Oral Answers to Questions — Crime Investigation (Press Information)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th April 1951.

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Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton 12:00 am, 19th April 1951

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the disquiet among the public concerning the extent and character of the information made available by the police to the Press about the investigation of crime; what control is exercised over such Press statements; and what category of persons is authorised by his Department to make such statements.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

It is for the responsible chief officer of police to decide what information about a crime investigation should be given to the Press, and no authority from the Home Office is required. In the Metropolitan Police, statements about crime are issued by the Public Information Officer on the authority of the Commissioner or the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department. I am not aware of any undue public disquiet on this subject.

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that, contrary to his information, there is a considerable body of opinion which holds that some of the police communiques which are issued in such cases tend to help the criminal rather than lead to his apprehension? Will my right hon. Friend cause an inquiry to be made into this matter?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I will certainly look at what is done, but my impression is that most of these communiques are very carefully worded and are certainly not designed to help the criminal.