asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the large number of motor accidents due to dangerous and careless driving, he will issue instructions that copies of police reports can be obtained by interested persons?
Under the present procedure it is the practice of the police to furnish interested parties with certain information, including the names and addresses of witnesses, but copies of witnesses' statements are not furnished except to the parties who made them or their accredited representatives. It is clear that, as a general rule, statements made to the police and reported in the course of duty ought to be regarded as having been made on a confidential footing and ought not to be furnished to third parties, and it would only be on the strongest grounds that any exception could be made in favour of any particular class of statements. I am not at present satisfied that I should be justified in issuing instructions in the sense suggested, but I am giving the matter my further consideration from its legal as well as administrative aspects, in the light of various representations which I have received.
In view of the variation which exists between different authorities in this matter, especially in regard to the fees relating to statements which are allowed to be given to different parties, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that the practice is uniform throughout the country?
Is it not the case that the fee imposed by some local authorities and police forces is prohibitive, and that many people go into a case without knowing what the police statement will contain because they are unable to find the fee demanded?