§ 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 619 decision to bring an action, quite apart from what the chief constable or the watch committee may say?