HC Deb 17 March 1959 vol 602 cc193-4
26. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has given further consideration to the proposal that a central crime investigation department be made available on request, or on his advice, to render immediate and expert assistance to any police force in Scotland; and what is his decision.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend has considered this matter again; but in view of the extensive and expert resources of large forces like Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are already available to other forces in Scotland on request, he does not think any other organisation is needed.

Mr. Hannan

The Under-Secretary will be aware of the case that has given rise to this Question. For over two years a criminal was at large in Lanarkshire—if one may name the place—and it was only after the Glasgow force was called in that action was taken. What does the Department propose to do to ensure that local police force autonomy in this matter will not take precedence over the apprehension of criminals such as this?

Mr. Macpherson

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is a fundamental part of the police service of the whole of this country that it is organised locally, and not nationally. Both in Scotland and in England, the responsibility for calling in assistance lies with the local police force.

Mr. T. Fraser

Does not the Under-Secretary appreciate that there is a growing volume of opinion in Scotland in favour of the establishment of a central criminal investigation department; and that that opinion has very recently been supported by a book just published, written by a learned sheriff-substitute in Renfrewshire? Will he reconsider the decision he has announced this afternoon?

Mr. Macpherson

The hon. Gentleman will realise that even if a central criminal investigation department were to be established, it would not mean that it would be called in in every case. The decision would still lie with the individual force.