HC Deb 27 February 1941 vol 369 cc618-9
26. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Home Secretary who is responsible in a local authority for deciding whether or not a prosecution shall take place in the event of a member of a police force being found perpetrating an act of theft; and, the decision being made, who is responsible for putting same into effect?

Mr. H. Morrison

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me this opportunity of correcting the answer I gave to his Supplementary Question of 20th February. The position is that the Watch Committee are responsible for any disciplinary action against a member of a borough police force, but any question of a criminal prosecution is one for decision by the Chief Constable, who would also be responsible for taking the necessary steps, if it is decided to prosecute.

Mr. Dobbie

In the event of a watch committee in circumstances like these making a recommendation not to prosecute, would they in the right hon. Gentleman's opinion be exceeding their duty or prejudicing the situation?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, I think that that would be so. It is important that the responsibility for prosecution should rest upon the chief constable, and that his judgment should be unfettered and unrestrained.

Earl Winterton

Will the Home Secretary make clear that it is open to any member of the public affected by such a decision to bring an action, quite apart from what the chief constable or the watch committee may say?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, that would be so.