All 1 Lord Dear contributions to the Public Order Act 2023

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Tue 28th Mar 2023
Public Order Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments

Public Order Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Public Order Bill

Lord Dear Excerpts
Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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The noble Lord is of course entitled to his opinion, and so am I. I said it was unfortunate that the noble Lord disagreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. That is my opinion.

Elsewhere in the report, the noble Baroness says:

“Stop and search and vehicle stops are justified

—she meant by the police—

“through their compliance with the law, ignoring how such incidents are perceived, the impact on individuals, and the wider corrosive impact of trust in the police.”

The Minister mentioned body-worn video and so does the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. She says that the police want to use body-worn video to justify continuing to do what they have done in the past rather than what she says is needed, which is a fundamental reset. Body-worn video is not the answer. That should not be used by the police to justify continued disproportionality in their use of the power.

The noble Baroness further states:

“Black Londoners are under-protected—disproportionately the victims of homicides and domestic abuse; and over-policed—facing disproportionate use of stop and search and use of force by the Met. A huge and radical step is required to regain police legitimacy and trust among London’s Black communities.”

“Overpoliced and underprotected” is what a black policeman said to the Macpherson inquiry 25 years ago. It was not the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, but another black churchman giving evidence to that inquiry; here we are with another inquiry saying exactly the same thing 25 years later.

The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, cites a Home Affairs Select Committee report from 2021, which reported that, in the previous year, the equivalent of one in four black males aged 15 to 24 in London were stopped and searched in a three-month period. The noble Baroness says:

“The facts relating to stop and search are … around 70 to 80% lead to no further action … the more stop and searches are done, the greater the proportion of no further actions.”

The noble Baroness cites a 2019 research study that questioned the efficacy of stop and search as a tactic of policing. She quotes from that report, as do I. It says:

“Overall, our analysis of ten years’ worth of London-wide data suggests that, although stop and search had a weak association with some forms of crime, this effect was at the outer margins of statistical and social significance.”

The Minister repeatedly says that the power that we are debating today—the power to stop and search without suspicion—is based on the existing power under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The 2019 research goes on to say:

“When we looked separately at S. 60 searches, it did not appear that a sudden surge in use had any effect on the underlying trend in … violent crime.”

The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, concludes:

“Stop and search is currently deployed by the Met at the cost of legitimacy, trust and, therefore consent. … It has damaged trust. If the Met is unable to explain and justify its disproportionate use and the impacts of these, then it needs a fundamental reset.”

The majority of stop and search nationally—between 50% and 60%—is carried out in London. The majority—over 60%—of protests happen in London. The majority of times these powers are used will be in London. Stop and search in London needs a fundamental reset, and yet this Government have ignored this House and are giving the police even more opportunity to undermine their legitimacy, trust and, therefore, consent, by giving the police more powers to stop and search.

Without consent, the whole system of policing in this country is undermined, and that is what this Government risk with this legislation. We support the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and will vote for it, but we believe these new stop and search powers should not be part of the Bill. That is what we have always said and what we maintain.

The noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, cited various examples of what I think he called “disproportionate protests”. All the examples he gave are of criminal offences for which people can be arrested. The police do not need stop and search powers in addition to those powers of arrest.

The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, cited the 2017 riots and his view, his opinion, was that they were aggravated by the police use of stop and search. Lord Scarman said exactly the same thing about the 1981 Brixton riots. Will we never learn? I urge this House to vote for Motion A1.

Lord Dear Portrait Lord Dear (CB)
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My Lords, I had not intended to speak in this debate today, but I find myself totally in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and with the last remark about Lord Scarman. I worked very closely with him in 1981 and after that and agreed wholeheartedly with his findings then. They are still good today.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, spoke very eloquently and I found myself nodding all the way through her speech. I agree entirely with what she said and will not weary this House by repeating those very wise words, save to say that I think that this is the wrong time for this projected policy. What we need now is temperate and measured policing and this is not going to help that. I support the noble Lord, Lord Coaker.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for another fruitful debate. As I said at the beginning, this Bill has undoubtedly been given the scrutiny the British public want and expect.

Before I go on to more substantive remarks, I should say that I fully support the Casey report. The Government and the Met Police have taken this report very seriously. Guidance on the use of stop and search is statutory and is set out in PACE. It is the law. That is the place for it, as the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, pointed out, if nothing else to ensure consistency. There are safeguards and considerable scrutiny of stop and search and I will come back to that.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and others will no doubt accuse me of semantics but as my noble friend Lord Sandhurst reminded us, these powers relate to serious disruption—ambulances should not be stopped from getting to hospital, as the leader of the Opposition has pointed out in the past.

On the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, about the effectiveness of stop and search, I was reminded of a pack that I still have in my folder. I was giving some statistics yesterday, and every knife seized through stop and search, I think, is a potential life saved. In 2021-22, stop and search removed around 14,900 weapons and firearms from our streets and resulted in almost 67,000 arrests. I appreciate that we are on a slightly different subject, but none the less this is an important and powerful illustration that, used appropriately, stop and search can work.

Recent protests have been clear in their aim of causing as much disruption as possible through the use of guerrilla tactics. These measures give the police the proactive powers necessary to respond to those dangerous and disruptive tactics quickly. We will work closely with our partners in the police to ensure that they have the support and resources in place to use these powers.

I have heard what the House has said about the potential disproportionality involved in this and we acknowledge that nobody should be stopped and searched because of their race. Extensive safeguards such as the statutory codes of practice to which I have referred and the use of body-worn video exist to ensure that this does not happen. The Home Office publishes extensive data on police use of stop and search in the interest of transparency and we will expand the publication to the use of the new powers provided for in this Bill, as I have already outlined.

I referred to GOWISELY earlier, which is a mnemonic. This follows, and frankly supports, many of the recommendations from the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. I will go through them. The G stands for grounds for the search. These are the minimum bits of information which should be given to the person detained for the purpose of the search. O stands for the object of the search. W is for the warrant card to be shown to the person searched. I is for the identity of the officer—that is usually the officer’s name unless the officer thinks that giving their name would put them in danger, in which case an identification number can be given. S is the station to which the officer is attached. E is the entitlement to a copy of the search form. L is the legal search power being exercised. Y means that you, the officer, must tell the person stopped that they are being detained for the purpose of the search.

The noble Lord, Lord Morgan, referred to the situation in Paris. As I understand it, much of that is a consequence of the activities of the gendarmerie, which is not a police force with any equivalent in this country.