Former Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: Reports

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Wednesday 6th March 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I am afraid I do dispute that characterisation. David Neal had his appointment terminated after he broke the terms of his contract and lost the confidence of the Home Secretary, because he released sensitive and misleading information from unpublished reports, well within the time commitment for publication. The Home Office had therefore not had time to fact-check and redact inappropriate material. I will give an example of the fact-checking required in some cases: the asylum casework report contained 67 factual inaccuracies, the vast majority of which were indeed accepted by the ICIBI. It is important to mention that a new inspector will be appointed following a full and proper process.

As regards the situation in the hotel, as I said, on both occasions of the inspection, the ICIBI found that children accommodated temporarily at the hotels reported that they felt happy and safe and spoke well of the staff caring for them. But, once we learned about the incident from the chief inspector, there was an immediate investigation and the support worker in question was removed and did not return.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, your Lordships’ House spent many hours considering the Illegal Migration Bill, which considered the law to enable the Home Office to accommodate vulnerable children. Major concerns were raised at that time. Indeed, the Children’s Commissioner has said that it is “not appropriate” for the Home Office to accommodate vulnerable children—it is not its expertise. Will my noble friend the Minister accept her offer, in these circumstances, to conduct an inquiry and find out exactly what has been going on with what is obviously a most vulnerable group of children, many of whom are primary school age?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, since the two ICIBI inspections, in 2022 and 2023, we have closed all seven hotels used to accommodate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. It goes without saying that the safety and welfare of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is a priority. The multidisciplinary wraparound care provided in the hotels, including access to nurses and social workers, ensured that children were supported around the clock.

On whether they were of primary school age, I am afraid I do not recognise those numbers. I can update the House: as of 5 March, 118 children are still missing; 104 of those are Albanian, all of them are male, and the vast majority were aged 16 and 17 when they went missing. Only about 18 are still under the age of 18. It is not quite the picture that my noble friend painted.

Asylum Seekers: Channel Crossings

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Thursday 7th September 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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As I say, the history of effecting returns has been difficult hitherto, as it was under the previous Labour Administration. However, I am glad to say that returns are now being effected very successfully to those countries with which we have an agreement, such as Albania, as identified by the noble Lord. Further work will be done in relation to that. Of course, once we have the outcome of the Supreme Court litigation, and the avenue of removal to a safe third country is available, one would anticipate that the number of removals will increase.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, could my noble friend the Minister please elaborate on when he expects the Illegal Migration Act to be in force, because it makes lawful the Home Office accommodation of children who obviously are not going be returned under that Act? Could he outline to noble Lords whether there will be statistics about where children actually end up once the Act is in force? Will we know whether they are in hotels, or whether they are under the care of the local authority?

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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I have no doubt that the Home Office will provide statistics, as it does at the moment, on a regular basis. As to the indication of when the provisions of the Illegal Migration Act in relation to transfer come into force, that depends on a number of variables, not least the position in relation to the litigation. However, I am sure that I will be able to revert to the House in due course with news on that.

Illegal Migration Bill

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Lord Scriven Portrait Lord Scriven (LD)
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My Lords, on these Benches, we support Motions E1, J1, K1, N1 and N2. We welcome the Government’s Motion L on time-limiting detention for women who are pregnant. This suite of Motions is about the depriving of liberty of some of the most vulnerable people who reach these shores and, in particular, the welfare of children.

Government Motion J is narrow, as the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, said. It is a limited concession, and as Tim Loughton pointed out in the other place yesterday, unaccompanied children’s arrivals are to be treated the same way as adult arrivals in terms of their detention for initial processing, and the amendment proposes nothing for unaccompanied children detained for those purposes.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, said, for those who are deemed in detention for removal, there is no automatic condition of eight days; there is a condition that, at that point, a child can ask for bail. Just think of a 10 year-old child in detention: how will they have the support to be able to ask for bail? It is for that reason that, if the noble Baroness moves Motion J1 to a vote, these Benches will definitely support her. The same is true for the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester’s Motion on unaccompanied children.

I support Motions N1 and N2, and particularly the points made by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. Throughout the passage of the Bill, these Benches have asked on a number of occasions, as have other noble Lords throughout the House, what the role is of the corporate parent—the local authority—under Clause 16. To date, the Minister still has not answered that question. It is really important that the Minister says something from the Dispatch Box; otherwise, this will end up in the court, given the contradiction between the Bill and the provisions in the Children Act 1989, particularly Sections 17 and 47. That is why it is important that the assurance the noble and learned Baroness asked for be addressed by the Minister now. We believe that Motions E1, J1, K1, N1 and N2, if put to the House—particularly Motions J1 and K1—will add a little more humanity, kindness and compassion to the Bill.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, I will speak to the Motion in the name of noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, as I had put my name to a similar amendment on Report.

We should not take for granted the decades of work done by many in your Lordships’ House, and others, to put together a child protection system that is well understood. In her most recent email of today, the Children’s Commissioner stated that the local authority must have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children in all settings, including when they are detained.

The child protection system that I have outlined is like a jigsaw: it is well put together and each of the bodies involved knows what its role currently is. That includes many bodies, such as the police, the local authority, schools, the NHS and, at government level, the Department for Education. It is noteworthy that in many of the legal cases taken by children’s rights organisations, the main submissions, if not the only submissions, that the court has wanted to hear are from the Department for Education, not the Home Office.

What we have with this jigsaw puzzle of people responsible is a Home Office that seems to have taken out some of the pieces of that child protection system, and we are not sure how they fit together again. Since this is an area where retrospectivity will apply to those children in hotels—they are now in hotels again—I hope that there will be clarity, at last, from my noble friend the Minister as to how the pieces of that well-understood jigsaw will be put back together, so that everybody knows what their role is. We know from history that if people are confused about their role in a child safeguarding situation, information, communication and the welfare of children themselves can fall between those gaps.

Windrush Generation: 75th Anniversary

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Friday 7th July 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, it is an honour but also a challenge to follow such an inspirational speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin. It is wonderful that a ship, which it is believed was named after a river in the Cotswolds, is now synonymous with a generation of mainly Caribbean people coming to the UK to make it their home. And what a celebration it has been over the last few years: £750,000 for community celebrations, the wonderful monument that many have spoken of in Waterloo station and the 10 beautiful portraits commissioned by His Majesty the King. Even walking home last night, one of those portraits, of Alford Gardner, was on the digital advertising hoarding as I passed by a bus stop.

I suppose I might be biased, as, although I was brought up in rural, then mono-racial Rutland, I have lived in Trinidad and Tobago. There was a food, a culture, a liming with friends and a freedom in expressing your worship of God that I still so deeply appreciate. However, the presence of my noble friend from the Home Office, alongside the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, reminds us that this celebration has been tinged with sadness. Like many churches in the 1950s and 1960s, the Home Office has not always treated the Windrush generation justly or kindly.

There was of course a black community already in the UK. In fact, the first black-led church, Sumner Road Chapel, was established in Peckham in 1906, such were the numbers living here—but Windrush was of course mass migration, which would change the UK, I believe, for the better. I was also reminded recently by a British-Jamaican friend that the reason his parents moved here was because they believed that there were no opportunities for the family, especially the children, back in Jamaica. The way the British ruled Jamaica at that time—it was 14 years after Windrush that Jamaica won its independence—did not give some people confidence in the future for their children.

Of course, so many did make a great future for their children and grandchildren. Although early Windrush migrants faced harsher discrimination than today, sadly some discrimination still exists. The data from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report in 2021 outlined that there are still persistent issues, particularly in education:

“In terms of overall progression, Black Caribbean pupils are the least likely of the main ethnic groups to progress to the more elite high tariff universities by age 19. This progression rate of 5.2% is less than half the overall national figure of 10.9% of all pupils. … Of the main ethnic groups, the Black Caribbean group is the least likely to attend university after the White British group. … New evidence indicates that attainment is closely related to socio-economic status”—


a topic in the headlines at the moment.

“once this is controlled for, all major ethnic groups perform better than White British pupils except for Black Caribbean pupils”.

I would be grateful if the Minister could answer the question I have previously raised in your Lordships’ House, as to whether a specific Windrush scholarship for higher-tariff universities and also Windrush apprenticeships could be founded. Although there are many other issues that need to be addressed to deal with such educational disparities, this would be an important marker.

Of course, there is a tenacity within communities as, despite these educational disparities, and perhaps due to the length of the presence here in the UK as the first mass migration of the 20th century:

“young people from the Black Caribbean ethnic group … have a much lower unemployment rate than those from the Black African ethnic group, even though prejudice faced by both groups is likely to apply in equal measure”.

Along with other noble Lords, I think it is good to believe that the scheme is not going to close, but I also query what positive action is being taken by the Home Office to find the claimants, not only to improve the processes. I pay tribute to the work that civil servants have done in the face of much scrutiny. Perhaps I boldly say that the only uncontroversial fact of the scheme has been its co-chair, Bishop Derek Webley of the New Testament Church of God—which the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin mentioned—who has worked honourably on such a controversial project. I hope that all claimants will be found so the scheme can fade from our memory, as it is rather a cloud on an otherwise wonderful 75-year anniversary.

While we deeply celebrate the amazing people of the Windrush generation, for some there is a haunting of dislocation: dislocation from west Africa; dislocation from the Caribbean; and a dislocation while living in the UK. We are only now beginning to understand the generational impacts for human communities of the severing of ties to land, communities, culture and language. The generational effects of trauma for indigenous people and survivors of the Holocaust might actually, according to research, even be carried in the DNA. We are all the richer and more blessed for the UK Windrush generation, but let us never forget the cost and the suffering over many centuries.

Illegal Migration Bill

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Baroness Butler-Sloss Portrait Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB)
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My Lords, I declare that I was President of the Family Division and tried endless care cases involving local authorities. I am extremely concerned about Clauses 15 and 16 and their interrelation with the Children Acts, particularly the Children Act 1989. As the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, has already pointed out, the Secretary of State does not have parental responsibility for children.

I pointed this out to the Minister several times in Committee. So far, and I do not mean to be impolite, I am not sure that either he or—more importantly—the Home Office have put their minds to the implications of parental responsibility. I have not seen a copy of the letter that apparently was sent. It would have been helpful if I had seen it before I came to this House, because since I have been here I am afraid that I have not been looking at my emails.

The local authority is, under the Children Act, the only corporate parent and no one else can be. If the local authority goes to the court and seeks a care order under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989, there will be a court order requiring the local authority to keep the child and place the child in appropriate accommodation. I ask the Minister: has the Home Office has reflected on what Clause 16 is saying—that the Home Secretary can take a child away from local authority accommodation and put that child somewhere else? Is it intended that this Bill is to override the Children Acts and create a new situation where parental responsibility is of no significance if the Home Secretary considers that a child should be dealt with by the Home Office and not a local authority?

This is a very serious legal situation for children. Although there may not be all that number of younger children, there are certainly some. Even a child of 16 is entitled to the care of a local authority. I just wonder whether the Government have thought through the implications of this. I do not believe that this matter will be taken to a vote, which I am rather sad about in a way, because I would like the Government to put their minds to the existing law—which, I have to tell noble Lords, a Conservative Government passed in 1989, and I was one of those who played a part in the legislation. I am extremely sad to see these two clauses.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment 87. Like the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, I do not support the other amendments, which would get rid of these clauses entirely.

I had hoped not to have to put my name to that amendment, particularly as I hoped there would be a government amendment because of the clarification by the Family Division of the High Court during Committee on 9 June, in a case brought by Article 39, which was trying to make missing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children wards of court. It is interesting to note in that case that the lead submissions from the Government were not from my noble friend the Minister’s department but from the Department for Education, which holds the responsibility for the Children Act.

I have a simple question to my noble friend the Minister. As a Conservative, I believe it is important that every child has a parent. While the children are accommodated by the Home Office when they initially come into the country, who has parental responsibility? From my reading of the Bill—I am grateful to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss—we are changing a fundamental principle in our law and children may not have a parent, without due consideration of the consequences. It might just be for two days, two weeks or four weeks, but it is really important.

I can foresee, even on my cursory glance at this, at least three cracks in that foundation. First, if a child who is being accommodated in these hotels or hostels ends up at A&E and needs an operation but there is no parent to consent to that surgery—so to do that surgery would be an assault—then precious NHS time would be spent contacting the Home Office and not caring for patients.

The second healthcare situation is that children can be detained under the Mental Health Act. That Act gives important powers, duties and safeguards to the statutory nearest relative—and there is a list of those. Again, if a child is under a care order, under the Mental Health Act the corporate parent is the nearest relative. If the child has no parent and is detained in a secure mental health unit, who will be the nearest relative? Again, precious NHS resources will be, in my view, ill-used.

The most worrying crack—which I hope I am wrong about; I remind noble Lords that I am not a criminal lawyer, and I have done my best when looking at this piece of legislation—is that, when child protection functions under Parts 4 and 5 of the Children Act, such as Section 31, are exercised, there is then a very important exemption for local authorities or public authorities from criminal liability under Section 7 of the corporate manslaughter Act 2007. I would be grateful to hear my noble friend the Minister’s view on that statute. It defines senior management. That perhaps includes the board, civil servants in the department, as well as Ministers and, potentially, the Secretary of State. Giving evidence to public inquiries and appearing before Select Committees is commonplace for civil servants; what is not commonplace is being called as a witness to a Crown Court trial for such a prosecution of the corporate body, the Home Office, which is included under Schedule 1 to the corporate manslaughter Act. If there were to be a change of Government next year, it might be the right honourable Member for Pontefract going to the trial, and it would not be good enough for her to say, “We had only been in office for two weeks before the child fell out of the hotel window”.

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Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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It is obviously necessary that the Bill contain a power to allow for such a transfer, in order to ensure the appropriate removal of a child on attaining their majority, for example, or for any other purpose that might be necessary to ensure implementation of the scheme. The Government expect local authorities to meet their statutory obligations to unaccompanied children from the date of their arrival in the United Kingdom, and that the Home Office step in only sparingly and temporarily. Indeed, an unaccompanied child in scope of the scheme may enter local authority care without first being accommodated by the Home Office under this power. However, it is important that there be legal certainty about the ability of the Home Office to step in to ensure that an unaccompanied child arriving on the south coast can immediately be accommodated and supported.

As we have just discussed, Clause 16 then makes provision for the transfer of an unaccompanied migrant child from Home Office accommodation to a local authority in England. The clause provides a mechanism for the Secretary of State to decide that a child is to cease residing in Home Office accommodation and to then direct a local authority in England to provide accommodation to the child, under Section 20 of the Children Act, after five working days of the direction being made. As was the subject of the intervention a moment ago, the Secretary of State may also direct a local authority in England to cease accommodating an unaccompanied child and to transfer the child into accommodation provided by the Home Office after five working days of the direction being made. This power is the subject of the right reverend Prelate’s amendment.

I suggest, with respect to the right reverend Prelate, that this amendment is unnecessary given that protections are already in statute in Section 55 of the 2009 Act, which I have already referred to. The Secretary of State is required to have regard to the interests of children as a primary factor in immigration decisions affecting them. Let me be clear: best interests are not the only factor that must be considered; other relevant factors, such as close consideration of individual circumstances, must be taken into account. In making decisions and devising policy guidance under this Bill, the Home Office will continue to apply the Section 55 duty.

We are working through the operational processes relating to unaccompanied children and the circumstances in which we will use this power. This includes engaging with stakeholders to understand the concerns they might have about the power to transfer unaccompanied children into Home Office accommodation. We are working very closely with the Department for Education, as we want to deliver the objectives of the Bill while being mindful of the needs of children and young people. I hope this provides some reassurance to noble Lords.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, I refer my noble friend back to his point about legal certainty and the very narrow question I asked: is it correct that while the Home Office is accommodating these children before they go into local authority accommodation, they actually have no parent?

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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It is clearly right that in the situation that arose with the rush of people crossing the channel—which gave rise to this legislation—consideration had to be given to the legislative arrangements. The situation in law is clear and is as my noble friend set out. The Home Office is able, in extreme circumstances, to exercise this power on behalf of local authorities. As I say, the purpose and intention of these provisions is to look after children only for as short a time as possible before transferring them to the care of local authorities. I want to stress that the Home Office is having to accommodate unaccompanied children out of necessity.

Police Uplift Programme

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd May 2023

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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The noble Lord asks a question which I cannot answer at the moment. I will endeavour to find out those statistics and I would hope that some of those questions about resourcing will be dealt with on publication of the strategy this week. As regards the overall uplift, as I said earlier, 91% of the new intake, as it were, are involved in frontline policing.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, while the diversity statistics my noble friend outlined are encouraging, in terms of women and ethnic minorities they are still not proportionate to the population. Is not one of the issues that many police forces have, particularly the Met, retaining those staff? Can my noble friend outline how we are going to monitor—maybe with swifter inspections from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services—whether they retain their female and ethnic minority staff and promote them at the same rate as their white officers?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My noble friend makes some very good points. Obviously, as she would expect me to say, these are matters for local police forces themselves. However, I absolutely take the point, and we should all be involved in making sure that retention and lack of attrition remains as it is.

Black and Minority-ethnic Children: Police Strip-searches

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Monday 27th March 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, as I have said from this Dispatch Box before, stop and search makes a serious difference to crime prevention. In 2021-22, stop and search removed around 14,900 weapons and firearms from our streets and resulted in almost 67,000 arrests. The noble Baroness made good points about trust in the police, and the Home Secretary has been clear that policing needs to address all of the causes of poor, and in some cases toxic, cultures. That will be a key focus of part 2 of the independent Angiolini inquiry, which will consider issues in policing such as vetting, recruitment and culture, as well as the safety of women in public places.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, could my noble friend the Minister clarify the role of the IOPC here? Is it reviewing just individual cases—so there will be a number of reports—or is this a systemic review of the use of this practice? Only if we look at the system can we know whether there is potentially racial bias within it.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My noble friend is right. At the start of the process, 14 referrals involving strip-searches were received by the IOPC from the Metropolitan Police Service. On 1 August 2022, it confirmed that it is investigating five of these cases. It decided that six of them were suitable for local investigation by the force, and the remaining three are still being assessed to determine whether further action may be required by the IOPC. However, the IOPC has been asked to take a more general look at the framework. We expect its findings soon, and for it to opine a little more widely.

Baroness Casey Review

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Tuesday 21st March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I think I need to correct the record. I did not say that I did not accept that there has been evidence of institutional racism, sexism or homophobia—I said that I would not use that description, which is rather different. Of course, I accept the conclusions of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, and there have been clear evidences of all those things, as I said earlier.

As regards other police forces, obviously this particular report deals with the Met. It is one of the five forces that are currently in Engage, so clearly there are some failings in other police forces around the country, which I think we are all familiar with. It would be unfortunate to tar all the other forces with this brush, but I am quite sure that there is evidence of the sorts of behaviours identified here in some of those things. Of course, some of them will be specific to the Met, because of course they do not necessarily mirror the structures and commands in other forces. This should be a wake-up call to all policing—I think that that is fairly evident—and I hope that senior police officers, and all police officers around the country, will make the effort to read this report and reflect.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, it is 30 years ago next month that Stephen Lawrence was killed. So there have not been “growing concerns” among young black people in London; they have been telling us for years that things have not changed and we—meaning all of us—did not listen. At that time, in 1983, a black gentleman called Leroy Logan did join the police and rose to be a superintendent. He founded the Metropolitan Black Police Association and chaired it for 30 years. He is one of the people who has an insight. I asked him today, “Has the commissioner asked to see you?” “No.” Unfortunately, this does not give me confidence that the Metropolitan Police are prepared to hear from their detractors. If someone such as this, who was the subject of a short film by Steve McQueen that was based on his life, has not been through the door of the commissioner in light of today’s report, I hope that the Minister can take back a specific request that he meet Leroy Logan.

I have asked my noble friend the Minister on other occasions why, when the force is under special measures or the Engage process, and we know that other officers have potentially committed criminal offences, it is the Metropolitan Police investigating other officers in their own police force. We do not know whether the CPS will ever get sight of those files. Why is there not an equivalent process to that in the health service and the education service, where, when you are put into this kind of process, there is independent oversight of that function?

Finally, the report is limited to culture. Culture and competence are like twins. We have an example of rape evidence being lost from a fridge because a heatwave came. Is the Minister going to treat this as the Government’s role? We now need a further piece of work on the competence of the police. Is it the case that evidence is being lost routinely? Is it correct when barristers tell me that Amazon may know where your parcel is by using the barcode, but the Metropolitan Police do not necessarily know where evidence is? Is it the case that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is having trouble when it asks for swabs from a case a few years ago because the police do not know where they are? These are all competency issues. Do we not now need a separate piece of work on competency and not culture?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I say to my noble friend, on the subject of the police officer she mentioned, that it is not for me to tell Sir Mark who he should speak to; I am sure he has a very good idea who he ought to speak to. It sounds to me as though that particular person’s experience is obviously relevant. Maybe it is part of an ongoing plan; I do not know. Obviously if I see him, I will ask him.

It is clear that the Met must have the confidence of all communities, including black and ethnic groups. If it manages to regain that confidence, that should help recruitment and all the other things that were identified by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones.

On competence, I think that the Met should be allowed to deal with the cultural side of this report over the coming days. I am sure that, if there were incompetence allegations, they would have been aired in a much more detailed and methodical way, rather than the anecdotal side of things—although I accept that those are very serious. Having said that, I think it is for Sir Mark to come back to us on this. Obviously, there is the crime survey, and the reported statistics will be very revealing.

Passports: Strike Action and Voter ID

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Monday 20th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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There is a simple failsafe. It is really important that people can vote and, having sent off their passport, they might not think that they will need it. But every time the Passport Office receives an application, it sends an email that says, “We’ve safely got your passport”. Attached to that email could be a little notification saying, “If you’re relying on this as your ID for voting, please make sure that you have one of these other forms”—or it could signpost them to the free voter certificate, which would kitchen-sink this so they can vote.

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for that suggestion. Great efforts are made to advertise the availability of the voter authority certificate. Anyone concerned that a document that they intend to use will not be available by polling day may also apply to appoint a proxy up to 5 pm on polling day itself—so considerable steps have been taken to address my noble friend’s point.

Nitrous Oxide

Baroness Berridge Excerpts
Wednesday 15th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I take the noble Baroness’s point. As I say, the recommendations from the report are still under consideration. As I have just outlined, considerable work has been done on the retail of these canisters, but I will come back when I have more to tell her, based on the review of the report.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, the advisory council is obviously vital; developments in this area are very speedy, so it enables the law and government decision-making to keep pace. However, the speed of development is glacial compared to the speed of change on the internet, and it is not just substances that we ingest that cause harm but images. Could my noble friend the Minister please take the opportunity to turn to his noble friend next to him from the DCMS, to advise him that somewhere in the Online Safety Bill we need clauses to future-proof so that, as things develop on the internet, the Government have the information quickly to hand so that we can put legislation or decisions in place to stop that harm?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My noble friend Lady Berridge is right; obviously we need to future-proof legislation—and I note that my noble friend next to me was nodding sagely during her question.