HC Deb 10 April 1911 vol 24 cc40-1

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention had been called to the arrest of a gentleman in the Strand on 23rd March last by two plain-clothed officers on a charge of till-lifting at a Bromley hotel; whether he was aware that the theft was made at a time when the gentleman was in the train coming up from Devonshire, and that he bears no resemblance to the man who stole the money; that he had on him when arrested a card case containing private and business cards and giving his full name, address, and occupation; that his hat, collar, and coat bore the name of a Plymouth outfitter; and that there were other means by which these officers could have satisfied themselves that they had arrested the wrong man; whether he was aware that the gentleman was detained in custody from midnight until five o'clock in the morning and then turned adrift in a part of London to which he was a complete stranger, and that, but for the kindness of one of the police officers who made the mistake, who put the gentleman up at his own house for a few hours, he would have had to walk about the streets until the hotels opened; what apology had been offered to the gentleman in question; when was that apology sent; and what compensation the Home Office proposed to make?


This was one of those eases of mistaken identity which must sometimes occur. The gentleman in question was staying at the address given by the till-lifter, and his description agreed with that of the person wanted. The police could not be aware of any of the facts mentioned by the hon. Member at the moment of their intervention; and during his detention the gentleman was not searched, nor was his clothing examined. The necessary inquiries were made with all possible speed, and those proving satisfactory, the gentleman was released with every expression of regret, subsequently accepting the hospitality of the officer who detained him. The detention was made in all good faith and in the exercise of police duty; and I can only express my regret at the inconvenience this gentleman was subjected to.


Is it proposed to give any compensation in this case?


No. The liability to arrest through mistaken identity is very small, and it is one to which we must all be subject.