HC Deb 18 March 1971 vol 813 cc1639-40
20. Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether police officers are entitled to refuse to permit arrested persons to communicate with their legal advisers, orvice versa,until police inquiries have been concluded; and for how long such inquiries may continue.

Mr. Maudlin

It is an accepted principle that every person at any stage of an investigation, even if in custody, should be able to communicate and to consult privately with a solicitor, provided that no unreasonable delay or hindrance is caused to the processes of the investigation or the administration of justice by his doing so.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is the policy of the police in certain areas to refuse to allow access to prisoners to solicitors, when solicitors seek to contact them, until investigations have been concluded, and that these investigations sometimes take a long time? Since the Question was tabled, circumstances have arisen which have given cause for considerable public disquiet about the matter. Would the Home Secretary care to interpret the provision in the Judges' Rules which he has enunciated, as holding a prisoner until he confesses constitutes a travesty of the rules, and it would be more honest to repeal them?

Mr. Maudling

The police have clear instructions on the matter, which are right and consistent with my answer. If there are examples where the hon. Gentleman thinks that the police have not been following these rules, perhaps he will let me know. In any case, the right procedure for anyone affected is to complain under the existing legislation.