Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, I too was in Rwanda last week, and the noble Lord, Lord Murray, seems to have left out what was said in our last meeting with the UNHCR, which talked about international rule of law. On Rwanda not being safe, it said that there is a certain process that Rwanda needs to put in place before it can be seen as a safe place. So the noble Lord gave noble Lords only one part of what was said.

Everywhere we went, everybody said that Rwanda was safe, but it already has so many refugees in different camps. At the moment they are not facilitated within the country but are in camps. The UK is building a vast area of accommodation, and my question to a lot of people was: what will be the impact on the local community when we send more than 300,000 people to Rwanda? Nobody can answer that at the moment. There is still a lot of work to be done by the Rwandan Government for the UNHCR to say that it is a safe place; until that happens, it is not safe.

Police Uplift Programme

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd May 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 hope that I have gone into reasonable detail about the standards of vetting that are required and expected. I also point out that there were 10 applicants for every job, which implies—or should imply, at least—that there is a reasonable pool from which to choose and, I hope, get the right people. That is of course not a guarantee that there will not be a few bad apples in this particular barrel, but I sincerely hope that there are not—but perhaps I might be surprised if there are not as well.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, even with the police uplift programme, since 2010 there are 9,000 fewer police officers, and 6,000 fewer on the beat in real terms. Does the Minister think that this programme is sufficient, given that 90% of crimes go unsolved every year, or are the Government considering further action?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness asks me to comment on operational policing matters. I have talked a bit about neighbourhood policing activities; I have also, on a number of occasions, said that 91% of policemen are involved in front-line activities. These are really issues that should be debated between police and crime commissioners and chief constables, depending on the area.

Metropolitan Police: Crime and Misconduct

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Thursday 1st December 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, for this short debate.

I welcome the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s commitments to tackle crime and misconduct, but he is not the first commissioner to make such a commitment. Recommendations 55 to 59 of the report of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, published in February 1999, focus on discipline and complaints against police officers. Recommendation 55 states:

“That the changes to Police Disciplinary and Complaints procedures proposed by the Home Secretary should be fully implemented and closely and publicly monitored as to their effectiveness.”


Is the commissioner making his commitment because this recommendation has not been implemented?

Chapter 2 of the Home Office guidance on police officer misconduct, unsatisfactory performance and attendance management procedures, published in June 2018, focuses on misconduct procedures. This guidance echoes Sir William Macpherson’s recommendations, especially to do with investigating complaints against police officers, so who is dropping the ball?

When a case of police officers committing crime becomes public, I have often heard that it is “a few bad apples”. In 2003 the BBC aired an undercover documentary, “The Secret Policeman”, filmed by investigative journalist Mark Daly. He joined Greater Manchester Police and spent several months undercover at the Bruche national training centre in Warrington, Cheshire, where he found that in his class of 18 there was only one person of Asian background and more than half the class held racist views.

My noble friend Lady Casey’s report states:

“This Review has reached a conclusion found in several research pieces that precede it—that the Met’s misconduct system has evidence of racial disparity. And as reported in previous studies, several reasons are cited for this, which were reflected in testimony from Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity officers and staff. This included the concern that raising issues relating to racism, or other discrimination and wrongdoing often led to being labelled a trouble maker, which then led to unfair disciplinary action.”


The National Black Police Association has noted on many occasions the revolving door of black officers because of the way they are treated by both their colleagues and their superiors.

The other issue is promotion. Recommendation 59 of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry states:

“That the Home Office review and monitor the system and standards of Police Services applied to the selection and promotion of officers of the rank of Inspector and above. Such procedures for selection and promotion to be monitored and assessed regularly.”


It is not because black officers are not being recruited; it is more to do with retention and promotion. Until the culture and environment in the Metropolitan Police support these officers, the revolving door will continue.

In conclusion, over the past three decades there have been reports into conduct and misconduct in the Metropolitan Police, such as the Scarman report in the 1980s, the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report in 1999, the Lammy review in 2017 and, this October, the report by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. The issues are well noted in these reports and the November 2022 report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services on An Inspection of Vetting, Misconduct, and Misogyny in the Police Service.

On behalf of every black person who has ever worked in the Metropolitan Police or trusted a police officer to do their work and treat them with respect and dignity, we would like to see Sir Mark Rowley’s commitment mean less rhetoric and more action.

Enforcement of Lockdown Regulations

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Tuesday 18th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend asks a pertinent question—that there is a disparity is not disputed. I know that the Ethnicity Subgroup of SAGE has done some work on this, both the year before last and last year. Factors include people’s jobs, and therefore their exposure to risk; household circumstances, such as more people in the house interacting; and financial difficulty in isolating. Vaccine hesitancy is an undoubted factor. The Government are giving financial help with things such as Covid support payments, but I think there is more to be gleaned. On people’s responses to Covid, maybe there is something in the physiology or make-up of different types of people—such as the cytokine storms that we talk about and inflammatory responses—that make them susceptible to more serious illness. I think some of that is yet to be uncovered.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, the sad thing is that any new regulations tend to have more impact on the black community. How will the Government make sure that equality means equality for all groups?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are obliged, when they do anything, to make sure that there is not a disproportionate effect on different communities. That requirement is placed on them under the public sector equality duties set out in Section 149 of the Equality Act and covers decisions with respect to the Government’s response to Covid-19.

Stop and Search Powers

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Wednesday 17th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord goes to the nub of the problem. Certainly, in light of the case of Sarah Everard, trust in the police has to be regained and rebuilt, because we must have trust in those people, the vast majority of whom are there to keep us safe. The police must be held to the highest standards, of course, which is also crucial to public trust in them.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, the question around stop and search has been going on for decades now, and I do not think we have improved how the police conduct themselves around the black community. The scrutiny that has been taking place seems not to be working. We have listened to noble Lords bring the same subject up time and again, as have I. The Minister talks about the report that is going to be out tomorrow. Why has it taken so long for the report to come out since April? We have not been given much time for scrutiny. We have had so many reports of police misbehaviour within public office—she just mentioned Sarah Everard. When are we going to get to the point when we stop talking about stop and search and the effect it has on the black community?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I pay tribute to the noble Baroness and all the work she has done. Despite the fact that we might have different views on how to go about it, I think we both seek the same ends: trust from communities in the police; and making sure that more black lives are saved through reducing the amount of knife crime and making our streets safer for everyone, including young black men. That is at the heart of the Bill, and the collection of some of the data will help us towards this end—to see whether our policies are working and whether the pilots, when they are rolled out, are more effective than we have been at reducing the number of knife crimes.

Sarah Everard: Home Office Inquiry

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Tuesday 9th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, the duty to co-operate is already in place. It has been in place since February 2020. Regarding the Centre for Women’s Justice, we have not ignored the letter. We have been focused on identifying a chair so that the details of the inquiry’s scope and how it will operate can be confirmed as quickly as possible. The inquiry can then start addressing our concerns, those of the public and those of organisations such as the Centre for Women’s Justice. We will respond to them as soon as possible.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, the Macpherson report has been quoted many a time in this House because it stands for many changes in the legal system and beyond. In the case of Sarah Everard, many women up and down the country are demanding a judge-led inquiry where witnesses can be called to give evidence. I know how important it is to have a judge-led inquiry. As in the Stephen Lawrence case, the truth must come out, so will Her Majesty’s Government support a public inquiry into the Sarah Everard case?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I could not agree more with the noble Baroness that the truth must come out—both at pace and conducted in a way that would satisfy the family. As I have said, if the non-statutory inquiry cannot meet its commitments, it can be converted to a statutory inquiry.

Police: Body-worn Videos

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Wednesday 7th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for that question. As always, Wendy Williams’ report has come up with some very insightful recommendations. My noble friend will know that the use of body-worn video during stop and search is an operational decision for forces. The Home Office supports it as a tool for increasing transparency and accountability. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary reinforced that in her speech to the Police Federation conference early last month when she said that the Home Office would be

“looking carefully at strengthening the system of local community scrutiny and the value of body-worn video, because transparency”,

as the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, said, “is vital.”

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, following on from the question of my noble friend Lord Harris, why is it difficult for the police to get their evidence to court, and why is it a slow process? Is there a technical reason for the slowness in releasing material from body-worn camera data? Can the Minister update the House on this?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Again, that is a pertinent point. Clearly, every case is different. Police getting evidence to court may well be undermined by material that has been released online beforehand, which may undermine the criminal justice system. A number of factors have to be considered when police are getting evidence to court, but I go back to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey: speed is clearly of the essence not only in seeking out justice but in improving public confidence and scrutiny of these issues.

Metropolitan Police: Racism

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Wednesday 15th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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We most certainly all have much in common, and we now collect and publish more data on stop and search than ever before. We allow local scrutiny groups, the police and crime commissioners and others to hold forces to account. We also discuss it with relevant National Police Chiefs’ Council leads and forces to understand why disparities arise. Perhaps I might also say that the Home Secretary is chairing the national policing board today, and there is an item on diversity.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, yesterday the Guardian interviewed two black retired senior officers, who talked about their experience of racism in the Metropolitan Police and how it had affected them in their careers. How will Her Majesty’s Government address the future of black and Asian minority officers’ careers, going forward?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I say to the noble Baroness that this is key to the success of the police. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, the college has reviewed and applied positive action—not positive discrimination but positive action—to the senior national assessment centre and strategic command course for chief officer candidates. However, it also has training in inclusion and diversity at every level now in the police force.

Windrush Compensation Scheme

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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My Lords, the scandal surrounding the Windrush generation, leading to the subsequent report by Wendy Williams, and the unlawful removal of British residents to countries that they might have left as children, was first highlighted by the Guardian in 2017 and came to a head in 2018. The scandal saw the deportation of individuals to Caribbean countries, including many to Jamaica.

I was part of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and we took evidence from individuals affected by the scandal. Some were remanded in detention centres, awaiting deportation. They talked about the effect of that on their mental health and about the separation from their families. All had lost their jobs and homes. The lack of documents affected all those who found themselves in this position. Many of these individuals arrived in this country as children, on a parent’s passport, and would not have had documents, or they travelled on a British passport before the country of origin gained independence.

The Government need to remember that the Windrush generation were invited here, after World War II, to rebuild the country. The jobs that were vacant were on the buses and railways, and in hospitals. People from the Caribbean who answered that invitation faced discrimination and racism from the start.

The scandal of the Windrush generation has been going on since the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many people who travelled to Jamaica, either on holiday or for the funeral of a family member, found themselves stopped at the airport and unable to return to the UK. Many died without having their cases looked at. The report also listed five cases, all giving different stories of their experiences, which I found upsetting to read. I can only imagine the distress that these individuals have gone through. We should do everything that we can to amend the mistake made against them. Wendy Williams’s report said that

“institutional amnesia and inadequate practice denied them their liberty. It denied them their freedom of movement. It denied them a normal life.”

In conclusion, Wendy Williams’s report made 30 recommendations. Will they all be accepted? Also, how can the Government avoid discriminating when making compensation payments to individuals while waiting for Royal Assent? Individual officers are still being asked to assess status, burden of proof and the amount that each recipient should receive. How can we monitor this and ensure that mistakes do not again cause the same distress which these individuals have gone through? In future, the Government should make sure that these concerns are heard as part of the lessons learned so that people’s rights cannot be taken away from them.