22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 6

Very little criticism of the police in this country is

valid, but it is so easy for a policeman to go beyond his province that he should be firmly checked when he does. In a case heard at Basingstoke on Tuesday a defendant charged with the perfectly simple and straightforward offence of having an unobscured light in his house said he was questioned by the police-sergeant on his occupation, his age, his earn- ings and the number of his children. The police-super- intendent accepted responsibility, and said the information was " required for keeping statistics and to assist the court." The Mayor expressed the view that in such cases the police should confine themselves to asking about the age and occupation of a defendant—neither of which seems to have the smallest bearing on the particular charge in question. I hope he expressed it in stronger terms than the report I have seen suggests.