Clause 10 - Criminal investigations into terrorism-related activity

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 30 June 2011.

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Question (this day) again proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

This morning, we were discussing clause 10, which relates to criminal investigations in terrorism-related activities, and I was seeking to respond to a number of points.

One issue that was raised was the relationship with the relevant senior police officer at the appropriate police force referred to in the clause. If there was an offence, it would still fall to a particular force to investigate it, and that force would manage the order. However, the national co-ordinator of terrorist investigations advises all forces, and will obviously continue to do so. The responsibility for investigating an offence therefore lies with the appropriate police force, so there is a clear line of responsibility. There will be engagement with the relevant senior police officer, or the chief officer, as they are referred to in the clause. The way in which the clause is intended to operate in relation to the relevant police force is therefore clear. There is a principle allowing for the delegation of responsibility, which was mentioned, and consultation will generally take place at senior official level, but the central state is kept closely informed of the outcome of such consultations.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham is not in his place, but he raised the issue of service personnel.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I understand what the Minister says about the chain of command, keeping things under review and the Secretary of State being involved in pursuing prosecutions if possible. When I made the point about police commissioners, I was not being partisan in any way, but there will be an issue about them. Could the Minister tell us now, or perhaps later, what their role will be?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

There has been quite extensive discussion in the House of the operational independence of chief officers of police and the role of the directly elected police and crime commissioner, and that debate is continuing in the other place. In that context, the hon. Gentleman will probably be aware of the concept of the strategic policing requirement and the obligations of  individual police forces to adhere to that requirement in respect of obligations and requirements that cross borders and require join-up. That issue has been given careful scrutiny in the House and continues to be given careful scrutiny in the other place, as the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill proceeds. It is in that context that the need for that join-up is understood, and the operational independence of the relevant police chief is part of that arrangement. I do not know whether that is of assistance to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

It is, and I thank the Minister for his explanation. He has talked about the additional resources that will go to the security forces because of the terrorism prevention and investigation measure notices, but I am concerned about how things will work if those resources come out of the local police force’s resources. The elected police commissioner will want to have a view about that. Have the Government thought about what involvement the elected police commissioner will have?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

That touches on a broader debate about the strategic policing requirement, because the same arguments could be made in respect of other types of organised cross-border criminality. Counter-terrorism and the work that is undertaken to fight it are one part of the work on the strategic policing requirement. Ultimately, the police have operational independence to act in the way they deem appropriate, cognisant of the responsibilities they have in securing and delivering national security. Such matters will be addressed through the strategic policing requirement.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham, who is now in his place, asked us to look at whether the relevant prosecuting authority for service personnel was dealt with in clause 10, and I thank him for highlighting that point. We will certainly consider that further in the context of the Bill, so I am grateful to him. The provisions in the clause are important as they will aid and assist investigation. We therefore contend that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East

I was hoping that the Minister would offer a response to my specific point about when a chief constable responsible for the continuing investigation is a different chief constable from the one responsible for the supervision of the individual in the agreed location. In my speech, I pointed out that chief constables may have slightly different priorities—one may want a slightly looser set of conditions; another may want a slightly tighter set of conditions. I asked how that conflict might be resolved, as we would not want the Secretary of State to involve herself in operational policing. I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity to respond to that point.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is always the way that points are sometimes inadvertently not addressed when we have a debate that straddles the morning and afternoon sitting. I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman; it was my intention to respond to the point that he raised this morning.

We do not see a conflict. When seeking to attain a TPIM, there is join-up between the security services, the police and the advice that is given to the Secretary of  State in seeking to obtain the order, to set the conditions and attach them. A lead force will be responsible for the investigation of underlying terrorism-related activity that may be ascribed to an individual. It will have responsibility for the consultation duty that is laid out in clause 10. Ultimately, however, the police have a duty to protect the public too, not just the Secretary of State. In our experience of control orders, that tension has not existed. Ultimately, it is for the protection of the public that everyone seeks to act. Therefore, practically, in terms of the experience of control orders, and in the application of the structure in connection to TPIMs, we do not see a conflict. That has not arisen, and we do not envisage it arising, because ultimately the Secretary of State, the police and all of us wish to see prosecutions. Equally, circumstances arise where the protection of the public is the driving factor, so there is that alignment.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East

The Minister must be correct to assert that that is less likely to be a conflict under TPIM than it may have been under control orders, if I understand his argument, because it is my submission that the fact that there is no power of relocation should mean that the same chief constable responsible for the investigation would probably be responsible for the supervision of the offender. In a case where there were different chief constables, would the chief constable responsible for the ongoing investigation be involved in discussions about the conditions that the Secretary of State may wish to impose?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

At the outset, the Secretary of State sets out the conditions of a TPIM notice based on the assessment provided to her by the security services and the police. That is subject to an ongoing assessment of its reasonableness and appropriateness. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of the continuing duty on the Secretary of State, which we will come on to in clause 11, to keep under review whether certain conditions are met. I have no doubt, therefore, that the Secretary of State will receive continuing advice. We anticipate that there will be a join-up between the security services and the police, and they will advise and make appropriate recommendations to the Secretary of State on a continuing basis. We do not see the tension that the right hon. Gentleman suggests might occur. The join-up in the arrangements already exists. We envisage that it will continue and will deliver on the national security agenda. I hope those comments will reassure the right hon. Gentleman and that clause 10 will stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 10 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.