HC Deb 16 March 1976 vol 907 cc455-6W
Mr. Wakeham

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has reviewed the arrangements made by the police for the return of recovered stolen property to the rightful owner; if he will list the circumstances in which property can be handed ever to duly appointed agents of the owner and the circumstances when the police can refuse; and whether the present arrangements can be varied to avoid undue hardship to the rightful owner.

Dr. Summerskill

The disposal of property which comes into the possession of the police in the course of criminal investigations is governed by the Police (Property) Act 1897 and Regulations made under the Act. New Regulations were made last year—the Police (Dis- posal of Property) Regulations 1975; S.I. 1474—to take account of changes in law and practice since 1898 when the previous Regulations were made. Except where an order has been made by a magistrates' court, the disposal of property to which the 1897 Act applies is at the discretion of chief officers of police. Where the owner is known, the police would not normally refuse to return property unless it could have some criminal application. It is open to any person to apply to a magistrates' court under the 1897 Act for an order in respect of property which is in the possession of the police and which he believes to be his.