On 21st July 2014, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. He spoke in support of an amendment to make assault on workers selling alcohol a specific criminal offence. Following the debate on the amendment, it was withdrawn without being put to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I have considerable sympathy for the amendment, although I wonder how it will interact with the remainder of the law on assault if this is criminalised in a specific way. I declare an interest in that I used to be a publican. When I was employed in a university, one of the members of staff had to go down to the magistrates’ court and swear that they were a fit person to keep order. That is the only time when I have been into a court of law in my life, and the magistrates were not quite sure that this young clergyman would be able to do so. My main task was to prevent the students drinking the profits rather than sorting out any brawls.
I would like the Minister to comment on the two examples that we have been given of the use of caution where assault takes place. If a publican’s wife was assaulted and her nose was broken and this simply resulted in a caution, that is widely held to be inadequate as a legal response. I hope that when he comes to reply the Minister will deal with that point, especially if he is not prepared to accept the amendment.