Clause 2 - Penalty notices

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:00 pm on 6th February 2001.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office 7:00 pm, 6th February 2001

I shall come to the Police Federation view when winding up. I shall make the more general point that, in my experience—the hon. Gentleman can say in a moment if he does not agree—that sharp-end police officers—an unattractive shorthand term—are increasingly seized of the value of the youth offending team and the sort of partnership approach that has been built up between the police, social services, youth services and so on. It is not correct that police officers at the sharp end would say, ``It's terrible; let's just hit him like this,'' and take no account of the views of ACPO.

I do not have the full Police Federation evidence before me, but the summary shows that it raised a number of questions about the difficulty that a police officer might face when trying to decide how severe an offence was—that is, whether it merited a fixed penalty notice—but it did not have a considered view on whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be included. However, as a result of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the modern police office is increasingly working in partnership and would understand the force of our arguments. That said, I do not regard it as open and shut argument. We have come to a view, which we shall carry through, but I do not malign the integrity of those who argue the other side of the case. It is a reasonable case to put, but I believe that my arguments carry weight.