Motion A

Part of Public Order Bill - Commons Reason – in the House of Lords at 3:46 pm on 26 April 2023.

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Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:46, 26 April 2023

My Lords, the Minister said that there is only one disagreement remaining. He was, of course, referring formally to what the House as a whole disagrees about; but we on these Benches have opposed police stop and search in relation to protest from day one, as any stop and search power will have a chilling effect on those wishing to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. These are fundamental human rights that are even more important to those who feel excluded from the parliamentary process, such as black and other minority-ethnic people. These groups are less likely to be registered to vote, less likely to have the correct form of voter ID even if they are registered to vote, and more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. Black people, for example, are between seven and 17 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people, depending on whether the power used is with or without suspicion. That is despite the legal safe- guards the Minister referred to.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, in response to the Baroness Casey Review, accepts the fundamental need to reset relationships between the police and the public, especially on the back of the findings of racism, misogyny and homophobia. Sir Mark Rowley acknowledges the past tendency of the police to impose tactics, rather than collaborate with, listen to and engage with communities. That is exactly what the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, said needed to happen, and the wording of the Lords amendment that we should insist on today is taken exactly from the Baroness Casey Review.

On the one hand, we have the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, both pulling in one direction, wanting stop and search to be based on collaboration, listening and engaging. On the other hand, we have this Government pulling in the other direction, rejecting the Lords amendment that would require police forces to draw up a charter on the use of stop and search, in consultation with local communities. This House should insist on the implementation of the recommendations of the Baroness Casey Review and not reject them.

I understand that some noble Lords have been concerned about the precise wording of the amendment. But as the commissioner has found to his cost, not accepting the exact wording of the Baroness Casey Review can result in diverting attention away from actually getting on and doing things instead of debating the meaning of words. However, with other important votes to come this afternoon, and without the support of the Labour Opposition, we appear to have reached the end of the road.