Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:13 pm on 29th March 1999.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:13 pm, 29th March 1999

I am sure that my hon. Friend does not expect me to go into detail on that case, but I accept that the time that some investigations take—particularly investigations into the circumstances of a death—can cause great anxiety to relatives, although it is difficult to see how they would be conducted any quicker under an independent system.

In its report last year on police complaints and discipline, the Select Committee on Home Affairs also made recommendations for the establishment of a fully independent complaints system. Work is already under way on that proposal. A detailed feasibility study is being carried out and will be completed by April next year. I shall inform the House of the conclusions of that study.

The Macpherson inquiry raised concerns about the accountability of the Metropolitan police in comparison with other police forces. The establishment of the Metropolitan Police Authority will profoundly change the accountability of the Metropolitan police service to the communities that it serves. The Greater London Authority Bill, which is due to finish its Committee stage tomorrow, will establish an authority with virtually the same structure, functions and powers as police authorities outside London. The differences are explained entirely by the fact that the Met will continue to have national and international functions. It is important that the Home Secretary continues to play a role in the running of the service in respect of those functions.