May I begin our deliberations this afternoon, Sir Nicholas, by apologising for inadvertently misleading the Committee this morning? I implied or gave the impression that, following a possible situation where a woman fails to comply with an order to attend meetings, a prison sentence would be looming for her. That is not, in fact, a possibility. What would happen is that a supervisor would go back to court, report a breach of the order and the court could summons the woman, at which point she could be arrested if she did not comply. The outcome would be either resentencing on the original offence or another order. If I misled the Committee, I apologise sincerely.
No. If there was not a reasonable reason for the woman to have breached the order, perhaps by not turning up to the meeting, the supervisor would go to the court, which could summons the woman to appear. If she did not respond to that summons, she could be arrested. However, the purpose of getting her back into court would be to decide whether or not to return to the original offence and impose a fine, or to look at the original order, or to impose another order. I hope that that has clarified the situation.
I share some guilt with the Minister over this business of imprisonment, which I fess up to now in the hope that I will not be arrested. Will the Minister clarify that if the woman did not respond to the summons and therefore had to be arrested, imprisonment would not be a potential outcome of the offence, as I believe it to be, of not responding to a court summons? I may be wrong, but that was the information that led me to believe that there was imprisonment.
Yes, it would be arrestable. If it was not possible for the woman to appear before a court then she could be locked up and put in a cell, awaiting that court appearance. There is a debate about how long that would bea point that we shall pick up laterbut that is not because of the subsequent offence that she has committed.
Returning to the amendment, I was responding to the alternative proposed by the hon. Member for Hornchurch. We were not satisfied that that would be an appropriate response, because of the severity that a community order would bring to the proceedings. We are confident that we have introduced a proportionate response to the situation, and therefore do not support the amendment. Amendment 24 provides that orders requiring attendance at meetings for loitering offences be referred to as meeting requirement orders. We are not convinced that an alternative name for the orders is needed, as the term used in the Bill is clear. For the reason that I gave in respect of amendment 23, we do not consider that the requirement to attend meetings should be imposed as part of a community order. The order is designed to deal specifically with prostitution and to be rehabilitative, rather than punitive. I would be happy to consider any strong argument to push amendment 24 further, but we do not consider it necessary. With that, I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.
I appreciate the Ministers reply, and the way in which he has framed the structure in which the clause will operate. It was helpful of him to put on record the details of what would happen following an arrest for non-compliance with a meeting order. It seems that some confusion has arisen in the drafting. Given some of the points that hon. Members have raised in debate, it would be helpful if, on reflection, he considered further amendments to clarify the language on the operation of the measure in respect of a breach of a meeting requirement.
I return to the substantive point that I made when moving the amendments. In essence, we want to make it clear that the support services operate in a two-way fashion, such that there is compliance and intervention is meaningful. As I said, community orders follow assessment, reports and an examination of individual circumstances. For example, there might be follow-up, oversight and a mechanism to ensure compliance with a drug rehabilitation requirement. The orders need not involve only the person in receipt of the order; they could check and ensure that the relevant agencies and other bodies that are supposed to provide support and services do so.
I went to visit the Liverpool Community Justice Centre, and I was struck by the fact that the judge there takes a proactive approach in ensuring that the orders are followed through. Agencies and other bodies are supposed to step up to the plate to provide services, and he uses the orders to ensure that they are playing their part. My question about simply considering the meeting requirement is this: although it may have the ambition to provide the services, what is the follow-through at the end of the day? Will the Minister reflect on whether there should be a stronger reporting requirement on the person who provides the support to the offender in the meetings on the outcome of the meeting, and consider that kind of approach? That is relevant if agencies do not ensure that people, as proposed new paragraph 2B(b) states,
find ways to cease engaging in such conduct in the future, because of addiction or various other things.
We will reflect on what is the most appropriate order, but in the light of the fact that the Minister said that he will reflect on the matter and consider further arguments and representations on why a separate approach may be better, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.