police forces must establish a charter on the use of the powers in this section” and that must
“be drawn up in consultation with local communities”.
My concern is that that runs the risk that it will be inconsistent across the 43 police forces that cover this country. Then you are going to end up with confusion: if you protest in Birmingham or London, you end up with a different set of charters. I do not think that is a very wise thing; if there is to be a charter, it is perhaps wise to have a national charter. But to have different circumstances in different parts of the country about protest, I just do not understand how that is going to work for the protesters or the police officers.
The amendment also says:
“Each police force must produce an annual report on the use of the powers”.
I think that could be put into the police’s annual report, which is produced each year anyway, but it could be more bureaucracy if we have another report to publish every year. What I do think is a good idea is:
“Within one month of the powers in this section being used, the authorising officer must publish a statement giving reasons”.
That seems entirely reasonable and something that I do not think anybody could object to. In fact, I think it should be published at the time that the power is declared. If you are going to tell the public that this power is going to be used, you can explain why you are going to use it. I think that is a perfectly reasonable thing, but I do not necessarily think that this amendment enhances what is already in place. I accept that it could send a signal, but I am not sure that it is a wise signal to send at the moment.
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this fascinating discussion, but I will make one point and one point only. We are talking about the possible dangers of stop and search.
We have every opportunity of examining what is happening right now, not in this country—although we would if we proceeded with this Bill—but in France. In France, the use of extreme stop and search by an undisciplined police force, somewhat similar to our own, has accelerated and accentuated the problems that they have had, with the result that what were in themselves perhaps not objectionable practices turned into something very much worse—gender conflict, class conflict and, of course, very sadly, racial and religious conflict. So we do have on this continent examples of the dangers that could occur. We are choosing, in effect, the most extreme option of how to deal with civil disturbances and, indeed, with the exercise of human rights. I urge the House to act wisely and temperately and show the restraint and scrutiny for which it is justly honoured.
My Lords, I did not plan to speak and do not have notes to speak from, and I will speak briefly, but I want to express my strongest possible support for the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, who I respect a lot, has nitpicked through the amendment. The principle of the amendment is that stop and search without suspicion is a completely exceptional step to be taken in a democracy. If we were standing here in Moscow, or Beijing, we might well expect this sort of power to be given to the police in relation to public demonstrations. It is not for this country to be introducing these powers for the police, and I am so shocked, frankly, that our Government are attempting to do that.
The amendment is incredibly modest. It is saying that police officers do not take these powers and use them thoughtlessly without proper care, attention and, ideally, consultation with the community. This is an incredibly serious step for any police officer to take. That is the point of this amendment. Yes, we can say it should say this or that or something else. That is not the point. The point is that this power is outrageous; the police already have the powers they need to deal with demonstrations—they really do. Those police officers need the commitment of the community and to work with the community. This power will interfere with policing and reduce the safety of our communities up and down the country.
I hope that the House will support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, as a clear statement that we know this power to be the dangerous step that it is and that police officers need to take the most extreme care in using it.
My Lords, I will not repeat what I said last time, but since last time, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, said, we have had the Casey review. The noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, is quite clear about what she thinks about stop and search. In that review, she says, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, has already said:
“The use of stop and search in London by the Met needs a fundamental reset. The Met should establish a charter with Londoners on how and when stop and search is used, with an agreed rationale, and provide an annual account of its use by area, and by team undertaking stop and searches”.
It is unfortunate that the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, disagrees with the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, in coming to that conclusion. Elsewhere in the report she says:
“Stop and search—”
I think I am entitled to my opinion and to make the point which I made. I explained that I could live with a national charter, but I dispute the need for a local one, which ends up with the possibility, even if it is nitpicking, of inconsistency across the country, where we expect consistency. That was merely my point.
The noble Lord is of course entitled to his opinion, and so am I. I said it was unfortunate that the noble Lord disagreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. That is my opinion.
Elsewhere in the report, the noble Baroness says:
“Stop and search and vehicle stops are justified
—she meant by the police—
“through their compliance with the law, ignoring how such incidents are perceived, the impact on individuals, and the wider corrosive impact of trust in the police.”
The Minister mentioned body-worn video and so does the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. She says that the police want to use body-worn video to justify continuing to do what they have done in the past rather than what she says is needed, which is a fundamental reset. Body-worn video is not the answer. That should not be used by the police to justify continued disproportionality in their use of the power.
The noble Baroness further states:
“Black Londoners are under-protected—disproportionately the victims of homicides and domestic abuse; and over-policed—facing disproportionate use of stop and search and use of force by the Met. A huge and radical step is required to regain police legitimacy and trust among London’s Black communities.”
“Overpoliced and underprotected” is what a black policeman said to the Macpherson inquiry 25 years ago. It was not the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, but another black churchman giving evidence to that inquiry; here we are with another inquiry saying exactly the same thing 25 years later.
The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, cites a Home Affairs Select Committee report from 2021, which reported that, in the previous year, the equivalent of one in four black males aged 15 to 24 in London were stopped and searched in a three-month period. The noble Baroness says:
“The facts relating to stop and search are … around 70 to 80% lead to no further action … the more stop and searches are done, the greater the proportion of no further actions.”
The noble Baroness cites a 2019 research study that questioned the efficacy of stop and search as a tactic of policing. She quotes from that report, as do I. It says:
“Overall, our analysis of ten years’ worth of London-wide data suggests that, although stop and search had a weak association with some forms of crime, this effect was at the outer margins of statistical and social significance.”
The Minister repeatedly says that the power that we are debating today—the power to stop and search without suspicion—is based on the existing power under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The 2019 research goes on to say:
“When we looked separately at S. 60 searches, it did not appear that a sudden surge in use had any effect on the underlying trend in … violent crime.”
The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, concludes:
“Stop and search is currently deployed by the Met at the cost of legitimacy, trust and, therefore consent. … It has damaged trust. If the Met is unable to explain and justify its disproportionate use and the impacts of these, then it needs a fundamental reset.”
The majority of stop and search nationally—between 50% and 60%—is carried out in London. The majority—over 60%—of protests happen in London. The majority of times these powers are used will be in London. Stop and search in London needs a fundamental reset, and yet this Government have ignored this House and are giving the police even more opportunity to undermine their legitimacy, trust and, therefore, consent, by giving the police more powers to stop and search.
Without consent, the whole system of policing in this country is undermined, and that is what this Government risk with this legislation. We support the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and will vote for it, but we believe these new stop and search powers should not be part of the Bill. That is what we have always said and what we maintain.
The noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, cited various examples of what I think he called “disproportionate protests”. All the examples he gave are of criminal offences for which people can be arrested. The police do not need stop and search powers in addition to those powers of arrest.
The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, cited the 2017 riots and his view, his opinion, was that they were aggravated by the police use of stop and search. Lord Scarman said exactly the same thing about the 1981 Brixton riots. Will we never learn? I urge this House to vote for Motion A1.
My Lords, I had not intended to speak in this debate today, but I find myself totally in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and with the last remark about Lord Scarman. I worked very closely with him in 1981 and after that and agreed wholeheartedly with his findings then. They are still good today.
The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, spoke very eloquently and I found myself nodding all the way through her speech. I agree entirely with what she said and will not weary this House by repeating those very wise words, save to say that I think that this is the wrong time for this projected policy. What we need now is temperate and measured policing and this is not going to help that. I support the noble Lord, Lord Coaker.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for another fruitful debate. As I said at the beginning, this Bill has undoubtedly been given the scrutiny the British public want and expect.
Before I go on to more substantive remarks, I should say that I fully support the Casey report. The Government and the Met Police have taken this report very seriously. Guidance on the use of stop and search is statutory and is set out in PACE. It is the law. That is the place for it, as the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, pointed out, if nothing else to ensure consistency. There are safeguards and considerable scrutiny of stop and search and I will come back to that.
The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and others will no doubt accuse me of semantics but as my noble friend Lord Sandhurst reminded us, these powers relate to serious disruption—ambulances should not be stopped from getting to hospital, as the leader of the Opposition has pointed out in the past.
On the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, about the effectiveness of stop and search, I was reminded of a pack that I still have in my folder. I was giving some statistics yesterday, and every knife seized through stop and search, I think, is a potential life saved. In 2021-22, stop and search removed around 14,900 weapons and firearms from our streets and resulted in almost 67,000 arrests. I appreciate that we are on a slightly different subject, but none the less this is an important and powerful illustration that, used appropriately, stop and search can work.
Recent protests have been clear in their aim of causing as much disruption as possible through the use of guerrilla tactics. These measures give the police the proactive powers necessary to respond to those dangerous and disruptive tactics quickly. We will work closely with our partners in the police to ensure that they have the support and resources in place to use these powers.
I have heard what the House has said about the potential disproportionality involved in this and we acknowledge that nobody should be stopped and searched because of their race. Extensive safeguards such as the statutory codes of practice to which I have referred and the use of body-worn video exist to ensure that this does not happen. The Home Office publishes extensive data on police use of stop and search in the interest of transparency and we will expand the publication to the use of the new powers provided for in this Bill, as I have already outlined.
I referred to GOWISELY earlier, which is a mnemonic. This follows, and frankly supports, many of the recommendations from the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. I will go through them. The G stands for grounds for the search. These are the minimum bits of information which should be given to the person detained for the purpose of the search. O stands for the object of the search. W is for the warrant card to be shown to the person searched. I is for the identity of the officer—that is usually the officer’s name unless the officer thinks that giving their name would put them in danger, in which case an identification number can be given. S is the station to which the officer is attached. E is the entitlement to a copy of the search form. L is the legal search power being exercised. Y means that you, the officer, must tell the person stopped that they are being detained for the purpose of the search.
The noble Lord, Lord Morgan, referred to the situation in Paris. As I understand it, much of that is a consequence of the activities of the gendarmerie, which is not a police force with any equivalent in this country.
Much has been said—by me—about the long-established safeguards that already exist for stop and search powers. I will go back to my initial speech: we have supported the National Police Chiefs’ Council in its publication of national guidance on the use of body-worn cameras. This includes encouraging forces to share footage with external scrutiny groups to support transparency and reflective practice and learning. I am not sure how that justifies disproportionality, in answer to the point from the noble Lord, Lord Paddick.
To go back to the PACE codes that we intend to amend, as I said earlier and will say again for the avoidance of doubt, this is statutory—it is law. We recognise the merits that establishing this communication requirement in statute can bring and commit now to amending PACE code 8 to require that, where it is operationally practical to do so, forces must communicate the extent of the area authorised for the suspicionless stop and search, the duration of an order and the reasons for the order.
As I have also said, the Home Office already publishes an annual statistics bulletin that analyses the data from forces across England and Wales. We will also amend PACE code 8 to place data collection within the legislative framework. This will include a breakdown of both suspicion-led and suspicionless searches, cross-referenced with protected characteristics such as age, sex and ethnicity.
I said earlier that I hoped that would persuade the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, to withdraw his Motion. I do believe that most of the things that he has eloquently explained that he wishes to see put in are already in place, albeit by slightly different means, but it remains the Government’s view that their suspicionless powers as introduced are necessary and much-needed proactive powers for talking highly disruptive protest offences and that the changes we have debated cannot be supported. So the Government’s position remains unchanged. We believe it is time for the Bill to become law, and I beg to move.
Would the Minister answer a question? In a situation where there is a protest preventing traffic, which is very grave and serious, and there are two people young people involved in it, if the police decided to use their power to strip and search, what would they expect to find on those two young people?
My Lords, we are debating stop and search. I am not quite sure where strip and search came into this, I am sorry.
With respect to the Minister, that was not an entirely adequate answer. He was probably quite clear on what the noble Lord, Lord Baker, was asking him.
That said, the Minister has relied very heavily in what he has said to the House this afternoon on existing protocols that the police are expected to use. We have just been told through the Casey report, using very recent evidence, that those protocols are substantially ignored by the police. Does he have an answer for that?
I apologise if I misunderstood my noble friend. I was basing my answer on the fact that a report was published yesterday by the Children’s Commissioner that specifically related to young people and strip search. If I misunderstood, I apologise. With regard to stop and search, I would argue that all the criteria for establishing the cordon and the area and so on would mean that the circumstances described by my noble friend would be highly unlikely.
With regard to the Casey report, as I have already said, both the Government and the Met police are taking it very seriously. These are rules that we expect to be followed.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response and also thank all noble Lords who have participated in this further discussion between us on this incredibly important matter. For the avoidance of doubt, I will be testing the opinion of the House on my amending Motion A1.
At the very beginning, I said to the Minister that one of the things he would do in his remarks was send up smoke. What did he do in his reply? He sent up smoke. What on earth has praying in aid that 14,900 weapons were seized under existing legislation got to do with the legislation we are currently debating? I am delighted that 14,900 weapons have been seized under stop and search powers—as every single Member in this Chamber will be—but they are nothing to do with suspicionless stop and search under Clause 11; I guess they are probably to do either with stop and search with reasonable suspicion, or with Section 60 suspicionless powers, where needed. I said that I support those powers, and I suspect that nearly everybody, if not everybody, here supports them. What I object to, and what is wrong, is using that to somehow speak against my amendments, because it is irrelevant: we are talking not about weapons or terrorism but about protests and using suspicionless stop and search with respect to protests.
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, that we lost the debate about taking Clause 11 out: it is in the Bill. So the things that he wants to do—confiscate without suspicion various objects that are used for protest—are not what this debate is about: people continue to be able to do that. We lost that debate: we agreed it here, but it was put back in in the other place, and, given that we respect the will of the elected House, I revised what we were doing to seek to mitigate. That is what my amendment seeks to do: to mitigate this further. It does not stop it in any way.
However, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, that the bigger problem is that the police do not have the confidence to use the existing powers to do the things he wants. Nobody in this House supports the protests we have seen on our streets in the last couple of years. But the Government put up this sort of mirage of “This is what people who oppose what we are suggesting are for”. So people who are for the sort of amendment I am talking about are somehow on the side of protesters who are stopping ambulances, or on the side of people who want to take protests too far. That is a nonsense. What I am against is allowing the unmitigated use of Clause 11 without the safeguards needed.
Every single report from the inspectorate, the police complaints authority or whoever says that, if you are going to use this sort of power, which is the most severe power you can give the police, to stop people without suspicion going about their lawful business—that is the power you are going to give to these people—you have to build in safeguards. My contention is that, even with the concessions that the Minister made, the Government’s safeguards are not sufficient and need to be in the Bill. Why do I say that? I use the evidence in the Casey review. I do not just make it up and say, “Oh, that’d be a good idea”; I use the evidence from somebody who has researched and understood this, talked to people, been out to communities, and said, “This is what needs to be included. If you don’t, you risk carrying on with some of the problems that we’ve got”. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, talked about disproportionality, and my noble friend Lady Lawrence and others with experience of this are here. The disproportionality is, frankly, a scar on our society, and now we are now going to extend that suspicionless power, with all that that may entail, without the necessary safeguards in the Bill.
It is not people like you and me who will be stopped and searched; it will be some of the most deprived people in some of the most difficult communities, who already have problems with trust and confidence in the police. We have the opportunity here, through the Casey review, to draw a line in the sand and set the agenda to support our police by saying that we will help them regain the trust and confidence they need. But we cannot do that if the Government are hiding behind saying, “Oh well, we are in favour of getting weapons off the street and stopping these awful protests”. We are all in favour of that, but this is an overreach of legislation which will potentially have very serious consequences for our society.
My amendment simply seeks to mitigate the impact of the suspicionless stop and search power. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, that it should not be in the Bill anyway, but, as we have lost that argument, all we are seeking to do is to mitigate its impact. That is a perfectly sensible and reasonable thing to do.
I finish by saying that we are giving our police the most severe power that they can be given: suspicionless stop and search. Just by walking down the street, you could be stopped and searched. We have said that the power is fine with respect to terrorism—but even there we have mitigated it—and we accept that it is fine if it stops murder, gang warfare and all those sorts of things. But it is a totally different set of circumstances to talk about using suspicionless stop and search for protests. That is a step too far and, as such, we should at least mitigate its impact by supporting the amending Motion I have put forward.
Ayes 246, Noes 201.