Bishop of Manchester asks about changes needed to address criminality within the police

The Bishop of Manchester asked a question on how the government plan to realise the turnaround priorities set out by the new police commissioner, during a debate on criminality within the Metropolitan Police on 1st February 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, this is more than a series of bad apples; I am sure that there is something rotten in the culture and structures in policing that comprehensively and immediately needs to be addressed. We have the nine turnaround priorities that the new police commissioner has set out. Can the Minister set out how the Government will assist with and ensure those priorities are realised as a matter of urgency?

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Bishop of St Albans asks about costs of gambling-driven crime

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what estimates they have made of the cost to the state of gambling-driven crime.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): The Home Office does not hold the information which you have requested on the estimates for state costs arising from gambling- driven crime.

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Bishop of Exeter asks about crime prevention in rural areas

The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answers on 29th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • what assessment they have made of the rising levels of crime and low conviction rates in rural areas.
  • what consideration they have given to setting up rural crime units.
  • what steps they are taking to increase the conviction rate for rural crime.
  •  what guidance they plan to issue to farmers to protect themselves from violent crime.

Lord Benyon (Con): The Statistical Digest of Rural England, published in August 2022 by DEFRA, states “average crime rates (police recorded crime) are lower in rural areas than urban areas”. However, we recognise that some crimes are unique and specific to rural areas.

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Votes: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

On 31st March 2022, the House of Lords debated Commons Amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. There were votes on several amendments, in which Bishops took part.

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Votes: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

On 22nd March 2022, the House of Lords considered Commons amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Votes were held on further amendments to the bill, in which Bishops took part.

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Nationality and Borders Bill: Bishop of London speaks in favour of amendment to protect migrant victims of crime

On 2nd March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Nationality and Borders Bill on the second day of the report stage. The Bishop of London spoke in support of an amendment to the bill which would prevent immigration data about victims of crime who report offences from being shared:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment 58A. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, for introducing this new amendment. In Committee, I tabled an amendment looking to create a data firewall for survivors of domestic abuse. This amendment, however, is helpful in that it is broader in its scope and gets to the critical underlying principle: namely, that victims and witnesses of crime should not need to fear coming forward on account of their migration status. I and my colleagues on this Bench, including the right reverend Prelates the Bishops of Gloucester and Bristol, have highlighted these concerns, notably during the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill.

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Police Bill: Bishop of Leeds speaks on amendment on access to crime and accident scenes for ministers of religion

“I praise the emergency services and the police for their sensitivity in the way they have addressed this, but they are doing so within a culture that often treats religion as a private matter.”

The House of Lords considered the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in Committee on 22nd November 2021. The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate on an amendment to the Bill from Baroness Stowell of Beeston about police procedure on religious rituals or prayer at crime scenes:


The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, this is very sensitive territory. Dying is sacred and is part of our living. I think I am the only minister of religion here, and I have accompanied many people, including my own father, to and through their death. If you have been party to that, you will know that it is holy territory

One could say that violent death is even more holy because of how that dying has been brought about. It seems that there needs to be religious literacy on the part of the emergency services and the police, and that the religious bodies need also to improve their literacy in relation to the nature of these events and how they are dealt with.

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Bishop of Coventry asks about training for police on access for ministers of religion to dying people at scenes of accident or injury

On 22nd November 2021 in the House of Lords Lord Moylan asked the Government “what plans they have to establish a multi-professional strategy for the emergency services concerning the attendance of ministers of religion at the scene of situations involving serious injury”. The Bishop of Coventry asked a further question:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I greatly welcome the joint study group announced by the cardinal archbishop. Does the Minister agree that good outcomes from that study would include both further training and education to ensure that police officers understand the significance of spiritual comfort at the point of death, for the dying of whatever faith, and an increased role for police chaplaincy?

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Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill: Bishop of Carlisle supports amendment to prevent use of children as covert agents

On 3rd December 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill 2020 at its Committee Stage. The Bishop of Durham had co-sponsored two amendments aimed at restricting or regulating the use of children as covert agents. The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in his place, in support of the amendments. As is usual practice they were withdrawn after debate and may be returned to at a later stage:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 43, in the names of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, the noble Lord, Lord Young, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Chakrabarti and Lady Bull, and Amendment 60, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. As we have heard, both concern the treatment of children.

We should not for a moment underestimate some of the evils in our society that the Government and the forces of law and order are tasked with confronting. Some of those evils involve the abuse of children and vulnerable people, including, as we know, the scourge of county lines drug gangs, sexual predators and traffickers. It does not take much imagination to see how, as a result of this, there is a periodic temptation to use children as covert assets. We must clearly guard against that temptation; as we have already been reminded, our first duty must be to the care and well-being of children. This applies all the more to children who find themselves in vulnerable and harmful situations, such as those used and abused by criminal gangs.

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Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – Bishop of Durham raises child safety fears

On 11th November the House of Lords debated the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate, raising concerns about the risks to the safety of children:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, I too would like to welcome the noble and learned Minister to the House and to his new role. Not many find their maiden speech to be that of introducing a Bill to the House, and I congratulate him on the necessarily blended speech.

I welcome the Government’s move to provide a statutory basis for covert human intelligence sources to participate in criminal conduct, where it is necessary and proportionate to do so for a limited set of specified purposes. We recognise the heavy duty placed on ​government to protect its citizens, and this Bill is a necessary step so that those undertaking these activities with a view to protecting the public can be clear in their status and duties.

However, while welcoming the intent behind this Bill, I am concerned that safeguards should be properly scrutinised, in particular when they concern the treatment of children. Continue reading “Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – Bishop of Durham raises child safety fears”

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