HC Deb 20 February 1941 vol 369 cc284-5
43. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the circumstances in regard to the retirement of an inspector in the York police force at the request of the Watch Committee, the reason being that a charge of theft was preferred against him and admitted, but no prosecution has taken place, and the man retains his pension; and will he cause an inquiry to be made into the case, and report his findings to the House?

Mr. H. Morrison

I have made inquiries into this case and am informed that the inspector was dealt with by the Watch Committee, as disciplinary authority for the force, and was required to resign, as an alternative to dismissal. The result of this decision was that he retained his right to a pension on retirement. The administration of discipline in a city or borough police force is vested by law in the Watch Committee, as police authority, and the decision in a disciplinary case rests with them. The decision to deal with this case as the Committee did was no doubt due to their desire to deal mercifully with an officer who had a record of 32 years' hitherto unblemished service, during which he had been four times commended for gallantry and had received the Royal Humane Society's medal. While I appreciate this feeling, it is, in my view, a principle of public importance that police officers guilty of criminal offences should be brought to trial before a court which, in making its adjudication, will, of course, take account of all the relevant considerations, including those which can be urged in favour of a merciful view.

Mr. Dobbie

Would the Minister inform the House whether the responsibility for prosecution rests with the Watch Committee or with the chief constable?

Mr. Morrison

I think, with the Watch Committee.