HC Deb 02 July 1900 vol 85 cc277-8
MR. SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he is aware that five police officers of the county of Dumfries—namely, two inspectors, one sergeant, and two constables—were engaged for three days on the Blackshaw Bank, in the county of Dumfries, in measuring the white fish nets of the fishermen residing in the parish of Carlaverock, and in measuring the sandbanks on which the nets are placed, and in generally surveying the Blackshaw Bank for the purpose of giving evidence on behalf of the owners of the salmon fishings in the district of the river Nith in a civil action of declarator against them by the said fishermen; and that two constables have recently been stationed at Glencaple for the sole purpose of getting up evidence on behalf of the owners of salmon fishings in said action; and whether he will take the necessary steps to put a stop to the salmon owners being allowed to get the services of the police in a civil action with which the police have no concern.


I am informed that the two constables referred to performed the actual work of measurement, and are now stationed at Glencaple for the purpose of inspecting the nets on the direct request of the District Fishery Board, with a view to the preparation of a report to the Board. These two men are not ordinary constables, but are "additional" constables, employed by the police authority at the expense of the District Fishery Boards within the county under an agreement of long standing made in terms of Section 22 of the Salmon Fisheries Act, 1862, which gives specific power to district boards to "agree with the police committee of any county for the purpose of paying additional constables for the better, protection of the fisheries in their district." So far, therefore, as these men are concerned, the proceedings seem to have been perfectly regular. The two constables were accom- panied by the senior officer of their respective divisions, and by a sergeant with local knowledge, these three officers being ordinary members of the police force. The Secretary for Scotland has frequently expressed his disapproval of the police being engaged in other than proper police duties. In the present case he has asked for the observations of the Standing Joint Committee on the practice to which his attention has been directed.