§ MR. HOPWOOD (Lancashire, S.E., Middleton)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of James Spendlove, a working man, arrested by the police for the nonpayment of rates, 8s. 4d., and 11s. costs, at Cornholme, and conveyed to Todmorden, and thence to Wakefield Prison; whether he is aware that the man was handcuffed and marched through the streets as a criminal, and kept handcuffed until he reached the gaol; that the man requested to be allowed to go to his employer's office to get his wages; and that no information was given to his wife of what had become of him; whether such proceedings are justifiable for the enforcement of a civil debt; whether he will think it proper to convey to the police condemnation of such treatment; and whether costs of 11s. are justifiable for the collection of a debt of 8s. 4d.?
§ MR. ASQUITH
I have made inquiry into the case of James Spendlove, and I am informed by the Clerk to the Todmorden Justices that the costs were not 11s., but 8s. 6d. only, which he states is less in amount than the authorised charges. As to the handcuffing, a female and three male prisoners, Spendlove being one, were sent in charge of two officers from Todmorden Police Station to Wakefield Prison. One officer had charge of the female prisoner, and the other constable of the three male prisoners, who were handcuffed at the police station, and remained so until they reached the prison. I have already, on a 665 former occasion, expressed my opinion that in the case of a person in custody for non-payment of civil debt the use of handcuffs can only be justified by the pressure of extreme necessity, of which I see no evidence in the present case, and I have so informed the authorities of the West Riding Police Force. The allegation that Spendlove was not allowed to go to his employers' offices appears to be inaccurate, as he was apprehended in the presence of his employer, to whom the circumstances of the case were explained by the police officer, and Spendlove did not ask for money from him, but only for time to pay, and he could have had his wages had he so wished. Spendlove's wife was living eight miles away, and word was sent to her by Spendlove's employer. She came over next day and drew her husband's wages, and promised to pay the amount. The original summons was taken out against Spendlove on the 14th of April, and the commitment was not executed until the present month, so Spendlove had ample time allowed him.