HC Deb 16 February 1961 vol 634 cc1742-3
21. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the continuing difficulties in the investigation of criminal cases through the reluctance of many persons to give their knowledge of serious crime to the police because they are afraid of the Press publicity through the publication of names and addresses; and if he will introduce legislation to prevent such publication by the Press or any other body in order to encourage and safeguard those who volunteer information.

Mr. Renton

My right hon. Friend is aware of the possible dangers to which the hon. Lady refers; but, on the information before him, he is not satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for the legislation proposed.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the very grave concern there is about this matter? Only recently, while the police were making inquiries into a murder, when information was given, certain sections of the Press published the name—although the person was a juvenile—the age and the address, together with the information which had been given. Does he not realise that people are scared to come forward and give evidence or information they may have because of their fear of details about themselves being published? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to look at the matter again in the interests both of the police who are making the inquiries and of the people who are prepared, if protected, to give information regarding the matters being investigated?

Mr. Renton

The hon. Lady has drawn attention to a serious matter. Publicity which deters witnesses from coming forward is clearly against the public interest. It is to be hoped that the Press will bear this in mind. My right hon. Friend proposes to consult the Commissioner of Police about it.

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