HL Deb 26 October 1971 vol 324 cc522-3

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are of the opinion that Mr. David Wagstaff, Assistant Recorder of Bradford, correctly stated the law relating to a constable's right to arrest in the case of Amrut Mistry and, if so, whether they will introduce legislation to amend the law.]


My Lords, the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts, and it would not be proper for the Government to comment. My right honourable friend does not believe that the circumstances of this case point to any need for an amendment in the law.


My Lords, do the Government consider that it is reasonable that there should be a power of arrest with no power to detain in order to make inquiries to ascertain whether arrest is necessary or not? Is it right that the legality of the arrest of an individual should depend on what is in the mind of the constable at the time when he lays hands upon the citizen?


My Lords, I have looked into the facts of this case very carefully since the noble Lord's Question appeared on the Order Paper. What seems to have happened is that the detective constable did not exercise his power of arrest, but rather sought to detain the man in question on the grounds that he was suspected of being in possession of an offensive weapon. This does constitute grounds for arrest under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. We do not believe, therefore, that the facts of this case indicate any lack of powers of arrest.