Clause 88 - Setting of objectives by the Secretary of State

Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 8th March 2001.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:15 pm, 8th March 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 296, in page 75, line 21, at end insert

`; and

(d) such other persons whom he considers to represent the interests of police officers in England and Wales.'.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 297, in clause 89, page 75, line 35, at end insert

`; and

(d) such other persons whom they consider to represent the interests of police officers in England and Wales.'.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The clause relates to a point that I made earlier. It allows the Secretary of State to set objectives for the authority in consultation with the authority, the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Under clause 89, the authority will set its annual objectives in consultation with APA and ACPO—or, at least, I assume that that is what it means; the clause refers to representatives of chief police officers and police authorities.

We believe that it is important for bodies such as the Police Federation and police superintendents to be included so that training is not too far removed from the needs and interests of front-line officers who do the job. The amendment is an attempt to ensure that we do not set objectives that are far removed from the reality of undertaking training or being a police officer.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office

The hon. Gentleman is right. I can assure him that we will consult the Police Federation and other bodies to develop a better dialogue—with Unison, for example—about training civilian staff in the areas to which he referred. The Bill is specific because of the historic tripartite structure of the service, which relates specifically to the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities co-operating with the Government, and does not specifically relate to the trade unions. That does not detract from the force of his point, which I accept, that the process must involve full consultation with all the relevant interests. I give him the assurance that, although I cannot agree with the amendment and hope that he will withdraw it, I appreciate its spirit—that is, the need to engage such persons whom he considers to represent the interests of police officers in England and Wales in consultation on these matters, as on others.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The previous issue involved the exclusion or non-appearance of the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents Association. The Minister was prepared to consider suggesting appointments from those bodies to ensure the representation on the authority of the grass roots and the senior line manager at basic command unit level. Although I understand the tripartite approach taken in these proposals, I do not agree that the Police Federation should not be consulted about the objectives for the year and, indeed, for the longer term. Is there any reason, other than history, why he is unwilling to make that change?

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office

The reason is that the formal consultation under the tripartite arrangement—which may, as the hon. Gentleman says, be history—remains an important part of the structure of policing in Britain. I give him an assurance that the Secretary of State will consult the interests within the service as a matter of course. That is not, however, a matter of formal legal consultation. For historical reasons, we have the tripartite structure set out in the Bill.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

On that basis, I am prepared to accept that formal consultation will be undertaken, so I need not press the amendment to a Division. However, I stress that we perceive as important the involvement of the front end—the officers who do the job—in a lot of these discussions. It is easy for someone high up in an organisation to think that introducing such training opportunities would be marvellous without bearing it in mind that an officer who could be on the front line may become unavailable because of that training. The officer may not feel that the training meets his needs. The point is made to me sometimes that training is not always as sharp as it might be. However, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 88 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 89 ordered to stand part of the Bill.