HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc474-5
19. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will call for reports from chief constables of police on the methods which they employ at identification parades: and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Millan

No. Chief constables comply with a standard procedure of conducting identification parades which is approved by the Crown authorities.

Mr. Dempsey

Is my hon. Friend aware that at an identification parade in Airdrie a photograph of a suspect was shown to one of the witnesses prior to the parade, that afterwards a man was selected from the parade and was jailed at a sheriff court, and that his sentence was quashed within a matter of moments in the High Court? Does my hon. Friend realise that this matter has caused certain public misgiving? In the interests of public co-operation with the police, is it not time that the techniques were reviewed?

Mr. Millan

My hon. Friend must be referring to the Boyle case. The complaints made in that case were later unreservedly withdrawn by the solicitors for Mr. Boyle. On the general question, the matter is under review by the Thomson Committee.

Mr. Rifkind

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that identification procedures in courts are just as inaccurate as those at identification parades and that an alarming number of solicitors and advocates are identified in court instead of the clients whom they represent? Does the hon. Gentleman understand that this is causing increasing alarm to the legal profession? Will he inquire into this as well?

Mr. Millan

In some cases, I think that kind of mistake is quite understandable. However, I believe that that matter is also under consideration by the Thomson Committee. If it is not, I shall see that it is considered because it is obviously a very worrying problem.