Wanted Persons (Photographs)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East 12:00 am, 29th November 1960

asked the Lord Advocate what advice he gives to chief constables in Scotland regarding the issue to the Press of photographs of wanted persons, where, in the opinion of the police, this is necessary for the protection of society.

Photo of Mr William Grant Mr William Grant , Glasgow Woodside

The publication of a photograph of a wanted person may prejudice the evidence of identification at his subsequent trial. Accordingly the general practice is not to allow the publication of such photographs. If, however, a case arose where, for example, a dangerous criminal was at large and the publication of a photograph might be desirable in the public interest, the procurator fiscal who is in charge of the investigation would report the matter immediately to the Crown Office for instructions.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

Surely, the Lord Advocate can give to the chief constable of a county or of a city the responsibility to decide whether it is in the interests of justice and is a help to citizens, who, after all, have a responsibility in helping the police? Surely, the balance of advantage is to give chief constables the power to authorise the issue of a photograph of a wanted man?

Photo of Mr William Grant Mr William Grant , Glasgow Woodside

The hon. Member, although he comes from south of the Border, will realise that there are considerable differences between criminal law and procedure in England and in Scotland. In Scotland, the investigation is conducted under the supervision of the procurator fiscal and, accordingly, it is for him to decide whether the matter should be referred to the Crown Office in a particular case. It would be highly dangerous to adapt English procedure to Scotland. Indeed, it is a dangerous operation to take little branches of an English rose and try to graft them on a Scottish thistle.