HL Deb 25 April 1985 vol 462 cc1245-56

4.53 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, I beg to move, That the draft regulations which were laid before this House on 26th March be agreed to. It may be for the convenience of your Lordships if we discuss at the same time the draft Police (Complaints) (Mandatory Referrals Etc) Regulations 1985, and the draft Police (Anonymous, Repetitious Etc Complaints) Regulations 1985, which were laid before this House on 26th March and 4th April respectively.

These three statutory instruments, which have been examined by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, are part of a set of seven which are required to allow the Government to bring into force, on the 29th April 1985, Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Four of these—the Police (Discipline) Regulations 1985, the Police (Discipline) (Senior Officers) Regulations 1985, the Police (Complaints) (General) Regulations 1985, and the Police (Appeals) Rules 1985—do not require the formal approval of the House before they can come into force.

It may assist your Lordships if I briefly set the draft regulations we are debating in the context of the new scheme established by Part IX of the 1984 Act. The most important effect of these provisions will be to abolish the Police Complaints Board and establish in its place the Police Complaints Authority with greater powers set out in the Act and in the regulations to which I shall refer in a moment. Before doing so, I should like to pay tribute to the excellent work done over the past seven years or so by Sir Cyril Phillips, the chairman, and his colleagues on the board, and their predecessors. They have laid an invaluable foundation on which the authority will be able to build.

The new authority will have as its chairman Sir Cecil Clothier, previously the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, who needs no introduction from me. He will be assisted by two deputy chairmen, Rear Admiral John Bell, who is at present deputy chairman of the Police Complaints Board, and the right honourable Roland Moyle; and by a further nine members who will bring to the authority's work a variety of background and professional skills.

Part IX of the Act will also introduce a system of informally resolving complaints. As their name indicates, the draft Police (Complaints) (Informal Resolution) Regulations 1985 will deal with this.

The Act provides a more formal framework of responsibility than exists at present for the investigation of complaints against officers of a rank higher than chief superintendent, which is set out in the Police (Discipline) (Senior Officers) Regulations, to which I referred briefly earlier. Finally, the Act provides for officers of chief superintendent rank and below to be legally represented at hearings where they face the three most serious punishments available to a chief constable—dismissal from the force, requirement to resign, or reduction in rank.

The first draft instrument before your Lordships—the Police (Complaints) (Informal Resolution) Regulations—will apply in the case of complaints which do not require the full complexity of a formal investigation. No complaint is trivial to the person who makes it. Nor, given the high standards of conduct we are entitled to expect from police officers, is any complaint trivial in terms of police discipline. But situations can arise in which a member of the public wants not so much to complain as to draw an officer's actions to the attention of his superior officers and to seek an explanation or even an apology.

A vital prerequisite to informal resolution is the Act's requirement that the complainant must give his consent to the use of the informal procedures. This means that even if the police are perfectly satisfied that a particular complaint might be informally resolved, the complainant can insist on a full investigation of his complaint.

Before a complaint may be resolved informally the draft regulations will require that both sides of the story must be obtained. Similarly no apology may be offered on behalf of a police officer who is the subject of a complaint unless he has admitted that the conduct complained of actually occurred. Beyond these requirements it is for the officer conducting the procedures to decide how to proceed.

The regulations do not lay down a rigid procedure. If the complainant is satisfied with an explanation of the law or of police procedures, that can end the matter. If the officer concerned is ready to offer an apology, that, too, is all right. Moreover, we have framed the regulation so that if the officer in charge of a station believes that a complaint could be resolved on the spot, perhaps by bringing the complainant and the officer together immediately after the incident, he may do so. He will report to the officer responsible in the force for informal resolution, who may take a second look at the circumstances and decide whether or not to treat the complaint as indeed resolved.

I turn now to the draft Police (Complaints) (Mandatory Referrals Etc.) Regulations 1985. Section 87(1) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act already requires referral to the Police Complaints Authority of all complaints alleging that the conduct of a police officer resulted in the death of, or serious injury to, some person, and Section 89(1) of the Act requires the authority to supervise the investigation of such complaints. The regulation before the House deals with other types of complaints which must be referred to the authority; but in these cases it will be for the authority to decide whether to supervise the investigation.

First, a complaint which alleges conduct amounting to assault occasioning actual bodily harm or an offence under Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 must be referred to the authority. Secondly, any complaint alleging a serious arrestable offence as defined in Section 116 of the Act of 1984 must also be referred to the authority.

Perhaps I should remind your Lordships that "serious arrestable offence" encompasses a variety of offences including rape and certain other sexual offences, kidnapping, certain explosives and firearms offences and causing death by reckless driving. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that an allegation of conduct of this kind is bound to reflect adversely on the police service and ought to be considered by the authority as a candidate for the supervision of the investigation.

I should also draw your Lordships' attention to draft Regulation 5, which allows the authority to impose any reasonable additional requirements as to the conduct of the investigation as appear to them to be necessary. However, the Director of Public Prosections' consent must be given to any requirement relating to the obtaining or preservation of evidence. This is necessary to ensure that the authority does not accidentally impose a requirement which would adversely affect the admissibility of evidence at a criminal trial or make adequate evidence hard to obtain. The regulation also requires the authority to consult a chief officer before imposing any requirement as to the resources he should make available to an investigation and to have regard to any representations he might make.

Finally, my Lords, I come to the draft Police (Anonymous, Repetitious Etc. Complaints) Regulations 1985. These re-enact part of the Police (Withdrawn, Anonymous Etc. Complaints) Regulations 1977. They allow the authority to dispense with the requirement that a complaint should be investigated in three separate circumstances: where a complaint is anonymous; where a complaint is substantially the same as a previous complaint and contains no fresh allegations or evidence not previously available; and where it is not reasonably practicable to complete an investigation. In all of these cases, a chief officer has to explain to the authority why he feels they should grant a dispensation under these regulations. It is a matter for the authority's discretion whether to grant that dispensation.

These then are the three sets of draft regulations before your Lordships. As I have indicated, they need to be viewed as part of the wider system of procedures which offer a workable and fair approach to complaints against the police. I commend them to your Lordships and beg to move.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 26th March be approved. [17th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Lord Glenarthur.)

5.3 p.m.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord the Minister for the clear way in which he has explained these regulations to the House. I wonder whether I may be permitted to comment upon them, first, in general terms and then in somewhat more particular terms. Shades of the debates which took place on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 I have no doubt are present in this Chamber this afternoon; happily I do not speak of the shades of those who participated in that debate, because, so far as I know, they are all alive and well. It would be idle of me to pretend that there was unanimity in the House when the new procedures for the reception of complaints against police were debated in your Lordships' House. No one would therefore expect me to talk in terms of an ideal solution having been reached, but as Parliament has had its say it would be wrong of me to do anything other than to examine the situation as it now is.

I join with the Minister on behalf of my noble friends in paying tribute to the chairman and to the authority that has now passed from the scene. Within the difficulties with which they were undoubtedly encompassed, they worked well, with complete integrity and, as far as they could, they did an extremely good and able job. All of us wish the new authority and its distinguished chairman well. He was a former Ombudsman, if I may give him the more familiar title, who earned the respect of the nation.

I wonder whether the Minister in the other place was wrong or whether the noble Lord was wrong in giving us the numbers of the membership. He said in his remarks that there was a chairman, two deputy chairmen and nine others. I have before me the Official Report of 16th April in another place when these regulations were being debated, and, reading from col. 230 I read as follows: The authority will be composed of a chairman, two deputy chairmen and 10 members". I wonder whether when he replies the noble Lord can tell us which is the reliable figure which ought to be before the House when we are considering these regulations.

Speaking in terms of membership, it would be quite wrong to suggest to the House that those members—I do not know whether the noble Lord can give us information about who those members are—should represent various interests. I know the suggestion has been made. It is not a suggestion that appeals to me, if I may humbly say so. I have reason to believe that I know the answer to this question, but what I hope is that within the ethnic minorities in this country, whose interests are much involved in this matter (which is the way I should like to put it), there are personalities who fulfil all the requirements that one would want for membership of this new authority. I believe that the Minister in his wisdom has found one such person to be a member of the authority, but I hope that the Minister will tell me whether I am right or wrong. If I am right, I express my delight. If I am wrong, will the Minister kindly consider that position because it would bring an amount of respect for those ethnic minorities that I believe all Members of the House would want to accord them, especially in regard to this matter. I see that the noble Lord wishes to rise—

Lord Inglewood

My Lords, I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord until he has finished.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, in those circumstances the noble Lord will not be interrupting me. Nevertheless I thank him for his courtesy. I thought he was trying to interrupt me and I wanted at once to give way as I always would.

So much for the general comments that one has to make at this stage upon these regulations. I now turn to the particular comments that I have to make. I am grateful to the Minister for his sense, if I may put it that way, in taking all three regulations together, because they have a common theme. It obviously saves your Lordships' time. The first set of regulations concerns the informal resolution of complaints. I notice that in paragraph 4(2) of these regulations there is a stipulation that the appointed officer shall not, for the purpose of informally resolving a complaint, tender on behalf of the member concerned an apology for this conduct unless he has admitted the conduct in question.

We are dealing with a way of reducing quite informally the number of complaints. I hope that the words do not mean that it is impossible to dispose of an informal complaint by somebody in authority on behalf of the police saying that he feels that the words chosen by the police officer were not particularly apt or courteous and that the police officer has been so informed. If we were to stop that kind of very polite communication to a member of the public, it would be a wrong step, especially in relation to our wanting to achieve informal resolution of complaints in regard to small matters.

The Minister was very careful not to use the word "trivial" because they are not trivial matters to members of the public. This concerns small matters. I hope that this regulation does not mean that, if a police officer says, "I'm very sorry. I don't want you to apologise", that the police authority cannot itself decide that an apology is due because the words, for example, were really not very well chosen. The meaning of paragraph 4(2) of the regulations is not absolutely clear, and I should like therefore to make that comment.

I move at once to the next set of regulations, which are the Police (Complaints) (Mandatory Referrals Etc.) Regulations. My first comment is on paragraph 4(2), which deals with mandatory referrals. There is a strict time limit here which is consequential upon a decision by an authority, which I would have thought was vague; and, in any event, the time limit here, I would have thought, was quite unreasonable. As I said, it is tied to something which is almost academic, and, if I may, I invite your Lordships to look at paragraph 4(2) of these regulations. It says: Where a complaint is required to be referred to the Authority under paragraph (1) above, notification of the complaint shall be given to the Authority not later than the end of the day following the day on which it first becomes clear to the appropriate authority that the complaint is one to which that paragraph applies". We ought to have regulations which mean something. Who is to know when it first becomes clear to the authority that this is a complaint to which it applies? Is there to be a minute, so that it ought to say, in order to fix this time limit (somewhat absurdly one might think): "It has now become clear to us that the complaint is one to which the paragraph applies"?

But apart from that, and not wishing to raise academic points (although I think there is possibly reality in this), if there is a time limit, to make it literally a matter that is incumbent upon the authority to give this notice, not later than the end of the day following the day on which it first becomes clear", and so on, really seems to me an absurd time limit. No doubt the noble Lord the Minister will be able to defend that time limit, or to say what it means, in a moment. I am sure your Lordships realise that in raising these points I am obviously in the position, as are your Lordships, of not being able to give notice of an amendment to a regulation—as I understand it, we either have to approve the regulation or we do not—but it does give the Government time, if one raises these points, to consider whether they would not wish to amend the draft regulations in question.

I would have loved the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, to have been in his place. In regard to the regulations we were discussing a moment ago, he drew attention to the English which is sometimes employed in regard to these matters and to other Government publications. It is very cheap merely to take up time by complaining about language and laughing at it, without paying tribute to the Civil Service and the draftsmen for the generally good job they do. I hope, therefore, I shall not be thought guilty in this instance, any more than the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, of a cheap jibe. But, really, I must say that it is a bit grim when you have wording such as I shall now quote—and I refer to the last six words of paragraph 5(2) of these regulations. That paragraph reads: Without prejudice to their powers in relation to the appointment of an investigating officer, but subject to paragraphs (3) and (4) below, the Authority may, where they undertake the supervision of an investigation of a complaint or other matter to which these Regulations apply, issue directions"— So far it is absolutely clear— imposing such additional reasonable requirements as to the conduct of the investigation as appear to them to be necessary"— that is all absolutely clear: and then the last six words are— as are specified in the directions". I do not know what those words mean or why they are there, because it obviously ends at the words, "as appear to them to be necessary". The directions have been dealt with, and I do not know what the words "as are specified in the directions" mean. I will not go on, because really nobody wants to spend time on language. One merely points out that these words—and I speak personally now—are, if I may say so most respectfully, meaningless and otiose, and should not be there.

I come now to my last substantial point, and then I shall finish. I have no comments to make on the (Anonymous, Repetitious Etc. Complaints) Regulations, which are the third set of regulations. The last direction in this series of regulations relating to mandatory referrals says: The Authority shall not, under paragraph (2) above, impose any requirement"— paragraph (2) refers to making directions— relating to the resources to be made available by a chief officer for the purposes of an investigation without first consulting him and having regard to any representations he may make". That means that in an investigation which is to be conducted by the authority, before they make directions as to the resources to be made available for the purposes of the investigation—and these investigations are in regard to very serious matters under these regulations—the authority have to consult the chief officer (and the chief officer is defined as the person who may be acting as the chief officer). That is absolutely right, and if it had ended there I would have been content. But it goes on to give the chief officer almost, if not definitely, the last word on the resources to be made available to the authority to conduct an investigation, because they not only have to consult him but they have to have regard to any representations he may make.

I can remember trying to suggest to your Lordships in Committee, as had many of my colleagues on all sides of the Committee, the addition of words after the word "consultation". Time after time I was told, "Look: you consult; you do not need to say anything else. 'Consultation' means you consult, and you ought to have some regard, obviously, to what is said by the other party with whom you are consulting."

I do not like words being added in this way, which seem to give the chief officer the power to say to the authority, "Not only are these my views, and not only must you look at those views about the resources to be made available to you to conduct your investigation of the police force and of the complaints in regard to a terribly serious matter, but you have to go further than that: you really have to take that as a final word". I hope that is not so, because as regards the resources to be made available on important and serious investigations, as it is definitely envisaged by these regulations that these inquiries will be, there ought to be the right to say what resources it is reasonable to put at the disposal of the authority so that its independence in these matters should be preserved.

Having said that, my final word is this. We are talking about the police. The police have often been criticised in your Lordships' House, in another place and in the media. I want to take the opportunity to say this on behalf of my noble friends. This complaints procedure is envisaged against a minority of a truly great force with wonderful traditions, and I think we ought to look at these regulations with that thought in mind.

5.19 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends I welcome the regulations with very little reservation. It is probably appropriate for me to say a few words about them because I was responsible for the introduction of the first Police Complaints Bill. I welcome one feature of the current situation, and that is that there is, I believe, genuine bipartisan support for the work which the Police Complaints Authority is to carry out on behalf of the public.

When the first Police Complaints Bill was introduced in another place, the Conservative Party opposed it in principle at one stage on the grounds that it went too far. It is ironic that they have now introduced a new system—and I warmly welcome this particular part of the Act—which goes a great deal further than did the Labour Government's police complaints procedure.

Apart from that, I would echo very largely what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has said. I think that there is now an urgent need to end this debilitating argument about complaints against the police. It does no good to police morale to have a constant argument going on about the precise way in which complaints against the police should be investigated. I very much hope that responsible people in all political parties will now give the new authority an opportunity of getting on with its job. I believe that it carries a great deal of support even from many who would prefer it to be armed with greater powers. I think it right to say, too, and I think the Government have done well in appointing the chairman, a former Ombudsman who I believe will carry considerable confidence. And speaking as a former ministerial colleague of Mr. Roland Moyle, I am delighted that he is to be a deputy chairman. I had a lot to do with him when he was Minister of State at the DHSS. He was a highly conscientious Minister and I believe that he will do an excellent job on behalf of the public and the police service.

The only point that I should like to ask the Minister about is this. The regulation dealing with informal resolution of complaints—and this is one of the issues which arose at the time of the Scarman inquiry—is highly desirable and, indeed, I believe it is a considerable improvement on the previous procedure; there is now to be some way of getting rid of some of these complaints on an informal basis. I think that is wholly sensible.

But I must say that I have slight doubts about one particular feature of this; I think it was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. It is the obligation that no apology should be made without an admission by the officer concerned. I have two questions about that. First, in the event of an informal resolution of a complaint being effected, will there be any entry on the officer's records within the force concerned? I think this is an important matter to have clear. In other words, if some form of apology is made on behalf of an officer, is that going to be noted in his personal records within that particular police force? One of the problems, as I am sure the Minister will appreciate, is that there is often an argument—let us take a good illustration—between a motorway patrolman and a driver. The driver says, "The officer said, 'x'" and the policeman says, "I said 'y'". There is some dispute—and perhaps they may both be truthful people—about precisely what was said. Clearly it is desirable to get that matter informally resolved.

What I am not clear about relates to where the supervisory officer, the superintendent or whoever it may be, believes that it is possible to say to the complainant, "Well, there is some argument about precisely what was said. If by some chance our chap said what you think he said, then obviously we are sorry about it". Does that statement have to carry with it the approval of the policeman concerned? If it does, I think that it may well be that a number of officers may be rather hesitant about giving their approval if there is going to be an entry on their service record as a result of that admission made on their behalf by a senior officer. I am aware that the Minister may not be able to deal with that this afternoon and I shall well understand that. Perhaps we can clear it up through correspondence.

With that single question, which I am sure he will deal with satisfactorily, all that I will say on behalf of my noble friends and myself is that we welcome these regulations and express our very best of good wishes to the new authority; and we should like also to be associated with what was said about the excellent work which has been carried out by the members and the chairman of the former police complaints board.

5.26 p.m.

Lord Inglewood

My Lords, my comments will be very few, and I shall also put two or three questions which I spoke about when the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, met me before. But since he has given clear answers to the larger part of my questions, I shall not do other than cut right back as far as I can, because I do not want to be repetitive. When I was looking at these regulations I came to the conclusion—and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, would agree with it—that they were not all that easy to understand for anyone, certainly not the man in the street. I would simply make this remark. We have in this country at the present time a very wide interest in policing, probably wider than we have had for a number of years; and we have in one of the later clauses the provision for consultation. Therefore, I hope that those responsible members of these committees will do their best to explain some of this to the general public, which will widen their understanding and, I think, be of advantage to us all.

There is one point that I should like to mention again. We have a spate of regulations today. I think that we have three regulations which now require an affirmative resolution; and there are four which are waiting for their time to run out; so that we have seven regulations. One thing that I think is rather strange is that the two most important of the regulations—one a general one and the other dealing with senior officers—both wait on the Table until someone raises the Question in the House and possibly prays against one or the other. To me, those two seem more important than the others which are awaiting an affirmative resolution.

Of these two, one is particularly interesting in that it affects senior officers only. I have had correspondence with the Minister over about two years on the preparation of this regulation, but I think that it is fair to say that after all these discussions they now have regulations which are more satisfactory than had been the case. That I think is important.

I wonder how far these regulations affect the Metropolitan Police and the county forces. Perhaps that can he made plain; because they frequently operate under a different system. There are other forces which come under the Home Office. Are these regulations applicable to those forces of some size which operate under different Ministers?

My Lords, my last point is this. We have a number—in fact, an increasing number—of special constables in this country. When looking through these regulations I could not find reference to them at all; but when we bear in mind that a sworn-in special constable has exactly the same powers as any other constable, I should think that he should have some code of discipline which guides him; and it should not be something like hire and fire, which should be entirely in the hands of chief constables. Going further, what I should like to see is more consultation here through the committees which are now working very well in some parts of England. I hope that the noble Lord will give all the encouragement he can, because we want in this country the police to be in a position where we can assure them of proper understanding.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, before the Minister rises to reply, I am conscious of the fact that I threw some points at him without any notice. If he finds himself in the slightest degree embarrassed becauses of lack of notice, I shall well understand if he wants to write to me, so long as, obviously, the usual procedure applies of the letters being available in the Library.

5.29 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I am grateful to all three noble Lords for their comments about the regulations and to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, for his last remark. I hope that I can cover most of the points he raised but if I cover them inadequately, or upon reflection feel that I could cover them more fully, I shall write to him.

The noble Lord started by paying tribute, as I had, to the outgoing chairman and looked to the future with the new chairman, Sir Cecil Clothier, with some confidence. He asked about the membership of the board. The number of appointments so far is nine, but we expect to include a further appointment to the authority in due course. The noble Lord asked me about the membership. In addition to those three whom I mentioned earlier, I can tell him that the others are: Mrs. Eva Crawley; Mr. Maurice Hazelwood; Mr. Bernard Moor; Brigadier Pownall; Mr. Edward Taylor; Mrs. Rosemary Vickers; Mrs. Rosemary Wolff; Mr. Vernon Clements; and Mr. John Lyttle. As to ethnic representation, one of the members, Mr. Vernon Clements, is from the ethnic community. Another has long experience of community and race relations matters. I hope that that will give confidence to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon.

Paragraph 4(2) of the informal resolution regulations precludes an apology on behalf of the officer himself where he denies the offence, but this does not prevent an apology on behalf of the force. I think that that is probably what the noble Lord was trying to draw out, and I hope that that answers that case. With regard to paragraph 4(2) of the mandatory referrals regulations, it may not be immediately apparent to the appropriate authority that a particular case is one to which reference applies. For example, it may depend upon a medical examination which shows that an apparently trivial injury is in fact more serious than at first appeared to be the case. Once it does so appear, the time limit begins to run, as I understand it, and there must be some time, albeit perhaps a short time, for the force procedures to get the case 'to the authority's attention.

The noble Lord developed his argument rather more fully than perhaps I have answered, but I should like to study his point. I believe that what I have just said meets the point with which he was particularly concerned.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, if the noble Lord the Minister will permit me, it may very well be that further reflection must be given to this. My point was twofold. Of course I understand that somebody would have to consider very carefully medical evidence and everything else, but if you have a time limit you have to be very certain as to when the time limit starts. That was my first point. How anyone will know in fact when it first becomes clear to the appropriate authority that the complaint was one to which that paragraph applies, to me, if I may say so humbly, is certainly not clear. Indeed, I do not know how anybody can ever tell whether that was the day or whether it was not.

The second point is that, even if I am wrong on that, is not 24 hours as a deadline a terribly short time limit? This cannot be answered this afternoon and this is not the time to debate it, but I hope at least that the noble Lord the Minister and those who are associated with him in this matter will at least consider the two points.

Lord Glenarthur

Yes, my Lords, of course I shall look at it and I shall look at the noble Lord's remarks and perhaps write to him more fully explaining it in due course.

The noble Lord then turned to paragraph 5(2) of the same regulations. The words to which he referred, as are specified in the directions", at the end of paragraph 5(2) make it clear, I think, that the authority must spell out in their directions the additional requirements they wish to impose on the conduct of the investigations and cannot simply rely on generalisations on them. I believe that that answers the noble Lord's point, but again, if it does not, I shall have to study more fully his remarks on this fairly complicated subject and let him know.

With regard to resources in paragraph 5(4) of the mandatory referrals regulations, the chief officer has responsibility for the deployment of his resources. The complaints authority must have the final say in directing the resources to be made available to the investigations. The regulations do not preclude that. But it is right to require the authority to consider seriously the problems which the chief officer might present as showing that he simply does not have the manpower and so on available to supply the full quota of officers requested.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris, generally welcomed the regulations, and for that I am grateful. He asked two questions. The first concerned informal resolutions and the recording or not on the officer's record of the business. The Home Office guidance to chief officers—there is a fairly substantial guidance which will go out to chief officers and which probably contains many of the answers to the questions which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has put to me—states that no entry relating to the attempted or successful informal resolution of a complaint should be made in the personal record of the officer concerned. I think that that meets the noble Lord's point in full.

Secondly, the noble Lord asked whether, when a supervising officer believes it possible to say to the complainant that there may be a case, this carries the approval of the policeman concerned. It is open to the investigating officer to say something to the effect, "There is clash of evidence here. If the officer said those words, then I apologise on behalf of the chief constable". That seems to me to be a fair way of dealing with the problem and I hope that that answers the noble Lord's point.

My noble friend Lord Inglewood said that he thought that the regulations were difficult to understand. I note the point of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, about English. I am not sure about the six—apparently, in his eyes—superfluous words at the end of that regulation but I shall certainly look at them. My noble friend stressed that there was a wide interest in policing in the United Kingdom and I certainly share that view.

The disciplinary regulations apply in toto to the Metropolitan Police, as I understand it. The senior officers' regulations apply to senior officers of the Metropolitan Police up to the rank of assistant commissioner, above that, evidently, they do not. With regard to non-Home Office forces, it is open to these private forces, if "private" is the right word to use, to make an arrangement with the police complaints authority as they could previously do with the board, applying the provision of Part IX of the Act to their officers.

Special constables are not members of police forces. The complaints and discipline provisions provided under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act therefore do not apply to them. Nevertheless, the Home Secretary's guidance to chief officers on complaints and discipline procedures suggests that chief officers may well consider it appropriate to investigate complaints against special constables as if those complaints did indeed fall within the provisions of Part IX of the provisions of the 1984 Act. Thus a special constable would benefit from the safeguards which the system provides for regular officers although the decision on disciplinary action would not be referred to the police complaints authority.

I hope that that answers most of the points which have been raised by those who have spoken this afternoon. I shall certainly study the remarks they made with great care. With that assurance, I beg to move.

On Question, Motion agreed to.