HC Deb 17 May 1928 vol 217 cc1181-3
5. Mr. DAY

asked the Home Secretary the average number of police, uniformed or otherwise, daily on duty in Hyde Park during the months of March and April, 192B; the number of charges entered at Hyde Park police station during this period for offences reasonably likely to offend against public decency and contrary to the Hyde Park regulations; and the number of these cases in which the prosecutions have failed?


I would refer the hon. Member to the answers which I gave to the hon. Members for the Moseley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Hannon) and the Central Division of Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on the 10th instant.


Has the Home Secretary completed his inquiries with regard to the recent case heard at Marlborough Street, and, if so, what steps have the police taken under his directions?


I have received a private notice question in regard to this case, to which I have prepared a full answer. Under these circumstances, perhaps the hon. Member will defer any further question until then.


asked the Home Secretary how many of the persons referred to in his recent statement, as having been convicted for offences in Hyde Park, were legally represented at their trials; and how many were condemned without legal defence?


I am not in position to give this information as it appears to be nowhere recorded.


Does the Home Secretary think that the conduct of these Courts is satisfactory to the public, seeing that some 615 out of 640 persons, according to his own statement, were convicted. Is there no record as to how many 'of these persons were unable to be legally defended?

Viscountess ASTOR

Is it not true that many women are summoned and convicted as common prostitutes on the evidence only of the police without any complaints by or evidence from the men alleged to have been accosted or annoyed; and does not this make it very difficult for the police to defend themselves when they make a mistake?


May I have an answer to my question?


Can the right hon. Gentleman give the figures as to how many were condemned without legal defence?


No. There is no record kept. I have made very careful inquiries, and I have seen some of the magistrates myself; and I can repudiate any such suggestion as that which has been made by the hon. Member below the Gangway as to the conduct of these Courts. The conduct of these Courts is admirable from every point of view, and every opportunity is given to a defendant to state his case fully. There are a large number of cases in which the persons charged plead guilty, and they do not want to be legally represented, and do not wish their case to be gone into at length. With regard to the supplementary question put by the Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), that subject is outside the scope of this question, and I would like to remind the Noble Lady that there is already a very important Committee sitting examining the very question which she has raised.


I made no aspersions on the conduct of the Court, but on the keeping of the records of the Court. The right hon. Gentleman must admit that the records do not show in how many of these there were convictions without the defendant being legally represented. Is there no power to see that these persons are defended?


It is quite clear that there is no power of that sort. There is no such thing as a public defender. In cases which are not defended, the person is put into the dock and asked: "Are you guilty or not guilty?" and very often these cases are settled in half a minute.


In how many of these cases did the defendant plead guilty?


The bon. Member should give notice of that question.