HC Deb 05 November 1948 vol 457 cc142-3W
Mr. Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can make any statement about the result of his inquiry into the circumstances leading up to the discharge of P.C. Watson from the Brighton police force.

Mr. Ede

On 18th September the Chief Constable of Brighton decided to dispense with the services of Police Constable Watson.

Regulation 11 of the Police Regulations empowers a chief constable to terminate the service of any constable at any time during his two years' probationary period if he is satisfied that the constable is not likely to become an efficient and well-conducted police officer. From a chief constable's decision to discharge in such circumstances there is no appeal and neither the police authority nor the Home Secretary has any power to interfere. Nevertheless with the concurrence of the Brighton Watch Committee and of the Chief Constable himself, I asked one of. His Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary to visit Brighton to inquire for me into all the circumstances leading up to the discharge of this constable so that I might be able to come to a decision on the question whether it was necessary or desirable to hold a general inquiry into the conduct and efficiency of the Brighton police force. I am satisfied that it is not necessary to hold any such general inquiry.

When I announced my intention of asking His Majesty's Inspector to inquire into the circumstances leading up to the constable's discharge, the Chief Constable of Brighton suspended the notice of discharge he had given to Constable Watson, so that the position of the constable would not be prejudiced pending the outcome of the inquiry.

The Chief Constable has now informed me that he has reviewed the whole of the circumstances and, of his own volition, has decided to allow Police Constable Watson to continue as a probationer in the Brighton Police Force. I am informed that in coming to this decision, the Chief Constable was influenced by the consideration—not that justice had not been done—but that it might not appear manifestly to have been done, since a widespread suspicion had arisen that more severe action had been taken against the constable because the Mayor of Hove had been arrested than would have been taken if some other member of the public had been involved.