§ Mr. Hicks
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he is satisfied with the existing arrangements that allow chief constables complete discretion, without reference to the Home Office, to provide third parties with evidence used by the prosecution in court cases ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what criteria have to be met before chief constables may use their discretion in allowing evidence and exhibits given and displayed in a court case to be given to and subsequently used by a third party.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees:
I have given no guidance to chief officers of police in these matters but I understand that, on occasion, a chief officer may, at his discretion and on request, allow documentary evidence and exhibits given or displayed in criminal proceedings to be 223W provided to a third party if he is satisfied about the bona fides of that third party and that the third party has a good reason for the request. Unless the material in a witness statement has been fully disclosed in criminal proceedings, however, a copy of a witness statement will not normally be provided to a third party—except on order of a court—unless the person concerned has given his written consent.
If the hon. Member has a particular problem in mind that he feels justifies a re-examination of these general arrangements, or the issue of general guidance, perhaps he will let me know.