HC Deb 04 December 1890 vol 349 cc520-1
MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to some observations recently made by Mr. Horace Smith, the Clerkenwell Police Magistrate, when hearing an application for a summons by Inspector Dixon against a young man for refusal to assist the police when called upon in the Queen's name; whether the learned Magistrate is correctly reported to have said— That it was a matter for discretion on the part of a man whether he assisted the police or not, and That he (the learned Magistrate) should hesitate before going into the midst of a violent crowd to assist the police; whether the police are instructed to demand the aid of any of Her Majesty's subjects whenever such a course appears to them, to be necessary; and whether they are entitled to receive the same?


I am informed by the learned Magistrate that what he said was that it was a matter of discretion for the police whether they would call upon a stranger to assist them, and he added that he himself would hesitate, except in a case of grave necessity, to go into the midst of a violent crowd to assist the police, because at his time of life it would be foolish in the same way as it would be foolish for a policeman to call for assistance from a cripple, a woman, or a child. He expressed his full intention of committing the prisoner for trial, but it having been proved that the defendant suffered from rheumatism in the arm the prosecution was dropped. The answer to the last two paragraphs is in the affirmative. The law is well known that where there is a reasonable necessity, and a parson is called upon to assist the police, and there is no physical impossibility or lawful excuse for his refusal, he is bound to render assistance, and is guilty of a misdemeanour if he refuses.