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 Baroness Brinton Baroness Brinton Liberal Democrat 6:45, 26 February 2024

My Lords, I have also signed Amendment 148C and thank the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, for introducing it, and the noble Lord, Lord Russell, for his very eloquent contribution just now.

I too return to the Minister’s remarks at the end of the previous group, because it will help with this amendment. Part of the problem is that those of us who raise these issues about multiagency protection have assumed the corporate knowledge of the House about the previous six days and of all the amendments we have debated—in particular, those relating to domestic abuse and stalking. I fear that is not the case. One of the reasons we need this report is to ensure that Ministers and officials absolutely see what is happening in the data and bring it to Parliament to be held to account for it.

When I gave an example of a live case, I used the term “restraining order”. In his response to me, the Minister talked about a “stalking protection order”. They are completely different tools. An SPO is given by the police as a sort of special caution. It identifies the crime and says to the offender—there may not even be an offender at that point—that they have to mend their ways. A restraining order is given by the courts—it can happen at various levels of the courts—and is much more serious.

Most stalkers who are on restraining orders now will have been through the earlier processes, including, I am afraid, a number of stalking protection orders. While they may be a useful tool for the one stalker who is obsessed with one person but can get over it, the group of people that we are talking about in the MAPPA arrangements are completely and utterly different. They are extremely obsessed and manipulative people, who are physically dangerous in some cases, and certainly through coercive control. Not only are they a danger to the person for whom a restraining order may have been given but, in all the examples I gave in my speech on the previous group, they are known to be likely to offend with other people and to move around the country to get out of trouble and get away from the police force taking notice of them.

Given that we are talking about the most serious level of offences, whether it is domestic abuse or stalking, we need a consistent system across the country. Amendment 148C, through the report, would hold the Government—whatever Government, of whatever colour—to account, forcing them to produce data to show that they understand the difference. Until that happens, there will be Members of your Lordships’ House who will return, Bill after Bill, with horror stories of murders, attacks and everything else, but nothing will have changed.