5 Baroness Williams of Trafford debates involving the Ministry of Defence

Tue 11th Jul 2023
Wed 6th Feb 2019
Offensive Weapons Bill
Grand Committee

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 15th Jan 2019
Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 3rd Dec 2018
Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Lords Chamber

Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wed 31st Oct 2018
Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Wagner Group

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Tuesday 11th July 2023

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, it was actually the turn of the Cross Benches, although I do not know what the Lord Speaker will decide, because we are now out of time.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that while the existence of mercenary groups such as the French Foreign Legion—which was involved, along with other countries in the West, in expanding into Africa and creating colonies and wealth—was acceptable in the 19th and 20th centuries, it is totally unacceptable in the more moral climate of the 21st century?

Offensive Weapons Bill

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for explaining his amendment, which he went through at Second Reading. I cannot say that I disagree with the sentiment behind it, because we all know of cases where people have been threatened with fake acid. I also remember the spate of fake gun attacks a few years ago. When the person states that the substance is corrosive and it is not, that adds to the victim’s distress—there is absolutely no doubt about it—and such things cannot be tolerated. But as my noble and learned friend Lord Garnier and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, pointed out, criminal offences are already available that allow such fake acid attacks to be dealt with. Perhaps I should outline some of them.

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Moved by
73A: After Clause 31, insert the following new Clause—
“PART 5KNIFE CRIME PREVENTION ORDERSKnife crime prevention orders made otherwise than on convictionKnife crime prevention order made otherwise than on conviction
(1) A court may make a knife crime prevention order under this section in respect of a person aged 12 or over (the “defendant”) if the following conditions are met.(2) The first condition is that a person has, by complaint to the court, applied for a knife crime prevention order under this section in accordance with section (Requirements for application for order under section (Knife crime prevention order made otherwise than on conviction)).(3) The second condition is that the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, on at least two occasions in the relevant period, the defendant had a bladed article with them without good reason or lawful authority—(a) in a public place in England and Wales,(b) on school premises, or(c) on further education premises.(4) In subsection (3) “the relevant period” means the period of two years ending with the day on which the order is made; but an event may be taken into account for the purposes of that subsection only if it occurred after the coming into force of this section.(5) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3), a person has good reason for having a bladed article with them in a place mentioned in that subsection if the person has the article with them in that place—(a) for use at work,(b) for educational purposes,(c) for religious reasons, or(d) as part of any national costume.(6) The third condition is that the court thinks that it is necessary to make the order—(a) to protect the public in England and Wales from the risk of harm involving a bladed article,(b) to protect any particular members of the public in England and Wales (including the defendant) from such risk, or(c) to prevent the defendant from committing an offence involving a bladed article.(7) A knife crime prevention order under this section is an order which, for a purpose mentioned in subsection (6)—(a) requires the defendant to do anything described in the order;(b) prohibits the defendant from doing anything described in the order.(8) See also—(a) section (Provisions of knife crime prevention order) (which makes further provision about the requirements and prohibitions which may be imposed by a knife crime prevention order under this section),(b) section (Requirements included in knife crime prevention order etc) (which makes further provision about the inclusion of requirements in a knife crime prevention order under this section), and(c) section (Duration of knife crime prevention order etc) (which makes provision about the duration of a knife crime prevention order under this section).(9) Section 127 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 (time limits) does not apply to a complaint under this section. (10) In this section—“court”—(a) in the case of a defendant who is under the age of 18, means a magistrates’ court which is a youth court, and(b) in any other case, means a magistrates’ court which is not a youth court;“further education premises” means land used solely for the purposes of—(a) an institution within the further education sector (within the meaning of section 91 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992), or(b) a 16 to 19 Academy (within the meaning of section 1B of the Academies Act 2010),excluding any land occupied solely as a dwelling by a person employed at the institution or the 16 to 19 Academy;“public place” includes any place to which, at the time in question, the public have or are permitted access, whether on payment or otherwise;“school premises” means any land used for the purposes of a school, excluding any land occupied solely as a dwelling by a person employed at the school; and “school” has the meaning given by section 4 of the Education Act 1996.”Member’s explanatory statement
This Clause and the other amendments of the Minister to insert new Clauses after Clause 31 would make provision for knife crime prevention orders and interim knife crime prevention orders imposing requirements and prohibitions on defendants and subjecting them to certain notification requirements. The proposal is that the Clauses should become Part 5 of the Bill and the Bill should be divided into Parts when it is reprinted.
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the new clauses to be inserted into the Bill by Amendments 73A to 73U introduce knife crime prevention orders. These new civil preventative orders will provide the police with the powers they need to more effectively manage people engaged, or at risk of engaging, in knife crime and help steer them away from crime.

As noble Lords in the Committee will agree, knife crime is devastating for victims, their families and for our communities. We must do all that we can to combat this epidemic. The latest police recorded crime figures, published by the Office for National Statistics in January for the year ending September 2018, show that there were 39,818 knife-related offences—an 8% increase compared with the previous year. Noble Lords will not have failed to notice the headlines in the Evening Standard on Monday.

The number of homicides where a knife or sharp instrument was used has increased by 10% in the last year to 276 offences. Of all recorded homicides in the latest data, over four in 10 involved a knife or sharp instrument. That proportion is higher than the previous year when the figure was 37%. Police-recorded offences involving the,

“possession of an article with a blade or point” ,

rose by 18% to 19,644 in the year ending September 2018. That rise is consistent with increases seen over the last five years and is the highest figure since the series began in the year ending March 2009.

The total number of homicides in London in 2018 was 134. The Metropolitan Police had the largest volume increase, accounting for 35% of the total increase. In 2017, there were a total of 116 homicides.

It is vital that the police have the powers they need to prevent knife crime and protect the public from the devastating effects of violent crime on our streets. It is already too late when we prosecute young people for knife crime. The police have asked for a new order which will help them to manage those at risk of knife crime in their communities.

Knife crime prevention orders will provide the police with the powers they need to steer people away from knife crime, where there is evidence that they carry a knife. The orders are aimed at those young people most at risk of engaging in knife crime, people the police call “habitual knife carriers” of any age, and those who have been convicted of a violent offence involving knives. Their simple purpose is to help protect the public, and to help respondents leave a dangerous lifestyle involving knife-related crime. In the case of young people, the police may have intelligence that a young person routinely carries a knife but, for a variety of reasons, they have been unable to charge them with a possession offence. Before risky behaviour escalates, a KCPO could be in place to divert a person away from a life of prolific offending.

People whom the police deem to be habitual knife carriers could also benefit from KCPOs. These are people who may have previous convictions for knife crime, or on whom the police have intelligence that they regularly carry knives. The KCPO would enable the police to manage the risk of future offending. This is the cohort that the police see as their main target for these orders. It is estimated that there are some 3,000 habitual knife carriers across England and Wales. The orders will enable the courts to place restrictions on individuals such as curfews and geographical restrictions, but also requirements such as engaging in positive interventions. KCPOs are not a punishment, but a means to support the individual who is subject to an order to stay away from crime.

It may be helpful if I explain how the order will work. KCPOs are available on application and on conviction. An application for a KCPO can be made by a relevant chief police officer to a magistrates’ court or, in the case of young people, the youth court. A court dealing with an application may make a KCPO only if two conditions are met. The first is that the court is satisfied to the civil standard—on the balance of probabilities—that the defendant had a bladed article, without good reason, in a public place or education premises, on at least two occasions in the preceding two years. The second condition is that the court considers the order necessary to protect the public or prevent the defendant committing an offence. An application can be made with or without notice, but it will be made without notice only on an exceptional basis. If an application is made without notice to the defendant, the court may only make an interim order, which will take effect on service and will last until a full hearing takes place.

A KCPO is also available on conviction following an application from the prosecution, and where two conditions are met. The first condition is that the defendant is convicted of a relevant offence. This means a violent offence, or an offence where a bladed article was used by the defendant or another in the commission of the offence, or the defendant or another had a bladed article with them when the offence was committed. The second condition is, again, that the court considers the order necessary to protect the public or prevent the defendant committing an offence.

A KCPO may require a defendant to do anything described in the order, and/or prohibit the defendant from doing anything described in the order. The KCPO can include any reasonable prohibition or requirement which the court is satisfied is necessary, proportionate and enforceable. A KCPO which imposes a requirement must specify a person who is responsible for supervising compliance with the requirement. For instance, if the requirement is attendance of a knife awareness intervention, the person designated to supervise compliance may be the youth worker providing the intervention.

KCPOs will have a maximum duration of two years and must be reviewed by the courts after 12 months. KCPOs issued to under-18s are expected to be subject to more regular reviews. There are provisions for variation, renewal or discharge of KCPOs on application by the defendant or the police. There are also provisions for appeal against the making of the order. A breach of the order without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence subject to a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

KCPOs are closing a gap in the law that has hindered the police in taking an active rather than a reactive approach to diverting people away from knife crime and managing the risk of knife crime offending. They provide an opportunity to take a proactive and preventive approach, re-engaging with them at an early stage and helping to protect those most at risk of using knives and, of course, of falling victim to them.

There are other civil orders available, such as gang injunctions and criminal behaviour orders, but not all individuals in the targeted cohort are gang members. Criminal behaviour orders could be used in some cases, but such orders are available only when a court is sentencing a person for an offence. It is important that the police have the right tools for the right situations and can make use of them.

Of course, the police have a range of powers to deal with knife crime, including the existing offence of possessing a bladed article in public without good reason, and stop and search powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. However, given the unacceptable scale of knife crime, it is important that the police have a broad sweep of possible powers to use as circumstances dictate. KCPOs will be a valuable addition to the tools available to the police to disrupt harmful behaviours, while avoiding the premature criminalisation of individuals. We expect them to be targeted at a relatively small but high-risk cohort.

This Government are determined to do all that we can to protect the public and keep people safe. This is why we are redoubling our efforts to end this senseless crime. The introduction of KCPOs has been welcomed by the National Police Chiefs Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. On behalf of the NPCC, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Bell said:

“The introduction of knife crime prevention orders will provide us with further means to help deter young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime”,


while West Yorkshire’s Labour PCC has said that he fully supports the new knife crime prevention orders.

I commend the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, who is not in his place, for his prescience in tabling Amendment 77, which also calls for the introduction of KCPOs. I hope one of the noble Lords on the Labour Front Bench will agree that we should grasp the opportunity provided by the Bill to legislate now for KCPOs, so that we can do everything in our power to stop the tragic loss of life and serious injury caused by knife crime that is all too evident on our streets. I beg to move.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for meeting me to discuss these amendments before today’s debate. It will come as no surprise to her that we vehemently oppose them and will object, should she insist on them at this stage.

Noble Lords will recall ASBOs, anti-social behaviour orders, introduced by the then Labour Government in the face of an epidemic of anti-social behaviour. They were opposed for many reasons. They were an order that could be made on the basis of the balance of probabilities against very young children with no previous convictions, yet the breach of one of those orders was a criminal offence with a custodial sentence attached. In effect, the criminal burden of proof—beyond reasonable doubt—was circumvented by making the order subject only to the civil burden of proof, while a breach of the order resulted in a criminal conviction. As a result, hundreds of young people acquired a criminal record through that unfair and unreasonable route. This was rightly seen as disproportionate, and the subsequent coalition Government—in a move championed by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May—removed ASBOs from the statute book.

Other reasons for scrapping ASBOs included their ineffectiveness in curbing anti-social behaviour, the high rate of breach of the conditions of the orders, the difficulty in monitoring compliance and the resources required to ensure their enforcement. In some communities, having an ASBO was seen as a badge of honour, and peers looked up to someone if he had acquired one.

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Earl of Caithness Portrait The Earl of Caithness (Con)
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My Lords, following what the noble Lord just said, I wonder whether my noble friend would consider this. If the amendment is likely to be defeated, she could withdraw it and return to Committee as the first part of Report—I remember doing that with a Home Office Bill—so that given the concerns around the Committee, we could have a proper Committee stage and then very soon after that, come back on Report. In Committee, we can talk twice, and that should give the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, a chance to put down something constructive rather than the constant destructive arguments.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I have not found the comments destructive, although I thank my noble friend for the points that he made. I will not press the government amendments today. I take on board completely the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, about the timing of the amendments. We will bring the amendments back on Report when again we will have a full chance to discuss them. The practice of noble Lords speaking only once on Report has fallen slightly by the wayside because noble Lords seem to speak several times in Committee and on Report.

To sum up today’s debate, we all seek the same end, but the means by which we would get there differ. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, at the outset for clarifying a number of points that I did not know the answer to. He has saved me having to write to the Committee. I also thank my noble friend Lady Newlove for the very real-life experience with which she speaks and which we never fail to be moved by.

It is clear from the debate that some of the support for KCPOs is qualified. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick—and the theme was carried on by other noble Lords—said that KCPOs seek to criminalise children. As the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, said, their aim is quite the reverse. They are to prevent young people getting into criminality.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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I never suggested that the aim of the orders is to criminalise young people. I said that young people being criminalised is the inevitable outcome of the orders.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My words were that the noble Lord said the orders risk criminalising children, rather than having the aim of criminalising children. The aim is to prevent that. As the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle said, young people are often the victims. Other noble Lords made the same point. We have a Catch-22 situation where they are both victims and perpetrators.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, questioned the benefits of KCPOs, given his experience. Their aim is to have a preventive effect. Far from fast-tracking young people into a criminal record, the aim is quite the reverse. The orders are an alternative to prosecution. The imposition of restrictions aims to divert young people away from the criminal justice system. Of course, where a defendant is found not guilty of a violent offence, the option to give a KCPO remains open to the police, further keeping the young person out of the criminal justice system.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, asked a very good question: what about the adults? Adults can be part and parcel of the problem, but can also be part of the solution. She is absolutely right that we must not forget the role of adults in all this.

At the outset, I reiterate that KCPOs are not punitive in nature. They are an additional tool for the police to help steer those subject to the orders away from knife crime. They are aimed at young people at risk of engaging in knife crime, at habitual knife carriers of any age and at those who have been convicted of a violent or knife-related offence. The Government are very concerned by the increase in knife crime, as other noble Lords have articulated. We are determined to do all we can to address it. We have set out a comprehensive programme of action in our Serious Violence Strategy to tackle knife crime and prevent young people being drawn into crime and violence, but we know that we need to do more. That is why we listened when the police—those on the front line of such activity, who are best-placed to know the nature of the problem and the profile of the people who carry knives—told us that they need additional powers to deal more effectively with people being drawn into knife crime.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about the approach that the police might take when responding to a breach of a KCPO. Clearly, it would be for the police to decide what action to take where such a breach occurs. Similarly, it would be for the CPS to consider whether there is enough evidence against the defendant for a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute them. The public interest will likely vary from case to case, taking into account factors such as the seriousness of the offence, the harm caused and the proportionality of prosecution in response. It has never been the rule that a prosecution will automatically take place where the evidential test is met, so prosecutors may advise on or authorise out-of-court disposals as an alternative to prosecution, which is not necessarily the end result. In addition, a person commits an offence and can be convicted only if a breach occurs without reasonable excuse. The maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment. It would be for the courts to determine the appropriate sentence in the usual way in any given case, so two years is not necessarily the end result and a community sentence is an option, too.

Unfortunately, as we have seen from the press so often recently, an increasing number of young people carry knives. Some are as young as eight. Many come to the attention of the police after teachers or youth workers have already tried to deal with the problem without reporting the incident to the police, for fear that a young person would be criminalised. However, as we have all said today, by the time that young person is prosecuted it is too late. Furthermore, I am sure noble Lords will agree that prosecution of young children is not always the most appropriate response if they are found with a knife. We have had those discussions today. KCPOs will enable the police and others to address the underlying issues and steer those young people away from knife crime through positive interventions.

The amendments contain important safeguards to ensure that KCPOs are not used inappropriately against young people under 18. In particular, the amendments require the police to consult the relevant youth offending team before an order is made. Once made, an order must be reviewed by the courts after 12 months. The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, asked why 12 months was put in place. That is as a safeguard to ensure that a review is carried out. We fully expect the statutory guidance to provide for more regular reviews where a KCPO is issued to a person under the age of 18.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked why on orders made on application we have not adopted the approach applied to anti-social behaviour injunctions, where a breach is dealt with as a contempt of court rather than a criminal offence. In developing the KCPO, we considered that approach, but it is important to remember that we are dealing with individuals at risk of engaging in serious criminality, not simply those involved in anti-social behaviour, as debilitating as that can be for victims and communities. KCPOs will be used for individuals with a history of carrying a knife. Many will be habitual knife carriers, and we are clear that these orders will not be effective if those subject to a KCPO do not see that breaching the order would have serious consequences. They must include the possibility, at least, of a criminal prosecution and a custodial sentence on conviction. Other civil orders of this kind adopt the same approach, including sexual risk orders and serious crime prevention orders.

I am indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, for his invaluable contribution, which highlighted the operational need for these new orders. The noble Lord made a couple of very interesting suggestions: first, that the scope of KCPOs be extended to help tackle gun crime and the use of corrosives, and, secondly, on the use of electronic monitoring. Given the prevalence of knife crime, it is right that it should be the initial focus of the new orders but as we evaluate their effectiveness over time, we most certainly can explore whether they might have wider application. We can explore the possibility of adding an electronic monitoring requirement to these orders once they have bedded in.

The noble Lord asked about stop-and-search powers in relation to someone subject to a KCPO. We believe that the police already have adequate stop-and-search powers under PACE to monitor whether someone is carrying a knife. As he knows, if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that someone subject to a KCPO is carrying a knife, the officer can stop and search the individual under those existing powers. He also asked when the orders might start. The court may provide discretion that the order takes effect from release, when the defendant ceases to be subject to a custodial sentence, or if the defendant ceases to be on licence. It may take effect earlier while a defendant is on day release and subject to stringent conditions.

A number of noble Lords asked me about funding and tackling the issue locally. They will know, from statements I have made, of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary’s intention to make up to £970 million available to the police next year. On a more local level, we are providing £1.5 million in 2018-19 for the community fund, which has funded 68 projects, and £1 million in 2019-20 to help communities to tackle knife crime. The Committee will have heard earlier today about the youth endowment fund, which has £200 million over 10 years to build evidence for early intervention. It will focus on those most at risk of youth violence, including those displaying signs such as truancy, aggression and involvement in anti-social behaviour.

We can take into account many of the issues raised today when preparing the statutory guidance provided for under Amendment 73S, and as part of the pilot we intend to run in the Metropolitan Police district before implementing these orders across England and Wales. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has signalled that he cannot support these amendments today I will of course withdraw them, with regret. However, the Committee can be assured that I will return to them at Report.

Amendment 73A withdrawn.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That the Bill do now pass.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I extend my thanks for the wide range of expertise from around your Lordships’ House that has provided such a constructive and measured approach to what is a very serious Bill that has passed through the House. I thank first my noble friend Lord Howe, who has helped me through all stages of the Bill, and my two noble friends Lady Manzoor and Lady Barran for their contribution as Government Whips.

On the Opposition Front Bench, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and, of course, Lord Rosser—I express the feeling of the whole House in wishing him well and looking forward to seeing him back in his place very soon. On the Lib Dem Benches, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lords, Lord Paddick, Lord Marks and Lord Stunell, for their contribution. Then, of course, there are the heavyweights on the Cross Benches—I refer not to their frames but to their intellects—the noble Lords, Lord Carlile and Lord Anderson, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller; I thank them all for the helpful advice they have given me in proceeding with this Bill. Finally, I thank the officials from both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice who have supported us as the Bill proceeded.

I am very pleased at this stage that we have achieved an outcome where there is a broad consensus on all aspects of the Bill bar one: whether there should be an independent review of Prevent. We continue to reflect on that matter in advance of the Bill returning to the House of Commons. In any event, I hope that this issue will not stand in the way of the Bill securing Royal Assent. On that basis, I beg to move.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, Amendments 1 and 2, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, concern issues that we discussed in Committee. I listened carefully to the debate then and have listened carefully to the debate this afternoon. I have great respect for the noble Baroness but I want to make it clear that if she puts her amendment to the vote today and divides the House, we will not be with her. For me, the crucial word is “and”, which links new subsections (1A)(a) and (1A)(b). My noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey made the point that we need to read and consider both paragraphs together.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, put it much more eloquently and succinctly than I can and he has done so again today. In Committee, he said:

“First, it recognises that even in this relatively gun-free”,


society,

“if someone expresses support in a certain way for a proscribed organisation, it may put some of our fellow citizens in mortal danger of their lives.”.

He went on:

“It does not criminalise the expression of support, rather it forbids and criminalises the expression of support on certain terms as set out in proposed new Section 1A(b), and that is the test of recklessness. Recklessness requires awareness of the risk that is being taken by the speaker”.—[Official Report, 29/10/18; cols. 1130-31.]


I agree very much with that position and, on the basis of it and what I have heard today, we will not support the noble Baroness in the Lobbies today. I did not accept at all her point that you can be supportive of an organisation but not support it. I think that if you are supportive of it, you do support an organisation. The clause as drafted is reasonable and, for me, it strikes the right balance.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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I thank noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, for moving her amendment. She has set out her position on this clearly and consistently, but I hope that your Lordships will indulge me if I rehearse the reasons why the Government cannot support the amendments.

As the noble Baroness said, Clause 1 amends Section 12(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2000, under which it is currently an offence to invite another person to support a proscribed terrorist organisation. An invitation in this context may be explicit or indirect, and may be implicit or opaque, but for a conviction to be secured the prosecution must be able to prove that the person intended to influence others to support the terrorist organisation. I recognise that, when considered in the abstract, this may appear to be the right threshold for the offence. However, in its operation it has been shown to leave a significant gap in the ability of the police, the CPS and the courts to act against hate preachers and radicalisers, as noble Lords have pointed out. This is because such individuals will often be careful to err on just the right side of the law. They will express opinions and beliefs which, in the judgment of a reasonable person, would be likely to have the effect of encouraging others to support proscribed terrorist groups but will stop short of statements which would go far enough to allow the CPS to prove that they intended such encouragement. This is despite them clearly and unambiguously risking harm to the public by virtue of their expressions.

This gap is illustrated by some of the cases to which I have previously drawn the House’s attention, and which were described by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu in his evidence to the Public Bill Committee in the House of Commons. I urge noble Lords to examine that evidence carefully. In those cases, it was not possible to prosecute prolific and high-profile preachers of hate who had made highly inflammatory public speeches which were very clear about the speaker’s own support for terrorist organisations and methodology and which were on any reasonable assessment likely to cause their audience to be influenced to support a proscribed organisation. They included open admiration for Daesh and other terrorist groups and praise for their methods, ideology and activities.

However, I hope I will reflect the views of many noble Lords when I say that the current position strikes the wrong balance if it allows such obviously harmful behaviour to go unchallenged. This is behaviour that can have a powerful effect in initiating or moving along the process of radicalisation. There are radicalisers and hate preachers who have, time and again, been shown to have played a prominent and influential role in the backgrounds of those who have been convicted of planning or carrying out terrorist attacks.

Clause 1 is intended to close the gap I have described by bringing within the ambit of the Section 12(1)(a) offence individuals who are reckless as to whether they will cause this harm to arise. We have previously debated what is meant by “reckless”, but I think it is worth briefly setting this out again, before I turn to my concerns with the noble Baroness’s proposed amendments to Clause 1.

To answer the noble Baroness’s question, the term “reckless” is a well-established and well-understood concept in the criminal law, and one with which the courts are familiar, in particular as a result of clear case law established by the then Appellate Committee of this House in 2003 in the case of R v G and another. A person acts recklessly where he or she is aware that in the circumstances there is a risk that their conduct will result in the proscribed outcome, and they none the less engage in that conduct in circumstances where a reasonable person would not.

So, under Clause 1, a person might act recklessly if, in the course of addressing an audience consisting primarily of individuals whom he believes are of an Islamist extremist mindset, he speaks of his own support for Daesh, believing he has a degree of influence over the audience and being aware of the risk that members of the audience will be influenced by him to support Daesh. I hope noble Lords will not disagree when I say that a reasonable person would not, and should not, proceed to make that speech in those circumstances. A person who none the less does so would therefore be doing so recklessly. It may not be possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt an intention to influence their audience to support Daesh, but I consider it appropriate and proportionate that the courts can hold them to account if they are reckless in this way. Clause 1 will ensure that this is the case.

Turning now to Amendment 1, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, set out a concern that the reference to a statement that is “supportive” of a proscribed organisation might risk a person being found guilty of a terrorism offence having tweeted their support for a legitimate political objective which happens to be shared by a proscribed terrorist organisation. She gave the examples of support for an independent Kurdistan and for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Occupied Territories, both of which are entirely legitimate standpoints but which are also objectives of, respectively, the PKK and the military wings of Hamas and Hezbollah. I have previously assured her, and I am happy to repeat those assurances, that this is not the case. In her example, there would be no suggestion that the person supported terrorist methods to achieve the political objectives to which they aspired or that they supported any proscribed terrorist organisation. There would, therefore, be no basis on which a reasonable person might equate such a statement with support for the PKK or for the proscribed wings of Hamas or Hezbollah or might anticipate that a listener would be influenced to support those organisations. As such, the statements would not meet the recklessness test and would clearly not be caught by Clause 1.

The noble Baroness further highlighted in Committee that the existing Section 12(1)(a) offence refers to,

“inviting support for a proscribed organisation”,

whereas Clause 1 refers to,

“opinion or belief that is supportive of a proscribed organisation”.

She suggested that “supportive” is, intentionally, a broader wording, which will cast the net of the offence more widely than would be the case if the word “supports” were used instead.

I think we are all clear that there is no difference in meaning in the context of the drafting. The existing Section 12(1) offence criminalises those who invite others to support a terrorist group. That word has the wider meaning that the noble Baroness described, repeating what the court said in Choudary, but in the new offence, we are talking about an opinion or belief. As a matter of syntax, an opinion or belief cannot support an issue; a person supports something. That is why parliamentary counsel has used the word “supportive” here. There is no intention to introduce a wider concept than the existing offence. Crucially, new Section 12(1)(b) requires that a person will be encouraged to support a proscribed group by the expression.

However, I can offer the noble Baroness a clear assurance that it would in any event have no meaningful impact on the effect of the clause, the scope of the offence or the range of causes that would be caught by it. This would be exactly the same whichever formulation were used.

Amendment 2 would remove the recklessness test and replace it with one that effectively repeats the existing position in the Section 12(1)(a) offence, so it would still be necessary to prove the same deliberate act of invitation to support.

The noble Baroness has made it clear that she does not support the purpose of Clause 1, and I respect that view, even if I do not agree with it, but I should make it clear to noble Lords that the amendment would entirely nullify the utility of this clause and, as such, were it to be made, we might as well simply strike the whole clause from the Bill.

I hope that with that explanation, noble Lords are satisfied and the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps she might address the remarks of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I heard what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, had to say, but I do not agree. I hope that the reasons I set out explained why I do not agree.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her assurances. I do not accept that Amendment 1 nullifies Clause 1; that is not true. I thank the other noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon.

I feel that I represent in this House someone against whom the law has been used illegally on other occasions. I am very law-abiding, I am extremely respectful of the law, but, at the same time, I have been targeted by the police. Therefore, I come from a particular perspective, which is that if definitions are not tight enough, they can be used against the innocent. This is personal. I have been in your Lordships’ House for five years and feel passionately about a lot of issues and have moved amendments to many Bills, but this is the first time that I am moved to divide the House.

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Lord Judd Portrait Lord Judd (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare an interest because of my professional and voluntary past, as recorded in the register. We are touching on immensely significant issues. I have great respect for those responsible for the grouping of amendments, and have seen its effectiveness over many years, but there are occasions when the overlap between two different groups becomes particularly significant.

I note that the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, which deals with the matter that I am about to raise in specific terms, is equally significant and perhaps more controversial in this area. I am talking about the invaluable and courageous contribution made by dedicated people to the long-term task of peacebuilding. They go into an area for a long period of time and become what might be referred to in other spheres as embedded—they become part of the local population by the very nature of their work. They are trying to build the reconciliation and understanding which is necessary for a long-term solution.

Unfortunately, we are limited by the grouping of the amendments. I have had a certain amount of discussion with those responsible and very much value, as I always do, their advice. However, it is fair to say that I am uneasy. It seems to me that by the very nature of the work of peacebuilding—sometimes having to get close to people who are not necessarily very attractive or who are controversial—people could give a police officer grounds for arrest on the basis that we have heard explained.

It is therefore absolutely essential that at every moment in our relevant discussion of this part of the Bill, the Minister is at pains to spell out that bona fide peacebuilders are exempt and protected. Otherwise, this could have terrible dumbing-down effects on those who would be anxious to do such work. It would put great strain on them in terms of what could happen to them and would therefore hamper their work considerably. If that were to happen, it would be a great loss. No matter how important the humanitarian dimensions—humanitarian aid and the rest, to which I will take second place to nobody in terms of my support—it is very often in this area of peacebuilding that the really significant work for the future is undertaken. I therefore hope that the Minister will take this point seriously and perhaps take the opportunity to pay tribute to those who sometimes undertake this work, and that we can be sure that exemptions in any other sphere, in all aspects of the operation of the Bill, apply in this case.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for taking us through an explanation of his amendment and explaining it with reference to Amendment 15 and his point about people who have a reasonable excuse.

In relation to viewing terrorist information in Clause 3 and entering or remaining in a designated area in Clause 4, the amendments would reconfigure the offences. Rather than the person who committed the offence of engaging in prohibited conduct being acquitted because they use the defence of having a reasonable excuse, there would instead be an exception—they would not be capable of committing the offence in the first place in circumstances where they have a reasonable excuse.

In relation to the offence of publishing images under Clause 2, there is currently no “reasonable excuse” defence. Rather, the offence is committed only if an image of an article is published in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation. Amendment 3 would insert the same reasonable excuse exception that I have just described, which would operate in addition to the reasonable suspicion requirement concerning the circumstances in which the image is published.

Noble Lords have set out their arguments that there should be, at the outset, no question that a person might be guilty of an offence if they have a reasonable excuse for engaging in the activity covered by these offences. It has been argued that that approach will prevent the CPS from charging a person in these circumstances rather than the person potentially being charged and then having to invoke a “reasonable excuse” defence. I recognise that the approach of structurally rearranging the legislation may seemingly provide a greater degree of comfort to a person who finds themselves under suspicion in respect of one of these offences despite having a reasonable excuse, but I am not persuaded that these amendments would secure the outcome sought in relation to Clauses 3 and 4.

Amendments 4, 5, 8 and 9 are unnecessary as they would, in practice, make no material difference to the position of subjects of investigations and of defendants facing a charge under these clauses or on the matters that the prosecution will need to prove and that the court will need to resolve.

We have debated how the existing safeguards influence investigative and prosecutorial discretion, and how they prevent cases from proceeding where there is evidence that the person has a reasonable excuse. The amendments in my name which expand on these provisions in Clauses 3 and 4, and which we will shortly come to, will strengthen these safeguards further by providing indicative lists of reasonable excuses.

I shall go briefly over this ground again. Charges may be brought only if the CPS determines that the full code test is met. This is met only if there is evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction, and if so, whether a prosecution would be in the public interest. Those are very important points. If there is evidence to suggest that the person has a reasonable excuse for engaging in the otherwise prohibited conduct, there will not be a reasonable prospect of conviction because they will be able to successfully invoke the “reasonable excuse” defence. Furthermore, it would not be in the public interest and would be fundamentally inappropriate for prosecutors to charge a person who they believe is likely to be innocent of any criminal conduct as a result of having such a defence. The effect of this is the same as that envisaged by the noble Lord’s amendments. In either case, the CPS will not bring a prosecution if there is evidence that the person has a reasonable excuse which the CPS considers could not be disproved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt.

Furthermore, neither the existing model nor that proposed by the noble Lord provide immunity from either investigation or prosecution purely on the basis that the person states that they have a reasonable excuse. Under either model, the police will need to investigate the person to establish what activity they have been involved in and whether they may have a reasonable excuse for it, and to gather evidence.

It will rightly remain open to the CPS to prosecute if it believes, following the investigation by the police and on the basis of the evidence gathered, that the person does not have a reasonable excuse, despite any assertion that the person might make to the contrary. Under either model it would then be for the person to advance their reasonable excuse, for the prosecution to disprove it beyond reasonable doubt, and ultimately for the jury to determine whether or not it is a reasonable excuse. Unless we were to introduce a unilateral immunity from prosecution for any person who declares themselves to be innocent, this must always be the position and the noble Lord’s amendments would not change it.

Although these amendments would not make a significant change to the practical operation of the law in this area, they would depart from the commonly taken approach in the criminal law where offences provide a “reasonable excuse” defence. In particular, they would overturn what is a well understood and settled position, with clear case law, in relation to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act, which Clause 3 amends. I do not think that it would be wise to do so unless there was a very persuasive case for it, which I do not think is being made here.

I turn finally to Amendment 3. Clause 2 in its current form does not make any provision in relation to reasonable excuses. But it is not an offence of strict liability and it cannot be committed by the mere fact of publishing an image. Rather, it is committed only in particular circumstances which the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt. These are where the image is published in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

We have previously debated the operation of this aspect of Clause 2, and I am happy to reiterate the Government’s clear position that it will provide both certainty and protection for those who have a legitimate reason to publish images of flags or other articles associated with proscribed organisations, and who are not themselves members or supporters of the organisation. This clear limitation on the scope of the offence is the best way to provide a safeguard for individuals such as journalists or historians, and the addition of a reasonable excuse provision is not necessary in addition. Indeed, it would be likely to overcomplicate and undermine the operation of the offence.

The Government do not consider that a person should in fact have a reasonable excuse for publishing such an image in circumstances which do not meet the criteria of the offence; that is to say, where a court is satisfied that the circumstances give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a terrorist organisation. Indeed, I would query whether there is a scenario which would not be covered by the existing safeguard but which should be considered a reasonable excuse. I cannot think of one. For those reasons, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for her explanation. The Government seem to be relying on the CPS charging decision, which is very different from the decision that an operational police officer in an uncontrolled environment makes at the time about whether to arrest or not to arrest. The Minister said that there was no material difference, which there is not in terms of successful prosecution. However, it makes a difference to the likelihood of a person being arrested or people being deterred from engaging in completely legitimate activity for fear that they may be arrested, whether they have confidence in the police making the right decision or not.

The Minister talked about a commonly taken approach in law, yet I gave the example of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, where a person does not commit an offense of possessing an offensive weapon if they have “lawful authority” or “reasonable excuse”; that is determined by the operational officer on the street at the time. I am afraid that I find few of the Minister’s arguments compelling. However, we will return to this issue, particularly in relation to designated areas, when we come to the fifth group of amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Moved by
16: Clause 4, page 3, line 26, at end insert—
““relative” means spouse or civil partner, brother, sister, ancestor or lineal descendant;”
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Moved by
18: Clause 4, page 4, line 18, at end insert—
“(4A) Regulations under this section cease to have effect at the end of the period of 3 years beginning with the day on which they are made (unless they cease to have effect at an earlier time as a result of their revocation or by virtue of section 123(6ZA)(b)).(4B) Subsection (4A) does not prevent the making of new regulations to the same or similar effect.”
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Moved by
20: Clause 4, page 4, line 27, at end insert—
“(6ZAA) Regulations laid before Parliament under subsection (6ZA) designating an area outside the United Kingdom must be accompanied by a statement setting out the grounds on which the Secretary of State has determined that the condition for making the regulations referred to in section 58C(2) is met in relation to that area.”

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in the debate and my noble friend Lord Faulks for moving the amendment. In your Lordships’ House, every day is an education. My noble friend Lord Howe informs me that William Joyce was an Irishman falsely using a British passport, so perhaps the Irish among us should feel—

Lord Elystan-Morgan Portrait Lord Elystan-Morgan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

He was an American.

Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

He was an American who took a German passport in 1940 but was nevertheless convicted when he was a German citizen.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That is a very interesting history. I know that many Americans claim to be Irish but it is not every day that we get a chance to discuss a law that goes back to 1351. It has been an interesting debate.

Lord Judge Portrait Lord Judge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps I may ask a serious question. If we are debating an Act that was enacted in 1351, which has absolutely no application to today, through which, among other provisions, the Chancellor doing his job in his place of work is protected but not if he is slain at a party conference, would it not be a good idea for us to get rid of it altogether?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

If the noble and learned Lord will indulge me, I will come on to the point about hostile state activity and the place for this law in due course.

I share my noble friend’s belief that those who do harm to the United Kingdom and the people who live here should face justice. I am not entirely convinced that introducing a new offence of treason, as proposed by Amendment 34, is necessary. However, as my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, have said, this country has a comprehensive range of terrorism offences and other powers that this Bill will update for the digital age—it is ironic that we are talking about the digital age and 1351 in the same debate—to reflect modern patterns of radicalisation and terrorist offending.

The updated legislation will provide the police and intelligence services with the powers they need to protect the public from terrorism, and we do not consider it necessary also to create a new treason offence for this purpose. For example, the activities covered by subsection 2(a) and (b) of the new clause are likely already to be offences under the Terrorism Acts of 2000 and 2006, in particular the offence of preparation for terrorism in Section 5 of the 2006 Act. This proposed new clause would therefore add little to the existing offences on the statute book. However, it is worth noting that the sentencing guidelines applicable to the Section 5 offence provide that where the conduct was with a view to engaging in combat with UK forces, this is to be treated as an aggravating factor when sentencing.

We are aware of the need to update legislation to keep it relevant for the contemporary and future challenges we face. I do not have to remind noble Lords of the phenomenon we have seen in recent years of people travelling overseas, most notably to Iraq and Syria, to engage in terrorist-related activity. That is why the Bill introduces a new offence of entering or remaining in a designated area: to prevent UK nationals and residents from travelling abroad to take part in or help sustain future foreign conflicts, and to protect the public from the risk of terrorism.

Furthermore, prosecuting terrorists for treason would risk giving their actions a credibility—my noble friend Lord Faulks referred to seeing them as martyrs—glamour and political status that they do not deserve. It would indicate that we recognised terrorists as being in some formal sense at war with the state, rather than merely regarding them as dangerous criminals.

As outlined by the Prime Minister on 14 March in her announcement in response to the Salisbury incident, the Home Office is currently leading a review of all legislation applicable to hostile state activity. It is considering the full scope of hostile state activity and, where relevant, treason offences may be considered as part of this work, which is currently ongoing. My noble friend will recognise the need to get the form of any new offences right. The policy exchange paper published in July was a useful contribution to the debate, but we should not rush it.

I hope that, having had the opportunity to debate this important and interesting issue, my noble friend will be content to withdraw his amendment, in the knowledge that there is ongoing work in the Home Office to examine whether there are further gaps in our law, and in order to help us counter hostile state activity.

Earl Attlee Portrait Earl Attlee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am sure that the Committee is grateful to my noble friend the Minister for her comprehensive answer. She mentioned engaging Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Does she not think that engaging them ought to attract a life sentence automatically?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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As I said, it most certainly can be viewed as an aggravating factor when sentencing is taking place.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, Clause 12, as we have heard, is concerned with the notification requirements in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008; it inserts additional matters into the Act that have to be reported in respect of motor vehicles. Amendment 36 moved by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, sets out and includes the issue of borrowing or renting a vehicle. He rightly set out the whole issue about people renting or borrowing vehicles for use in the terrorist attacks that happened in Manchester, London and elsewhere. This is very sensible and proportionate amendment which identifies a potential loophole. I hope the Government will support it.

On Amendment 38, which amends Schedule 1 to the Bill, the noble Lord raised a very important point about the notification requirements for financial information— someone may have access to or may operate a bank account; they do not have to be the account holder. He made an important point about being the authorised signatory or being able to use a credit card. I am worried that, as it stands at present, the Bill could allow people to get around the notification requirements it proposes.

The noble Lord has raised important points on both amendments and I hope the Government can respond positively.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank both noble Lords for their contributions to the debate, and thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for what I believe are helpful amendments. I appreciate that they are intended to ensure more comprehensive coverage of the information to be notified.

Amendment 36 relates to the notification of the details of any motor vehicle which a registered terrorist offender is the registered keeper of, or acquires the right to use. Sadly, we have seen the use of motor vehicles as weapons in a number of recent terror attacks. Here in Parliament we have seen first-hand the devastating impact that such an attack can have, in the Westminster Bridge attack which took place last year. The benefits are obvious, ensuring that convicted terrorists are required to inform the police of any vehicle of which they have use.

I therefore fully recognise and support the intention of Amendment 36. It is essential that the provision should extend properly to vehicles which are borrowed or hired, which is the point the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made. Hired vehicles were used in both the Westminster Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks last year. The terrorists responsible for the London Bridge attack attempted to hire a much larger vehicle than the van that was eventually used in the attack. This was just in the UK. We have also seen the use of vehicles as weapons in the Nice truck attack in July 2016, the Las Ramblas attack in August 2017 and the Berlin Christmas market attack.

I assure the noble Lord that this issue was carefully considered in the drafting of Clause 12, and that the existing reference to vehicles which the terrorist offender acquires the right to use will fully cover vehicles that are borrowed or rented. The Explanatory Notes to the Bill make this point. I therefore suggest that Amendment 36 is not needed, and I hope the noble Lord will feel content to withdraw it.

Amendment 38 similarly relates to a possible gap in the information to be notified to the police, in this instance relating to financial accounts. As currently drafted, this clause specifies that an offender must provide details of any account that they hold with a financial institution, or that is held by a company through which they run a business. Amendment 38 would expand this to refer also to any financial account which the registered terrorist offender is entitled to operate. The noble Lord has explained that this is intended to cover a scenario where a terrorist seeks to use an account which is not held in their name but over which they have effective control, for example because it is held in the name of their child or a relative for whom they have a power of attorney.

I thank the noble Lord for this amendment, which may have considerable merit in ensuring that the notification requirements cover all accounts which a terrorist offender might be able to use for terrorism purposes. The amendment requires more detailed consideration but, for now, I hope the noble Lord will not press it pending that consideration, and on the assurance that I will let him know the outcome of that consideration ahead of Report.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, for his support, and for the comments of the Minister. I welcome the fact that the Government will look carefully at Amendment 38. On Amendment 36, I ask that the Government also look at whether, when somebody hires a car, the contract says effectively that the person does not have the right to use that vehicle for an illegal purpose; that could be a gap in the legislation as drafted. I hope that the Minister will appreciate that we are trying to be helpful and supportive in suggesting these amendments.

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I shall be very brief. My name and that of my noble friend Lord Kennedy are also attached to this amendment. As has been said, it reflects a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Human Rights. I simply comment that circumstances can change and therefore ask whether it is unreasonable that an individual covered by the enhanced notification requirements should be able to seek a review of the necessity and proportionality of those requirements, as recommended by the JCHR.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

My Lords, as noble Lords have said, Clause 12 strengthens the notification requirements under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 which apply to individuals convicted of terrorism offences, or offences with a terrorism connection, to enable the police to better manage the risk posed by such individuals. It does so by increasing the amount of information that registered terrorist offenders must notify to the police, in many respects bringing the requirements into line with those already in place for registered sex offenders.

The length of time that a terrorist offender is subject to the notification requirements varies depending on the length of sentence they receive, up to a maximum of 30 years for a person sentenced to 10 years’ or more imprisonment. The notification requirements are not onerous and do not place restrictions on an offender’s activities, but they do provide a proportionate means for the police to monitor the ongoing risk posed by a person who has been convicted of a terrorism offence and, where appropriate, to take action to mitigate any increased risk that they might pose.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has explained that her amendment is motivated by a concern that it is not appropriate for a convicted terrorist to be subject to the requirements for this length of time without the ongoing necessity and proportionality of this being reviewed. I understand the sentiment behind her amendment but I disagree. As I have said, the notification requirements are not disproportionately onerous, and they flow as a direct consequence of a conviction for a terrorism offence—a category of offence which is of a particular level of seriousness. The notification measures provide a real benefit to the police in providing a quite light-touch but effective means of monitoring the ongoing risk posed by such a person over an extended period of time.

There is benefit in this, as individuals who are of a sufficiently terrorist mindset that they have been convicted of a terrorism offence, particularly one serious enough to merit a lengthy sentence of 10 or more years, can retain that mindset and can disengage and then re-engage over such an extended period of time. As such, the notification requirements in their current duration are, I suggest, clearly both necessary and proportionate.

The noble Baroness has suggested that, to ensure proportionality, we should follow the approach taken for registered sex offenders, which, following the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of R (F) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, includes a review scheme along the lines that she has proposed. However, it is crucial to note that the Supreme Court ruled only that a review scheme was necessary in order to comply with Article 8 of the ECHR for registered sex offenders who are subject to the requirements indefinitely.

Of course, the terrorism notification requirements can apply only for a finite period. The Supreme Court did not find that the sex offender notification scheme, as it applied to individuals subject to the requirements for a finite period, was incompatible with Article 8. As a result, for registered sex offenders subject to the notification requirements for a fixed period, there is no review scheme. Furthermore, and in any event, we should also note that the Court of Appeal found in the case of Irfan that terrorism offending is in a different category to sex offending in terms of ongoing risk. Notwithstanding the particularly serious nature of sex offending, terrorism offences have, in the words of the Court of Appeal,

“unique features which compound concern. A single act can cause untold damage, including loss of life, to a large number of people, by someone motivated by extreme political or religious fanaticism”.

A failed or foiled plot can also still serve to inspire many. If anything calls for a precautionary approach, it is terrorism. I hope that, in the light of this explanation, the noble Baroness feels that she can withdraw her amendment.

Lord Marlesford Portrait Lord Marlesford (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, just before the noble Baroness responds, does my noble friend feel that perhaps both points could be met if the period were made indefinite but with an appeal allowed after a certain time, so that this is brought into line with sex offences? I take my noble friend’s point that these offences are extremely serious and that there may be cases where indefinite alerting is absolutely necessary.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

I think that my noble friend in fact agrees with my point, if I am not mistaken.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can the Minister just confirm that, even for those terrorism offences that might be considered more minor—not that any terrorism offence is minor— there is no chance at all of rehabilitation for those individuals: that they will for ever, or for a very considerable time, pose a risk and that a complete change of behaviour is not possible?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

I have to say that there is always a chance of rehabilitation, given the deradicalisation programmes that go on, but there will always be an element of risk, I would suggest.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the element of risk to which I was in fact addressing my remarks was the risk to the Government that the provisions may be challenged. I would have thought that the Government might like to think about my amendment, which has come from the JCHR, in that light. I do not think that the Minister has answered my question as to what harm there would be in a review provision. My proposal would be to include such a provision in order to bolster the application of what the Government are proposing. I think I had better just leave that with the noble Baroness. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My name and that of my noble friend Lord Kennedy of Southwark are attached to these three amendments. All that needs to be said has already been said and I just wish to indicate my support for the views that have been expressed. I hope that the Government will either accept these amendments or, alternatively, accept the spirit of what has been said, go away and come back with their own proposals on Report.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

I thank all noble Lords who have spoken. On the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, about reflecting on what the Committee said, I should make the point that the Government do reflect on what is said—that is the importance of the legislative process—and that, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, we always have to balance these matters.

I shall deal with the amendments and explain why, for the moment, the Government do not support them.

Clause 13 confers on the police the power to enter and search the home address of a registered terrorist offender under the authority of a warrant issued by a justice for the purpose of assessing the risk that the offender poses. We have already debated the underlying purpose of the terrorism notification requirements and their importance in helping the police to manage the risk posed by those convicted of serious terrorism offences, so I will not go over that ground again.

However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, these amendments would have a number of effects. Amendment 39 would narrow the purpose for which the power of entry and search may be operated and confine it to assessing whether the offender is in breach of the notification requirements rather than, as is currently drafted, to assess the risk that they pose.

Amendment 40 would introduce a requirement for the grant of a warrant so that the justice must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the registered offender is in breach of his or her notification requirements. Amendment 41 would provide, in addition to the current requirement, that the justice must be satisfied that it is “necessary” for the officer to enter and search the premises for the purpose of assessing the risk posed by the offender. The justice must also be satisfied that entry and search is “proportionate” to that purpose.

It may assist your Lordships if I begin by setting out the purpose of this power and why it is needed in its current form. The purpose of the power is to assess the risk posed by the offender. The police consider that home visits are an important tool in managing and risk-assessing registered terrorist offenders during their time, subject to the notification regime. This power allows them to ascertain whether the offender does in fact reside at the address they have notified to the police and to check their compliance with other aspects of the notification regime. This is, of course, the purpose that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, envisages in Amendment 39.

However, home visits are also helpful as they allow a broader assessment of risk to be made beyond monitoring compliance with the notification obligations. They allow the police to identify any other factors that might contribute to the overall risk an offender poses to themselves or their community and their risk of reoffending. This might include their general living conditions, as well as any signs of mental health decline or drug or alcohol misuse. They can also allow the police to identify any potential risk that the offender may cease to comply with the notification requirements and, in particular, that they may abscond from their registered address.

It is not an inappropriate purpose for the police to wish to keep in touch with a registered terrorist offender. That actually strikes me as quite responsible, given that the police are charged with protecting us all from such serious offenders. Amendment 39 would mean that the new power could not be used for that purpose, so the police may become aware of an increase in risk and potentially harmful activity only at a later stage when the opportunity to take mitigated action may have been missed.