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Interim Liberation By Officer In Charge Of Police Station

Volume 972: debated on Thursday 25 October 1979

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I beg to move amendment No. 19, in page 8, line 12, leave out 'If a person who' and insert 'Where a person'.

I will be as brief as possible.

I welcome the remarks and the compliments paid to me by the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing). I have always prided myself on my brevity in court. I have never addressed a jury for more than 55 minutes even in the more lengthy cases. I only wish that there were more English Members, or some English Members, in the Chamber who would understand that 55 minutes is probably as long as a jury can listen to a lawyer rather than three days, three weeks or three months, which appears to be the southern tradition.

The amendment has the effect of making clauses 7 and 8 equivalent. There is a power under clause 7 for a policeman to liberate a person accused of an offence against a person under 17 on condition that he will come to court when cited to do so. In clause 8 hitherto, the power was only to liberate a person to appear at a specific court at a specific time. That meant that a person could not be released from custody until the date and time of the court appearance had been fixed. That might have meant that it was not possible to invoke the liberality of these provisions immediately. These provisions make clauses 7 and 8 identical and give the power to a police officer to liberate, even when the time and place of the hearing in court has yet to be fixed.

We are grateful to the Solicitor-General for Scotland for the further consideration that has been given to this matter. Obviously, a great deal of thought has been given to the matter during the Summer Recess. I suspect also that some representations have been made on these issues. These are obviously improvements in the Bill. We are grateful to the Solicitor-General for Scotland for the way he has propounded the amendments. For our part we accept them.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. We are grateful for his co-operation.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 20, in page 8, line 13, leave out from 'summarily' to end of line 18 and insert:

"the officer in charge of a police station may—
  • (a) liberate him upon a written undertaking, signed by him and certified by the said officer, in terms of which that person undertakes to appear at a specified court at a specified time; or
  • (b) liberate him without any such undertaking; or
  • (c) refuse to liberate him, and such refusal and the detention of that person until his case is tried in the usual form shall not subject the officer to any claim whatsoever.'.
  • No. 21, in page 8, line 23, leave out 'in any case'.

    No. 22, in page 8, line 24, leave out from '( b)' to end of line 31 and insert:

    'imprisonment for a period—
  • (i) where conviction is in the district court, not exceeding 60 days; or
  • (ii) where conviction is in the sheriff court, not exceeding 3 months.'.—[The Solicitor-General for Scotland.]