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Volume 473: debated on Monday 17 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedure is followed by police officers investigating cases where the available evidence is based on conflicting statements by the complainant and alleged perpetrator; and if she will make a statement. (188516)

It is an operational matter for the chief officer to determine whether to proceed with an investigation. If the decision is taken to proceed with the investigation, paragraph 3.5 of the Code of Practice issued under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 provides that investigators

“should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.”

If conflicting statements are made by the complainant and the person they have accused of committing an offence, police would seek independent evidence to see which of the conflicting accounts can be corroborated. Depending on the offence concerned, this evidence might take the form of forensic examinations or come from statements taken from independent witnesses who are unconnected with either the complainant or the suspect. It might also involve asking the complainant and suspect for more details to check and test what they said previously. At any stage, it would be for police to decide whether they have sufficient grounds to arrest the suspect and whether arrest is necessary to progress the investigation.