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 Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 7:00 pm, 6th February 2001

I accept that it would be right to give the matter further thought, but I have some doubts about the Minister's reply. If the police are dealing with two youngsters, one over 18 and one just under 18, it is difficult for them to act fairly or even to identify the age difference correctly. That is a practical problem.

We all recognise that minor offences can be dealt with by fixed penalty notices, as happens with motoring. Although I agree that there is clearly a need for intervention when a young person goes badly off the rails, I cannot help thinking of all the children of prominent people who have been found drunk or have committed some minor indiscretion. The idea that each of them needs to be brought before a young offenders team and given the full treatment is wrong.

At what level will fixed penalty notices be issued? Will they be used for the most minor matters, which most of us say do not require a great deal of intervention, or will they be pitched at a higher level, in which case more serious offences will be undervalued? Although the Minister is annoyed by the fact that I keep asking to see the draft guidance, it is fair to do so, given that he has said that matters of discretion arising from the Bill will be decided by officers on the basis of that guidance. It is also fair to say that we do not know how he will pitch the level of fixed penalties. Our view on them would depend on whether he pitched them at a high or low level. We need to see the information on the order under clause 3, or at least to know what he has in mind.

Although I do not promise that it will not return on Report, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.