§ 3. Mr. Newens
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the same standards are applied under the general orders of the Metropolitan Police Force for the prosecution of policemen involved in road accidents when off duty as are applied in the case of private citizens; and whether the same standards are accepted when a decision is made on the prosecution of a member of the public involved in an accident with a policeman who is off duty as would be accepted at all other times.
§ Mr. George Thomas
The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes", except when a complaint is made by a member of the public; then the case is dealt with under the procedure prescribed by Section 49 of the Police Act, 1964. A member of the public involved in an accident with a Metropolitan police officer would not normally be prosecuted for an offence connected with the manner of his driving, except in certain cases which involve a third party or in exceptional circumstances such as flagrantly reckless or dangerous driving. In all cases the same standards are applied whether the Metropolitan police officer concerned is on or off duty.
§ Mr. Newens
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a widespread impression among the police and the public that different standards are applied, and that some of the police, for example, think that they do not get the treatment which they should get, while members of the public have a comparable impression? Will he, therefore, make it perfectly clear that the same standards are applied in all cases?
§ Mr. Thomas
This is not an easy matter, because it involves the relationship between the police and the public. Proceedings 1642 are not normally taken against members of the public involved in accidents with a Metropolitan Police officer on or off duty, as it may be felt that the police, being parties to the accident, could not be wholly impartial. This is a long-standing arrangement intended to ensure that the public shall not be at a disadvantage. When a complaint is made by a member of the public against the police officer, the Commissioner of Police, unless satisfied after further investigation that no criminal offence has occurred, must send the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.