HC Deb 15 December 1960 vol 632 cc74-5W
75. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that persons in custody charged with murder are being compelled to submit to psychiatric examinations by prison medical officers, and that the facts so obtained are supplied to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and whether he will give instructions that no psychiatric examination of an accused person charged with murder shall take place, and no report be given to the Director of Public Prosecutions, except with the consent of the accused or their legal advisers.

Mr. R. A. Butler

It has for long been the established practice for a report on the mental condition of any prisoner charged with murder to be furnished by the prison medical officer to the court through the Director of Public Prosecutions, who supplies a copy to the defence. The Royal Commission on Capital Punishment approved this practice, but recommended that such prisoners should in future be examined by an independent psychiatrist of standing as well as by an experienced member of the prison medical service. The Government accepted this recommendation. I see no reason to disturb the existing arrangements, which have been generally accepted as being necessary and desirable in the interests of justice.