Amendment 148C

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Russell of Liverpool Lord Russell of Liverpool Deputy Chairman of Committees 6:45, 26 February 2024

My Lords, I would like to put my name to this amendment, because it is a continuation of the theme around stalking which we have repeatedly returned to in the Bill, as indeed we went on at length about in the Domestic Abuse Act.

In listening to the reply of the Minister to the last group of amendments, I was trying to imagine what a robust list would look like. I was somewhat puzzled as to how it would really have any effect at all. I was also pondering the term “discretionary management”, given that if only 1.4% of stalking cases actually end up in a successful prosecution, it is quite easy for the advisers who are writing the Minister’s brief to talk about percentage increases in performance. If one knows anything about mathematics, it is relatively easy to get rather spell-binding percentage increases in performance by starting from an exceedingly low base—a base of 1.4% of stalkers being successfully prosecuted, I am not a fan of percentages in a situation like this.

As the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, said, effective multiagency co-operation is clearly not working at the moment. This amendment gives the Government the opportunity to provide the single most important thing to make multiagency co-operation work: clear, outstanding, determined and consistent leadership. Leadership which transcends politics and different Ministers being responsible for the same area as the ministerial merry-go-round continues is incredibly important. The attempts by MAPPA to create an effective multiagency co-operation environment are so far not compelling. This amendment is an invitation for the Government to sit down and reflect on the lessons of what has not been and is not working as we would wish it, to create something more fit for purpose, and—in a non-political environment—to create a form of new MAPPS which is nothing to do with politics.

If the Great British electorate—of course, we are not allowed to participate—decide on a change of His Majesty’s Government at some point in the next 12 months, I hope that the department can come up with a form of multiagency co-operation which an incoming Government, should they be of a different political persuasion, would be positive about and could run with and make effective, rather than starting the clock all over again and losing valuable time. During this time, goodness only knows how many more victims will fall to the pursuit of stalkers, many of whom have been operating and stalking for many years, and many of whom are known all too well to the victims, but whom various multiagency authorities seem to be wilfully blind to.