Examination of Witness (Questions 1-86)|
RT HON THERESA MAY MP, HOME SECRETARY
14 DECEMBER 2010
Q1 Chair: Home Secretary,
welcome. I know you've had a very busy morning. You've been to
Cabinet and then the National Security Council. We are most grateful
to you for coming to this session. This is the Committee's normal
twice-yearly session with you. You have now spent 200 days in
the job. How are you enjoying it?
Mrs May: I am enjoying
it, thank you, Chairman. As you know, there are some very interesting
and challenging issues to deal with but I am enjoying it.
Q2 Chair: I want
to start with the events of last week because it would be apposite
for the Committee to ask you about public order issues and your
very helpful statement to the House yesterday. Obviously the police
did their very best to protect the Palace of Westminster. There
is no doubt about that. But there are public concerns, some of
which were expressed in the House yesterday, about the levels
of violence, the destruction of buildings such as the windows
of the Supreme Court and, indeed, whether or not the Duchess of
Cornwall was poked through a window by a stick. At the end of
the day, it was an attack on the heir to the throne. That must
have caused you, as Home Secretary, particular concern. When did
you know of the offer of Sir Paul Stephenson, reported in the
newspapers, to resign over that incident?
Mrs May: First
of all, you are absolutely right, Chairman, that this is a matter
we should all be concerned about. That is why the Metropolitan
Police are doing a review into that incidentto see exactly
what happened and, crucially, what lessons can be learned from
that incident. I have had a number of conversations myself with
Sir Paul Stephenson over the period since last Thursday. I am
not in a position to say, as I am not party to a conversation
he may have had with somebody else in relation to the matter that
Q3 Chair: He hasn't
offered to resign to you? We saw the newspaper reports and we
thought it was appropriate to clear it up with you, because you
would know about it, wouldn't you, if he had made an offer to
Mrs May: What I
would say to the Committee is that I don't think it is appropriate
for me to reveal details of any private conversations I have had
with individuals. The report that appeared to be in the newspaper,
I think, related to something else.
Q4 Chair: So he didn't
offer to resign over this issue?
Mrs May: As I have
said, I don't think it is appropriate for me to reveal any private
conversations that I have with Sir Paul.
Q5 Chair: Moving
on to the type of inquiry and investigation that is going on,
you told the House yesterday that there was an internal investigation
by the Metropolitan Police which is going to reach your desk on
Friday. Is that right? Is that about the royal incident or generally
about the whole way in which the police dealt with this disorder?
Mrs May: There
is a specific piece of work which is being undertaken by the Metropolitan
Police this week on the incident relating to the royal car. That
report will be presented, within the Met, to the Commissioner
Q6 Chair: We have
one report into the royal car which is internal to the Met, which
will be with you on Friday. Is there a separate investigation
or not into what happened last Thursday?
Mrs May: No, there
isn't. It is important that we don't get a proliferation of investigations
every time the police have to police the London streets, albeit
that there were aspects of concern in relation to what happened
last Thursday. But, of course, there had been previous demonstrations
as well. Understandably, after any such event, the Met will do
the job that everybody would expect them to do, which is to look
back at how they have policed that particular event and to look
at whether there are any lessons they need to learn for any future
demonstrations that they would be policing. That is, as I say,
a natural order of things that we would all expect them to do.
There are also going to be, potentially, a number of investigations.
There is certainly one investigation by the IPCC, and if there
were any other formal complaints that the IPCC feel they should
be investigating, they will be looking at those specific incidents
and coming to their conclusions about that.
Q7 Chair: There is
no investigation that you have asked for or commissioned in respect
of last week?
Mrs May: No.
Q8 Chair: There's
an ongoing look at what happened, as happens during any big disorder?
Mrs May: Yes. There
is one other piece of work, if I may, Chairman. The HMIC had done
some work on looking at public order policing.
Mrs May: And in
the light of what has happened over the last few weeks, I understand
that Sir Denis O'Connor is now looking again at that work in the
context of the demonstrations that have taken place.
Q9 Chair: Was that
at your request or did he, off his own bat, say, "I've done
a piece of work on this"of course, the Committee is
familiar with that piece of work"Let's bring it forward"?
Mrs May: Within
the Home Office we, ourselves, have been looking at what work
we might do in this area. Sir Denis and HMIC have decided that
they will do that piece of work. It is appropriate for us to wait
for these various pieces of work to come to fruition and I will
be looking at the Metropolitan Police report on the incident relating
to the royal car and at Sir Denis' work, when that is completed.
Q10 Chair: Is there
a timetable for Sir Denis' report, because I understand that there
are more protests planned for today? Obviously, what he has to
say would be of great use, because his last report was extremely
useful as far as his recommendations were concerned. Have you
said to him you would like a report by a certain time, or is it
Mrs May: It is
ongoing. We can certainly make known to you the date when Sir
Denis expects to be able to come forward with the report but,
as you say, it is a bit of a moveable feast. If we do have more
demonstrations taking place, he will need to decide at what point
he is able to come to us with suggestions or make any recommendations,
despite the fact that other things are still going on. It is important
for the Committee to recognise that we need to look not just at
the specifics of these demonstrations but at the whole question
of public order policing and perhaps learn some specific lessons
from what has happened in these demonstrations.
Mrs May: So it
is a slightly wider-scale piece of work which, it is right to
say, is not quite as time-sensitive as you suggest.
Q11 Chair: One final
question from me before other Members will ask questions on this
issue, and that concerns water cannon. Yesterday, you were quite
specific in the House that you did not want to see water cannons
being used on the streets of London or any other city. But you
did say that the consent of the Home Office was required for the
use of water cannons, whereas Sir Hugh Orde, the President of
ACPO, has said that a water cannon can be used by a Commander
or an Assistant Commissioner. What is the precise situation? Who
can authorise the use of water cannon? I assume you still hold
to your view that you don't want to see water cannon on the streets.
Mrs May: I do.
There are, if you like, two levels of decision about the use of
water cannon were that to be the case to be considered. The first
is that the Home Office does look at a list of measures and equipment
that can be used by police forces to which the police forces have
to have regard. Water cannon is not on that list and the Home
Office would have to look at any consideration of the use of water
In terms of operational use of water cannon, of course
it would be for the police themselves to decide whether they felt
that was appropriate. I would expect that they would discuss that
with the police authority and, in due course, with the police
and crime commissioner, were they to wish to take that step. In
relation to the Metropolitan Police, that would be with the Mayor.
But there is the step of the Home Office looking in general at
the use of water cannon, and then a specific police decision as
to whether they believed, in any particular operation, there was
an operational necessity or advantage in using it.
Q12 Chair: Has the
Home Office done its bit on this yet, or is that still to be done?
Mrs May: The Home
Office has not come to a decision on that, no.
Q13 Chair: Ian Paisley
Junior asked you in the House yesterday about the water cannon
in Northern Ireland. Is it correct that two of those water cannons
have been decommissioned from Northern Ireland and are heading
off to the rest of the mainland?
Mrs May: My understanding
is that is not correct.
Chair: Thank you.
Q14 Mr Winnick: Yesterday,
the House made clear its dislike, to say the least, of violence
and hooliganism, and that includes those of us who fully support
the object of the continuing demonstrations against the very substantial
increase in tuition fees and the abolition of EMA. Can I ask you,
as regards violence, about the position of Alfie Meadows, who,
reportedly, was hit by a police truncheon, which has meant an
operation lasting three hours? No one has alleged that he hurt
or injured himself. Is there to be an investigation precisely
as to how Mr Meadows was so hurt?
Mrs May: Yes, indeed.
That complaint has gone to the IPCC and the IPCC are investigating
that specific case.
Q15 Mr Winnick: You
would be very concerned if, indeed, he suffered his injuries as
a result of being hit by the police?
Mrs May: We must
all be concerned about making sure that the police are using appropriate
tactics in any such demonstration and the policing of any such
event. It is important that we don't, and certainly I don't, myself,
form a judgment as to exactly what happened in that incident.
It is right that the IPCC are investigating it. They will look
into that incident and they will obviously report in due course.
There is no doubt, of course, that the police must be accountable
for how they police these demonstrations and what they do on these
demonstrations. As I said in the House yesterday, I think
the police exercised, in general, great restraint. They were doing
a very difficult job. But where there are individual complaints
of incidents like that, it is appropriate that those are properly
investigated, and properly investigated by the IPCC.
Q16 Mr Winnick: On
that aspect, I have just one further question, Home Secretary.
Would we be right in saying that the most injured person arising
from the demonstration last Thursday was, in fact, Mr Meadows?
No one else suffered the same type of injury resulting in the
life-saving operation that occurred.
Mrs May: I always
hesitate to give an absolute. My understanding is that that is
correct. There were a number of police officers who were also
hospitalised temporarily, but I understand that Mr Meadows is
the only individual who required an operation of that sort.
Q17 Mr Winnick: Home
Secretary, we have receivedcertainly I have, and I understand
other members of the Committee have alsocopies of e-mails
which have been sent to you strenuously denying that those who
wanted to leave Parliament Square could do so. I will just mention
one, if I may, although I have had a number which have been sent
to you. I hope this will not prejudice you in any way, but this
has been sent, apparently, from a Guardian journalist.
He doesn't write on politics but on music, I understand. He demonstrated
as a private citizen and he strongly denies all that you said
about being able to leave Parliament Square. This is Dan Hancox.
He writes: "I repeatedly tried to leave the kettle in Parliament
Square between 5pm and 11pmsix hours." Every time
he tried to persuade the police officer, whoever he was speaking
to, there was complete silence from the police officers concerned.
Chair: Home Secretary?
Mr Winnick: Can I just
say that he is quite clear that the police were not allowing anyone
whatsoever out of that kettling?
Mrs May: The police
were allowing people out of that kettling in Parliament Square,
and if you look at the numbers of people who were left in Parliament
Square in the evening, given the number that started, it is quite
clear that people were being allowed to leave Parliament Square.
Q18 Mr Winnick: So
you are saying he's lying.
Mrs May: No.
Q19 Mr Winnick: You
are saying he's lying.
Mrs May: No. No,
Mr. Winnick, I am not saying that. You asked a lengthy question,
and would you kindly allow me to answer the question, Mr Chairman,
through you, if I may?
Chair: Yes, of course.
Mr Winnick, please.
Mrs May: First
of all, I have not seen these e-mails yet. I know people said
in the House yesterday that they would be forwarding e-mails to
me. I have not seen those e-mails yet. Secondly, as I say, people
were allowed to leave the kettling in Parliament Square. The very
numbers show that people were leaving Parliament Square during
the time that has been set out. However, if an individual does
have a complaint about their treatment and the methods the police
were using, there is the proper process of them putting that complaint
through the proper channels and, if necessary, that being investigated.
Chair: Thank you, Home
Q20 Dr Huppert: There
are two issues I was hoping to raise which I raised with you in
the House yesterday, and on previous occasions. The first of those
does indeed relate to kettling. I have also had e-mails from people
I know personally and, while I accept what you saythat
it was intended that protesters might be able to leaveit
is quite clear that people were not given that information, whether
or not it was actually what was happening. So there is a problem
on information, which I hope you will look into.
But on kettling more broadly, before I move on to
identities, it is a matter of great concern to many of us. My
colleague Tom Brake, who used to be a member of this Committee,
was in a kettle for many hours and still has strong opinions about
them. We have recently seen the use of kettling on peaceful protesters,
and there are a minority who are not so peaceful, but also on
people who are very much under age. The youngest I have heard
report of is around 12, but I don't think the age is the point.
Will you be reviewing whether kettling is an appropriate thing
to use across any age range?
Mrs May: Kettling
has been reviewed on a number of occasions. It has been agreed
and decided that it is an appropriate technique that should be
available to the police and that, in certain circumstances, it
is right for the police to use. It can be something that the police
are using not just to contain those who may be demonstrating,
some of whom may not be as peaceful as others, but, of course,
sometimes it may be that it is felt appropriate to keep people
in a cordoned area for their own sake, given what may be happening
elsewhere. This is something which has been looked at on a number
of occasions. I am aware that there have been, over the years,
questions about this technique of kettling, but it has been looked
at and it was felt appropriate for it to be a technique that is
available to the police. Of course, they always consider very
carefully when they are and when they are not going to use this
as a technique.
Q21 Dr Huppert: I
know you are aware that, further along the corridor, there is
a more detailed analysis of kettling happening at the moment.
Can I then move on to identification of police? The rules are
clear: police should be clearly identifiable in these processes,
whereas we have seen imagery showing police who appear to be deliberately
disguising identification numbers. I'm sure you would deplore
that behaviour. Is there some suggestion that perhaps it should
be a requirement on police officers to report anyone else they
see not identifying themselves correctly?
Mrs May: First
of all, I think we all agree that the police officer should have
that identification available. Those who are on duty around, as
you have seen, should have that clear identification on their
uniform. On the question of whether you put some sort of duty
on an individual police officer to say what they have seen, if
a police officer sees something happening in a demonstration that
they feel is not right, I would expect in the natural course of
events that they would say something. However, I have to say that
in the circumstances in which you are in Parliament Square or
in any other place, actually in action, in terms of policing a
demonstration where violence is taking place, your first intent
is to get on with the job you are doing at the time.
Q22 Dr Huppert: But
you would encourage and support whistle-blowing, as it were?
Mrs May: As I have
said, I think everybody would expect that in any circumstance
any police officer who saw inappropriate behaviour by another
police officer would take the appropriate steps.
Chair: Could I appeal
to the members of the Committee for brief questions, because we
have a lot to cover and we want to move on from the disorders
of the last week? That is not a reflection on your question, Mr
Q23 Steve McCabe:
I'm watching the clock, Mr Chairman. Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw
offered to resign over the security breach involving Michael Fagan.
A number of your colleaguesI don't know if you were involveddemanded
the resignation of David Blunkett over the security breach concerning
the comedy terrorist at the royal birthday party. At any time
over the last few days, have you thought that you should consider
your position over the latest breach?
Mrs May: The answer
is no. I think there are differences between the sorts of breach
of security that have occurred previously and the incident that
took place in terms of the royal protection. But it is important
that we look at exactly what took place in relation to the royal
car and the decisions that were taken. If there are lessons to
be learned from that, it is appropriate that those should be learned.
Q24 Mr Burley: In
the past few weeks we have seen Millbank Tower smashed up and
fire extinguishers thrown off the roof; we have seen burning braziers
down Whitehall; we have seen Treasury windows broken; we have
seen the unedifying sight of a millionaire swinging from the Cenotaph
and the heir to the throne has now been assaulted. Do you share
many people's concerns that the police appear to be far too soft
and tolerant with these continued protesters?
Mr Winnick: But beat them
Mrs May: Can I,
first of all, Mr Chairman, correct something that Mr Burley may
have perhaps said inadvertently? He said the heir to the throne
had been assaulted.
Chair: The car of the
heir to the throne.
Mrs May: The car
of the heir to the throne was attacked, yes. It is a matter of
record, in relation to the first demonstration and the violence
that took place around Millbank and around Conservative party
headquartersand, of course, there are other offices in
that building; we should never forget thatSir Paul Stephenson
himself, that evening, came out and publicly said that the police
had made mistakes in terms of their judgments about the policing
of that particular demonstration. They have since, obviously,
changed their approach to the demonstration. They had a considerably
larger number of officers available to police the demonstration
last week, for example, and they have learned the lesson from
that first demonstration.
It is always a difficult balance. This is one
of the reasons why I say, as I did yesterday, that the police
do have a very difficult job in policing demonstrations such as
this. We all want to be able to ensure that peaceful protests
can take place. Indeed, as a coalition Government, we have a commitment
to ensuring that peaceful protests can take place. That is something
I would hope people would want across the whole of the House.
From the point of view of the police, they have, therefore, to
engage, as they do, with those who are going to demonstrate and
are intending to demonstrate in a peaceful way. What matters is
that they are then able to take appropriate action when there
are those who do not wish to demonstrate peacefully. Last Thursday,
there was a significant number of people who wished to engage
in violence and criminal damage. It is appropriate that the police
take action against those and ensure the full force of the law
comes on those guilty of such damage and violence.
Q25 Mark Reckless:
Home Secretary, setting aside the royal protection incident, we
have had complaints, on both sides, of too-tough treatment with
particular protesters and also perhaps not sufficient protection
of certain sites around Whitehall. But would you agree that, in
really difficult circumstances, the police broadly got the balance
right and should be congratulated for their work in protecting
us all and allowing a peaceful protest largely to proceed?
Mrs May: Yes. I
think, overall, the police did do a good job. Of course, there
are individual incidents, such as that relating to Mr Meadows,
which it is entirely right should be investigated by the IPCC
and appropriate action should be taken on the decisions that come
out of that investigation, but overall, the police were doing
a very difficult job in very trying circumstances. There was a
lot of provocation. They did police it well. Crucially, they achieved
their clear aim, which was to ensure that Parliament could continue,
that Parliament could have the debate that we wanted to have on
the particular issue, and that students who attended and wished
to lobby their Members of Parliament were free to do so, and access
was made available to those students. Access to Parliament was
open at all times for MPs. We allI as much as any other
MPvalue the right we have of access to Parliament at all
times. So I think, overall, they did do a good job. As I say,
individual incidents will need to be investigated but, overall,
they did do a good job.
Q26 Mr Clappison:
Can I say, very briefly, I share that judgment, as somebody who
was out and about last Thursday around Westminster, outside, and
on previous occasions, and I also share the view that has been
put that the vast majority of the demonstrators were very peaceful
and well-behaved young people? Can I take you back to a point
you made, which I think is a very important point? There does
seem to be a fringe of demonstrators who, in some cases, may not
obviously connect with the student world, who turn up for these
demonstrations and who are equipped in a way which prevents them
from being identified, using masks and so forth. That is the concern
which most members of the public will have, I think, about identification
on this occasion. Would you be prepared to reflect on the concern
that there is this small fringe of people who seem to be out to
make trouble for the police and for the authorities generally
on these occasions and really spoil the protest for the vast majority
Mrs May: Indeed.
For the vast majority of demonstrators who want to demonstrate
peacefully, what they will have seen is that their causethe
issue for which they were demonstratingis swept to one
side in the public concern about the violence that takes place
in the demonstrations. So it is not in the interests of those
who wish to demonstrate for a cause peacefully to see violent
people within their demonstration. I was concerned, however, and
I mentioned this in the House yesterday, when I saw an interview
with one of the individuals who had been a steward on the demonstration
last Thursday, who, when challenged to condemn the violence of
the protesters, refused to do so. That should not have been the
attitude of those who were stewarding and were, therefore, there,
I would have thought, to encourage peaceful protest. We all support
peaceful protest, but violent protest is not acceptable.
Q27 Chair: Thank
you, Home Secretary, for that. You understand why we needed to
ask you these questions, as you were appearing before us. Let
us move on to other areas of policy, but stay with the police.
Yesterday, you announced a reduction in the police grant over
the next four years. The House of Commons Library insists that
this is 15% in the next two years. Can you tell us precisely what
the Home Office figures are, in terms of how much less local police
forces will be getting?
Mrs May: Yes. What
we announced yesterday was not the fact that there was going to
be a cut but the individual allocations to forces, which was the
result of the overall cut that had been announced as part of the
Chair: Indeed, yes.
Mrs May: My understanding,
and I am very happy to come back to you in more detail on this,
Mr Chairman, is that the 15% figure that I believe has indeed
been quoted by the shadow Home Secretary is wrong, and that that
is an interpretation of the House of Commons Library figure rather
than the House of Commons Library figure, but I will look at that
particular issue. We were clear, in terms of the profiling of
the real-terms cut that will take place, that it would lead to
a 20% real-terms cut in the grant that is made available from
central Government. Of course, for many forces, that does not
equate to a 20% real-terms cut in the funding that is available
to them because, although it varies from force to force, they
also have precept income available to them.
Q28 Chair: And you
are quite satisfied that, despite this cut, the police can perform
all the functions they currently perform as efficiently as they
perform them at the moment?
Mrs May: What I
do believe is that the police can perform the functions that they
should be performing. I hesitate to say "all of the functions",
because some of the functions they are performing at the moment
are filling in forms for the Home Office and others, which I don't
think it is appropriate for them to be doing. One of the things
we are doing at central Government is trying to free the police
up from some of those functions that they are doing at the moment
that we don't think are necessary for them to do. So I would not
use the phrase that you used, Chairman, if I may, but I am confident.
That is partly based, of coursebecause we have seen the
HMIC reporton the ability of police forces to save 12%
from their budgets by all forces becoming as efficient as the
force that is currently the most efficient, let alone the most
efficient force actually raising the bar in terms of efficiency.
So I am confident that they can do this without affecting the
services on which we all depend for our police.
Q29 Chair: To be
clear on the funding of PCSOs, that remains, does it?
Mrs May: What we
have done with the Neighbourhood Policing Fund, which is the funding
for the PCSOs, is to sayand in due course this will be
money that would be part of the settlement that was available
to the police and crime commissionersthat for the next
two years we will continue to ring-fence it for all forces apart
from the Metropolitan Police. The Metropolitan Police, of course,
already have their own equivalent of a police and crime commissioner
in the Mayor. So they have a directly elected individual who is
the person responsible for policing matters in the Metropolitan
Police area. That will be their decision.
Q30 Steve McCabe: Home
Secretary, you said yesterday that you were confident that you
could make savings on the Olympic security budget. You were quite
clear about that. I notice that you also have plans to cut the
counter-terrorism budget by 10% in real terms over the next four
years. I wondered why you were so confident that we could safely
make a cut of that scale, given recent events.
Mrs May: If I may
take both those points you have raised, on Olympic security we
are absolutely clear. The last Government had set a £600
million figure for it. We are protecting that £600 million
figure for Olympic security, but already, in terms of those who
are expert at this and those who are dealing with on-the-ground
decisions about what needs to be purchased and what needs to be
done, in looking at Olympic security they currently expect that
that will be an expenditure of £475 million. But we believe
it is right that we continue to protect the £600 million
for Olympic security.
On counter-terrorism policing, yes, I do believe
it is possible to make some efficiency savings there without affecting
the service that is being delivered. This is looking at some of
the issues such as removing the duplication of some of the functions.
It is not necessarily front-line functions we are talking about
here, but looking at how the counter-terrorism policing units
were set up. It was absolutely right that they were set up at
the time, but it is now possible, a few years on, to be able to
look at that and make some efficiency savings which will not affect
the crucial delivery of the service, whichyou are rightis
a very important part of our national security.
Q31 Steve McCabe:
Is the 10% an estimate or is it based on something?
Mrs May: No. 10%
is the figure that we have put into the budget and that is based
on work that has been done.
Q32 Nicola Blackwood:
Can I ask, in deciding the formula grant allocations to police
authorities, how you took into account the fact that different
forces have different reliance on Government grant versus police
precept and the different impact that the same cut would have
on different forces?
Mrs May: Yes. We
spent some time looking at how we should allocate the cut across
the police forces and how we should determine the allocation of
individual force funding grants. We considered a variety of ways.
As you know, the local authority settlement has been determined
in a particular way. That is dealing with a particular set of
issues with which local authorities are having to deal. We discussed
the matter. We looked at what was the expectation in police forces.
Their clear expectation was that we were going to be fair across
the board, in terms of how we dealt with the allocation, and that
was the decision that we came tothat we would have the
average 5.1% cut across the board for everybody.
Q33 Mr Burley: In
our recent report into police and crime commissioners, we looked
into this issue of operational independence or operational responsibility.
One of our recommendations was that the Home Office should develop
a memorandum of understanding between yourself, Chief Constables
and the new police and crime commissioners. Can you give us an
update today on what the Home Office's latest thinking is in this
Mrs May: Yes. We
have been absolutely clear, and it was an issue that we discussed
very early on with ACPO, on the whole question of how far you
go in trying to define operational independence. They and we were
clear that it would not be appropriate to try to define it in
legislation. I think that would be a route down which it would
not be sensible for any of us to go and would lead to significant
problems in terms of interpretation and legal arguments and so
forth. We are talking to them about the possibility of some sort
of protocol being developed which sets a framework on operational
independence, and that is certainly something we are working on
and looking at at the moment.
Q34 Mr Burley: I
will put a scenario to you that I put to two other witnesses who
came to this Committee, Sir Hugh Orde and Sir David Normington,
both of whom gave me completely opposite responses. In 18 months'
time you will have, I would suggest, a number of police and crime
commissioners elected in this country on a democratic mandate
to put more police on the streets in their area. Day one, they
sit down with their Chief Constablethe first day in the
joband they say, "Right. I want the police out of
the cars and on to the streets. I don't want them patrolling in
pairs. I want them patrolling individually on different sides
of the road." Is that within their democratic mandate, or
is that operational independence?
Mrs May: As you
say, this is a point on which you have had two separate different
answers already given in relation to this. My response to that
is that on a number of issues like this, it isn't a question of
saying that one is going to say to the other, "Thou shalt
do this." "No, I shan't. I'll do this." The relationship
between the police and crime commissioner and the Chief Constable
is obviously going to be at the heart of what is being done in
terms of policing, and I would expect that, yes, the Chief Constable
does have an operational right to decide how his police forces
are deployed at any point in time, but they need to have that
conversation. The police and crime commissioner will have the
ability to say, "My mandate is that we want to see more police
on the streets." They will have that discussion about how
that mandate can be delivered in an operational sense that meets
the operational requirements that the Chief Constable is setting
Q35 Alun Michael:
Just on that point of language, one thing we said in our report
as well was that it might be useful for a memorandum to define
operational independence and also a separate concept of operational
accountability. Is that something you are prepared to take up?
Mrs May: I am tempted
to say that I think the further we get into trying to define all
the various bits of this, the more we erode, in a sense, the whole
point of this, which is that the police and crime commissioner
does have a democratic mandate. They will be accountable, through
the ballot box, to the people who have elected them, in terms
of what they are doing, but they will hold the Chief Constable
accountable for the operational deployment and putting into practice
the strategic plan that the police and crime commissioner has
Q36 Alun Michael:
Surely the purpose was that that should be at the time when the
crime commissioners are in place, so that there is a clear understanding,
which is therefore clear to the public, about these different
issues of independence and accountability. Can I go on to the
question of the national crime agency? When do you hope to publish
the Bill to set up the national crime agency, and can you tell
us why you think that it will be an improvement on the current
arrangements with the Serious Organised Crime Agency?
Mrs May: Yes. I'm
still in discussion with the business managers in the House about
the actual timetable for the Bill going through Parliament. We
still expect to be able to publish the Bill, and to have the Bill
going through Parliament, in time for us to make the NCA fully
operational in 2013, albeit that I hope we would be able to have
aspects of the NCA perhaps shadowing, if not starting to get going,
before that particular time.
Why do I think it is going to be a benefit?
I think it is going to be an enormous benefit because what we
lack at the moment is an ability to have that national tasking
and co-ordination taking place. It will be possible. The National
Crime Agency does two things. First of all, it puts a clearer
focus on some aspects of crime on which we do need to spend more
time focusing. Serious and organised crime is key within that,
but border policing will be within that as well. Border security
will be there, and we are looking at other issues that could also
form part of the NCA.
The NCA will be able, as I say, to task and co-ordinate
across the different elements. I am sure all members of this Committee
will know that you cannot simply separate serious and organised
crime from issues like border security, and, indeed, from some
other aspects that we would be looking at as well, like, potentially,
economic crime. It is that ability to task and co-ordinate across
national policing issues that is going to be of enormous benefit.
Q37 Alun Michael:
Taking the point in relation to tasking, there are two aspects.
One is that the National Policing Improvement Agency is, effectively,
going to be rolled in. Obviously there are some things you are
determined to save money on in terms of the current work of the
National Policing Improvement Agency, but there are other functions
that will have to be done by somebody. Isn't it going to take
the new National Crime Agency away from its clarity of purpose
to have those functions rolled in with it?
Mrs May: What we
are currently looking at, in fact, is not rolling those functions
into the National Crime Agency, so that we can maintain the NCA's
clear focus as a crime-fighting body.
Q38 Alun Michael:
Who is going to do them then?
Mrs May: We are
looking at a number of options. You are right to say that there
are some functions that NPIA do that need to be done whatever
the scenario and the structures, and we are looking at how those
could be provided.
Q39 Alun Michael:
Finally, a lot of us are quite concerned about the move of CEOP
into the national crime agency, because it has a focus on child
protection. Have you given any further thought to that and are
you willing to reconsider moving from the independence of CEOP,
which has been so widely praised and valued?
Mrs May: CEOP has
done an excellent job. That must be absolutely clear. We really
value the work that CEOP has done and we want to build on that
work in the future. We will, of course, be making a final announcement
about CEOP in due course and we have received a number of representations,
but if I may respond to what you have said on two other aspects
of CEOP, first of all, it is absolutely imperative that people
realise that CEOP is not an independent body today. CEOP is part
of SOCA. It is allied to SOCA.
Q40 Alun Michael:
It's a partnership.
Mrs May: It comes
under SOCA and it is important to recognise
Q41 Alun Michael:
But it's a very effective partnership, Home Secretary.
Mrs May: Yes. Mr
Michael, if you will just wait, nobody is suggesting that CEOP
is somehow going to be merged into the national crime agency,
if it is part of the national crime agency, in a way that doesn't
mean that CEOP can continue to exist in the form that it is at
the moment. The whole point of the national crime agency is that
it will have a number of commands within it. The second point
is that, yes, there are child protection issues and obviously
education and information provision issues that CEOP undertakes,
but at its heart, CEOP is about preventing the undertaking of
what is, in my view, very serious crime in terms of child abuse.
It is about preventing it, but it is also about identifying where
that is taking place and making sure that those who are perpetrating
it are brought to justice.
Chair: Can I appeal to
members of the Committee please to ask briefer questions, otherwise
the Home Secretary will be here all day, and I am sure she has
other things to do, as we have?
Q42 Mark Reckless:
Home Secretary, could you tell us how you envisage the role of
ACPO changing under the new policing landscape?
Mrs May: Yes, I'm
happy to do that. We are talking to ACPO at the moment about their
particular role. I see ACPO having a future as the body within
policing which is establishing and setting real professional standards
and professional leadership within the police force. I think this
is a really exciting future for ACPO. I am pleased to say that
we have had a piece of work done by Peter Neyroud, who, of course,
has been heading up NPIA, in relation to leadership within the
police force. That has now been completed and we will be able
to look at that. Being a body which is able to lead in terms of
professional standards, providing that leadership within the profession
is going to be a very important role for ACPO in the future.
Q43 Mark Reckless:
Currently, the exams to become a sergeant or, to a lesser degree,
an inspector within the police are incredibly focused on fairly
difficult legal points and precise knowledge of legislation. Do
you think there could be a broader role for those exams, perhaps
with ACPO involvement, in developing wider competencies for those
levels of policing?
Mrs May: Part of
the point of the work we have just had done on leadership is looking
at what is appropriate in terms of developing careers within the
police force and developing leadership within the police force
in the future. I have not yet looked at that work. I don't know,
but it may very well address the sort of issue that you are talking
about. I am well aware that those exams require a significant
amount of just learning of facts in order to be able to develop
them, which is not about leadership.
Q44 Nicola Blackwood:
On Saturday I visited my very impressive Youth Offending Service,
and they have done some fantastic work around prevention and pre-court
diversion. What are your plans for carrying on with reducing youth
offending and, in particular, in light of Ken Clarke's Green Paper
and the statements he has made there, how does the Home Office
intend to respond?
Mrs May: This is
something that is very important. In terms of the work on youth
offending, there are a number of projects that have been developed
in the past with the Home Office or under the aegis of the Home
Office. We are looking at what projects we can continue in the
future and where we have been most effective, collectively, across
the boardboth the MoJ and the Home Officeparticularly
in relation to some aspects around youths, like gangs and knife
crime. We retain a clear focus on those particular issues.
In relation to the Green Paper that was produced
by Ken Clarke, it is absolutely right that, within it, it does
have a focus on issues like restorative justice when that is appropriate.
We must all recognise that, in looking at the wider issue of sentencing
and prison, prison works, but prison must be made to work better.
The key thing for most members of the public is they want criminals
to be punished, they want them to be taken off the streetsthey
see prison as taking them off the streetsbut they also
want criminals who come out of prison to go straight. What our
system is failing to do at the moment is to deliver that for the
public. That is what we must be doing, but we also need to make
sure that we have appropriate sentences and other means of providing,
for example, through restorative justice, where that is going
to be effective. What matters is what is going to work.
Q45 Nicola Blackwood:
But do you agree that the best way to ensure that restorative
justice is effective is early intervention?
Mrs May: If I may,
Chairman, what is your definition of early intervention? The Government
is doing quite a lot of work on what I might call very early intervention,
in terms of children. I think we should all recognise that in
terms of preventing young people from getting on to a life of
crime, very early intervention is part of that. That is why it
is right to put that sort of focus on to it, but there will be
other points at which it is right to intervene where it is perceived
that somebody is, perhaps, on the cusp of going down that sort
of route, and these sorts of projects can have enormous value.
Q46 Steve McCabe:
Home Secretary, there has been a bit of a dispute about what constitutes
the numbers of officers on the street and the use of Sir Denis
O'Connor's 11% figure. What is the measure by which we should
judge you in terms of numbers of officers and availability on
the street? Is it crime levels or is there some other measure
by which you want to be judged?
Mrs May: I am aware,
Mr McCabe, that there has been considerable discussion about the
issues about numbers on the street. Sir Denis O'Connor's figure
was very clear. It was about those who were visible and available.
That was the 11% figure. I have given a very clear message to
police forces across the countryand I think this is what
people expect from a Home Secretary and from police forcesthat
the clear focus has got to be on cutting crime.
Q47 Steve McCabe:
So if crime rises, that would be a fair way to judge you. Is that
Mrs May: I suspect,
while I am tempted to say that, of course, the Home Secretary
has responsibilities other than policing and crime, Home Secretaries
normally probably are judged on what has happened on crime.
Chair: You will be back
next Christmas, so we will be able to test that.
Q48 Bridget Phillipson:
Home Secretary, Police Community Support Officers are hugely valued.
I have spoken to lots of constituents who think they play an important
role. What do you think best practice is in terms of the use of
Police Community Support Officers?
Mrs May: There
are a number of examples. If you look at the way a number of forces
do it, it is Police Community Support Officers working within
a Neighbourhood Policing Team as part of that team, often being
an important link with the members of the public; sometimes members
of the public feel more comfortable with that link than with a
warranted officer. It can provide a different individual within
that team. How both warranted officers and PCSOs are used at that
grass-roots level is a matter for the Chief Constable. It is an
operational decision as to how they are used. Obviously they have
been used. I have visited and spoken to a number of Neighbourhood
Policing Teams or Safer Neighbourhood Teams, as they are referred
to in the Met, and talked to them about how they develop their
work and how they do that work. Obviously many of them are doing
an excellent job out there on the streets, but how they are put
together and what they do is a matter for the force.
Q49 Bridget Phillipson:
There is likely to be a reduction in the number of PCSOs, and
I have had correspondence with numerous constituents who are really
concerned about what that means. What would you say to that? Who
will take up those important roles in liaising with residents'
groups, in providing a visible presence and in tackling anti-social
behaviour? Will that job simply go undone when they are no longer
Mrs May: No. I
answered a question earlier in relation to the Neighbourhood Policing
Fund. We have continued to ring-fence that grant for all except
the Met, as I say, because we have an elected individualthe
Mayor, in conjunction with the Commissioner, has the responsibility
for policing in London. It is appropriate, therefore, that that
decision is handed over to that body. Elsewhere, we are ring-fencing
funding for the Neighbourhood Policing Fund. So decisions about
how to configure will now be taken by Chief Constables. They will
make a decision as to what they feel is appropriate at that grass-roots
level in order to ensure the service is provided. What I am very
pleased about is the emphasis that many Chief Constables have
now openly said they are putting, in making decisions overall
about their budgets, on ensuring that that very much front-line
policing, visible to members of the public, is maintained.
Q50 Mr Burley: I
think there is widespread consensus on having a mixed work force
in the police between police officers, PCSOs and police staff,
but there is currently a big inconsistency, as regards terms and
conditions, between the office of constable, where you can't make
that person redundant for 30 years, and PCSOs and police staff,
who can be made redundant. If Tom Winsor doesn't recommend changing
that anomaly, will you recommend it yourself?
Mrs May: The whole
point of having Tom Winsor's review is to have somebody who is
clearly independent and who is able to go and discuss with those
who are involved at all levels, within and outside the police,
what should be done in relation to terms and conditions within
the police force. I await that review with interest, obviously,
as to what he is going to come back with. The one thing I would
say is that, of course, we have made clear to Tom Winsor that,
in looking at his review, he must have regard to the fact that
the police do not have the right to strike. That sets a scene
for what he is looking at within that review. But the point of
having an independent person to have the review is that I am not
sitting here as Home Secretary saying, "I think we should
do A, B and C."
Q51 Alun Michael:
If things like graffiti, litter and fly-posting aren't tackled,
places feel less safe and things go from bad to worse. It is normally
described as the "broken windows theory", although that
is a bit of an over-simplification. Do you accept that that is
important, and will you make sure that it doesn't get lost and
that the legislative framework under the Clean Neighbourhoods
and Environment Act is still kept to the fore?
Mrs May: I do believe
that it is important that we consider those sort of quality-of-life
issues, which do potentially have an impact and, if they are not
dealt with, can lead to deterioration in an area and can lead
to criminality. So I think it is important. There is much to be
said in relation to the "broken windows theory", as
it is often referred to. In relation to the Clean Neighbourhoods
and Environment Act, I may have to come back to you on that particular
issue. I have to say it has not been my bedtime reading
Alun Michael: It should
Mrs May: I was
going to say "recently" but I have to say, Chairman,
it has never been my bedtime reading, I am sorry to say.
Chair: Mr Michael probably
brought in that legislation himself.
Mrs May: I am sure
he probably did, which is why
Alun Michael: I wrote
it. I will offer you a note, Home Secretary.
Mrs May: I was
going to say: that is why I hesitate to make any comment on it
without having actually looked at it.
Chair: Very wise. He will
send it to you for Christmas.
Q52 Mr Winnick: The
counter-terrorism review, Home Secretary, was due to be published,
I believe, after the summer recess. What is the latest situation?
Mrs May: We are
going to be publishing it in the new year.
Q53 Mr Winnick: Thank
you. Early in the new year?
Mrs May: I would
hope it will be early in the new year, yes. There are some decisions
that we will be taking. As you will be aware, Mr Winnick, there
is a certain piece of legislation, notably around pre-charge detention,
which has a timetable to it.
Q54 Mr Winnick: No
one disputes the fact that Britain faces an acute terrorist danger.
As far as the situation which occurred in Sweden over the weekend
is concerned, allegations have been made by the parents of the
person who blew himself up, and fortunately did not murder anyone,
which he intended to do, that his arrival or stay in Britain had
led to his being indoctrinated into what we all must condemn as
outright evil. What do you say to those allegations, Home Secretary?
Mrs May: I am not
in a position to comment on the allegations about a particular
individual at this point in time. Obviously, these are matters
that will be considered. There is a concern we have about the
issue of radicalisation and we are looking at that whole question.
As you and the members of the Committee will know, Chairman, the
last Government put into place the Prevent strategy. We are reviewing
that strategy. I think it is right we do that because I am concerned
about the purpose of that strategy. It was trying to do two different
things. One was about community cohesion and one was about, if
you like, very specific counter-terrorism issues and issues around
individuals and radicalisation. I am afraid that all too often,
the work of that Prevent strategy was simply seen by communities
with whom the Home Office and others were working as being about
the counter-terrorism strategy rather than about the community
cohesion, where that was the intent. So I think it is absolutely
right that we review this strategy because we don't think it was
getting it right.
Q55 Mr Winnick: I
know you were asked about the 10% reduction in counter-terrorism
over the next four years. Many people are puzzled: if, indeed,
as you, first and foremost, accept as Home Secretary that Britain
faces an acute terrorist danger, with the possibility of future
7/7sand obviously, none of that can be dismissed out of
hand; far from it, bearing in mind what occurred in Swedenwhy
on earth reduce the amount of money spent on counter-terrorism?
Mrs May: First
of all, you are absolutely right that the threat level in the
UK remains at severei.e. an attack is highly likely. So
it is absolutely right that we recognise the seriousness of the
threat that does face the United Kingdom, and from a more diverse
range of sources of threat now than, perhaps, has been the case
in the past. If you look at the National Security Strategy that
we published some weeks ago as a Government, we identified not
only the threat from international terrorism but growing concern
around what has been happening in Northern Ireland.
Q56 Mr Winnick: But
the main danger is Islamic terrorism, obviously, isn't it?
Mrs May: As I said,
we have identified a clear threat from international terrorism
but we cannot ignore what has been happening in Northern Ireland
Q57 Dr Huppert: Home
Secretary, if I could look at the progress of control orders,
which is something I am very concerned about, first, we had Lord
Macdonald here earlier and he spoke about the process that was
happening and how people were coming at it with an open mind.
I hope you can give this Committee reassurance that the security
services are also coming at the issue of control orders with an
open mind rather than seeking to defend their previous decisions.
Can you also let us know how that decision is being taken? Is
it a matter that you will ultimately decide? Is it being taken
to the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister? How will that
ultimately resolve itself?
Mrs May: There
are obviously a number of matters to consider around the issue
of control orders. I can assure the Committee that all aspects
of the counter-terrorism legislation review are being looked at
very widely. Evidence has been taken and input has been taken
from a wide variety of groups and individuals and that is being
properly considered. Ultimately the decision is not one for me
as an individual. Obviously, the review is being undertaken by
the Home Office with, of course, Lord Macdonald reviewing that
process, but ultimately the decision as to what takes place will
be a matter for the Government as a whole.
I said earlier that the counter-terrorism review
was now going to be reporting in the New Year. There are a number
of aspects of that review where we have been doing some very detailed
work to make sure that we do get it right and to take account
of all considerations. For example, on section 44, when I made
the statement on the counter-terrorism review, a number of Parliamentary
colleagues from Northern Ireland raised the issue about its use
in Northern Ireland. We do need to make sure we are getting this
right so that we have the capabilities we need.
Q58 Nicola Blackwood:
Could you explain why the use of intercept evidence in criminal
proceedings was excluded from the terms of reference of the counter-terrorism
Mrs May: Yes. We
will be doing a separate piece of work on intercept as evidence.
There has been a Privy Council Committee looking at this issue,
which was set up by the previous Government on a cross-party basis.
That did report and raised some issues about the ability to use
intercept evidence, but we will be doing some further work on
that. The timetable is slightly lengthier than the CT review.
Q59 Chair: On extradition,
you will not be surprised that I am going to raise the case of
Gary McKinnon with you, because this is one of the first things
you said you would look at again. Why is it taking so long to
make a decision?
Mrs May: The process
that we have been going through is entirely right and proper.
As you will know, Chairman, and as members of the Committee know,
there is one role for the Home Secretary in terms of deciding
whether it is right to agree to an extradition or not, which is
in relation to the impact on an individual's human rights, and
that is clearly defined as the role of the Home Secretary. When
I came into this office, as you know, there was due to be a judicial
review. It had been suggested to me that that should be postponed.
I asked for that to be postponed so that I could take some further
evidence from Mr McKinnon's legal advisers on that matter. That
evidence was produced to the Home Office. It did include medical
evidence and I have askedand I think it is entirely appropriate
that I, as Home Secretary, askthat there be some further
independent medical advice provided to me. That is what we have
been trying to do. I have asked the Chief Medical Officer to suggest
individuals, and we are hoping that we can come to an agreement
with Mr McKinnon's legal advisers as to who would be appropriate
to conduct that medical.
Q60 Chair: One of
the problems is that you have not asked someone who knows about
Asperger's Syndrome. That is the problem. The National Autistic
Society wrote to you on 26 November offering their assistance.
It is now just a question of agreeing an expert, and it has to
be someone who knows about these things because the concern of
Janis Sharp, and indeed this Committee, is that perhaps those
who have examined him so far on behalf of the Home Office do not
have the expertise.
Mrs May: I am aware
of the concerns that have been expressed, and that is why I don't
think it is appropriate for me, as an individual, simply to judge
who should be doing this; the Chief Medical Officer should be
asked for their advice as to who should be undertaking this. That
is what we have been doing.
Q61 Chair: You made
it very clear that there are certain parameters that you cannot
go beyond in your role as Home Secretary. There are legal issues.
Were you surprised, therefore, that Gordon Brown had a meeting,
when he was Prime Minister, with Louis Susman, obviously a political
meetingthis was not a set of legal discussionsand
that Prime Minister Cameron met with President Obama to make political
representations over what you have maintained, and your predecessor
has maintained, is a legal process?
Mrs May: There
is a legal process, and what I and my predecessor have clearly
maintained is where the role of the Home Secretary is in this
Q62 Chair: So Prime
Ministers can make representations?
Mrs May: I am tempted
to say, but it might be considered to be flippant, that it is
beyond the pay grade of a Home Secretary even to tell a Prime
Minister which representations they may or may not make. I am
clear about the role of the Home Secretary. I think it is very
important that, as Home Secretary, I maintain that role and the
judgment within the parameters that are clearly available to the
Q63 Lorraine Fullbrook:
Home Secretary, in October this year you announced a review of
extradition by a panel headed by Lord Justice Scott Baker. The
panel is expected to report to the Government by late summer next
year. This is seen by some as a long period of time. Please can
you comment to the Committee on this view?
Mrs May: I don't
consider it to be a long period of time. If we are going to do
what the panel will be doing, which is a proper and thorough examination
of our extradition arrangementsand that will include the
European arrest warrant as well as extradition arrangements with
other countries outside the European Unionit is right that
they have the appropriate time to do that. As everybody will be
aware, there have been a number of concerns expressed about current
extradition arrangements, including some colleagues raising issues
about a European arrest warrant, and it is appropriate that we
allow those experts who have agreed to undertake thisand
I am very pleased that Lord Justice Scott Baker has agreed to
undertake this with two othersthe appropriate length of
time to be able to consider this properly, so that we ensure that
the decisions we take coming out of this are the right ones.
Q64 Nicola Blackwood:
One of the main problems, as I understand it, with the current
extradition arrangements is that of forum. Obviously, we have
a situation where we have a rise of cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism,
where someone can sit at a laptop in the UK and actually commit
crimes in other countries. The question is where they should be
tried. We were told by NGOs that this could be dealt with relatively
easily by enforcing, I think it is, paragraphs 4 and 5 of schedule
13 of the Police and Justice Act 2006. Do you have any intention
of bringing that into force?
Mrs May: That is
a subject which is part of the review that the panel are doing
on extradition. We have asked them to look across the range on
our extradition arrangements and the issue with the forum bar
is one of the things they will be reviewing.
Q65 Nicola Blackwood:
Will that specifically take into account the increase of international
crime, whether it is cyber or international organised crime?
Mrs May: I would
expect them to be well aware of the increase that has taken place
in cyber-crime. Indeed, of course, as a general point, the Government
are putting much more of a focus on cyber-crime and cyber-security
than has been done in the past.
Q66 Lorraine Fullbrook:
Home Secretary, the most widely reported problem in practice with
the European arrest warrant has been the issue of proportionality.
This is recognised as a problem by other member states, as well
as the United Kingdom, but the Council of Ministers has not followed
this up as rigorously as one would hope. Will you be prepared
to raise this and pursue this issue with our European partners,
and will you report on the results to the House and to this Committee?
Mrs May: The UK
has already been raising this in discussions with other Member
States. Indeed, there has been some change to the guidance that
has been issued in relation to proportionality as a result of
interventions that have been made by the UK. This wider issue
of the European arrest warrant, as I say, is part of the review
that is going to take place. So I would expect, if there are any
further changes that are needed, that that would be part of any
recommendations that come out from the review panel. Certainly
it isn't the case that, simply because it hasn't been raised at
the Council of Ministers, the UK hasn't been acting on this. We
have both been looking at this issue more widely within the European
Union, as I say, getting some change to the guidance on proportionality,
and have been discussing our concerns about this with at least
one member state in relation to the numbers of people being extradited.
Q67 Chair: You have
made it very clear that your role is a legal one and therefore
you will resist political pressure. Have there been any representations
from the American Government concerning the case of Julian Assange,
the WikiLeaks founder, asking that he be returned to the United
States? If there were, would you be able to resist that, because
that would be political pressure?
Mrs May: First
of all, Chairman, I have not received any representations on that
case. As you know, there is a case going through the courts at
the moment in relation to extradition to Sweden on charges and
allegations that are not about the WikiLeaks episode but are about
other matters. That will be going through its proper legal process.
Q68 Chair: But should
there be representations in the American Government, you would
resist them, if they were political?
Mrs May: Precisely
because, as I have said in the past, I have a legal role in this,
what I would say to you is that you have made an assumption that
the only representations that could be made would be political.
I am not going to give a categoric answer because, of course,
it is perfectly possible there may be some legal representations
that are made. The current case is in relation to extradition
between the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Q69 Chair: Were you
surprised that a spy was able to penetrate the House of Commons
and work here as a research assistant? I understand you have signed
the deportation order in respect of this matter.
Mrs May: Of course,
one of the powers of the Home Secretary is to be able to do such
things. However, Mr Chairman, in an open session of this Committee,
I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on an individual
Q70 Steve McCabe:
Can I just quickly go back to Gary McKinnon? When Gary McKinnon's
mother gave evidence to the Committee very recently, she told
us that several members of the present Government, including the
current Attorney-General and Deputy Prime Minister, told her,
pre-election, that if elected, they would make sure her son was
not extradited. Do you expect those promises to be honoured?
Mrs May: Mr McCabe,
I have to say that that is not an appropriate question for me
in the sense that, as I have made absolutely clear, I have a particular
role in this issue. I have been doing my best to be as clear as
possible that that is a legal role. There is a legal function
there, if you like, that I have to follow, and I think it is appropriate
that I follow that process.
Chair: Fortunately you
did not make a promise, because you did not know you were going
to be Home Secretary.
Q71 Bridget Phillipson:
Home Secretary, if I could turn to the issue of domestic violence,
last week the IPCC reported a catalogue of failures in the way
that Essex Police had responded to Maria Stubbings prior to her
murder by a former partner. Can you tell us what action the Government
are taking to make sure that those findings will be widely disseminated
to other forces, so that lessons can be learned across the country
from what is not an isolated case?
Mrs May: This touches,
in one sense, on a very difficult issue but also a very important
issue, which is how we disseminate good practice but also raise
concerns when issues have been identified as being problematic,
in the way that they have been. It has happened in a number of
cases in the past in relation to issues around, for example, stalking
and other matters. We have published a domestic violence strategy
very recently, and my inter-ministerial group on violence against
women will be looking at this whole question of how we make sure
that forces both recognise good practice but also understand when
there has not been good practice put in place. That's a task that
we will be undertaking. There is a role for central Government
in just making that information available to forces. There is
then, obviously, a question about ensuring that that information
is dealt with.
Q72 Bridget Phillipson:
The refreshed strategy you referred to said that the previous
Government's approach had been over-centralised and top-down,
with rigid indicators and central directives, and that prevented
innovative local solutions. Clearly, as there are still massive
challenges facing police forces, is it simply the case that local
forces should be allowed to get on with it, without central Government
direction, where it is needed?
Mrs May: It is
always a balance between what it is right for central Government
to do and what it is right to leave to the local level. My concern
with the approach that was taken by the previous Government in
this area was twofold. First, it was largely predicated on the
view that the criminal justice system was where changes needed
to be made but the focus was largely just on the criminal justice
system. Whereas it was right that some changes were made there,
I think there were other aspects of this issue that we need to
deal with, prevention being one of the key areas.
It was attempted to impose a one-size-fits-all model
on local areas and, by definition, in local areas, dealing with
this will be done in different ways. I can give you two examples
of that. The Family Justice Centre in Croydon has been a very
interesting model, developed partly on what was done in the United
States. I think that was a very interesting model, but in more
rural parts of the country, that physical one-stop shop doesn't
work, purely by definition, because of the distances. So they
have to address different models to deal with this. It is right
that central Government ensure that people are aware of practice
and when good practice is taking place. We can encourage that,
but at the end of the day the police force must decide what its
operational capabilities are and how it is dealing with issues.
Q73 Bridget Phillipson:
The previous Government had brought forward proposals for domestic
violence orders to potentially bar, under certain circumstances,
the partner or former partner of a woman from the home. The new
Government had initially said they weren't going to press ahead
with that, but I know there has been a change in that regardor
a last-minute change.
Mrs May: We didn't
say we weren't going to press ahead with it. We said that we were
deferring it because we had some issues to look at around it.
There were some practical issues about how the orders were going
to operate. There was also the small matter that, although the
previous Government had said they would go down this road and
had said they would fund it, they had not actually identified
the funding for it. So we had to do that. We have done that and
we have identified three pilot areas where the domestic violence
protection orders will be being piloted for a year and then, obviously,
we will assess how those have operated.
Q74 Mr Burley: There
have been reports in the papers recently about the removal of
scientists from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Would
you be able to update the Committee on the latest position on
Chair: As briefly as you
Mrs May: Yes. It
is not the case that we are going to remove scientists from the
ACMD. We continue to value scientific advice and it is important
in this area that we have that scientific advice. What we want
to do is to make the membership of the ACMD more flexible so that
we don't find the situation, as happened earlier this year, when
there was a requirement, and currently still is, to have a vet
on that committee, for example. The vet had resigned, no vet was
appointed to the committee for two months, and technically the
committee could not operate unless it had a vet on the committee.
We think that is inflexible. We want flexibility, but we certainly
want scientists still on that committee.
Chair: We are looking
for a vet for our Committee as well.
Q75 Mark Reckless:
The Committee held a seminar on student visas yesterday in Oxford,
very ably organised by Nicola Blackwood. There was recognition
that there is going to be significant restriction on post-work
study, but there were real concerns from respectable student providers
and colleges that efforts properly to crack down on the bogus
colleges were tying them up in a great deal of bureaucracy but
also sending out a message that was making it more difficult to
recruit students to the most competitive courses from overseas.
Can you offer those people any reassurance on the issue?
Mrs May: Yes, I
hope I can. First of all, I am bound to say that, in looking at
student visas at the moment, we have a consultation exercise being
undertaken. It is open to colleges and others to put in their
views on this. So it is not the case that we have decided a system.
You mentioned the bureaucracy they were concerned about. We don't
have a model of a system that they can see is going to increase
their bureaucracy. They may be concerned to ensure one doesn't,
in which case, put in the evidence about how we might deal with
It is very important for the UK that we ensure
that when people come here to study, they come here to an organisation
that is going to provide them with the education and the study
that they are expecting. I would say there is also a potential
negative message, and I have been told anecdotally of circumstances
where individuals have come to the UK believing that they were
going to be able to study on a course and gain a qualification
and discovered, when they came here, that the college they had
signed up for either didn't exist or certainly did not provide
them with those sorts of qualifications. That gives a negative
message for the UK as well.
Q76 Mark Reckless:
Were we to be assessed under the points-based system currently,
I would get twice as many points for my MBA as Dr Huppert would
get for his PhD. Do you think that is appropriate?
Mrs May: I would
certainly not wish to comment on the relative academic qualifications
of you, Mr Reckless, and Dr Huppert. What I would say is that
the system that you are referring to, in relation to the number
of points given to an MBA, was a transitional system put in place
when moving from the highly skilled migrant workers' programme
to the current points-based system programme. As I understand
it, currently, it is not the case that you would get quite so
many points for your MBA.
Q77 Mr Clappison:
Shortly after coming into office, you stated that it was the Government's
aim to reduce the level of net migration back down to the levels
of the 1990sto the tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds
of thousands which we have seen in recent years. What reflections
do you have on your work towards achieving that end?
Mrs May: That is
still the aim we have, but my reflection is that this is not a
one-stop-shop process, in the sense that you cannot simply do
that through one part of the immigration system. It is important
that we look across the whole of the immigration system, and that
is why, yes, we have announced the limit on non-EU economic migrants
and the changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 definitions within that,
but it is also important that we do look at student visasa
significant number of student visas are issued for the UKand
we will also look at family arrangements and at settlement arrangements.
We have to look across the board at how we deal with immigration
in order to achieve our aim of bringing that migration down to
the tens of thousands.
Chair: We are nearly finished.
Q78 Dr Huppert: In
response to Mr Reckless MBA's question, I am grateful that there
was a comment from the Immigration Minister that priority and
extra weight will be given to research vacancies requiring a PhD;
that is much appreciated. Can I turn, perhaps, to the issue of
detention? There are two areas I wish to explore. The first of
these is general detention for immigration purposes. In response
to a written question I submitted, we found that over a third
of those people who are detained are currently released. I have
the figures if you need them. For example, of the 36 people who
were detained for over two years, 21 were ultimately released.
Does that seem like a sensible use of either our money or their
time, and does that suggest that we are using detention as a last
resort, or as a holding pattern for people we don't know what
to do with?
Mrs May: I am aware
that you had been asking a question, as you say, in relation to
detention. I would be happy, Mr Chairman, if this was of help
to you, perhaps to provide some more information to the Committee
on numbers of people being detained and perhaps some evidence
of some of the sorts of cases. A lot of the people are actually
foreign national prisoners, and are being detained for a significant
period of time because of the problems of ensuring that we can
remove them elsewhere. So, if you would like, I would be very
happy to provide some more information on this. That would perhaps
be easier than a single answer to a question.
Chair: That would be very
helpful, if you could.
Q79 Dr Huppert: Can
I then move on to two questions on child detention, which I expect
is a question you anticipated? You will know the background. We
were expecting this to have been resolved by Christmas, and there
is some uncertainty about when there will be a statement, but
also about when child detention will finally end. First, can you
let us know what the current position on that is?
Mrs May: Yes. I
have to point out that Christmas has not yet arrived.
Dr Huppert: Indeed.
Mrs May: And I
would expect that we would be able to make an announcement before
Q80 Dr Huppert: An
announcement before Christmas to take effect after Christmas?
Mrs May: The number
of children being detained has significantly reduced in recent
months because of the new arrangements that we have put in place.
We are not detaining children in Yarl's Wood, which has been one
of the issues of concern to a number of Members. As to exactly
what the arrangements might be, which I will set out in any announcement,
and the timetable for those coming into place, I think it would
be inappropriate for me to say anything before we are able to
make that announcement.
Q81 Dr Huppert: The
Immigration Minister said to this Committee that he was prepared
to dress up as Father Christmas if there were any children in
detention over Christmas. I am sure he will stick to his pledge.
Would you be prepared to join him and help him out in that?
Mrs May: It has
been at the back of my mind, of course, that the Immigration Minister
had made that comment. I think he actually said he would dress
up as Father Christmas and stand outside Yarl's Wood; I think
that was the comment he made. You will be able to judge how the
Immigration Minister will be spending his Christmas when the announcement
Chair: When you see my
Christmas card you will see what we have asked him to do.
Q82 Bridget Phillipson:
Home Secretary, just to return, briefly, to adult detention of
asylum seekers, I have been made aware of a number of concerns
there are around the inappropriate use of fast-track detention
when it comes to women asylum seekers and about the fact that
they may be inappropriately placed in fast-track detention. Once
you are in it, it is quite difficult to get out of it. Are you
aware of those concerns and are you looking at some of these issues?
Mrs May: Mr Chairman,
I would prefer to come back on that particular issue, if I may.
Chair: If you could write
to me, that would be very helpful.
Mrs May: If the
Member, or the Committee, would like to let me know of any specific
concerns, then I would be very happy to write back to them.
Q83 Nicola Blackwood:
During the seminar that we had yesterday, we had representatives
from various universities, English language schools, et cetera.
They expressed various concerns with the consultation. One was
your proposal to raise the quality of accredited education providers.
Those who were there actually welcomed that proposal, but they
anecdotally gave us evidence that, in fact, there are schools
that have been refused accreditation by one accreditation organisation
and then given it by another, so there are actually two standards
operating at the moment. Are you going to bring in measures to
try and deal with that?
Mrs May: We would
certainly intend accreditation to be of the same level and the
same sort of criteria to be operating. If there are organisations
that you are in contact with who have concerns about that at the
moment, I would suggest if they could put those concerns in as
part of the consultation, that would be very helpful.
Q84 Chair: Home Secretary,
this is the first time, I think, in history that we have a woman
Home Secretary and a woman Permanent Secretary. Your new Permanent
Secretary is, of course, Helen Ghosh. We were concerned that Home
Office funds had been used to help the previous Permanent Secretary
with his chairing skills. Are you going to assure us that no such
use of funds will be made in order to help civil servants learn
how to chair meetings?
Mrs May: I am aware
that the Committee went into some detail with Sir David Normington
in relation to training and development. I can assure you, Chairman,
that the Home Office is looking very carefully at any expenditure
that it has across the board, because we have, at the Home Office,
to reduce our central budget by 33% over the next four years.
But what I would say on training and development is that I hope
you would also accept that sometimes training and development
of staff is appropriate, and that is what a good employer would
expect to do.
Q85 Chair: And on
the issue of bonuses? We don't expect any this year. Not for the
politicians; I'm talking about the civil servants.
Mrs May: I hesitate
always to answer some of these questions which involve individuals,
in a way. We are being very careful in relation to the issue of
bonuses. It is a word that conjures up all sorts of concerns for
people across the board.
Q86 Lorraine Fullbrook:
Home Secretary, I would like to ask this: any training that is
given would be given to gentlemen as well as ladies, wouldn't
Mrs May: I can
assure you of that and, indeed, it might be that some of the gentlemen
might need more training than the ladies.
Chair: I asked you at
the start whether you enjoyed being Home Secretary. I hope that
still remains the case after an hour and a half with the Select
Committee. Thank you very much for coming in. May we wish you
a very happy and crisis-free Christmas? Thank you very much.
Mrs May: Thank