The proceedings in which the Chief Constable of Lancashire is involved conform to the arrangements laid down in the existing discipline regulations for senior officers which, following the passage of the Police Act 1976, are about to be consolidated in regulations that will be laid before the House on 6th April and will come into effect for charges preferred on or after 1st June.
When the disciplinary proceedings in which the Chief Constable of Lancashire is now involved have been completed, I shall consider whether any more substantial changes are called for in the disciplinary arrangements for senior police officers.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Lancashire police tribunal is not considering the more serious cases including what has been described as the most disturbing involving the deaths of my former constituents Mrs. Tierney and Mrs. Moyle, in which there was intervention by County Councillor Leonard Broughton, the Chairman of Lancashire County Council? What action will the Home Secretary take on this?
I am currently in difficulty over a particular case. If the chief constable admits or is found guilty of an offence he will have a right of appeal to me, so it would be improper for me to comment on the case apart from considering changing the rules. I am fully aware of what I must do if an appeal is brought to me.
I appreciate the Home Secretary's difficulties in these circumstances, but does he accept that the police committee is referring sections of the report to an independent inquiry and that there is considerable disquiet that certain of the charges will not be referred to the inquiry? In those circumstances, should not my right hon. Friend be prepared to investigate further?
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the deliberate leaking of the report of the Chief Constable of Hampshire was most unfortunate and particularly unfair to those involved? Would it not be better if all comment were withheld until the full inquiry is completed?
A report was made by the Chief Constable of Hampshire and it went to the Lancashire Police Authority for investigation. If such a report is leaked it prevents proper investigation of the matter, and that is something that I shall have to take into account when I consider any changes in methods.