Traffic regulation

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 3 Gorffennaf 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 2:00, 3 Gorffennaf 2018

I beg to move amendment 30, in clause 14, page 16, line 33, leave out from “authorise” to “to” in line 34, and insert “another constable”.

It is a pleasure to serve under you as Chair this afternoon, Mrs Main. I rise in unusual circumstances, because the Minister responded to parts of the amendment this morning, so I can anticipate some of the response. The amendment relates to proposed new subsection (5)(d) in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, in subsection (9)(c), which is the part of the clause that will empower a constable in connection with anti-terrorism regulation orders, or ATTROs. I am moving the amendment simply to draw some clarity from the Minister.

The explanatory note states that

“it might be left to a security guard or steward to determine when a provision of an ATTRO is to commence or cease operating on a given day”.

I can see the common sense in that. For example, where a particular restriction has a set number of hours and everyone has gone, it would be in everyone’s interest to have somebody on the ground who can say, perhaps an hour before the specified time, that the restriction is being brought to an end. What might be more problematic, however, is situations arising all over the country—for example, where a security firm or otherwise has taken on responsibility for particular things—where broad, strategic decisions are taken out of the police’s hands and put into the hands of different bodies that may be applying them inconsistently.

Will the Minister set out the balance? There is nothing wrong with making common-sense decisions on the ground in a limited way, and if that is what is envisaged, as it seems to be from the explanatory notes, I would be satisfied by that explanation. What I would be less in favour of is a lot of inconsistency around the country or for common-sense decisions on the ground to perhaps interfere with the overall strategy for these events, which I would expect to be in the hands of the police.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I hear the hon. Gentleman’s concerns. The key part of this provision, reflecting my earlier answers, is that it hands the constable the right to exercise his or her discretion about when to effectively delegate or allow the power to be used. I would trust the judgment of the police commanders I know—for example, Neil Basu, the counter-terrorism lead—to make that call in those situations. It is important to recognise that we do not want highly trained police officers with powers to be inappropriately used for something that a security guard, a steward or somebody else could do, which would be a better use of their time. I trust their discretion and think that the constable will get it right.

Most such events are properly planned. Where there has been an ATTRO, it will predominantly be because of a specific threat, or certainly enough threat to warrant it, which will clearly indicate a significant amount of deliberate planning, such that the local authority and, for example, the sporting event will be fully played into. I am therefore happy that that is where we are and we can allow those police officers to be used better.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that, all the way through, this is as much about the discretion of chief officers and local authorities in being able to police events properly, with the health warning that this is not to be used as a charging mechanism. It is thought that on average an ATTRO will cost between about £3,500 and £10,000, with approximately 90% of the cost usually going on ATTRO advertising. I do not think that is a significant impact. In fact, where an ATTRO is needed, the cost will sometimes fall on the Crown. I suspect that, for the Commonwealth summit at Lancaster House for example, the required costs will effectively mean Government paying Government.

I do not think we should remove the ability of a constable to delegate where they need to. That is the best way to get the correct policing and the right resources to the right event and also, perhaps, to limit the cost impact on some of these events. I would not want them to be unduly restricted. That is the thinking behind this part of the legislation, and I urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 16