HC Deb 29 June 1972 vol 839 cc1647-9
15. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints by members of the public have been brought to his Depart- ment's attention in respect of the manner and style of arrests by the police in the Metropolitan Police area in 1970, 1971 and the first four months of 1972.

Mr. Maudling

I regret that the information is not readily available.

Mr. Dykes

I am naturally disappointed by that reply. I do not wish to cast aspersions in general on the excellent work of the police but I am sure that other hon. Members have come across such cases as well. Will my right hon. Friend from time to time have discussions with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police about the manner of arrests for very minor offences?

Mr. Maudling

The position is that the information my hon. Friend seeks is not recorded in the form for which he asks. I know the case about which he is concerned and I have written to him about it. The new Commissioner, Mr. Robert Mark, is paying particular attention to the question of complaints and I entirely support what he is doing.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The whole House recognises that almost all policemen do their job very well, but we also recognise, as Mr. Mark recognises, that public confidence in the police is extremely important. In view of this, and of one or two disturbing cases which have been reported in the Press recently, will the right hon. Gentleman once again consider whether there is not a case for some independent element in police inquiries?

Mr. Maudling

I do not think it is fully understood that wherever any question of a criminal offence is involved it goes to the Director of Public Prosecutions, whose scrutiny is independent. Where a criminal offence is not involved I think the present system is a good one, but I am following with great interest what Mr. Mark is doing.

Mr. Loveridge

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the complaints which have come to me have been fully and satisfactorily investigated?

Mr. Maudling

I believe that to be the general experience, although one gets individual complaints that it is not so, as one is bound to do. I must point out, however, that the number of letters of commendation received by the police is far in excess of the number of complaints.

Mr. Stallard

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us agree that the police have a very difficult task to perform but there have been a number of protests recently, particularly in North London, about a special patrol group which has been indulging in "blitz" tactics in the streets and making arrests? These tactics have given rise to many complaints among my constituents.

Mr. Maudling

If the hon. Gentleman will send me details I will have them investigated.