Clause 36 - Information for Director

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:45 pm ar 5 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 5:45, 5 Chwefror 2002

I beg to move amendment No. 178, in page 22, line 2, at end insert—

'(6) Where the Director is not satisfied with the information provided to him by the Police he may refer the case to the Police Ombudsman for investigation.'.

This is a philosophically not dissimilar amendment to the ones that we have just debated, tabled by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh, in that it gives the Director of Public Prosecutions power to invite the police ombudsman to conduct an investigation. Clearly, there must be some passage of information from the police to the director in order for him to be able to put a prosecution together. He may not be satisfied that he is getting the necessary information from the police. It is idle to conjecture about all the circumstances in which that might arise, which might

include the professional incompetence of some policemen in putting briefs together, or relate to wider problems of the police obstructing a prosecution for reasons of their own.

These matters may be covered in other legislation, so I shall listen carefully to the Minister's reply. However, it struck me on reading the Bill that the DPP should have some form of power at his disposal to be able to ferret out information, if he is not getting it from the police, and that it would be difficult for him to do that directly. Although it is essential that the relationship between the police and the DPP works well, individual circumstances may exist when it does not work well.

I do not imagine that the DPP would use the power that the amendment would give him with anything other than the greatest hesitation, given the damage that it would do to the relationship between the relevant part of his office and the part of the police force that was investigated. The amendment would simply reinforce the director's position, giving him the power to search for information when he thought that he was not being properly served by the police.

As with the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh that we have just debated, this is in no sense meant to be an anti-police measure. It is merely meant to give the DPP the opportunity to have some investigatory force to go after information, if circumstances require. If the power exists elsewhere within the system, I am content to withdraw the amendment.