§ 39. Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the motor boats used by the Metropolitan Police attached to the Thames Division are unsafe and dangerous to the lives of the crews; whether he is aware that in January, 1913, Sergeant Spooner of this division was drowned near Southwark Bridge, and that the coroner's jury condemned these boats; is he aware that the police authorities then promised to replace the unsafe craft with an efficient service; and will he see that steps are taken to safeguard the lives of the police employed on this duty by the provision of proper boats?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The boats referred to were not in ordinary circumstances dangerous, but owing to a deficiency in engine power one of them upon the occasion mentioned was unable to make headway against a strong tide, and a collision occurred, resulting, unfortunately, in the death of Sergeant Spooner. The coroner's jury added to their verdict a rider to the effect that the boat should have been provided with a more powerful engine. This verdict was given on 5th March, 1913, but action had already been taken immediately after the accident on 10th January, and all boats of the same type were withdrawn from the lower river, for which a fleet equipped with more powerful engines has now in part been provided. The boats withdrawn are in use above Southwark Bridge, where navigation is easier and currents less strong.
§ 40. Mr. C. DUNCAN
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that three constables of the Greenwich division of the Metropolitan Police have been punished by the police authorities on a charge of persuading police to join the National Union of Police and Prison Officers; is he aware that the fine inflicted on Constable Davies amounts to £63 14s., and in the cases of Constables M'Shea and Shave to £54 12s. each; and can he see his way to cancel or reduce this punishment?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Some constables of the "R" division of the Metropolitan Police having complained to their officers that they were being pressed against their will by certain senior members of the force to join secretly an unauthorised association styling itself the National Union of Police and Prison Officers, an inquiry was held. Conclusive evidence established the fact that the constables named in my hon. Friend's question had been guilty of a very serious breach of discipline by endeavouring to induce the younger constables to act in contravention of Standing Orders on the subject, and they were reduced in pay 6s. a week, to regain advancement at the rate of 1s. a week a year. The misconduct of these constables was deliberate, for repeated admonitions on this subject had been given. The three constables had by their misconduct rendered themselves liable to dismissal. A lesser punishment was inflicted after being very carefully considered. I do not think the case is one for interference by me.