HC Deb 08 May 1941 vol 371 cc961-2
32. Colonel Arthur Evans

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to a case mentioned at Bow Street police court, on 25th April last, when it was stated by the legal representative of the police that a soldier, incapably drunk, was arrested in Argyle Street, and after his legs had given way under him was dragged through the streets by two police officers; and whether, with a view to safeguarding the dignity of His Majesty's uniform, he will give instructions that, when it is not possible or practical to summon a police ambulance in such cases, police officers are authorised to obtain a taximeter-cab, the cost of which to be borne subsequently by the guilty party?

Mr. H. Morrison

I entirely agree with the view of my hon. and gallant Friend that every step possible should be taken to safeguard the dignity of His Majesty's uniform. The instructions of the Metropolitan Police are that drunken men, arrested at a distance from a police station, must be conveyed by police van, and that a van must be used even for a short distance if the prisoner is violent or incapable. I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that, in this case, the arrest took place at a distance of about a quarter of a mile from the police station. The police officers were of opinion that the prisoner was capable of walking to the police station. When, however, it became apparent that this was not the case, the journey was completed in a taxicab.

Colonel Evans

I am afraid there is some mistake, as my right hon. Friend has omitted to answer the point of my Question. Arising out of the answer which he has given, may I ask whether it is the case that these officers refused to take a taxicab for this purpose when first requested to do so by a member of the public, who was astounded at the scene, and that they consented to do so only when that member of the public offered to pay for the taxicab? Will my right hon. Friend give instructions that police officers should be authorised to take a taxicab when an ambulance is not available?

Mr. Morrison

I have done so. I agree with the point that my hon. and gallant Friend is raising. There was a hiatus on this short journey. It is true that, as a result of the admirable and generous cooperation of a member of the public, help was given which solved the problem. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend, and I have made suitable representations to the Commissioner. I think that the police did their best in this case.