HC Deb 12 March 1964 vol 691 cc786-8
Mr. Woodhouse

I beg to move in page 10, line 10, to leave out from the beginning to "a" in line 15 and to insert: (1) A member of a police force shall have all the powers and privileges of a constable throughout England and Wales. (2) A special constable shall have all the powers and privileges of a constable in the police area I or which he is appointed. (3) Without prejudice to subsection (2) above. I suggest that with this Amendment we also discuss the following seven Amendments in page 10, lines 25, 29 and 37; in Clause 49, page 27, line 5; and in Schedule 9, page 52, lines 42 and 50, and page 56, line 3.

Mr. Speaker

That will be convenient, if the House agrees.

Mr. Woodhouse

I feel sure that this Amendment will commend itself to the House because many hon. Members on both sides of the Standing Committee gave their support to it.

The effect of the first Amendment is to give members of police forces the powers and privileges of a constable throughout England and Wales. The Bill as it stands unamended partially extends their jurisdiction. I will not take up the time of the House by elaborating the extension which it makes. This can be found in columns 315–16 of the Committee Report. It gives them jurisdiction in their own and neighbouring areas and in areas in which they are operating under mutual aid and collaboration agreements. That is a brief summary of it.

But the Committee clearly wanted more, and in the Standing Committee I reserved the Government's opinion on an Opposition Amendment to give all constables covered by the Clause jurisdiction throughout the country. We have undertaken further consultation and have given the matter further thought since the Committee expressed its views, and we find that the proposed lifting of the restrictions on the police officer's jurisdiction is generally favoured among all ranks in the police service. My right hon. Friend recognises that there are likely to be occasions when it would be useful.

The Clause already gives a constable jurisdiction in the police areas in which he may normally be expected to go on duty, but there could be occasions on which a police officer being in a different part of the country from where his ordinary duties took him, and not necessarily being on duty, could with advantage exercise additional authority. I am told that an example of precisely this kind happened almost on the day when the Committee was discussing the matter, to the well-known police constable, Dixon of Dock Green. It is im- possible to foresee all the future circumstances of this kind. On reflection, we feel that it would be regrettable if the Bill imposed a statutory restriction on jurisdiction which was not strictly necessary.

We therefore propose to lift the restriction on the regular police officer, but not on the special constable, because he does not normally find that his duty takes him outside his own area, and the representations that we have received on the subject did not suggest any special need to extend his jurisdiction. There is also the important distinction that regular police officers are under the police discipline code at all times, whereas special constables are not. A special constable in England and Wales already has the necessary powers in any area in which he has jurisdiction, whether or not he is on duty.

This seems to be enough in his case, and the restriction is therefore only generally lifted in the case of a regular police constable. I hope that the Amendment will commend itself to the House.

Miss Bacon

I thank the hon. Member for conceding the sense of what we said in Committee. Crime knows no local government boundaries, and in these days of swift communication it is necessary for police constables to have all the powers of a constable, in whatever area they happen to be. This was what we argued, and although the hon. Member then stood strictly by the letter of the Bill he saw the sense of what we said, and the Government Amendment now meets the request which we then made.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 10, line 25, leave out from "which" to "for" in line 26 and insert "special constables appointed".

In line 29, leave out from beginning to "have" in line 33 and insert: (3) A special constable who is for the time being required by virtue of section 13 or section 14 of this Act to serve with another police force shall have all the powers and privileges of a constable in any area in which special constables appointed for the area for which that force is maintained. In line 37, leave out from "to" to "special" in line 38.—[Mr. Woodhouse.]