54 Janet Daby debates involving the Home Office

UK-Rwanda Partnership

Janet Daby Excerpts
Wednesday 6th December 2023

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Government briefings suggest that the Government wanted to go further with the Bill but the Rwandan Government stopped them. How does the Home Secretary feel about being legally constrained by President Kagame?

James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

That speculation is not accurate. Within the whole of this negotiation, we have always made it clear that we would work within the boundaries of international law. Rwanda takes international law just as seriously as we do, which is why we are both completely comfortable that these proposals are within the bounds of international law.

Oral Answers to Questions

Janet Daby Excerpts
Monday 18th September 2023

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- Hansard - -

9. What recent guidance her Department has issued to the police on upholding the rights of children in custody.

Sarah Dines Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Sarah Dines)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Children should be detained only when necessary, and must be provided with an appropriate adult. The College of Policing provides operational guidance for police, and the concordat on children in custody supports police and local authorities to meet their statutory responsibilities. HM inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services also sets expectations for the treatment of children in custody.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
- View Speech - Hansard - -

When a child is arrested, they must choose if they wish receive legal advice, just like an adult. But children are not adults, and no one should expect a child aged 10 or above to decide whether to exercise their right to a solicitor. Will the Minister explain why the Government believe that children should be forced to make such a decision?

Sarah Dines Portrait Miss Dines
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I remind the hon. Lady that children are involved in crime. Children detained in police custody must have an appropriate adult—statistics shows that that happens in 99% of cases—who can be of assistance. I want that to be 100%. Police custody remains a core part of the criminal justice system. It is critical for maintaining police confidence, bringing offenders to justice and keeping the public safe. We must ensure that adults do not abuse children and are not attracted to making children get involved in criminal activity because the police are too scared to put them into custody if necessary.

Metropolitan Police: Stephen Lawrence Murder Investigation

Janet Daby Excerpts
Wednesday 12th July 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for setting out the historical account, the present situation, the severe failings of the Met police and—as he well said—the corruption that has taken place. I would also like to add that Baroness Lawrence is with us in the Chamber.

The 1999 Macpherson report stated that the investigation was

“marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers.”

If that report were reviewed in the light of the information that has recently been brought to our attention, it would probably include the word “corruption” as well. Over the decades, the Met should have used the Macpherson report as an opportunity to change. It contains 70 key recommendations for our society to show zero tolerance of racism and discrimination. The Home Affairs Committee’s 2021 report assessing the progress of the recommendations, some of which are still outstanding, concluded that

“there is a significant problem with confidence in the police within Black communities.”

Black communities continue to be under-protected and over-controlled by the police, as has been stated by Robert Reiner, a well-known criminologist.

Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for his steadfast work on this case and for his speech. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) agree that we are witnessing a deep-rooted cancer of corruption within the Metropolitan police? It appears to be still alive and kicking. After hearing everything that my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham said in his speech, does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East agree that we need three things? The Met needs to be dismantled once and for all, we absolutely need an independent inquiry into this, and the Met commissioner must now be held to account for these actions. This cannot go on any longer. Justice is not being served for the Lawrence family.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for her significant contribution. There is clearly disruption and corruption in the Met police; we know that from the recent Casey review and, actually, from many other reviews that I will mention. Where corruption, concealment, cover-up and unnecessary distress have been caused to black communities and the Lawrence family, the police commissioners need to be held to account for the fact that they did not do their job properly. Why did they not do their job properly in the first place?

The Scarman report back in 1981 should have been a chance for the police to progress and change. That, too, was a missed opportunity. I have already mentioned the Casey review, which found the Met police to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.

To add insult to injury, a BBC investigation published last month found, as we have heard, that there is evidence of a sixth suspect, Matthew White, being involved in the Stephen Lawrence murder, but that line of inquiry was mishandled by the police at the time. Furthermore, it was announced last week that former Met officers will face no further action over their roles in the 1993 investigation into Stephen’s death. That should all be reopened and looked at again because of the corrupt situation that we now know has taken place. To be fair, I am sure we already knew that; it is just that it has been revealed by the BBC.

Last week’s decision must be causing unnecessary frustration and distress to the Lawrence family—I am very sorry for that—and the wider community. Where is justice? Why do black lives not matter more than they do at present? The police should be doing their job properly. What are we to expect from them in the future?

The Met needs to change. It must use the events of this year as motivation to reform. It must not fail to address its shortcomings, as it did in 1999 and in 1981. I therefore join Baroness Lawrence in calling for police officers under investigation for disciplinary offences to hand over data from their personal mobile phones. More investigation needs to take place, and more needs to happen to uncover corruption and bring about real justice.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech, and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for securing the debate. One thing that strikes me from conversations with constituents is the slow pace of reforms in the Met police. People are asking for a review of the police conduct and performance legislation, and of the Independent Office for Police Conduct. There have been recent issues with the IOPC—particularly with the person who was heading it up—and a massive lack of trust. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) agree that those things should be looked at in order to regain trust and reform the police system?

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the many areas where the police and the IOPC are failing. Obviously, the IOPC must not fail, because it needs to be independent and to be able to investigate situations. Those concerns obviously need to be addressed.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) and the Mayor of London have published a draft Bill, backed by Baroness Lawrence, that would overhaul the regulations governing police conduct and dismissal, and would address some of the issues that my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) raised. That intervention is welcome and, in particular, I back its provision to introduce a new duty of candour so that police officers report wrongdoing.

The Macpherson report on the death of Stephen Lawrence highlighted the severe corruption in the Met police, but it is important to point out that not everybody in the Met is corrupt. Some people who join the Met police want to do the right thing and bring about justice. Unfortunately, we see time and again that that is not happening for black individuals, families and communities, and that needs to be addressed.

Faith in our police needs to be restored urgently and we need bold reforms. The Lawrence case was one of the first high-profile examples of knife crime in our society. However, we all know that knife crime has got much worse. Although the police have a responsibility to address that, it is not for them alone; the Government need to step up to ensure that it is being dealt with. There are much wider issues to address in rooting out knife crime. What causes children and young people to carry knives? Why do young people feel so unsafe that they carry knives? Why do they risk harming themselves and others? What is behind all that? Ultimately, why do they risk getting involved in the criminal justice system or, worse, losing their own lives or causing somebody else to pass away?

I invite the Minister to set out what the Government plan to do to secure justice for Stephen Lawrence’s family and right the wrongs of past investigations. Will the Government introduce in Parliament the draft Bill created by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham and by the Mayor of London?

--- Later in debate ---
Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. She is right, and one thing that Baroness Casey found in her report was a defensiveness. That is why it was first suggested in the Daniel Morgan inquiry that we should introduce a legal duty of candour, because there is a big difference between that and asking somebody for information. In that case, the Met was asked for certain information and it gave it, but it also knew other things that it did not offer. That is the difference with a duty of candour, and that came from the Hillsborough inquiry. It is one of the law changes that the Hillsborough campaigners are asking for, because, similarly, information was not willingly given and there was a defensiveness.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
- Hansard - -

The reason for a duty of candour—which is something that the Victims and Prisoners Bill is introducing—is absolutely what my hon. Friend has set out, but it is also to avoid corruption, and corruption has taken place. The duty of candour can stop it, and it starts from the premise that corruption on the part of the police has been known in very serious cases.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. One of the institutional problems is that we do not have systems in place to stop these things happening in the first place; therefore they can happen, and they do.

My hon. Friend set up the all-party parliamentary group on children in police custody and will be looking at the disproportionality of children in custody. She has a lot of expertise in that area and spoke very eloquently about it. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) gave an incredibly powerful speech and of course reminded us about the Lawrence family being tracked—which, as the SNP spokesperson, the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Anne McLaughlin), said, is one of the most horrific aspects of all of this. My hon. Friend said that we are in this place not for show but to make things better, and that is incredibly important: we are not here to prove a point one way or the other, but to make things better. I hope that the Minister responds in that spirit.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Kate Osamor) mentioned the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, which are of course all wrapped up in the same issues and are, again, some of the most horrific things I have ever read about. The grace of their mother in showing leadership and behaving in the way she has—similarly to how Baroness Lawrence has behaved—is also quite extraordinary. I know for a fact that I would not behave in that way.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is a really important point. On that point, it is no coincidence that the majority of my colleagues on the Labour Benches who are speaking today are women who happen to be black. It should not be on their shoulders to fix these problems. They have experienced racism all through their lives, and now we expect them to fix the problems as well. That is not right. We have the same debate when we talk about the need for more black officers in policing. Yes, we need more, but it should not be on them to solve the problems of the police. It should be on all of us. We all need to take that responsibility, especially those of us who have not had to bear the burden of racism.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby
- Hansard - -

Just to clarify, I do not see it as my job to bear that or to fix it; I see it as the responsibility of our whole community. It is also very much the responsibility of the Government, and it is the responsibility of us in the Opposition to ensure that the Government are doing what they need to do to address society’s wrongdoings, such as discrimination in the area of racism and prejudice and in other areas. Obviously, we are speaking about this issue because we know that the police have not dealt with this situation as they should have; indeed, they have protected themselves rather than protecting, in this case, the innocent.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is a very good point, and I completely understand what my hon. Friend says.

Like everybody else, I pay tribute to the Lawrence family and to Baroness Lawrence, who is here today. They have had to fight and campaign for so long. We think of them every time there is another news story and they have to relive the trauma of what happened, which must be incredibly difficult. They have faced what no parent should ever have to bear.

The failures in this case run deep, as we have heard. It is extremely troubling that, after 30 years, information about those failings is still emerging. It is also unacceptable that the Crown Prosecution Service sat on the IOPC file—the dossier into alleged mishandling—for three years. We need an independent investigation into what happened, so that we can establish everything that has gone wrong. As has already been mentioned, Baroness Lawrence has said that she is bitterly disappointed and will be seeking a review, which limits, up to a point, what we can say about it. It is clear, and the message to the Minister is clear: the Home Office must not stand back. The Government have a role here and real leadership is needed. We need the Government to commit to engaging seriously with the issue of police reform, to avoid repeating failures and rebuild trust in communities that have lost that trust.

Other Members have talked about the journey from the Macpherson report to the Casey report. Undoubtedly some good changes were made in that period, but equally Louise Casey finds that a lot of things have not improved. I pay tribute to Baroness Casey for the thoroughness of her review. She described the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson report as irrevocably changing the nature of policing in the UK. It changed the understanding, the investigation and the prosecution of racist crimes nationwide.

Macpherson rightly called for police forces to be representative of their communities, but we have made very slow progress on that front. At the current rate of recruitment and attrition, the Met will manage to increase its black, Asian and ethnic minority representation to only 22% of all officers to reflect the population by 2055. If the Met continued to improve its black, Asian and ethnic minority recruitment by an additional 1% each year from this year onwards, it would take nearly 40 years to reach an officer group that was proportionate. I represent Croydon Central, and I remember going out with the new recruits, who are the ones who carry out stop and search in our communities. There were 80 of them, and not a single one of them was black. There is a very diverse population in Croydon, so that does not work and it needs to be changed.

The trust that people have in policing is an important part of being able to solve crimes. If people do not trust the police, the police cannot solve crimes. In 2021-22, only 43% of black Londoners believed that the Met did a good job locally, while 33% of black Londoners thought that the Met did a good job across London. Only 46% of Londoners think that the Met treats everyone fairly, and only 14% of black Londoners think that the Met treats black people fairly. Looking at the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime surveys, we can see that those figures have fallen—rapidly, in some cases—in recent years. Things have got worse.

It has already been mentioned that Louise Casey talked about black Londoners being under-protected and over-policed. That is a really important issue that I would like the Minister to comment on. I think we are going backwards, and the approach that the Government are taking is making the issue harder to tackle. Most hon. Members present were in the Chamber recently when the Home Secretary made a statement about stop and search. She has gone further than even the previous Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witham (Priti Patel), in almost denying that there is a problem that needs fixing. For example, she said:

“Suggestions that stop and search is a means of victimising young black men have it precisely the wrong way around…Black people account for about 3% of our population, yet almost a third of under-25s killed by knives are black.”—[Official Report, 19 June 2023; Vol. 734, c. 569.]

However, that implies that those figures are somehow equivalent, and of course, they are not. Something like 120 young people under the age of 25 are murdered every year, so we are talking about 40 or 50 young black people, tops, and 3% is 2 million people. So there are 2 million people who are black in this country, and a very small number of murders, so we cannot equate the two. The implication that the Home Secretary seemed to be making—that that meant it was fine that people were being over-policed—is very dangerous and sad. I do not think that even this Government have been saying up to this point.

The under-protection of black people in London in terms of crime is really acute. The figures showing evidence of that are in Louise Casey’s report. Indeed, disproportionality is not questioned by anybody—apart from potentially our Home Secretary. Whether it is the National Police Chiefs’ Council in its report on racism—which covers the whole of policing—or the inspectorate, the IOPC or the Met itself, everybody accepts that there is a huge problem. I worry that the Government are taking a line that questions that. In Wales—the hon. Member for Glasgow North East said it is similar in Scotland—there is an active anti-racism strategy led by the Government across the board, so it is much easier for the police and the leaders of policing to do the right thing. It is actively harder for them to the right thing under this Government, which is a great shame.

It is clear that we need change across the board. Labour wants a complete overhaul of the way the police are vetted and recruited. We want misconduct to be dealt with and training to be introduced. All those things need significant reform. The issue of vetting is even worse than hon. Members have said. It is not just that people can fail their vetting and still be police officers; it is not among a police officer’s powers to sack someone because they have failed their vetting.

There are problems across the board with the way that vetting, interviews and misconduct processes work, and structural racism is built into all those processes. Black police officers are much more likely to have a much shorter time in the Met and are much more likely to be subject to disciplinary proceedings. It is at every level, so we need to reform all those things.

We need to look at things such as stop and search, Child Q strip searches and adultification. There needs to be much better training, and the law needs to reflect what is right and wrong. The approach to children must be much more child-centred and safeguarding-centred.

People have asked whether we should break up the Met. Louise Casey said that we should give the new commissioner two years, and if at that point we have not seen significant reform and change, there is a case for breaking it up. An administrative change to structures does not necessarily change anything. Putting a group in a different team does not necessarily lead to change, but Louise Casey sensibly concluded that if the pace of change is not sufficient and we do not see more improvements, we need to do more.

I have talked about the change that we need to see, and that sits alongside the impact on policing. The good police officers in the Met struggle to do a good job. Louise Casey said that austerity has “disfigured” the Met. There is an absence of neighbourhood policing, so police officers do not have the ability to build relationships with their communities. We have seen groups such as the Territorial Support Group go into communities they do not know and make bad judgments about who they stop and search.

Across the country, we have a shortfall of 7,000 detectives. We do not have enough good detectives who can solve crimes, be curious, ask the right questions and be trained. Although there is now direct entry into detective work—which is good and has led to more diversity in the workforce, so that a different type of person joining the police—we need to go much further. There needs to be much better training on issues such as racism and violence against women and girls. We need to change these ingrained cultures through better training.

I ask the Minister to respond to all the points that have been made. The Met has struggled to reform, but these problems exist across the country—six forces are in special measures—so what will the Home Secretary and the Home Office do to raise standards and reform policing? Does the Minister accept that there is disproportionality within the system and structural issues that mean that racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia continue unchanged? Will she back the calls from everyone here to change the way we vet and train officers, and deal with police misconduct?

Our thoughts are with the Lawrence family and with Baroness Lawrence, who is in the Public Gallery. I am so sorry that she has had to go through this. As my hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central said, we are here for a reason—it is not just for show. We need change, but even after so many years, it is possible. These things are not inevitable; we can and must change things. I hope the Minister sees the urgency of the task.

Illegal Migration

Janet Daby Excerpts
Monday 5th June 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Unlike the Opposition, we will not grant an amnesty to people in our system. It is important that all cases are considered on their individual merits, but that we take a robust approach to applications that makes it clear that, if someone comes here illegally, they will be detained, removed and not entitled to a life in the UK.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

This morning, I met with the Law Society and it tells me that France receives three times the number of illegal migrants into their country compared with the UK. It also tells me that France is three times faster in processing the applications. Can the Home Secretary tell me why the Government are failing so badly compared with France? Does she think there are lessons to be learned from France?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my French counterpart in the French Government for their very good co-operation on this challenge. It is clear that we have a common challenge. The illegal migration problem that many European countries are facing is similar to the one we are facing. Almost all my European counterparts are grappling with this issue, because we are facing a global migration crisis. That is why it requires a collaborative approach, and that is why I am pleased that the Prime Minister has been working hard to achieve consensus among European allies.

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If I may, I will make some more progress, but I would be pleased to revert to the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) in a moment.

Let me turn to the other issue that my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham raised in Committee, which is that of unaccompanied children. Again, we have listened to the points that he and right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have raised. As I have said repeatedly, this is a morally complex issue. There are no simple answers and each has trade-offs. Our primary concern must be the welfare of children, both here and abroad. We need to ensure that the UK does not become a destination that is specifically targeted by people smugglers specialising in children and families.

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me make some progress.

I am also acutely concerned that we balance that with the very real safeguarding risks posed by young adults pretending to be children. This is not a theoretical issue; it is one that we see every day unfortunately. Today, a very large number of young adults do pose as children. In fact, even with our current method of age assessment, around 50% of those people who are assessed are ultimately determined to be adults. We have seen some very serious and concerning incidents in recent months. There are few more so than that raised in this House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns) when one of his constituents, Thomas Roberts, was murdered by an individual who had entered the UK posing as a minor and, during his time in the UK, had been in education, in the loving care of foster parents and in other settings in which he was in close proximity to genuine children.

Strip Searching of Children

Janet Daby Excerpts
Tuesday 28th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Sarah Dines Portrait Miss Dines
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Lady knows, the Home Secretary is looking at these issues at pace. It is clear from Baroness Casey’s review and recent cases across England and Wales that such behaviour, including instances of racism, misogyny, homophobia, are completely unacceptable, and I have been clear that standards must improve as a matter of urgency. The hon. Lady is right that policing is built on trust and we need to improve standards. However, I remind the House that the majority of police officers and members of staff are still honest, good and committed and work hard, and they can be let down by police officers who act beyond the law. It is critical that we do not lose the momentum that the Government have pushed forward, so we will be working on this issue in conjunction with the Home Secretary.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I am truly shocked and horrified by the Minister’s tone. This is an absolutely damning report. The Children’s Commissioner is putting children first, when will the Government do so? Finally, does the Minister consider it appropriate that children should be strip searched in the back of a police van? In effect, this is a violation. How does she think that this affects a child, and what will she do about it?

Sarah Dines Portrait Miss Dines
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am disappointed that the hon. Lady does not think that my tone is appropriate. Strip searches are very serious. They have to be lawful and they have to be carried out in the most appropriate way, with the least amount of trauma. There is much research on this, which the Children’s Commissioner has looked at very carefully, and so will the Government. I can give a commitment that the Government will be looking at this very important issue. We have a balance to strike. We have to safeguard children in relation to gangs, because those gangs will abuse them. If there is a strict outlawing of strip searches, which some Opposition Members would like to see, the criminal gangs would have a field day abusing our children. That cannot be right, and we need time to look at these recommendations.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I rise to speak in favour of amendments 148, 285, 288 and 292 and new clauses 18, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 30, because my constituents and I are deeply concerned about so many aspects of the Bill. Specifically on clauses 2 and 4, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has stated that the Bill would

“deny protection to many asylum-seekers in need of safety and protection, and even deny them the opportunity to put forward their case.”

Over the years, I have worked with refugees and asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, children and families, and the stories I have heard about them travelling to the UK involve brutal and gruesome treatment at the hands of people smugglers. They are always left deeply traumatised. I have heard stories of male children being raped. I have heard the story of a young person travelling with his brother, who was separated from him along the journey; he never saw him again, and was left worried and concerned that maybe he never even survived that journey. I have heard the story of a husband who was handed his child and saw his wife being repeatedly gang-raped—these are terrifying incidents. I have heard stories of guns being placed to children’s and adults’ heads.

These people are terrified, and have endured unimaginable conditions on their journey to the UK, yet when we hear about refugees and asylum seekers from the Government and from Members on the Government Benches, their experiences of crossing the channel to flee persecution are rarely ever mentioned. I find that utterly shameful. This Government have demonised these people, including children; they forget that these people are human, just like all of us across this Chamber. Refugees who come by boat or in lorries do so because of the lack of safe routes to the UK. They are completely vulnerable and at the mercy of the people smugglers. It is those people smugglers and criminal gangs that the Government should be focusing all their efforts on, in order to stop these illegal and criminal acts. That is why I am backing new clause 22, which would enshrine in law a new National Crime Agency unit to crack down on people smugglers and gangs.

As the MP for Lewisham East, I have talked a lot in this Chamber about my pride and joy in the fact that Lewisham Council was the first in the country to become a borough of sanctuary. Local authorities are heavily involved in the housing of asylum seekers, which is why I urge colleagues to vote for new clause 27, which would force the Home Secretary to consult local authorities when opening up asylum accommodation and hotels in their area. We have a hostel and asylum accommodation in my constituency, and when I have been there to speak to some of my constituents, I am appalled by the conditions that they are having to live in. They are not able to cook for themselves and their families, and they are not able to make the choices that families would want to. They want to provide for their families, to have their visas, to be able to work, and to have a home and to care. I am finding that so many people who are in this country as asylum seekers or refugees are beginning to suffer from mental health problems because of the process they have endured and how long it is taking, while the Government allow them to remain in those unsatisfactory conditions.

At national level, the small boats failure exists due to the Tory Government’s incompetence. It was this Government’s deal to leave the European Union without a returns agreement in place that led to a huge increase in the number of dangerous crossings and the backlog in asylum cases. I am not sure why that backlog has not been resolved; obviously the Government do not have the appetite to really push forward to make that happen.

I am further outraged that this Bill breaches the refugee convention and gives the Home Secretary power to remove unaccompanied children. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) has spoken eloquently about new clause 18, and I absolutely support the reasons that she gave and her persistence on making sure that children are treated equally and fairly and are the Government’s paramount concern.

It is clear that the Government are risking the welfare and safeguarding of vulnerable children. I therefore back amendment 148, which would remove from the Bill the Home Secretary’s power to remove unaccompanied children. I trust that many Members from across the House will back it, too. Most people want stronger border security and a caring and effective asylum system, but at the moment we have neither and the Bill does little to achieve them. Labour has a plan to prevent dangerous channel crossings and to reduce the asylum and refugee backlog. To improve this shameful piece of legislation, we must pass all the amendments I have mentioned in my speech.

Lastly, I mention the work of Together With Refugees, a coalition of more than 550 national and local organisations calling for an effective, fairer and humane approach to supporting refugees. I urge the Government to listen to it.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to speak to amendments 121 and 123 to 127, which are tabled in my name, and in support of amendment 1, tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), who speaks for the official Opposition, and to which I have added my name. I tabled my amendments as Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. I will not press them to a vote, because the Joint Committee has only just commenced our legal scrutiny of this Bill. That is not because we are dilatory in any way, but because the Bill has been bounced on us at such short notice. We have very little time to undertake that scrutiny, but we hope to report before the Bill has finished its passage through the House of Lords. At that point, I hope we will be able to recommend some detailed amendments with the backing of the whole Committee.

I did wonder whether it was worth my while spending hours in the Chamber this afternoon waiting to speak in detail to any of these amendments, as after six hours of debate yesterday, the Minister made no attempt whatever to address any of the detailed points raised by those speaking to Opposition amendments. We do not expect the Minister to agree with us, but we expect him at least to do us the courtesy of addressing what we have bothered to say, not just on behalf of our constituents, but on behalf of civic society and so on. That is how democratic scrutiny works.

There is no point in Government Members banging on about the sovereignty of this Parliament when the Government ignore most or all of the substantive points raised by Opposition Members during legislative scrutiny. That is not how a Bill Committee is supposed to work, and I appeal to the Minister to remember his duties not just to the Government and his political party, but to this Parliament and the constitution of this so-called parliamentary democracy. The way we are legislating in this House at the moment is an absolute disgrace. A Bill Committee is supposed to be line-by-line scrutiny. This fairly lengthy Bill raises huge issues in respect of our international legal obligations, as well as huge moral issues, but we have not conducted anything like line-by-line scrutiny.

If I am supposed to keep my comments to 10 minutes, I will barely scrape the surface of the amendments that I have tabled, which have not been dreamt out of thin air, but are informed by detailed legal scrutiny of the Bill by the lawyers who advise my Committee. Many of the amendments are informed by the existing unanimous report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Bill of Rights. This Bill sneaks in some of the things that were going to be in the Bill of Rights.

Yesterday, I spent a long time addressing in some detail the legal reasons, under reference to the convention and case law of the European Court of Human Rights, why it would breach the convention for the Government to ignore interim orders of the Court. I also explained how very rarely interim orders are passed in respect of the United Kingdom. The Minister just completely and crassly ignored every single point I sought to make. Frankly, his behaviour in failing to address any of the Opposition amendments makes a mockery of this Parliament and it makes a mockery of all their singing and dancing and fuss about the sovereignty of this Parliament.

Metropolitan Police: Casey Review

Janet Daby Excerpts
Tuesday 21st March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What I am already doing is running a review of the dismissals process. On the issues that the hon. Gentleman raises, this is why the Met commissioner’s establishment of a new anti-corruption and abuse command, with a wider and more proactive remit, is absolutely essential. That will raise internal standards and internal accountability, and it will facilitate and empower people to come forward, challenge and report bad behaviour.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

The Casey review is truly damning; there is institutional racism, institutional misogyny and institutional homophobia in the Met. On child protection, the review recommends creating a new children’s strategy. Does the Home Secretary support that? If so, what is the top issue on child protection and safeguarding that she wants this strategy to address?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was disturbed by Baroness Casey’s findings on the issues relating to the work on public protection and safeguarding. That is why that has been expressly dealt with in the turnaround plan set out by the Met commissioner; there are key interventions to invest in the safeguarding teams and achieve national best practice standards. The police want to ensure that there is better data and technology to target perpetrators and protect victims. We want to ensure that there are positive criminal justice outcomes for public protection cases and that safeguarding and the people who work in it are properly supported.

Oral Answers to Questions

Janet Daby Excerpts
Monday 20th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would be happy to look into the case. I would just say that over 25,000 individuals have been brought safely to the United Kingdom since Operation Pitting and that is something we should all be proud of.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Children are regularly detained in police cells for long periods and for too long without an appropriate adult being present, despite that being both a requirement and an essential safeguard for children. Will the Minister confirm today that, when police powers and procedures data is published later this year, it will include the number of minutes taken for an appropriate adult to arrive and the duration of time present—and if not this year, when?

Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is raising a very important question. The case of Child Q is of course on our minds as we consider this. Some revisions are being made to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 code of practice—it is code C—that are relevant in this area. In relation to the reporting question she asks, I can certainly undertake to look into that.

Crime and Neighbourhood Policing

Janet Daby Excerpts
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- Hansard - -

Is the Secretary of State aware that when stop and search is not done well, it has a huge negative impact on children, parents and the community? Too often, when the police have done stop and search incorrectly, that has gone on to affect communities negatively.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When we speak to frontline police officers and those who are affected because family members have been victims of knife crime or violent crime, we understand that stop and search is a vital tool not only in reducing violent crime, but in saving lives. The proportionate and targeted use of stop and search is an essential tool that I support the police using.

Let us not forget London. Knife crime is a problem in London and, under Labour’s Sadiq Khan, rates are up by 11%. So, instead of carping from the sidelines, Labour MPs would be far better off using their time by encouraging their Labour man in London to demand that the police get back to getting weapons off our streets. On serious violence, the Government have backed the police with investment and support to reduce violence.

--- Later in debate ---
Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Trust in the police has eroded, as we have heard from Members across the Chamber. We need policing by consent to be renewed and restored across many communities. Being an officer can be highly demanding and extremely stressful. Throughout my working life, I have worked with police officers and police staff, and many of them are dedicated and committed to doing an excellent job. However, my focus in this debate will be on children and neighbourhood policing. I add that I have many families and friends in the service, and friends who have retired.

Members will recall the shocking case of Child Q, and many will know that it is not an isolated case. Last year, data requested by the Children’s Commissioner for England found that a quarter of all strip searches conducted on children between 2018 and 2020 took place without an appropriate adult being present. That means they had no carer, parent or trusted adult present—how unsafe and how unaccountable that is. It is traumatic enough for an adult to be strip-searched, but for a child it is even worse. It is probably terrifying; they may feel humiliated and very scared, and it can happen from as young as 10 years old.

The issue of how children are treated by the police goes much wider than that. Research conducted by Dr Miranda Bevan at Goldsmiths, University of London found that children held in police custody often do not have a full understanding of their rights. They describe being kept in unsuitable conditions and spending hours detained in cells. In fact, Home Office data published in November 2022 found that 41% of child suspects were held in police custody overnight, sometimes for a full weekend. Police remand children five times more than the courts, which indicates that something is crucially wrong in policing and detaining children. That figure is far too high, so I ask the Government to commit to addressing it.

Unfortunately, these problems are just the tip of the iceberg of concerns about how children are treated in police custody. Following the Casey report, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner admitted that hundreds of corrupt, racist and misogynistic police officers were still serving. The police are there to serve. The Government must invest in raising policing standards, with zero tolerance of abusive police officers; a focus on recruiting, retaining and training officers; and investment in community policing. That will increase trust and confidence in the police among all communities from all backgrounds, and especially diverse backgrounds.

Children’s rights must be respected, women deserve to feel safe walking on our streets, and victims of crime need justice. Last month, I wrote to the Minister regarding an inquiry of the all-party parliamentary group on children in police custody, and I was grateful to receive a response. I reiterate that it cannot be right that 41% of children were kept in a police cell overnight according to the Home Office. What are the Government doing to ensure that this is not happening across our country? The Government need to keep children safe at all times.