HC Deb 24 July 1969 vol 787 cc2106-7
8. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes in procedure he has recommended in the light of the case of Ronald Avard.

Mr. Callaghan

I can find no grounds for legislation to amend the procedures under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act, 1964 or Section 27 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963. While I have found nothing in the circumstances of this case to suggest that the police acted improperly or inconsiderately, I am considering the issue of guidance to the police on the interrogation of suspects who are subnormal.

Mr. Price

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that this man, with a mental age of seven, spent many hours at Rugby police station before making a totally false confession, which has since cost the Home Office £5,000 in compensation? Is it not logical in a case of a person with a juvenile mind to treat him as a juvenile and to have his parents present from the beginning?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir. As my hon. Friend knows—because it was his persistence which brought the facts to light—the police acted very considerately. They did not take a statement until his father was present. Alas, it was an incorrect statement, and it took my hon. Friend a great deal of diligence, together with others, to reveal that fact. It has now been met quite properly by a payment from the Home Office.