I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether disciplinary charges against the police are heard and decided in camera; whether the accused are allowed the aid of a legal adviser; and whether he will consider the advisability of placing the police on the same footing as the Army and Navy and giving to them in all charges involving dismissal, degradation, or serious punishment, the right of the charge being heard in public and the aid of a legal adviser if desired.
Disciplinary charges against the police are not investigated in public, and there is no legal advisor on either side. The great majority of such charges are for breaches of service regulations, and to investigate these in public would be contrary to the interests of the police themselves and of the service. The officer concerned is given every opportunity of putting forward the facts and of calling witnesses, both police and private persons, and of having inquiries made in order to assist his defence. When, however, a member of the public makes a charge of misconduct against a police officer who denies it, and in the conflict of evidence the Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner who is investigating the matter is not absolutely satisfied that he has the means of forming a correct decision, the complainant is requested to prefer his charge before a magistrate.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the hearing of these charges in secret is one of the most serious grievances of the men?
I really do not know to what class of cases the hon. Members refers.
Charges involving dismissal, degradation, or other serious punishment.
I can add nothing to my Answer.
Have the police a right of appeal from the Commissioners to the right hon. Gentleman?
Certainly, and they do appeal.