§ 28. Mr. Wigg
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will order the destruction of the fingerprints and photographs retained under Section 6 (2) of the Prevention of Crime Act, 1871, of Mr. W. J. Darby, 17 Clee Road, Scotts Green, Dudley, which were obtained without statutory authority.
§ Mr. Renton
My right hon. Friend has no authority to order the destruction of fingerprints or photographs taken by the police. Statutory authority is not necessary for the taking of fingerprints and photographs with consent.
§ Mr. Wigg
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that Mr. Darby was charged before the Dudley court with a minor offence, on which he was conditionally discharged? He was subsequently visited by the police and taken to the police station for his fingerprints to be taken. It was there found that the room was locked.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman further aware that the police visited Mr. Darby a second time and took him to the police station? When the photographs were taken, it was found that the apparatus was defective. He was taken for a third time. When the man protested and said that the had been coerced into going, this was denied by the police. When Mr. Darby asked for an investigation, the investigation was carried out by the Watch Committee without Mr. Darby having an opportunity to state his case.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman further aware that under the Prevention of Crime Act, 1871, the Home Secretary has a responsibility for the custody of the fingerprints and photographs which were illegally obtained?
§ Mr. Renton
As to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary, the complaint that he has is entirely one for investigation by the chief constable, who I understand has investigated it and been in touch with the hon. Gentleman. As regards the hon. Gentleman's reference to the Central Register, it is true 611 that my right hon. Friend has the responsibility of prescribing the form of the Central Register, but he has no responsibility for deciding that any fingerprint copies, photographs or documents in it shall be destroyed.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that Mr. Darby gave his consent, in the light of what my hon. Friend has said, to the taking of his fingerprints and photographs? If he did not do so, this was an excessive use of power. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether Mr. Darby, in his view, gave his assent to these things being done?
§ Mr. Renton
It is not a matter for which I have any responsibility, nor has my right hon. Friend. I understand that there is a conflict of evidence between Mr. Darby and the chief constable in this respect.