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 As is usual practice they were withdrawn after debate and may be returned to at a later stage: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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Bishop of Salisbury calls for independent review into Wiltshire Police handling of allegations against Sir Edward Heath

On 4th March 2020 Lord Campbell-Savours asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the management of investigations into historic sexual offences.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, can the Minister explain how we will learn from the sorts of examples that we have had—for instance, the case of Sir Edward Heath in Salisbury—unless there is an independent review? In the past, we have been told that the Home Office cannot do that and that it is the responsibility of the police and crime commissioner. The police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire says that the police force there was acting as a lead authority on behalf of others. We need to accept that more than 40 allegations had to be investigated. How will we learn unless there is a review, and what can the Home Office do that will help to restore the reputation of both Sir Edward and, I have to say, Wiltshire Police? Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury calls for independent review into Wiltshire Police handling of allegations against Sir Edward Heath”

Bishop of St Albans appeals for early intervention to prevent serious youth crime

Bishop St Albans June 2015On 3rd September 2019 Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked the Government “what steps they plan to take to support the Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting, and the courts in sentencing, those involved in gang-related offences, illegal migration and petty offences”. The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow-up question:

Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I share with many others gratitude for what the Government are doing to have an integrated approach to serious violence and youth violence in particular, and I welcome having more police because we need to have safer streets. But by the time we get to prosecuting and sentencing it is all too late. Very often people have been left injured and dead. How much are we investing way before that, particularly at school level?

Will the noble and learned Lord say a little more about what support is being given to our schools? In particular, when, for example, children are found with knives, does this trigger a safeguarding response so that we are trying to deal with the causes, rather than just the results?

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Bishop of St Albans asks whether police receive guidance or training on dealing with street preachers

On 1st May the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on guidance to police about street preachers, and religious literacy training:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL15288 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 3 April (HL14707), whether the Home Office provides any particular guidance to police officers in relation to freedom of speech and street preachers; whether police officers receive training on religious literacy; and if so, whether any such training is mandatory.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about guidance to police on street preachers

StAlbans051218On 3rd April 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to two questions on street preachers.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they provide to police officers on dealing with incidents involving street preachers.

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Bishop of Durham asks Government about support for Police widows

Durham040219On 6th February 2019 Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, received a written answer to a question about Police widows pension entitlements.  

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service on 24 January 2018 (123402), what plans they have, if any, to amend the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 and the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 to equalise the support given to the widows of police officers. [HL13065]

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Bishop of Salisbury supports call for review into Operation Conifer

On 11th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a Motion from Lord Lexden, “That this House regrets the failure by Her Majesty’s Government to institute an independent inquiry into Operation Conifer conducted by the Wiltshire police into allegations of child sex abuse against Sir Edward Heath; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to make proposals for an independent review of the seven unsubstantiated allegations left unresolved at the end of Operation Conifer.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, for his doggedness in persisting with this, and the other Members of the House who have also done so.

I come at this from something of a different angle. We are dealing with an extremely difficult issue as a society. The Church of England knows something about it—but so do we all. This is really difficult stuff. It would not be enough to have an inquiry into the seven unresolved and said to be unsubstantiated allegations. It is about what we have learned from our experience, about good practice, about what has gone wrong and about how we develop things for the future. Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury supports call for review into Operation Conifer”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about church and grassroots efforts to tackle violent crime

On 15th November 2018 Lord Bach asked the Government ‘what steps they intend to take to strengthen the ability of police forces in England and Wales to tackle knife and other serious and violent crime in addition to funding provided by the Early Intervention Youth Fund.’ The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

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Bishop of St Albans asks for wider debate on use of facial recognition technology

On 1st March 2018 Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb led a debate in the House of Lords on her question to Her Majesty’s Government ‘what proposals they have for the use of facial recognition technology in security and policing.’ The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

 The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, for this debate. My guess is that most of us see some very useful ways in which this technology can be used, but many people are also concerned that it may have other uses as well, which they are less keen on.  Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks for wider debate on use of facial recognition technology”

Bishop of Chester calls for NHS to be given responsibility for those in police care

On 30th October 2017 a Government statement was repeated in the Lords on the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini’s Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody, and the Government’s substantive response. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a question after the statement:

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I very much welcome the report; I have simply read the executive summary. It is obviously important to respond well after death occurs, but equally, arguably, it is even more important to put in place measures to reduce the possibility of death. This is where the healthcare provision in the police service is especially important. Given that the NHS has a direct responsibility to provide healthcare in prisons but does not have an equivalent responsibility for those in police care, and given that for half the people the cause of death is alcohol and drug-related, is there not a need to join up A&E, the police, the whole NHS and police support? It is no doubt complex, but at the heart of this lies quite a simple issue. This ought to be brought within the ambit of the NHS, which is the case with prisons. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester calls for NHS to be given responsibility for those in police care”