Angiolini Inquiry Report - Statement

– in the House of Lords am 7:30 pm ar 5 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Thursday 29 February.

“Three years ago, Sarah Everard was abducted, raped and murdered by an off-duty serving police officer. It was a gut-wrenching betrayal, an abuse of power of the most egregious kind, and the country was shaken to its core. My predecessor, my right honourable friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel), established an inquiry to examine the many failings arising from the Sarah Everard case, chaired by Lady Elish Angiolini KC. Part 1 focused on examining Wayne Couzens’s career and previous behaviour, and a report dealing with its findings has been published today.

First and foremost, we should take time to think about Sarah Everard’s family and loved ones at what must be an incredibly difficult time. I pay tribute to them all for the immense dignity that they have shown in the face of such an unbearable loss in such terrible circumstances.

Tragically, the report makes it clear that Couzens was completely unsuitable to serve as a police officer, and, worse still, that there were numerous occasions when that should, and could, have been recognised. Lady Elish identified significant and repeated problems in recruitment and vetting throughout Couzens’s career, including the overlooking of his chaotic financial situation. This meant that he was able to serve in a range of privileged roles, for instance as a firearms officer. It is appalling that reports of indecent exposure by Couzens were not taken seriously enough by the police, and that officers were not adequately trained, equipped or motivated to investigate the allegations properly. Had fuller inquiries been made in 2015 and 2020, Couzens could and probably would have been removed from policing. Evidence of his preference for extreme and violent pornography, and of his alleged sexual offending, dates back nearly 20 years prior to Sarah Everard’s murder. The inquiry found that Couzens was adept at hiding his grossly offensive behaviour from most of his colleagues, but that he shared his vile and misogynistic views on a WhatsApp group. The other members of that group are no longer serving officers, after a range of disciplinary processes. The fact that many of his alleged victims felt unable to report their experiences at the time speaks to the issue of confidence in policing among women.

I wish to place on the record my thanks to Lady Elish and her team for this report. It is a deeply distressing but incredibly important piece of work, and they have approached it with thoroughness, professionalism and sensitivity. We all owe thanks to those who came forward and gave brave testimony to the inquiry. Everyone who Couzens hurt is in my thoughts today.

The report makes 16 recommendations, including improving the police response to indecent exposure, reforming police recruitment and vetting practices, and addressing cultures in policing. The Government will now carefully consider the report and respond formally in due course, and I assure the House that our response will be prompt. We are taking action to address public confidence in the police, and there has already been progress in a number of areas that have been highlighted by the inquiry. Anyone who is not fit to wear the uniform, for whatever reason, must be removed from policing, and every effort must be made to ensure that similar people never join. That is why we are providing funding to the National Police Chiefs’ Council to develop an automated system for flagging intelligence about officers much more quickly.

We are changing the rules to make it easier for forces to remove those who cannot hold the minimum level of clearance. Police chiefs are getting back the responsibility for chairing misconduct hearings, so that they can better uphold standards in the forces that they lead, and there will be a presumption of dismissal for any officer found to have committed gross misconduct. I can announce today that there will also be automatic suspensions of police officers charged with certain criminal offences, but the work must continue. Part 2 of the Angiolini inquiry is considering systemic issues in policing, such as vetting, recruitment and the culture, as well as the safety of women in public spaces. I will of course read the findings closely and with care.

Sarah Everard’s murder started a national conversation about violence against women and girls, and my right honourable friend the Member for Witham reopened a call for evidence that went on to receive 180,000 responses from members of the public, with many sharing their harrowing personal experiences. That evidence demonstrated the terrible truth: women and girls routinely feel unsafe. This is unacceptable and should anger us all, and the whole of society needs to treat change in this area as an urgent priority.

Tackling violence against women and girls has been a priority for me for a long time. It is now a priority set out in the strategic policing requirement, meaning that VAWG is rightly considered to be as serious a focus as tackling terrorism. Our tackling violence against women and girls strategy and tackling domestic abuse plan are backed up by significant investment. We are changing the law so that rapists will serve their full sentence behind bars, with no option of release at the two-thirds point, and anyone who commits a murder with a sexual or sadistic element will spend the rest of their days in prison.

Our safer streets fund and safety of women at night fund support a range of projects across England and Wales. The online StreetSafe tool enables the public to anonymously report areas where they feel unsafe and why. There is a new national operating model for the investigation of rape and serious sexual offences, which means that the police and prosecutors will work together more closely, building stronger cases that focus on the behaviour of the suspect, and that place victims at the heart of everything. We have also launched a nationwide behaviour change campaign called ‘Enough’ to bring about an enduring shift in the attitudes and behaviours that underpin the abuse of women and girls.

Most police officers use their powers to serve the public bravely and well, but the impact can be devastating when they fall short. Society cannot function properly when trust in the police is eroded. I am unambiguous that police forces must keep improving and must command the confidence of the people they serve. It is imperative that police leadership, of whatever rank, plays its part in this endeavour.

Once again, I express my heartfelt sympathy to Sarah Everard’s family and friends. I cannot begin to imagine the extent of their pain. Together, we must do everything possible to stop such agony being visited on others, to rebuild public trust, and to make sure that our streets and public places, as well as the private realm, are safe for women and girls. I commend this Statement to the House”.

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 7:31, 5 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, this damning report is about women’s safety. It is also about trust and confidence in policing, and whether we have the standards in place to maintain confidence in individual officers. The vast majority of police officers work immensely hard, and with integrity, to keep our communities safe. This is undermined when standards fail.

We thank Lady Elish for her inquiry and its comprehensive first report. The report exposes a catalogue of appalling failures in police misconduct processes. What is truly frightening is the line,

“there is nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight”.

We can believe that that might be the case because of the story of PC Cliff Mitchell, who was vetted months after Sarah Everard was killed. He had an allegation of rape in 2017 and a non-molestation order against him, but that did not stop the Met recruiting him. At about the same time that the Met was telling us that vetting had been tightened up, it was simultaneously congratulating PC Mitchell on passing his police entrance and handing him a warrant card, which he used to get the trust of women he went on to abuse and rape.

This Government have been repeatedly warned about failures around vetting and misconduct. Independent inspectorate reports in 2012, 2019, 2022 and 2023 all highlighted serious failures in vetting processes, which is why, two years ago, we on these Benches called for mandatory national vetting standards. Why has this not yet happened?

As for the misconduct charges the Statement referred to, most of them are not even in place yet, three years after Sarah Everard was murdered. Will the Minister commit today to a new mandatory vetting framework, underpinned by legislation, that all forces must abide by, under which any evidence about past domestic abuse or sexual offending will be pursued—and not simply take convictions into account? At a minimum, he should surely accept recommendation 6:

“Review of indecent exposure allegations and other sexual offences recorded against serving police officers”.

As well as talking extensively about vetting, the recommendations also focus on indecent exposure. Indecent exposure is still treated as a joke by police—something “she” should not be bothered about because “he” is pathetic and harmless. It is seen as old men—past it and pathetic—trying to get attention. Many women, if not most, have experienced this at some point in their lives. But Couzens was in his 40s and did this five or so times, including one scary incident when he masturbated on a banking on a country lane as a lone woman cyclist cycled past. There was an incident just before Sarah Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder when he drove undressed through a McDonald’s. People got the name, model and licence number of his car and the vehicle was traced to him, but nothing followed after that.

Clearly, the sexual impulse that drives indecent exposure is to force attention to the man’s sexuality on a woman who does not want it. We have to ask the question: how far is that from the motive that drives rape? It is clearly a terrifying experience for a woman—often isolated and confronted with a man bigger and stronger than she is—who will be afraid of what might happen next. Getting away with it encourages a predator to feel that they can act more boldly next time, increasing the threat to women.

The recommendations in this report are absolutely clear, and they have a timetable. Will the Home Office insist that all police forces have a specialist policy on investigating all sexual offences, including so-called “non-contact” offences such as indecent exposure, by September this year? Will the Minister commit to guidance and training on indecent exposure being in place by December this year? Will he ensure that the College of Policing, in collaboration with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, will improve guidance and training on indecent exposure? Will there be an immediate review, called for in recommendation 3, which concerns treatment of masturbatory indecent exposure within the criminal justice system? The review needs to focus on recognising the seriousness of the offence, identifying it as an indicator of disinhibition by perpetrators, and understanding and addressing the wider issue of sexual precursor conduct, so as to prevent victimisation, to improve the response to victims when it occurs, and to bring more offenders to justice.

Recommendation 4 calls for research into masturbatory indecent exposure with immediate effect. Does the Minister have a schedule that he can tell us about today? Recommendation 5 is a public information campaign on indecent exposure by March 2025, which the Home Office should launch, together with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, to raise awareness about the illegality, criminality and legal consequences of any type of indecent exposure.

When it comes to women’s safety, the reality is that the number of prosecutions for domestic abuse has halved, rape prosecutions are still taking years, and early action and intervention still do not happen. As my honourable friend Yvette Cooper said on Thursday:

“There is a shocking drift on women’s safety and in what the Home Secretary has said today … How long must we go on saying the same things? The first women’s safety march was on the streets of Leeds nearly 50 years ago, and we are saying the same things about our daughters’ safety today”.—[Official Report, Commons, 29/2/24; col. 454.]

We really cannot stand for any more of this.

Photo of Baroness Doocey Baroness Doocey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Policing)

My Lords, what happened to Sarah Everard was horrific, and made worse by the fact that this callous murder was committed by a serving police officer. The report says that Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer and that numerous opportunities to end his career were ignored. It lays out a number of steps to ensure that this appalling tragedy is not repeated.

The Minister has promised decisive action and outlined several welcome measures, yet the vehicle required to take such action is available to him now. The Criminal Justice Bill is due to reach this House in the coming weeks. As it stands, the charity Refuge says it is seriously disappointed with the Bill’s measures on police perpetrators, which it believes will do very little to rid our forces of abusers.

The Government have so far resisted a series of amendments, such as one that would mean all allegations of police-perpetrated domestic abuse would be recorded —either as a police complaint or a conduct matter. This would inform vetting and any potential future investigations. Will the Minister reconsider placing such provisions in the Bill, rather than falling back on regulations and, worse still, voluntary codes of practice, which seldom if ever work?

Does the Minister accept that the time has now come to spell out, in no uncertain terms, that violence against women and girls is not acceptable if you are a police officer? That surely means being clear that domestic abuse is not just a criminal matter but a disciplinary matter within the police services themselves.

I also want to address the issue of consistency. At the moment, there is too much variation around the country, and the issue of warrant card removal illustrates this well. In some forces, officers are required to surrender their warrant cards if they are suspended; in other forces, they are not. Sarah Everard’s murder horribly underlines the power that comes with a warrant card. At the very least, surely suspended officers should be required to surrender warrant cards nationwide. This is something that the Domestic Abuse Commissioner is calling for.

Another matter of consistency is on the issue of suspensions themselves. The Government are now saying that there will be an automatic suspension of police officers charged with certain criminal offences pending trial. Can the Minister confirm that domestic abuse offences will be among those leading to suspension?

The Government are planning to change the rules to make it easier for forces to remove officers without vetting clearance. However, removing those who fail vetting or are guilty of gross misconduct will still not be a legal obligation. These measures will not be mandatory or backed by primary legislation. A Liberal Democrat freedom of information request last October revealed that 129 Metropolitan Police officers were still working on the front line while under investigation for allegations of sexual or domestic abuse, eight months on from the Casey review. This is, frankly, a disgrace.

Meanwhile, a clear issue with culture and leadership remains to be addressed. This is particularly critical in the context of an increasingly young and inexperienced workforce, a third of whom have less than five years’ service. The Police Foundation describes a

“culture of silence and complicity”,

where the default is to keep quiet if you want to get on or fit in. This report rightly says that our police must be held to a higher standard of behaviour and accountability given the powers that they have. Good officers will welcome anything that does this.

Time and again, we have had excellent reports which identify the issues and make recommendations to stop them happening again. Most of the recommendations are accepted, but they are seldom, if ever, implemented. Can the Minister explain what the Government propose to do to ensure a full and speedy implementation of the recommendations in this report? Crucially, can he also say what the consequences will be for those forces that fail to comply?

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank both noble Baronesses for their comments. The first thing to say, which I said earlier, is that my thoughts are with the family and friends of Sarah Everard.

The second thing, highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and which it was remiss of me to neglect to say earlier, is that we owe it to all the decent police officers out there—there are very many, who I would like to thank—to get this right. Finally, I place on record my thanks to Lady Elish, who has delivered a very efficient, speedy report. This is obviously only part 1. I note that part 2 is considering cultural issues, which include misogyny and predatory behaviour. There will be much more to say on that subject, which is not to say that we should not act speedily and efficiently now—and we are. I will explain how.

The vetting process has come in for a considerable amount of criticism, with some justification. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked why the Government are not legislating to put vetting standards on a statutory footing. The report did not specifically recommend that the Government legislate on vetting standards. As I have just said, part 2 will look in depth at vetting and recruitment, among other cultural issues in policing. We will consider any findings from part 2 in due course. However, we expect policing to examine the Angiolini findings from part 1 in detail, and for them to be addressed.

To ensure that forces are adhering to the existing standards, as set out by the College of Policing, the college will establish a process of national accreditation, setting out the high standards that policing must meet, with the aim of increasing confidence in policing. We are introducing regulations on vetting, which will make it easier for forces to remove those who cannot hold the minimum level of clearance.

As Lady Elish says in her report, it is not possible to

“make any conclusive finding that earlier interventions would have prevented the horrific crimes” that the report responded to. However, I do not think that Couzens would have been able to remain a police officer if he was serving today—I think it is important to state that for the record. Vetting has been significantly tightened, and tolerances are lower. Forces now do a full re-vet on transfer. Lady Elish highlighted that that is clear in the new vetting code. There is also a data wash process. We are funding policing to develop automated screening, so that records added to the police national database, such as the indecent allegations made against Couzens in 2015, will be quickly picked up by the employing force.

In January 2023, the then Home Secretary asked HMICFRS to carry out a rapid review in response to the November 2022 inspectorate report into vetting. That also looked at what forces are doing to identify and deal with misogynistic behaviour. The inspectorate identified good process in certain areas, and in January this year, the NPCC provided evidence on the implementation of relevant recommendations across forces to the inspectorate. We have also asked the College of Policing to strengthen the statutory code of practice, which I have mentioned. That code was published in July 2023. I referred earlier to the authorised professional practice guidance which is available for public consultation. Finally, in January 2024, the Home Office agreed to provide an additional £500,000 to policing to develop a continuous integrity screening system for the workforce, building on the data wash exercise.

Recommendation 6 is for the NPCC, and I hope it will implement it as quickly as possible—indeed, that goes for all of the recommendations. We discussed some of them earlier, and they all make perfect sense to me. I hope they make perfect sense to others, as well.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked about indecent exposure and whether the police are taking such offences seriously enough. In accordance with the strategic policing requirement, we expect that all sexual offending, including for cases where there is no contact, is taken seriously, because we want victims to have the confidence to report these offences. We need them to know that they will get the support that they need, and that everything will be done to bring the offenders to justice.

As noble Lords will be aware, we have added violence against women and girls to the revised strategic policing requirement, which means that crimes that disproportionately impact women and girls, such as indecent exposure, are set out as a national threat for forces to respond to, alongside other threats such as terrorism, serious and organised crime, and child sexual abuse. The strategic policing requirement is set by the Home Secretary and provides clear direction to policing. It highlights where police forces need to work together, using their local and regional capabilities. This requirement covers all forms of violence against women and girls. We continue to work closely with the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s violence against women and girls task force to drive improvements in the policing response. It will soon publish an updated national framework on how policing needs to prepare, prevent, pursue and protect to robustly improve policing’s response to these crimes.

The report found that what might be considered “lower-level sexual offending”, such as Couzens sending unwarranted pictures of himself, could lead to more serious sexual assault. Obviously, as I have said, we regard that any kind of sexually motivated crime is abhorrent and should be treated very seriously. Women need to be confident in calling the police and reporting crimes, and to trust that they will be taken seriously when they do. As I have said, in tandem with policing partners, we will be considering Lady Elish’s recommendations very carefully and will respond fully after a review of all of the content. I am afraid that I cannot give a timetable as to recommendation 4, but, as I said earlier today, we will be responding in full very soon.

In terms of women joining the police, I looked up the statistics after the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, asked me about it earlier, and they are not as bad as I might have inferred. The 20,000 officer uplift programme provided a once in a generation opportunity to support forces. The police force is now more diverse than ever, with 53,080 women police officers and 12,086 ethnic minority police officers; this was as of 31 March 2023, so those numbers will have changed. Females accounted for 35.5% of officers—the highest number and proportion in post since comparable records began. Between April 2020 and March 2023, 43.2% of new police officer recruits in England and Wales were female—a notable increase on levels in previous years. I will not go into more detail, but it is an encouraging picture and a good start when it comes to the cultural change that we have been talking about at some length.

The noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, also asked a good question which I was unable to answer about how officers and police staff should be encouraged to call out wrongdoing when they see it. I will go into a bit more detail about this, though I suspect it is not as much as the noble Baroness would like. Police officers have a statutory duty to report wrongdoing by their colleagues when they see it, and not doing so constitutes a breach of their standards of professional behaviour. The noble Baroness referred to the Criminal Justice Bill; a duty of candour is included in that, which will help this progress significantly.

There are a number of other routes, both internal and external, through which police officers and staff can raise concerns. External routes include staff associations, trade unions, the office of the relevant PCC if the matter concerns the chief constable, Crimestoppers and the Independent Office for Police Conduct. A police officer can report wrongdoing directly to the professional standards department within their force. Most police forces in England and Wales have reporting phone lines, many with protections for anonymity. A reporting line run by the IOPC enables officers and staff to report concerns that a criminal offence has been committed or where there is evidence of conduct that would justify disciplinary proceedings. I appreciate that this does not fully answer the question about others who might report domestic abuse, but I will take those comments back and find out what can be done about it.

I appreciate that I am running over time. With the indulgence of the House, I will quickly finish by talking about recommendation 5, which is what the Government have done or should be doing to try to change societal attitudes towards women and girls. It is important to highlight the Government’s Enough programme, which is designed to deliver a generational shift in the attitudes and behaviours underpinning abuse. The campaign has a continued focus on encouraging bystanders to challenge safely any abuse they may witness and to trigger reflection among perpetrators and their peers. Evaluation of Enough has shown that it is successfully reaching target audiences, driving behavioural change and encouraging bystanders to intervene when they see abuse. This has been helped by the creation of a STOP mnemonic which is proving highly effective.

I will finish there for now, though I am sure there is more to be said on this subject. Recommendation 5 makes considerable sense. I will certainly be taking the suggestion from the noble Baroness back to the Home Office.

Photo of Lord Browne of Ladyton Lord Browne of Ladyton Llafur 7:53, 5 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I want to raise the issue of proper accountability, because there appear to be few real consequences for police officers who grossly breach police discipline. For example, there is no legislation to prevent members of police staff retiring or resigning while they are under investigation for gross misconduct. I am told that, because of Operation Onyx which, as the Minister will know, was commissioned following the appalling case of David Carrick, 51 Met officers were referred for dismissal and would have been dismissed but for the fact that they resigned and retired on full pension.

If I understood the Minister correctly, there was a statutory duty on Couzens’ colleagues to report the behaviour which earned him the nickname “The Rapist”. Were such reports made? Are people being investigated and possibly prosecuted for not doing so? They should be. If the Government can legislate every year for public order, as they do, why can they not legislate for public discipline? Why, for example, is the police disciplinary rulebook not in statute and therefore enforceable, with breaches of it a criminal offence? This would not impinge on operational independence at all. Why do we not go down this route?

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My Lords, it is important to say in response to the remarks and questions from the noble Lord, Lord Browne, that Lady Elish did not find any evidence of that particular name being applied to Couzens. That was explicit in the report. This is not the same as explaining away the accountability of the officers who were perhaps aware of his behaviour.

As the noble Lord will be aware, in January 2023 we launched a comprehensive review into police dismissals. As a consequence, we are making significant change to the way in which these dismissals are handled. We have made changes to the composition of misconduct panels by replacing legally qualified chairs with chief officers—something which chief officers have asked for—and this will be implemented in May 2024. We have streamlined the performance system to make it more efficient and effective; this is due to be implemented in late summer 2024. A new route to discharge officers who fail to maintain basic clearance is also due to be implemented in late summer. Changes to the misconduct system, including a presumption of dismissal for gross misconduct, a presumption of fast-track hearings for former officers and convictions for indictable offences automatically amounting to gross misconduct are also due to be implemented in the summer of 2024. The dismissals process has clearly been tightened up and will be tightened up further during the course of this year.

I cannot really comment on the pensions issue. I hear what the noble Lord has said, and I will make sure that the Home Office is well aware of his concerns.

Photo of Baroness Hughes of Stretford Baroness Hughes of Stretford Llafur

My Lords, recommendation 14 says:

“With immediate effect, every police force should commit publicly to being an antisexist, anti-misogynistic, anti-racist organisation in order to address, understand and eradicate sexism, racism and misogyny, contributing to a wider … culture … This includes properly addressing—and taking steps to root out—so-called ‘banter’ that often veils or excuses malign or toxic behaviour in police ranks”.

What concerns me is that this kind of finding has been repeated in more or less every investigation, inquiry and report into police malpractice for decades. Yet here we are again, with this report concluding that police leaders, whose responsibility it is to address those issues, have not taken a stand on them and stamped them out. As my noble friend just pointed out, in many instances the unacceptable behaviour of individuals is in plain sight among their colleagues and has gone unchallenged. My concern is the process by which the detail of the responses, which my noble friend on these Benches and the noble Baroness on the other Benches referred to, will be decided. Given the history of this, I do not feel that it can be left to individual chief constables—or even to police organisations such as the College of Policing, much as I respect them—to come to the conclusions that are necessary. The process needs to be absolutely transparent for the public—as well as other police officers, who have been referred to—to feel confidence in it.

I have some questions for the Minister. First, how would he intend to involve people with lived experience of these kinds of behaviours of the police and organisations that represent women in particular, as well as other people who have been discriminated against? Secondly, I will take up the point that my noble friend raised. The Minister referred to the statutory duty to report wrongdoing. What is wrongdoing? At the moment, it would appear that it does not include the kind of vile behaviours and verbal comments that we have seen in relation to Couzens and elsewhere. If there is a requirement of police officers and staff to report anybody who expresses discriminatory, sexist or misogynistic statements, I would like to see the Government commit to strengthen it. That should definitely be included in the definition of wrongdoing.

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Is it not lamentable that recommendation 14 had to be written at all in the 21st century? Frankly, it is pathetic that we still have to have this conversation about such behaviour. The noble Baroness is absolutely right that this is about leadership and culture, and the Home Secretary was extraordinarily explicit on that subject, as I referenced earlier. The culture change has to come from the top; leaders are responsible for setting the standards, and we obviously expect them to keep pushing for improvements to be made across policing.

The recommendation is directed at police forces. It is important to remember that there is local accountability via the office of the police and crime commissioner, and that local accountability absolutely should be engaging with all sectors the community—the people who elect them, after all—to do precisely that. However, the Government have invested in the College of Policing’s National Centre for Police Leadership, which has already set out national standards for leadership at every level. That has to be embedded across forces, so that officers at every rank know what is expected of them and what development they need to get there. That also goes back to a question that the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, asked me about consistency, which I did not answer: she is 100% right that there is a lack of consistency across police forces. Of course, when all ranks are trained nationally, that will introduce the element of consistency that we clearly need.

I completely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hughes of Stretford. However, as the recommendation is directed at police forces, I have to maintain the operational independence line, as it is entirely appropriate that police forces should be free from central government control. Nevertheless, there is local control that could certainly exercise the type of oversight that the noble Baroness wants.

Photo of Lord Beith Lord Beith Deputy Chairman of Committees

My Lords, the Minister referred to local accountability. Is he satisfied that the various assurances and procedures that he described will apply to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and other forces that do not have local accountability?

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The noble Lord raises a good point. The Civil Nuclear Constabulary comes under the atomic energy people—I forget their precise title—and was referenced in Lady Elish’s report. I have not been party to the conversations that are going on there; I imagine that they are ongoing, and I would like to report back in due course, when I can. Obviously, I cannot say more at the moment.

Photo of Baroness Goudie Baroness Goudie Llafur

Is it not right that when police officers commit such offences their pensions should also be suspended immediately as part of the punishment?

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I cannot say that it is right across the board; I do not know. It would obviously have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. The way that we have changed the dismissals process will, I hope, give that decision-making power to the right people and make the dismissals process much easier for them to navigate. As I said, it would be foolish of me to say a blanket yes or no; it depends on the case.

Sitting suspended.