Clause 35 - Police Powers for Police Authority Employees

Police Reform Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 20th June 2002.

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Amendment moved [this day]: No. 143, in page 35, line 3, leave out subsection (8).—[Mr. Baker.]

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Labour, Bridgend

I remind the Committee that with this we are discussing the following: Amendment No. 42, in schedule 4, page 123, line 40, leave out paragraph (a).

Government amendment No. 171.

Amendment No. 43, in schedule 4, page 124, line 22, leave out paragraph 2.

Government amendment No. 173.

Amendment No. 44, in schedule 4, page 124, line 32, leave out paragraph 3.

Government amendments Nos. 175 to 177.

You were concluding your speech, Mr. Baker, on amendment No. 123.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

I was indeed, Mr. Griffiths. I was going to say that you had cut it tight, but perhaps it is better to say that your timing is immaculate. I had just about concluded.

I am wholly opposed to powers of detention being handed to CSOs. It is inappropriate that such powers should be exercised by anyone other than police officers. It will bring CSOs into difficult and dangerous situations and will be counter-productive for policing, particularly if there are different powers in different parts of the country. That is the view of the House of Lords and I hope that, instead of steamrollering the measure through, the Minister will listen carefully to the arguments.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

I want to address some of the issues raised by amendments Nos. 143 and 42, and then speak to Government amendments Nos. 171, 173, and 175 to 177. The amendments in this group would either give community support officers and other designated persons the powers they need to perform the role for which they are intended to maximum effect or deny them such powers.

Amendment No. 143 would seriously undermine the ability of investigating officers, detention officers, escort officers and community support officers to carry out effectively many of their designated functions. In

reality, it would prevent the exercise of most of the powers by designated officers unless with the consent of the suspect.

One of the key purposes of the Bill is to free up highly qualified police officers from police station duties and duties elsewhere that could be done by properly trained civilians. The use of reasonable force is not a power that anyone takes lightly, but there will be situations in which designated individuals will need the same powers as a constable to use such force as is necessary to discharge their duties effectively without having to be shadowed by a police officer. Having to involve a police officer would undermine the whole point of the proposals.

For example, if a suspect refused to allow his fingerprints or a non-intimate sample to be taken, a designated detention officer would commit an assault if they carried out the procedure without having the power to use force if necessary. If they could not use reasonable force, they would be able to fingerprint or take a non-intimate sample only when a suspect consented and would have to rely on a police constable to carry out those procedures if the suspect refused to co-operate.

It is self-evident that reasonable force must be used carefully. To justify using force in any situation, a police constable and, in future, a designated officer, must first establish that the person who is being fingerprinted or searched is unwilling to co-operate sufficiently to enable the procedure to be carried out. As with police officers, designated persons will have to consider both whether force is justified and what degree of force is reasonable in the specific circumstances.

It is important to remind the Committee that appropriate safeguards will be in place. First, anyone who has been given the power to use reasonable force will be properly trained in its use and accountable to the chief officer and the new Independent Police Complaints Commission, when it is established, in the same way as police officers should they misuse that power. The standards will be as high for designated staff as they are for police officers. If the chief officer has doubts about the ability of designated officers to use reasonable force to high standards, they should be able to withdraw, modify or simply not grant that designation. Designated persons will also be obliged to have regard to any relevant codes of practice in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Removing paragraph 1(2)(a) of schedule 4, as proposed by amendment No. 42, would deny chief officers the opportunity to give CSOs the power to issue fixed penalty notices for a range of disorder offences. The principle of issuing fixed penalty notices in respect of such offences has already been extensively debated in the context of the Criminal Justice and Police Bill in the last Session. Relevant offences include throwing stones at railway lines, throwing fireworks in a thoroughfare, disorderly behaviour while drunk in a public place, wasting police time—to which the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) specifically

referred and which I will discuss later—giving false report and other public nuisance and disorder offences.

The amendment is interesting. I gather that Opposition Members do not object to the principle of CSOs issuing fixed penalty notices, and I have heard no argument to persuade me that this set of offences is inherently different. Such notices can be issued by non-police officers—street wardens can have local authority fixed penalty notice powers in respect of offences such as littering, and dog wardens can issue them in respect of dog fouling. More analogous to CSOs is that traffic wardens can also issue such notices. We are used to those people using their powers appropriately. They are properly trained to exercise them and, in the case of traffic wardens, are generally trusted by the public. I believe that CSOs will be similarly professional and accepted by the public.

I do not accept that the types of offences listed in chapter 1, part 1 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 are inappropriate for CSOs to deal with. CSOs deployed in communities will play a key role in reducing the incidence of public nuisance and disorder and in making communities safer. The ability to issue fixed penalty notices for those offences that cause nuisance and disorder will provide CSOs with appropriate, proportionate and much-needed enforcement powers.

The hon. Gentleman raised an interesting point about wasting police time. He will be pleased to hear that I have taken advice during the lunchtime adjournment. The offence—designed to deal with hoax calls among other things—is not limited to wasting the time of a constable. A court is unlikely to have sympathy with hoax callers who claim that it is not an offence because they wasted only the time of a CSO.

The requirement to provide a name and address is included as a specific power in paragraph 2 of schedule 4 in respect of antisocial behaviour, and is challenged by amendment No. 43. It is also included as part of the wider power of detention for CSOs reintroduced in Government amendment No. 171. We believe that denying CSOs the power to require a name and address will hinder their effectiveness. What irresponsible dog owner will accept a penalty notice if he knows that failing to accept it will, in all likelihood, lead to no further action? The ability to require a name and address will enable the fixed penalty notice to be enforced. Similarly, it will be a useful support for CSOs in enabling them to deal with antisocial behaviour within the community. In more serious and persistent circumstances, it will help to provide evidence for an antisocial behaviour order should a particular individual clearly refuse to co-operate with a CSOs in such a way over a period of time.

I do not believe that granting the power to request a name and address breaches an important principle. It is a sensible power for officers to have. We are extending it to police officers who do not currently have it, although in practice they have a variety of

methods available to them for dealing with such situations. As with all the powers under this part of the Bill, there are appropriate safeguards in relation to training and accountability.

What happens if an offender will not provide his or her name? In another place, Opposition peers believed that powers under this part of the Bill should be limited, and should not include the ability to enforce any of the powers. They removed the power of detention of both CSOs and accredited persons. We believe that the removal of the CSOs' power to detain was misjudged, and Government amendment No. 171 will reintroduce it. Government amendments Nos. 173 and 175 to 177 are consequential on the two main Government amendments.

It is worth noting that the Metropolitan police service shares the Government's view on the matter. It considers it appropriate for CSOs, as part of the police service, to be able to detain using reasonable force when necessary as a last resort. A convincing case can be made that including the power to detain will maximise the efficiency of CSOs and reduce the bureaucratic burden on police officers. I can return to those matters in greater detail if the Committee would find it helpful.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton

Will the Minister clarify what powers a CSO has to take someone to a police station, as opposed to detaining them on the spot? Will he confirm that he or she can take someone to a police station only if that person consents?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

The hon. Gentleman is right. If someone refuses to accompany the CSO to the police station, the option would be detention by the use of reasonable force.

It is worth noting that we have limited the power of detention to 30 minutes. There has been some debate about the 29 minutes and 59 seconds question. Thirty minutes was chosen not as a recommended or typical period of detention, but as a maximum. Clearly, the expectation is that a police response, when it is necessary, would usually be forthcoming well within that time. Although there might not be a police constable at everyone's elbow, ensuring that a reasonable response is achievable will be one of the factors taken into account by commanding officers when they are considering how to deploy both their regular officers and their CSOs.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the sort of offences that would involve CSO activity would necessarily be low grade, and that they therefore might not merit a quick police response under the normal grading process?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

We are trying to ensure that the police service can offer a comprehensive service to our community. One of the strongest arguments for introducing CSOs with those powers is to ensure that a set of activities in the community that are not always given the highest priority—for reasons that we understand—are not left neglected. My fear about the approach taken by the hon. Gentleman is that the sum total of the impact of his amendments would be to

deny the police service and local communities the opportunity to tackle those issues effectively. He needs to keep an eye on the big picture, and what we are trying to achieve.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton

I have another clarifying question. If a police officer does not turn up before the 30 minutes have expired, could the CSO retain the offender for another 30 minutes, perhaps by again asking him his name and address, and then saying, ''Well, you haven't provided it''? Or does the parking space principle apply, whereby one cannot return?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

That conjures up visions of the CSO marching someone round the block to see if they can get back into the same place before someone else takes it. It is not our intention to use a roll-over principle.

We could have not put anything about powers of detention in the Bill, and could have simply relied on the citizen's power of arrest. The Government chose not to do that, because there would have been a general feeling of discomfort at the idea of employing full-time professionals who were trained with the general citizen's power of arrest. We have tried to specify in the Bill as clearly as possible the extent of the powers that will be available to CSOs.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 2:45 pm, 20th June 2002

To pursue the amusing but relevant point made by the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne), if a person is allowed to go after 30 minutes, what is the minimum period that must elapse before the CSO can re-detain him?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

That would be a matter of judgment in the circumstances. The CSO would have to be aware, as would the chief officer, that their conduct was subject to scrutiny, first through their accountability to the chief officer, and secondly through the IPCC. As with all aspects of policing in practice, a great deal of operational on-the-spot judgment is involved about the best way for someone to conduct themselves. Policing involves many aspects of judgment that cannot be codified to the nth degree. The officer's training would be important in ensuring that he can exercise his judgment correctly and properly. That is the only serious way to deal with such issues.

Further points may be made in the debate, possibly by the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice), to which I should respond. However, that is my initial response to the amendments and my introduction of the Government's amendments.

Photo of James Paice James Paice Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

During the Committee, there has been a lot of discussion about, and allusions to, Opposition policy. The Minister refers to Opposition amendments. I want to make it clear that some of them are not official Opposition amendments but are tabled only in the names of Liberal Democrat Members. I shall explain why we support some but not others. [Interruption.] I cannot hear what the hon. Member for Lewisham,

East (Ms Prentice) is saying from a sedentary position, but I doubt that it is polite. I should be astonished and flattered if it were.

The official Opposition approach the debate from a point of principle that I readily accept cannot realistically be completely adhered to. However, the principle from which we start is that a police constable's powers are given to him as a result of his professionalism, training—which takes roughly two years—and responsibilities. Those powers should not be given to people who have not attained those levels of responsibility, training or, indeed, commitment and the level of professionalism associated with a fully trained and competent police officer.

In an ideal world, that would have been our stance. However, we recognise the need to be pragmatic, and that principle has long since been wounded—ever since the advent of traffic wardens, when some police powers were given to others. Other examples could be cited.

I shall concentrate on CSOs, rather than the other three categories of civilians. The debate is about the police employing civilians, not neighbourhood community wardens, for example. That is completely new. As far as I know, no civilians are employed by the police to do police duties that fall under the clause.

We are worried about CSOs, who will almost invariably operate outside the police station either alone or, perhaps, in pairs, but often not close to a policeman. Our examination of their powers involves those that might be described as confrontational and interventional as opposed to some of the others. We do not support the lead amendment, which relates to fixed penalty notices, because we do not consider that power to be significant, but we take a more robust view on other powers.

We are worried that if CSOs are given too many powers, there will be a temptation in some quarters to make CSOs a surrogate police force used in places where police officers should be used. I refer in particular to neighbourhood and community policing. Debates have been held in the House on that subject and there is much cross-party consensus that neighbourhood policing in its fullest sense—I do not mean just walking up and down the street but becoming part of the community—is a vital part, if not the most important part, of policing. I am worried that proponents of CSOs with the whole panoply of powers envisage a devaluation of the role of community neighbourhood policing resulting from the use of CSOs instead of a fully qualified and trained police officers. That is part of the basis for our worry about some of the powers.

We recognise that we have a political reality and that there is demand from some quarters of the Metropolitan police for the powers, especially the power of detention. We reluctantly accept that some powers will be given and when we consider schedule 4 properly, we shall debate their other aspects.

The power to detain will be used either if a person refuses to give their name and address or if the CSO suspects that the individual has given the wrong name and address and not complied properly. It is

interesting that the Government wisely listened to the other place about provisions on accredited community safety schemes, which we shall address in clause 36 and schedule 5, because they are not reinserting provisions on powers of detention but they are retaining provisions on the power to demand name and address. Therefore, they have given in on the argument that was paraded on Second Reading that the power of detention is an essential back-up to the power to ask for a name and address. That cannot be the case because the Government have given in on introducing that for accredited community safety schemes.

We reach the question of what detention is, and I shall quote one or two outside bodies. The Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales, which is an eminent body, says:

''It is our view that in law, and in the eyes of the general public there is no distinction'' between a detention and an arrest. Whatever the case might be in law—I am insufficiently competent to decide what that is—I have no doubt that there is no distinction between detention and arrest in the eyes of the general public. They are both highly interventionist actions.

The organised crime unit of Cleveland police contacted me, and it said:

''There is no difference between detaining somebody and arresting somebody. This is a play on words, to take a persons liberty is a serious issue and police powers should only be available to lawfully sworn police officers.''

The Association of Police Authorities said:

''The APA notes however that such a power''— the power to ask for a name and address—

''may be associated by some with a power of stop, and that there is a significant lack of confidence in some sectors of the public about police use of powers of stop, and stop and search.''

The widespread cross-section of opinion within the police force is that the move is very worrying. The definition of detention and the clarity of the situation are unclear to the citizen.

That brings me to the offences involved and the citizen's arrest, to which the Minister referred. It is unclear what offences are involved. Under amendment No. 171, proposed new paragraph 1A(6)(b), a relevant offence is

''an offence the commission of which appears to that person to have caused—

(i) injury, alarm or distress to any other person; or

(ii) the loss of, or any damage to, any other person's property''.

That is an all-embracing description. The amendment goes on:

''but a designation applying this paragraph to any person may provide that an offence is not to be treated as a relevant offence by virtue of paragraph (b) unless it satisfies such other conditions as may be specified in the designation.''

In other words, we return to the issue that we discussed this morning, which was that it would be in the power of the chief officer to lay out the relevant offences in the designation. That would lead to even further confusion.

Presumably, CSOs will continue to have the power of citizen's arrest, alongside the power of detention. Nothing in the Bill makes me believe that it has been removed from a CSO. As a citizen, a person can arrest anyone who is in the act of committing an arrestable offence or if he has reasonable grounds for believing that that person is committing such an offence, and anyone who is guilty of the offence or someone the person suspects is guilty of the offence. The powers of a fully qualified police constable go further than that, but it is not clear whether the powers of a CSO to detain go further. Will the Minister explain what offences will be considered to be relevant offences that would carry the power of detention? That is clearly not deemed necessary because someone refuses to give his name or address, otherwise the amendment would not contain proposed new paragraph 1A(6)(b)

That brings me to training, in which the Minister has much faith. He thinks that it will work out well. It takes about 35 weeks of training before a newly engaged police officer is allowed to patrol the streets on his own. It is expected that CSOs will receive two or three weeks' training. Some debate may take place about the precise length of training, but I suspect that it will remain a fraction of the time given to a police officer. How will the CSO have the background knowledge to apply any level of discretion that will be essential if he must decide when to use the power of detention and when to use the reasonable force that goes with it?

Health and safety is a concern of the Police Federation. It is considered that CSOs could be in personal danger. Yet they could not possibly have had the level of training in self-protection as that received by a full police officer. They will not carry some items of protection, such as batons or pepper sprays. Perhaps the Minister can clarify whether they will carry handcuffs. There is a serious risk that they will be put in physical danger. The chief officer is liable for any injury that an undertrained CSO suffered when using his power.

The Minister said that he did not choose the period of 30 minutes because it was the right time, but because a maximum time had to be set, and that such a power will be used only in circumstances in which a police officer can arrive within 30 minutes. That may be a noble intention but, as Ministers have said, legislation can last for generations, so we must think not only about what is the ideal, but what might happen in practice. As the hon. Member for Lewes said this morning, there is always the possibility that things do not work out in the way that is intended, and therefore one has to be able to address situations when they arise.

The response of my constituents—and, I suspect, of many other hon. Members' constituents—to the idea that a police officer would arrive in 30 minutes is, ''Chance would be a fine thing.'' In many parts of the country, the chance of getting a police officer within 30 minutes is remote. The Minister will probably reply to that by saying, ''Well, in those cases, the chief officers will not have CSOs,'' which may well be true, but I do not want him to belittle my argument by responding in

such a way, because that does not deal with the sort of situation that the hon. Member for Lewes referred to this morning. A police officer may only be in the next street, but if there is suddenly a grade one call—a call about an emergency, such as a road accident—the police officer will be called away. Therefore, regardless of how good the intention is, the fact is that the police officer will not get there in 30 minutes.

That raises the issue of what happens next. Does the CSO just let the individual walk away, which would do no good at all for the credibility of the CSO scheme, or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tatton suggests, is some form of re-detention available? The Minister's response to that was vague, to say the least.

There is another issue. If police officers are asked about what is the first and most important thing for them to do when they apprehend someone—the word ''apprehend'' has not been used before, and I use it now to differentiate between detention and arrest—before subsequently, perhaps, arresting them, they will say that it is to get them off the street; get them out of sight of the public; get them away. They will say that, because as long as apprehended people remain in a public space they form a focus for bystanders, and more importantly, they can form a focus for more trouble from their friends and others who might seek to exploit the situation in that way.

This proposal does the opposite of that. The answer that was given to my hon. Friend the Member for Tatton was that if the individual refuses to go to the police station, the CSO has no option but to ask them to stand there—and if necessary, to hold them there, using reasonable force. The mind boggles as to what could happen in the following 30 minutes—if that is how long it takes. The Government have failed to address that in all the discussions that have taken place on this subject since they first mooted the idea of a 30-minute period. We are guaranteeing the creation of a magnet for trouble on our streets: somebody being held for 30 minutes will attract more trouble. That is a certainty.

The Police Federation says, in its briefing to Committee members, that,

''the period of forcible detention could itself cause the detainee to become agitated being held in public and provoke further breaches of the peace by members of the public sympathetic to the detainee; without the minimal co-operation of the detainee, the power is inoperable.''

We must also ask ourselves, what happens when the police officer arrives? We can forget the 30-minute period, because the police officer has arrived. Is he obliged automatically to arrest the individual for refusing to give his name and address? What happens if he thinks that the CSO has blown the matter out of all proportion? Does he or she have to perform the arrest, even if it does not seem justified? will the evidence of the CSO alone be sufficient for an arrest, and if necessary, a prosecution? What are police officers to do if they feel that CSOs have overreacted? If an officer declines to carry out an arrest, he has completely blown the credibility of the CSO, but if he does carry out the arrest, he is compromising his own

judgment and professional view and may provoke even more trouble that will involve other police officers.

There are very real practical problems, as well as the issues of principle, in the use of detention powers. That is why I strongly resist the Government's attempt to reinsert this provision into the Bill. Having said that, I recognise that the Metropolitan police have voiced a desire for this power. Throughout the Committee proceedings, and the whole progress of the Bill, we have been anxious to listen to the voice of the police, and it would be wrong to stand here and say categorically that the Met have got it wrong. I believe that they have misjudged the situation in believing that the provision is necessary, but I recognise that they have that strong view.

Although I wholly oppose the blanket power of detention, if the Minister were to set up a pilot scheme, we could judge whether it works, monitor it and see the ups and downs. We might be sympathetic to that. None of us can be sure how this element of the Bill will work out: it is brand new territory for all of us. I am trying to be reasonable about the matter. We do not believe in the principle, but we accept that it will happen, so we think that he should come up with an alternative to the blanket power. Until he does, I am afraid we must resist that power, and I strongly oppose amendment No. 171.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton 3:00 pm, 20th June 2002

As I have not yet made a speech in the Committee under your chairmanship, Mr. Griffiths, may I say what a pleasure it is to do so?

I absolutely agree with everything that my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire has said. He is making exactly the same point that all the police officers I have spoken to in the process of preparing for the Bill have said to me, from the chief constable to the divisional superintendent to the officers in the local police stations in my constituency. The point that we return to is a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) earlier: we are not asking CSOs to get involved in low-level policing. It is often the most difficult kind of policing because it is dealing with people who are almost by definition antisocial. They may be drunk, or aggressive.

We know from our own lives that dealing with such people is quite difficult, but it will be doubly so for CSOs on the street. When a police officer deals with such people, he or she does not know what to expect. Anything can happen; often it is fairly routine, but matters can get out of control. Police officers have three things going for them when dealing with such people. First, they have extensive training and experience, which have taught them how to deal with such situations. Secondly, they have a panoply of powers, so that if the person giving trouble wants to escalate the situation, the police officer can deal with that.

Thirdly—and this point was made well by my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire—police officers have the power to remove someone from the street. Many hon. Members have been out on patrol with the police on a Friday or Saturday night.

The thing that struck me most about dealing with antisocial people outside a pub was the importance of taking them off the streets by getting them into the police van and taking them to the police station.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

When my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire and I visited other countries, such as Belgium and Holland, we saw that community policing works when there are highly trained people in the community who are seen as an elite force. The very fact that such countries have made the fully trained police officers, with the experience described by my hon. Friend the Member for Tatton, an elite force—so that they are not taken away from the streets for other incidents—has led to success. Unless the Government are prepared to have a few pilot schemes to see whether that works, they are probably going in the wrong direction.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton

I agree with my hon. Friend. There are many other options that we should consider, such as paying special constables, and perhaps we will come on to them later. The point is that CSOs will not have any of the things that police officers have. They will have limited powers, limited training and crucially will not have the power to grab someone and put them in the back of a police van to remove them from a confrontational situation on the street.

This is not to reduce the argument ad absurdum, but there will be situations on our streets, day in and day out, in which police officers do not turn up for 30 minutes. Regardless of the best intentions of the police to respond quickly, they do not always respond as quickly as they should. There will be situations on our streets in which CSOs find themselves in the extremely tricky position of detaining people in public. Perhaps a crowd of people will gather and perhaps the colleagues, associates or fellow thugs of the person being detained will hang around and cause trouble. Such people may even count down the minutes, which means that a poor CSO will stand there while someone counts, ''28 minutes, 29 minutes . . .''. [Interruption.] That is counting up—a very good point. As the Minister said earlier, a CSO will be unable to detain a person for a second time and will have to let them go after 30 minutes.

I am seriously concerned about the power of detention, which does not show an appreciation of what day-to-day policing is like in many of our town and city centres. As my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire charitably put it, it may be appropriate for the Metropolitan police in central London dealing with tourists in Trafalgar square and Covent garden, but it may not be appropriate for people in Manchester or towns in my constituency.

Cleveland police made this point to my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire and my chief constable in Cheshire made it to me: what is the philosophical difference between arrest and detention? Detaining someone for 30 minutes and depriving them of their liberty is, in effect, arresting them. However,

we are in a ridiculous situation in which someone can be deprived of their liberty but not removed from a situation, even if removing them would protect both them and the CSO.

The origin of the CSO idea was a scheme dreamed up in the Association of Chief Police Officers to badge public officials to make health visitors, bus drivers and other such people working for a public authority more conscious of street safety. The original idea was that a bus driver who noticed that a bus shelter had been vandalised would report it rather than ignore it, and that a health visitor who met someone who said that they had been intimidated would also report it. That was the origin of the idea, but it has been turned into a pseudo-police force, and I am not sure why that has happened.

On Second Reading, many hon. Members talked about the neighbourhood warden schemes, but those are red herrings. The schemes are excellent, but we are not talking about them. We are talking about a wholly new idea that has nothing to do with neighbourhood warden schemes.

I do not know what the CSOs will be called, and I was reflecting on that earlier with my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson). Since policemen ended up being called bobbies or peelers, perhaps CSOs will become denhams or johnnies. They will certainly not be called CSOs when they get into the public domain. I urge the Minister to put in a bid for denhams to stop them becoming blunketts.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton

A rooker sounds more appropriate for some reason, but I am not sure why.

Seriously, there are practical concerns about the powers that the Government propose to give to CSOs, and in particular about the power to detain for 30 minutes. The matter was raised in the House of Lords, which defeated this part of the Bill. I urge the Minister to address those practical points and explain how the power will be used in practice on the streets, day in and day out.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East 3:15 pm, 20th June 2002

I want to make a few brief points and put on the record the reasons that the Met are so enthusiastic about the proposal, but first I want to say to the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire that in my earlier comment from a sedentary position I was congratulating him on his discernment in making it clear that he was not supporting everything that the Liberal Democrats said. I perfectly understand his taking that position.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned that most people do not know the difference between detention and arrest. That is probably true. He went on to say that we all have the power of citizen's arrest, but most of us do not know the difference between arrestable and non-arrestable offences. Therefore, although citizens have that power, they do not always know whether the activity that is taking place is an arrestable offence. In that sense, there is a problem with the language.

As I said, I want to put on record why the Met support the measure and why they are very much in favour of the detaining role for CSOs.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

Does the hon. Lady know whether it is possible to be detained for a non-arrestable offence?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

I am tempted to say, ''Ask me one on sport,'' which is my usual answer. To be honest, I will have to come back to the hon. Gentleman. I shall get on safer ground by discussing the Met's position.

The examples that Opposition Members gave suggest that enormous amounts of anti-social behaviour involving crowds of people take place in the middle of the night and that it will be impossible for a single CSO to cope with such incidents. In fact, in the view of the Met and those of us who represent London constituencies, much of the work that CSOs will do during the day will reduce much of the antisocial behaviour. Their visible, uniformed presence will make a significant difference.

A more likely scenario is that a CSO who stops someone will be able to identify the person, because they know who the most likely culprits are in their local community. Even if they do not, if a person will not give their name and address or appears to be giving a false name and address, the CSO's immediate reaction will be to call for back-up. The Met assure us that in London—I am sorry if it is not the case in other parts of the country—the back-up will be able to arrive well within 30 minutes. Therefore, the 30-minute limit is not nearly as important as the emphasis that Opposition Members put on it would suggest. It is highly unlikely that someone will wait 29 minutes 59 seconds.

Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Labour/Co-operative, Sheffield, Heeley

Is not ''community'' the important word in the officers' title, whatever other name they end up getting? Not only will they know their community, they will probably be able to stay there longer and build more links than do currently serving police officers, who often get moved on to other roles.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. That is exactly what their role will be, and of course they will be working under the management of the local community police officer.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

Do we have any reassurance that they will be doing that? Is not the danger that CSOs will replace community police officers? Most local communities want a proper, elite force of community police officers with the full panoply of powers, not a second-class version.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

I certainly do not think that local communities want an elite force. They want community police officers, people whom they know and can recognise, whom they can go up to and talk to in the street and who will turn up at their residents and tenants association meetings and so on. The community support officers will be working in

conjunction with local people, which I think enhances their role in the local community rather than detracting from it.

Photo of James Paice James Paice Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

When my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath and I refer to an elite force, we do not mean, er—

Photo of James Paice James Paice Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

An SAS-type force—indeed. I thank the hon. Lady—I was trying to think of the right descriptive terminology. What we mean is making people realise that these are the best police, because that is the most important part of the job.

What I really want to challenge the hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Ms Prentice) on is this: she mentioned CSOs operating in the community under the neighbourhood police officer, for want of a better phrase, but we are also told that the Met do not want them for that. They want them for security patrols in the city centre of London. Would we not be forgiven for being slightly confused about what the officers are actually to be used for?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

I do not see that there is necessarily any confusion at all, and why both roles cannot be used. In Westminster, in the centre of London, CSOs may well be used for that security role. In Lewisham, on the Downham estate in my constituency, they will be dealing with the young tearaways, as I think they were described last week—toe-rags is another favourite description—who should not be out and about in the middle of the day but behind a desk in a classroom. It is perfectly possible for CSOs to fill both those roles.

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Labour, Ogmore

It may be of interest to my hon. Friend, and of assistance in some of the points that she raises, to note that since 1997 there have been more than 250 additional police officers on the beat in the South Wales constabulary. If community support officers were opted for there, they would be in addition to those police officers, not in place of them. Does she agree with Baroness Gardner, who said:

''I would rather have community support officers than no one''?—[Official Report, House of Lords, 7 March 2002; Vol. 632, c. 431.]

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

I am sure that Baroness Gardner can be assured that she will have more than no one—she will indeed have the community support officers.

In conclusion, I simply say that I hope that other police authorities and chief constables, if they do not immediately take the opportunity to have community support officers, will look at the effect that they have in the Met. The idea is embraced both by the Met and by local authorities that have neighbourhood warden schemes and want to see both schemes working hand in hand. The suggestion, from the examples given in this debate, that the power of detention is too great, is wrong both for the community support officers in the street and for those working as detention officers and elsewhere. Those who represent them support the

Government's position on giving them powers of detention and of use of reasonable force. That should be put on record.

The scheme will be welcomed by local communities, certainly in London, and I imagine that other major cities will also find their policing enhanced by having community support officers.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Labour, Redcar

I want to raise the major difficulties that the amendment would give to all kinds of officers, even excluding CSOs. The issue of the 30 minutes' detention is a very interesting one and I shall await the Minister's response on it. Leaving aside CSOs for the time being, and considering the duties that will be given—as I had originally understood it, with the full support of both Opposition parties—to the other civilian officers that are to be created, unless those duties are backed up by the right to use reasonable force, they are a recipe for trouble.

Let us consider a situation in which an escort officer is escorting someone from A to B and that person tries to escape or refuses to be taken there. What is the officer to do if he does not have a power of reasonable force to restrain the person until further help arrives? An escort officer cannot do the job if he does not have the power to back it up. The straightforward point is that the amendment would cross escort officers from the list of new people who will help the police.

We considered detention officers quite carefully this morning in pursuit of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Lewes that such officers should have one-to-one supervision from police officers. Detention officers' duties will include searching people. A detention officer who has, and will therefore use, that power might ask someone to turn out their pockets, and that person might refuse. If the detention officer were to put his hand into the person's pocket to take out an item, he would technically be guilty of assault, and could be prosecuted. Surely we do not want to give civilian officers duties that they cannot carry out without risk of prosecution. We must face the fact that the amendment would cross detention officers, as civilians attached to police, off the list.

Although investigation officers are concerned with tasks such as obtaining special procedure material and searching premises once people who have been arrested are moved from them, they will also be involved, under the powers in the schedule, in searching premises while people are there. They are given the power to search. A person might not want an investigation officer to use that power. He might not want him to go into a particular room and could bar the way. How is the officer to do the duty imposed on him if he is not entitled to move the person away, or at least tell the person that he is entitled to move him, and could he please move? Investigation officers simply could not do the job that I thought everyone was keen to allocate to them.

We have to face the fact that if the amendment is agreed to, we will have to cross investigation officers off the list of the assistants that the Bill is fervently trying to provide for a thoroughly overworked police

force. Such officers are welcomed in principle by the police officers to whom I have spoken. The submissions of pressure groups show that those groups welcome them, too.

Part of the foundation for the powers are the facts elicited by the study, ''The Diary of a Police Officer''. I believe that it was the Minister's idea that officers should keep a record of their day-to-day activities. The conclusions were that less than 50 per cent. of officers' time was spent outside the police station—I think that some 55 per cent. was spent in it. When they were in the police station, they were mostly carrying out jobs that would be done by detention, investigation and escort officers. Consequently, the amendment would, at a stroke, restore to the police all the duties that I thought we were anxious to take off them because they were too menial and trivial to occupy their time. The amendment makes it perfectly plain that the Liberal Democrats are against all support officers.

Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton

Several members of the Committee—and police officers—have struggled with the distinction between arrest and detention. Could the hon. and learned Lady throw the light of her legal expertise on to the problem and illuminate the matter for the Committee?

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

Can one be detained for a non-arrestable offence?

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Labour, Redcar

I cannot say, ''Ask me one about sport,'' as I know nothing about it.

In response to the hon. Member for Henley, I suspect that none of the offences are arrestable, but I am only venturing on the matter, as others have considered the matter far more carefully than I have. Something akin to the general arrest condition power in section 25 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is to be used. That gives a police officer, at any rate, a power to arrest someone he has seen committing an offence that would normally be summonsable if the person refuses to give a name and address. That is the analogy that can be drawn here, but I will leave distinguishing detention from arrest to the Minister.

Those points must be forcefully made, to show the complete lack of sense in the amendment, and in the Liberal Democrats' public stance that they are in favour of this kind of support officer—because they cannot be.

I also seek assistance from official Opposition Members, because I cannot understand why they are not supporting amendment No. 42. It is a Liberal Democrat amendment, and it would remove from schedule 4 the right to give a fixed penalty notice for offences of disorder. They are not supporting the attempt to remove that, so they are happy for CSOs to give fixed penalty notices in respect of offences of disorder—which, of course, requires that they take the offender's name and address—but they are supportive of amendment No. 43, which would remove paragraph 2 from schedule 4, which gives the power to ask for the name and address of someone who has been acting in an antisocial manner. They are happy for CSOs to have the power to ask for a name and address when

somebody has been behaving in a disorderly way, but they are not happy for them to have that power when somebody has been behaving in an antisocial manner.

I am anxious to be intervened on by an official Opposition Member, so that they can clarify what I see as an utter absurdity.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley 3:30 pm, 20th June 2002

I did not intend to speak, but the hon. and learned Lady's comments have inspired me to say something on behalf of the potential miscreant. Nobody has spoken for him. I wanted to put myself in his shoes, by imagining that I am rolling around the streets of Henley late at night and much the worse for wear when a figure with a helmet on looms out of the fog and says, '''Ello, 'ello, what's all this 'ere, then? You're nicked, chummy.''

In those circumstances, we know exactly where we stand: a police constable is exercising his authority under the law, because he has the right to arrest me for being drunk and disorderly—and I respect his right to do that, and understand what is going on. On the other hand, if I am in that condition and a CSO arrives and says the same thing to me, I would be in confusion, and nothing that Labour Members have said has enlightened me, or elucidated the position. I do not know what powers the CSO will have over me. I do not know how long he will be able to detain me for, as that seems to vary from area to area. I do not know what offences he will be able to detain me for. Even the hon. and learned Member for Redcar (Vera Baird) could not explain whether someone could be detained for a non-arrestable offence.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

I am grateful to my hon. Friend who, as always, is making an enormously powerful contribution to the debate. He might be interested to learn that his point about the concerns of miscreants has been supported by one of the high temples of new Labour thinking, in the form of a submission to the Home Affairs Committee by the chief executive of the London borough of Islington—which is perhaps not usually a spiritual friend of his. The chief executive says:

''It is almost certain that CSOs will not have the support and trust, as do the current wardens, especially amongst young people who will see them as a threat.''

Even in Islington, there is support for my hon. Friend's argument.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for that helpful intervention.

It is vital that all of us in this Room, and other potential miscreants, should be able to know exactly where we stand with these people, and what authority they have over us.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Labour, Redcar

My guess is that the officer would tell a person what power he had. If he had a book of fixed penalty notices in his hand, it would be a fairly reasonable guess that he had the power to give the person one for whatever was being done.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

That is very interesting. I am pleased that the hon. and learned Lady is so convinced of that, because our earlier discussion suggested that it was unclear whether CSOs would have the same powers in different areas. I was not sure whether they would have the same uniforms. It would be a grave disservice to set up CSOs without a clear understanding among the public about their powers. Do we expect miscreants to obey automatically the authority of some chap who appears wearing a peaked cap and a purple sweater—or whatever the curious uniform might be—and announces that he proposes to detain them for 30 minutes?

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

Does the hon. Gentleman therefore oppose the establishment of pilot projects for community support officers?

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was listening earlier, because he would have heard it said from the Opposition Front Bench that we do not object to such pilot schemes. The burden of the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire was that we should have pilot schemes but that the system should not be rolled out higgledy-piggledy throughout the country with different CSO schemes doing different things. Confusion might be fatal to the respect in which the CSOs should be held. That I why I oppose amendment No. 171.

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

It might ease the hon. Gentleman's concern if he looks at the definition of a relevant offence in the amendment, although far be it from me to defend a Government amendment. The powers to detain that a CSO will have are contained within that definition. He need not have sleepless nights about the issue.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her kindly intervention—[Interruption.]—although I am informed by my wise hon. Friends on the Front Bench that she misread the amendment.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

This has been a useful discussion. I shall try to be brief yet reply to as many points as possible.

The hon. Member for Henley asked what would happen if he was discovered in a recumbent position in the town centre of Henley after a good Friday night out and what his interaction with the CSO would be. It is difficult to imagine that the CSO would do anything other than approach him and say, ''Good evening, Mr. Johnson. We've been enjoying ourselves, haven't we?'' Given that the CSO would undoubtedly recognise the hon. Gentleman—

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

The CSO would certainly be aware of the hon. Gentleman's place of work and might well conclude that he had been satisfactorily able to identify the hon. Gentleman for the purpose of issuing a fixed penalty notice. The other subjects of this afternoon's discussion would not apply.

It is important to recognise—this point was rightly made by the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire—that the starting point of the process is the identification of the individual to get a name and address for the purpose of exercising the powers in the Bill. The issues that we have discussed this afternoon come into play only when a person refuses to give his name and address or the CSO has reasonable grounds to believe that the name and address given is false. Our intention is not to introduce a wide-ranging power for CSOs to scour the streets searching for individuals to detain—that thought might have inadvertently crept into the debate. The power derives from the ability of a CSO to identify a name and address to allow action to be taken under the relevant legislation.

Hon. Members reflecting on points made in the debate might conclude that—this is not my argument—police officers in, for example, rural areas, should not have the power of arrest. We are told that, if it is not possible immediately to remove someone from the scene and take them to a police station or guarantee that the police will arrive in less than 30 minutes, the attempt to detain someone physically is doomed to failure. Where does that leave the substantial number of much-respected rural police officers who patrol small towns on their own, not by car, who cannot guarantee backup within a particular time by a police car? That is clearly part of the reality of policing in rural areas, but no one suggests that those police officers should not have wide-ranging powers of arrest and the ability to use reasonable force. Some of the dilemmas about when it is prudent to exercise those powers, to which my hon. Friends referred, obviously arise for serving police officers, but no one would seriously suggest that they should not have those powers. A key part of the Government's approach is that it is reasonable to expect that the powers that will be made available to CSOs under Government amendment No. 171 will be used after proper training, with discretion and full awareness of the circumstances in which it would be appropriate to use them, including the time in which support might be available.

Photo of James Paice James Paice Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The Minister again refers to proper training. The mind boggles about how much training will be crammed into a short period. If people are going to be trained for 35 weeks, they might as well be full-blown police officers.

The Minister made a point about rural areas. No one was suggesting what he implies. My constituency contains some remote areas, as do those of some of my hon. Friends and, indeed, of some Labour Members. No police officer in a rural area will willingly arrest someone with a view to holding them in that place for the next 30 minutes. They will use their discretion about whether to arrest the person, and if they decide to do so, they will take into account how quickly they can move them to the local police station. Every rural police officer I know uses a car. If they are on a bicycle, they are close to a police station. Whatever happens, they have a means of getting the person off the street fairly quickly.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

I believe that the hon. Gentleman will find that having two on a bicycle is an offence, although whether a person can be arrested for it, I am not sure.

The hon. Gentleman concedes the point. I did not suggest that anyone was proposing that rural police officers should not have powers of arrest. I was merely making the point that in many circumstances police officers must exercise their powers with discretion, using their judgment about whether they would be in a worse position by doing so. Similar issues arise in the exercise of the much more limited powers of detention available to CSOs, and the same discretion will need to be used. The debate has been characterised by the assumption that no discretion would ever be used, rather than that it would be reasonable to assume that it would be.

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:45 pm, 20th June 2002

Will the Minister clarify two points? Under the amendment, CSOs, where they exist, may have the power to detain. Article 5 of the European convention on human rights, which is incorporated into our law in the Human Rights Act 1998, governs freedom from detention and arrest. Will he guarantee that CSOs will have training in human rights legislation as part of their so-called proper training, and not just in PACE? Secondly, will a person who is unlawfully detained by a CSO have an enforceable right to compensation?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

We have taken advice on the drafting of the Bill to satisfy ourselves that it is ECHR compatible. I undertake to write to the hon. Lady to confirm this, but I understand that human rights training as well as specific PACE powers will be included in the basic training of CSOs. Working from memory, basic training for the Metropolitan police CSOs—which does not include any of the powers that we are discussing because the Bill has not been passed—will include basic training in ECHR requirements. Clearly, should Parliament accede to the powers in the Bill, additional training will be needed to take account of specific requirements.

Compensation for wrongful detention should be possible, but I will write to members of the Committee to confirm whether there is an automatic right and what the procedures would be. I need to take advice on that. I hope that I can clarify that matter later.

To return to Henley town centre, if the hon. Member for Henley had not been recognised by a CSO—unlikely though that it is—and a police officer then arrived, in detaining the hon. Gentleman the CSO would have exercised a power of enforcement not a power of arrest. A police officer arriving at the scene would be able to arrest the hon. Gentleman under the general power of arrest, subject to his or her judgment.

A constable can arrest for a non-arrestable offence if general conditions for arrest in section 25 of PACE are met, one of which is that a summons is not appropriate because the name and address of the individual is not known. A safeguard may be

involved—the police officer may recognise the hon. Gentleman and decide that there is no need for arrest because he can enforce the power.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

Will the Minister clarify for a final time whether it would be within the powers of a CSO to detain somebody for a non-arrestable offence?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

The CSO would effectively be able to detain somebody for a non-arrestable offence in the sense that offences relating to public order are not all arrestable. The CSO would be able to detain if it were impossible to satisfactorily establish the name and address of the individual, even though the root offence that had given rise to the situation was non-arrestable.

There are other examples in law in which an individual can be detained when no criminal offence has been committed. In a very different area of law, an individual may be detained for up to six hours while police apply for a banning order under the Football (Disorder) Act 2000. Detention powers of that sort are not without precedent. There are also powers to detain without criminal offences having been committed under immigration laws. Other examples draw a distinction between arrest and detention.

The Metropolitan police envisage CSOs being deployed in three different roles: enhancing security around this part of London and other sensitive areas, supporting law and order on transport routes, and in the community, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East referred. It is reasonable, especially in a large force, for CSOs to be deployed in more than one range. That does not detract from the potential role of CSOs working in the community. However, we must make it clear, and examination of speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary or myself clearly state that it is no part of the Government's strategy for CSOs to be a replacement for professional community or neighbourhood-based policing. CSOs will complement policing. The hon. Members for South-East Cambridgeshire and for Surrey Heath said that fears have been expressed that the police will withdraw to elite serious crime work and will not be in the community. That is not our intention under the Bill. We recognise—as they do—that highly professional, committed professional police officers working in the community must be a core part of the model of policing that will be effective in the 21st century.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

My mind is working slowly this afternoon. If someone spits out chewing gum in the street—a non-arrestable offence, I imagine—could the CSO detain that person for 30 minutes?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

Not directly for that offence. I shall need to consider the specific littering offence. If an offence were committed under the relevant offences that are designated for the purposes of CSOs, the CSO could detain the person directly for the commission of that offence. The powers of the CSO relate to the power to issue a fixed penalty notice for the offence. The fixed penalty notice depends on having the name and address of the person who committed the offence. The trigger for the power of detention is if the CSO

were not satisfied that he was obtaining the name and address of the person who had committed the offence. That is how the process will work. It is important that members of the Committee understand that the power does not give the CSO the ability to grab somebody directly because of something that he has done. We want to deal with the inability of the CSO to follow up with a fixed penalty notice.

I hope that I have addressed all the issues that have been raised. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East made a powerful speech in support of the clause and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Redcar masterfully demolished the Liberal Democrat amendments, so I shall not repeat her arguments.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

Following that challenge, I want to pick up on one or two points. As she knows, I have tremendous respect for the hon. and learned Member for Redcar. I cannot think of anyone better to represent me in court were I on a charge—as long as she promised not to persecute Liberal Democrats in the process. However, for once, her logic is flawed. Her arguments were considered before the amendments were tabled. We have not sought to remove from escort officers the power to use reasonable force. It is still contained in part 4 of schedule 4, at line 15 on page 134 of the Bill, as are further powers to enable escort officers to carry out searches and to seize and retain items found on a search. With respect to the hon. and learned Lady, her argument was not correct.

As for detention officers, we want to restrict significantly what they can do without having a constable with them. I shall not rehearse the argument that we had this morning. We hold a different view about the breadth of their powers. We do not want detention officers to put their hands in people's pockets. The hon. and learned Member for Redcar thinks that that is all right. We do not. We think that investigation officers will play a useful role as civilians, but we are slightly worried that the minority of their time will be spent in consultation with members of the public. The hon. and learned Lady has been uncharacteristically unfair in her criticism of our amendments.

The Minister asked me to respond on the matter of fixed penalty offences. I did refer to it at length earlier because the key issue was that of detention. The test that we sought to apply is whether they are likely to be intrusive, cause problems and meet with resistance. We are concerned about the very issue that the hon. Member for Henley was discussing a moment ago. A very minor offence could then escalate, because someone refused to give their name and address, into a detention or an arrest, and what was a simple matter could become a very big one. That is why we want to limit the number of fixed penalty notices. However, the principle that CSOs should give out fixed penalty offence tickets is not one to which we are opposed. It all depends on the offence, and we have tried to be quite specific about that.

The Minister compared CSOs performing that function to traffic wardens. With respect to him, I do not think that that is a fair comparison. With traffic

wardens, the ticket is given not to a person but to a vehicle. The person might not even be there—in most cases they are not. There is then a stringent system, using the registration number of the car, for identifying whether the person has paid. That is a very good system but it relies on the courts and the legal system for its enforcement, not on the person giving the ticket, except in the initial stages. I do not think that a comparison between a traffic warden giving a ticket to a stationary vehicle and a CSO giving a ticket for disorderly behaviour, under very different circumstances, is fair.

The main issue is detention. A number of arguments and concerns have been raised about that, both when I spoke and by Conservative Members. The Minister has tried his best to deal with some of them but I do not believe that he has convinced everyone in the Room. He has not convinced me, although I am sure he has convinced himself and perhaps some others. The period of training, to which the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire referred, and the questions of how long that should be and whether it will be sufficient, are very important. If there is now to be human rights training as well, as there must be, that is something else to pack into a couple of weeks. Those people will have very much of a crash course before going out on to the streets fully ready to take action.

The hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire also mentioned handcuffs, and I do not think that the Minister responded to that point when he replied. He must have forgotten it, but I thought that it was worth pursuing. Another issue that has been rightly raised is whether the offenders should be left on the street. Police officers want people who are causing trouble off the street so that they do not become public spectacles. With CSOs, they will be kept on the street and become street theatre—a very welcome diversion. People on their way home from the pub, or wherever it happens to be, will suddenly be entertained by someone in uniform trying to keep one of their mates busy for half and hour. That will draw a crowd and will become deeply unpleasant for the CSO involved, as I made clear in my initial comments.

Another question is what will happen if a CSO has overreacted and wrongly detained a person, and the police arrive and say, ''It's OK—off you go.'' I think that the hon. Member for Henley or the hon. Member for Tatton made that point. My understanding is that if that person can demonstrate that they have been falsely held, that will be a matter for compensation because it will in effect have been false arrest. On the other hand, if the police officer follows through and takes someone to the station, that creates more work for what was originally a pretty minor offence. The situation is not clear.

So far as the pilot scheme is concerned, I am having doubts about that. The hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire said that he was being generous in offering it, and I think that he was being exceedingly generous. Perhaps the shadow Home Secretary has encouraged him to be generous. The scheme could

work, but there is a danger that Labour Members might suggest that it would produce precisely the hotchpotch across the country that some of us are trying to avoid. However, if the Minister were pragmatic he might want to take that idea with both hands as a way of dealing with the issue. The Bill is constructed to allow a different solution for London from the rest of the country. The business managers might be able to conclude that to offer CSOs in London and not elsewhere could be a way forward, both to get the Bill through and to meet majority opinion in London and elsewhere. However, that is a matter for the Minister.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, East very interestingly said that the presence of officers in uniform, in itself, will make a significant difference. She is absolutely right. That is one reason why we believe that it is not necessary to give CSOs controversial powers. They will do the job very effectively, and make a big difference, simply by being there in uniform. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Lewisham, East for reinforcing the point that I made earlier. I thank her very much for that.

The point about backup is an important one, and it may well be that the Metropolitan police are confident that within 30 minutes there will be backup available. I believe that that would be easier in London, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Lewisham, East, than it would be in mine. In my constituency, which is by no means unusual, there are four big towns that are some distance away from each other. It takes more than an hour to drive from one end of the constituency to the other, and it is in south-east England.

If there is a big event not far away—in Brighton, for example—that has drawn police officers out for the evening, at most one police car will be covering the three other towns on the coast. All that there is on some evenings is that one police car with two officers covering three towns. If those two officers in the car are expected to respond simultaneously to CSOs in Lewes, Seaford and Newhaven, it is just not going to happen. There is a genuine issue concerning the response of officers in rural areas.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East 4:00 pm, 20th June 2002

I see the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, but if that big event is taking place in Brighton, and there is only one police car to cover the other three areas anyway, there are not enough police officers either. At least the presence of a CSO on the streets would reduce the possibility of crime in the first place.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady, but they should not have the power of detention, which would exacerbate the situation. Having a CSO on the streets will help, and I am fully in support of that. I want to see CSOs on the streets, but they do not need that power of detention.

The Minister talked about the police's power of arrest and the discretion used by officers. Of course, CSOs should use discretion; that point was well made by the Minister and I accept it. However, it often happens that police do not make arrests or bring

people into detention for that reason. They are confronted with 30 or 40 people and they have to deal with that. The way to deal with it is not to deal with it until reinforcements come, which is very sensible. CSOs may not necessarily have that same level of training from the two or three weeks that they have.

It is clear that there are many question marks about the power to detain. The power to detain was removed on a cross-party basis in the House of Lords. It has been opposed by ACPO, by different shire authorities throughout the country, and by Liberal Democrats and Conservatives today. I believe it is a step too far. I hope that the Government will think again about the power because I am confident from what I understand of the situation that there is unlikely to be a change of mind in the Lords if the Government insist on reinserting the provision here in the Commons. Having said that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 169, in page 35, line 14, leave out subsection (10)—[Mr. Denham.]

Clause 35, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.