Amendment 148C

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:30, 26 February 2024

My Lords, I beg to move Amendment 148C. I want to speak more widely than the previous group and briefly recount my experience as a magistrate. It so happens that the last two stalking cases I dealt with were of women stalking men. I have also dealt with recent cases where MAPPA—as it was called—was relevant to the bail decisions which we were making. The reason I want to speak more widely than the previous group is because, in my experience, the MAPPA system is also used for tracking and being aware of people with mental health difficulties who are perceived as dangerous. These are not stalkers but people who may well be dangerous because of their mental condition.

In fact, the last case that I dealt with—which was probably a couple of years ago now—was of a young man with a gun obsession, but who had clear mental health problems. It was going to fall to MAPPA to make sure he was properly protected—which I suppose is the right way of describing it—because he was likely to be released into the community. In that case, I quizzed the relevant offices about MAPPA, as it then was, and what was likely to be put in place for that young man. It was absolutely clear that there were a number of agencies involved. The key was multiagency working. As a court, we needed confidence that people would indeed be able to work across the agencies to try and keep proper tabs on the young man, to make sure he did not go off the rails again—if I can put it like that.

How are the types of cases dealt with by MAPPS and MAPPA recorded? They are not all stalking-related and domestic abuse-related cases; they go wider than that. They include a lot of agencies: not just police and probation, but also housing, local authority and health agencies. The whole point of that system is essentially to provide support for people who are potential offenders, to try and stop them from reoffending. How are the types of cases dealt with by MAPPA tracked? Is the Minister confident that the tracking of those releases means that the response can be properly tailored for the individuals whom they are dealing with? It is certainly my experience that very often, when things go wrong, it is because the agencies are not working together properly. This is a repeated theme of what I have seen when cases come before me in the magistrates’ court.