HC Deb 28 April 1826 vol 15 cc733-4

On the motion of Mr. Secretary Peel, the order was then read for the third reading of the Criminal Justice bill.

Mr. J. Smith

took that opportunity of requesting the attention of the right hon. Secretary to the defective state of the police of the metropolis, with respect to the apprehension of offenders. At present, notwithstanding the facilities afforded by the magistrates, there was great difficulty in urging the officers to their duty, without the expenditure of large sums of money. In a case that had recently oc- curred, in which the banking house with which he was connected had suffered greatly, their loss had been further aggravated by charges to the extent of 9,000l., incurred by endeavours to secure the offenders. This was an evil of considerable magnitude, and tended directly to the increase of all crimes, except those of the most atrocious nature. Accordingly, it would be found that crimes, attended by acts of violence, were less frequent than formerly; but it was otherwise with respect to those of a fraudulent character.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, he understood the object of the hon. gentleman to be the establishment of a Board of Police, like that of the Customs or Excise, in order that there might be a regular gradation of authority in that department. He was, however, inclined to doubt the policy of such a measure. He did not consider it desirable to create any new officer with greater powers than those possessed by an ordinary magistrate. He questioned whether the erection of any intermediate authority, between the Secretary of State and the magistracy in general, would not be contrary to the principles of the constitution. The police of the metropolis he certainly did not think defective. One great advantage resulting from it was, that there were always magistrates at hand, to whom the inhabitants could apply for advice and assistance. If, instead of having eight divisions, one chief officer or board were constituted, the hon. gentleman would find he had not advanced one step towards his object. The alteration would only have the effect of complicating the system of police, and lessening the authority and responsibility of the Secretary of State.

Mr. G. Lamb moved the addition of a clause, "that no indictment should be abated, annulled, or discontinued, on any plea of misnomer, or for want of addition; but that in such case, the court should have power speedily to amend the error according to the affidavits, and proceed with the trial forthwith."

Mr. Secretary peel

agreed, that it was desirable that every facility for the escape of the guilty should be removed, if by so doing no security was taken from the innocent. On this principle, he saw no objection to the clause.

The clause was added by way of rider, and the bill passed.