HC Deb 18 March 1997 vol 292 cc771-2

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (Code of Practice) (No. 2) Order 1997, dated 27th February 1997, which was laid before this House on 3rd March, be approved.— [Mr. Carrington.]

6.32 pm
Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

I would be grateful if the Minister would clarify one point on the powers of stop and search. As I understand the guidance that the Minister has published, the new powers depend on clearly identifying members of a gang and do not, therefore, amount to the reintroduction of wider powers of stop and search that might give rise to concern. That is an important point and concerns many people, so I would be grateful if the Minister could put his advice on the record.

6.33 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Maclean)

I am delighted to be able to confirm that the changes proposed are a response to the development of a perceived knife-carrying culture among some young people, and the formation of gangs in which knives are used with intent to maim or kill. There are additions to the code. If it is helpful, I will read out briefly the crucial part of the code, which is still there and which the order does not dilute. Section 1.7 of the code states: a person's colour, age, hairstyle or manner of dress, or the fact that he is known to have a previous conviction for possession of an unlawful article, cannot be used alone or in combination with each other as the sole basis on which to search that person. Nor may it be founded on the basis of stereotyped images of certain persons or groups as more likely to be committing offences.

I trust that that will assure the hon. Gentleman, on the record, that the new power cannot be twisted in any way and used as an excuse to stop people of an ethnic minority group or a certain age or colour. The additional powers to stop people who bear a distinctive insignia and who are part of a knife-carrying gang will be helpful to the police, who have warmly welcomed them.

Mr. Michael

I am grateful to the Minister. That clarification is important.

Question put and agreed to.

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