§ Sir Patrick Mayhew
I have today arranged for copies of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper's annual report for 1994 to be placed in the Library.
I welcome the report, which provides a valuable examination of custody procedures in the police offices. I shall be studying it carefully.
I am most grateful for the work carried out by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper. The role of the commissioner remains important even in the changed circumstances since the PIRA and loyalist paramilitaries' cessation of violence. The Government remain committed to the principle that the emergency legislation will remain in force no longer than is necessary. However, for as long as the paramilitaries retain the capability to resume violence, and 109W for as long as the police require to interview persons suspected of involvement in terrorism, there is a need to maintain special provisions for detaining suspects in police custody. While this is the case, all the present safeguards designed to ensure the rights of those held in custody will remain in place, including the Independent Commissioner for the Holding Centres. As Sir Louis Blom-Cooper states in his report, an immediate impact of the ceasefires was a dramatic drop in the numbers detained in the police offices.
I am glad to note that, after a total of 26 visits of his own and 88 by his deputy, Sir Louis has been able to report that he can again find no cause for concern about the care and treatment of detainees held in the custody of uniformed officers of the RUC. I share Sir Louis' satisfaction that his terms of reference have been changed to permit him to be present, if he wishes, throughout interviews with terrorist suspects. This will further increase the level of independent supervision of procedures in the police offices.