HC Deb 07 July 2003 vol 408 c641W
Mr. Rosindell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what additional responsibilities have been placed on police inspectors and chief inspectors by(a) legislation and (b) changes in policing methods since 1994. [121320]

Ms Blears

In recent years the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and other legislation has been amended so that the minimum rank for taking a number of important policing decisions has been reduced from superintendent to inspector. These include taking fingerprints, intimate and non-intimate samples without consent, authorising intimate searches and delaying a detained person's right to let someone know they have been arrested.

New legislation has also given additional responsibilities to inspectors. For example, they are able to authorise the searching or examination of a detained person to ascertain their identity and to deny independent custody visitors access to a detained person. In certain circumstances they can authorise surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and approve searches for criminal cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).

The way in which those powers are exercised, and the precise responsibilities given to officers at different ranks, depend on local decisions taken by individual chief constables and other police commanders. However, there has certainly been a very positive trend towards devolving decision making and responsibility from force headquarters to local managers.