HC Deb 11 November 1958 vol 595 cc173-4
16. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he has given to the formation of a central crime investigation department equipped with modern methods of detection which would render speedy assistance to police forces throughout Scotland; and with what result.

Mr. Maclay

I do not consider that the existing system, under which each police force is left to decide when outside help is needed, has shown the necessity for such a department.

Mr. Hannan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no intention in this Question of undermining the influence of the police in Scotland? They are doing good work. Is he, nevertheless, aware of the disquiet of the public and the Press at the recent notorious case in Lanarkshire when there was such a long interval between the first crime and the eventual trial of the person involved; and, in view of that, would he consider at least issuing a directive that after a certain interval a police force with the requisite knowledge and technique should be called in, such as the Glasgow Police Force?

Mr. Maclay

I think that the word "directive" is not a very good one in relation to this kind of matter where it is very important to preserve the autonomy of the local police forces to enable them to go on doing the admirable work which they are doing. I will think about that supplementary question carefully.

Mr. T. Fraser

Does the Minister agree that the people of Lanarkshire, particularly in view of some recent happenings, take the view that the autonomy of local police forces is not more important than the detection of crime, and that the best facilities available in Scotland should be used in such cases as occurred in Lanarkshire recently?

Mr. Maclay

It is perfectly possible under the existing structure to get everything that we all desire.