HC Deb 05 May 1881 vol 260 cc1815-6

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the case of a friend-less girl named Elizabeth Burley, who recently, through fear of the police officer appointed to carry out the Contagious Diseases Acts at Dover, threw herself into the water of the Harbour; whether she was, on being rescued, charged before the magistrates with attempting to commit suicide, but the case against her was dismissed; whether the officer in question was acting under any warrant of a justice; and, whether the police, under the Acts in question, have been informed that there is no authority given to them in those Laws to accost, question, or molest any woman, but only to proceed against those suspected of prostitution under a summons or order of justices of the peace?


Sir, I have caused inquiries to be made as to this case, and I have had a report upon it from the police. The girl in question had been under the observation of the police for three weeks in consequence of the fact that she was leading an immoral life. This fact she appears herself to have admitted to the chaplain of the Sailors' Home. It was, therefore, the duty of the police to ascertain her name and address with a view to caution her. In endeavouring to ascertain these par- ticulars the police seem to have shown a want of discretion and judgment, for which they have been severely reprimanded. The girl, to avoid the police, threw herself into the water, from which she was rescued; and there is reason to believe further that, owing to the attention which this case has attracted, she will be rescued from the unhappy life to which she had committed herself.