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The Policing and Crime Bill will return to the Commons for consideration of Lords Amendments on 10 January 2017.  307 amendments were made in the Lords, and these are set out in HL Bill 118, Lords Amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill. Most of these were Government amendments.  The Home Office has produced Explanatory Notes.

This paper looks at the main amendments, and briefly summarises the debate on them.

There were a number of controversial amendments which the Government opposed. These are:

  • Lords Amendments 24 and 159 (introduced by the crossbencher, Baroness O’Neill) which would require the Government to instigate an independent enquiry into police handling of complaints about allegations of corrupt relationships between the police and newspaper organisations. The proposals are similar to the original proposal for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry as agreed in 2012; the Government have been consulting on whether to proceed with this. Peers in favour argued that the Government should “get on with” a commitment that had already been made; others queried whether the likely outcome would justify the cost.  The Government maintained that the Government’s consultation (which closes on 10 January 2017) was proportionate and in the public interest.
  • Lords Amendments 96 and 302 (moved by Labour’s Lord Rosser) concerning parity of funding at inquests. Where a PCC is an interested person at an inquest, he or she would have to recommend to the Secretary of State whether or not the family of the deceased needs financial support to ensure parity of legal representation.  Where this was recommended, the Secretary of State would have to provide financial assistance.  Lord Rosser cited the Hillsborough hearings and other cases, where bereaved families were not able to match the kind of funding for legal representation which the police had. The Government argued that it would be “premature” to proceed with the amendment, and that it should first consider the recommendations of a report commissioned into the experiences of the Hillsborough families.
  • Lords Amendments 134 and 305 (moved by Labour’s Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) which would increase the maximum penalty for the offence of stalking involving fear or violence or serious alarm or distress from five years to ten yearsʹ The Government argued that in such serious cases, other offences with longer sentences can apply, and that it would review the operation of this stalking offence, including looking at the maximum sentence. However, on 6 January 2017, the Government announced that it would introduce an amendment going further than Baroness Royall’s amendment.
  • Lords Amendments 136 to 142 and 307 (moved by the Liberal Democrat Baroness Brinton) which would set out various rights for victims in primary legislation and establish a framework for reviews in homicide cases which have not resulted in convictions; the Government is committed to bringing forward proposals on victims’ rights in due course, and argues that more time is needed; it also says that proposals for homicide reviews are unnecessary.

A number of amendments tabled by Opposition party and crossbench peers and backbenchers have been supported by the Government. These include amendments on pardons for homosexuality offences; and an amendment to remove the duty of coroners to conduct an inquest in all cases where the deceased had an authorisation for the deprivation of their liberty in place.

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