On 22nd March 2022, the House of Lords debated Commons amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Bishop of Manchester spoke twice in the debate, first voicing his concerns regarding serious violence reduction orders:
My Lords, I echo the thoughts that the noble Lord, Lord Young, has just shared. I declare my interest as chair of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership board and as co-chair of the national police ethics committee, because I also wish to speak to the Motion regarding serious violence reduction orders.
I support the Vagrancy Act repeal, as I know my right reverend and most reverend friends on these Benches do, and have sought to see that included in previous Bills. I am grateful that it is now on track and I look forward to working with Ministers and others to ensure that we avoid any unintended consequences and do not simply recreate the old Act in more modern language.
On serious violence reduction orders, I am deeply concerned about knife crime. In fact, in Greater Manchester we are holding a summit on the afternoon of Friday of next week and I would be delighted if the noble Baroness the Minister could join us on that occasion, if her diary permits. As one of those who sponsored Amendments 114 to 116, I am grateful that we now have an expanded list of things that the review of the pilot must include and I am grateful for the assurances that we have heard today that the list is not exhaustive.
I still have concerns that these orders may prove unworkable, that they may put vulnerable women and girls at greater risk or that they may damage community relations with police through their disproportionate application. At worst, I think that all those things could happen, but for now I am willing to accept that the review is in good faith. Again, I look forward to seeing how the lessons learned from it will be taken fully on board and incorporated into any subsequent national rollout of SVROs.
Extracts from the speeches that followed:
Lord Paddick (LD): On Motion L, serious violence reduction orders will allow the police to stop and search people without any suspicion that those targeted have anything on them at the time they are stopped and searched that they should not have in their possession. It is another form of stop and search without suspicion, which is notorious for being ineffective. It is even less effective at finding weapons than stop and search based on suspicion and it is disproportionately focused on black people, even compared with stop and search based on suspicion. As a consequence, it is notorious for the damage that it causes to the relationships between the police and the communities they are supposed to help. The Government’s own impact assessment shows that these measures will disproportionately impact black communities and fly in the face of the Government’s response to the report by the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.
The police need to work together with communities suffering serious violence to build trust and confidence and to demonstrate that they are on the side of the community—not using powers disproportionately against it, as these new powers, by the Government’s own admission, will continue to do. Even Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services says that the disproportionate use of powers against certain communities is “undermining police legitimacy”.
Like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, we have concerns. We believe that serious violence reduction orders are likely to make serious violence worse, as they further alienate the very communities the police need to co-operate with to identify the perpetrators. However, we have reluctantly agreed to see how SVROs, arguably a manifesto commitment, work in practice in a limited number of pilot areas.
The Bishop of Manchester spoke again regarding the proposed measures in the bill to curtail the noise made by protests:
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, ever since this Bill began its progress through your Lordships’ House, I have struggled to understand why the source of noise seems to make a difference.
I am lucky to live in a large, busy and somewhat noisy city. Last week one of our local Jewish communities, which I live at the heart of, celebrated Purim, and it celebrated it noisily. I live close to Salford City football ground. I have a season ticket and go to watch matches there. But I would not need to be in the ground to know the score; I could tell from the noise that emerges from it. I am well within earshot of the annual Parklife festival in Heaton Park in north Manchester, which brings countless people from all over the country and beyond to have a fun weekend. I struggle to see why a night of noise from a religious festival or a weekend of noise from a pop concert is somehow acceptable, but noise from a protest for a night or a weekend somehow is not. If noise is a nuisance, it is a nuisance. The fact that it is generated by protests and not by pop music seems entirely irrelevant.
I take great comfort from what the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said earlier. I have double glazing, so perhaps nothing at all is a nuisance to me; but not all my neighbours in Salford are quite so lucky. Unless the Minister can give me some clarity as to why the source of the noise make such a substantial difference that we have to legislate against it, I will be supporting the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and others this afternoon.