Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill arrives in Lords

Every time I have worked on a Bill since I arrived in the House of Lords nearly eight years ago, I have thought, “This is the worst Bill I have ever seen”, and every one is, but this is a stinker and it is quite obviously not going to help the police. If you produce a policing Bill and you cannot get former police chiefs, UN special rapporteurs, the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law on your side, something is wrong with it.

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Police Cuts and bodyworn camera footage

According to a recent report, some videos showed that police officers were poor at communicating and lacked patience and de-escalation skills. Is it possible that the pressure on the police from 11 years of swingeing Tory cuts to their budgets and numbers is responsible for that sort of pressure? Their numbers are still not back to pre-Conservative Government levels of 11 years ago.

I have also submitted a written question:

“To ask HMG what assessment they have made of the need to update the College of Policing’s body worn camera guidance to (1) reduce officers’ discretion about its use, and (2) specifically discourage the practice of turning away from an incident to avoid recording wrongdoing by a fellow officer.”

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Law Enforcement Agencies: Duty of Candour

The Report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel (HC 11), published on 15 June, recommended that there should be “a statutory duty of candour, to be owed by all law enforcement agencies to those whom they serve, subject to protection of national security and relevant data protection legislation”. The independent panel highlighted obstruction and a lack of co-operation by the Metropolitan Police that “placed its concern for its own reputation above the public interest.” Who do the Government believe should be held accountable for that misconduct? Continue reading “Law Enforcement Agencies: Duty of Candour”

Police must be open as well as honest

Today I ask whether the government will ensure that the police have a ‘duty of candour’.

One of the main recommendations that came out of the recent report on the murder of Daniel Morgan is that the police should have a “duty of candour”. It seems such a simple and inoffensive change to how the police conduct themselves, but it would generate a flow of fresh air and transparency through the suffocating fog of the UK’s policing culture. The Daniel Morgan case is the most documented example of institutional corruption within the police, but is only one of many going back over several decades.

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Forensic Science and the Criminal Justice System (Science & Technology Committee Report)

I believe that it is impossible to separate forensic science from the wider undermining of criminal justice funding that has occurred during 11 years of Conservative cuts. The Government have treated people’s innocence as an unaffordable and optional luxury, rather than the underpinning of the fabric of society’s trust in the justice system. When people realise that innocent people can go to jail and guilty people can go free because of failures in the system that the Government have allowed to happen, the whole system is doomed. Continue reading “Forensic Science and the Criminal Justice System (Science & Technology Committee Report)”

Domestic Abuse Bill Ping Pong

The reasons the Commons have given for rejecting our amendments are absolutely pathetic. I just do not see how the Government can persist in their blindness towards what is happening in society and not at least try to make it a bit better. I fully realise that the Bill is a very valuable one and we absolutely need it, but why not make it as good as we possibly can?

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Undercover Policing Inquiry – no access to Special Branch registry files

Baroness Clark of Kilwinning tabled an Oral Question to ask HMG what assessment they have made of the progress of the Undercover Policing Inquiry into police surveillance, established in 2015.

I said: My Lords, the chair of the inquiry has ruled that the Special Branch registry files, which could give more information about the work of undercover officers, will not be part of the inquiry. That means that the truth will be very filtered, which makes it hard for core participants, who feel that they will not get justice. Would the Minister agree to a meeting with me and perhaps a member of each of the opposition parties to discuss the major flaws in the inquiry and why the core participants are so upset?

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Domestic Abuse Bill Win

This week the Guardian reported that non-fatal strangulation is to carry a five year prison sentence as an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill. This news comes after Jenny and Natalie have both worked hard to propose and support improvements to the Bill.

The Domestic Abuse Bill was the one positive Bill in this awful Parliamentary session, but it still needed a few friendly amendments to make it a perfect Bill. Over 190 amendments were tabled at Committee Stage in the House of Lords, covering areas like police training, revenge porn, the links with drug abuse and the inclusion of statutory duties. Perhaps the key set of amendments was the creation of a specific crime of non-lethal strangulation in recognition of how this is employed in numerous relationships as a means of control.

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