HC Deb 21 October 1976 vol 917 cc1633-4
2. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now publish the report of his committee on the tape recordings of statements to the police.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The committee was concerned with the feasibility of an experiment in the tape recording of police interrogations. Its report was published on 19th October. I am grateful to the members of the committee for their work; their report, which considers in detail the practical and financial implications of an experiment, is a valuable contribution to discussion.

Before taking a decision whether to set up an experiment, the Government will need to consider the views of interested organisations and individuals, as well as the financial implications in present circumstances. I shall welcome comments on the committee's report from those concerned.

Mr. Price

I thank my right hon. Friend for issuing the report so promptly. This is urgent, since it goes back to the Criminal Law Revision Committee of 1972. There will be grave disappointment that the committee recommended that only statements and not interrogations should be tape recorded. When he says that he is taking further consultations, does he have a deadline for these consultations, so that we shall have some idea when the Home Office will go ahead with this very important experiment?

Mr. Rees

The report was published a few days ago. I am seized of its urgency. I would like now to have the views of all those who are interested in this report, and I shall make up my mind as soon as I can.

Mr. Carlisle

The issues are very complex, but since the committee has recommended that it is feasible to have such an experiment, it is essential to get it going as soon as possible. The Home Secretary will realise that it is a necessary prerequisite to getting any further consideration of the Criminal Law Revision Committee's report on evidence.

Mr. Rees

I hope that those who have views about this report will listen to what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said. I shall look at all the views which are submitted to me. I am aware of the need for speed in this matter.

Mr. Lee

Is there not a double advantage in the tape recording of statements and interrogations, in that it would provide protection for the defendant against misrepresentation and protection for the policeman who is making the interrogation against false allegations of perjury and misconduct?

Mr. Rees

I understand that, but I think that my hon. Friend will have read the report and will know, therefore, that there are problems in this respect. I want to hear what people have to say about it.