Clause 2 - Penalty notices

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 6th February 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office 6:30 pm, 6th February 2001

As the hon. Gentleman has stated, the effect of the amendment would be to change the tests that the constable would have to apply before issuing a penalty notice. Instead of having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, he or she would have to have reasonable grounds to believe. The phrase ``having reason to believe'' is a test that is applied in the case of other fixed penalties such as those for road traffic. It is an appropriate test for schemes such as this that are based on consent, and has no impact on the fundamental rights of the individual—to go to court for example. If individuals receiving penalty notices do not believe that the grounds are reasonable, they may challenge the allegation in court.

We are not talking about a criminal standard as cited by the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire, as I think that he would acknowledge. The fixed penalty notice in no sense removes the right of individuals to go to court if they feel that the matter is not dealt with properly. In those circumstances, the type of test that applies in the case of other fixed penalties is appropriate. I hope that on the basis of my explanation, the hon. Gentleman will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.