§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Walsall, South)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the First Report from the Estimates Committee and of the Fifth Special Report from the Estimates Committee relating to Police.It is appropriate that this debate should begin with thanks to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing the debate on the Estimates Committee, and for your patience which I have enjoyed in the past. I would also pay tribute to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), who is Chairman of the Estimates Committee and who, owing to illness, will not be with us until after Easter. I would say in his absence that in the relatively short time that he has been Chairman he has shown qualities of broadmindedness, sympathy and tact which, if I may say so, are not immediately apparent to those who know him only by his activities at Question Time. I am sure the House joins with me in sending our best wishes for his early return.
I should also like to express my thanks to the former Clerk to Sub-Committee B of the Estimates Committee who has now exchanged the non-controversial backwaters of the life of the Estimates Committee for the turbulent political waters of academic life in a new university. He had already proved himself to be a very excellent Committee Clerk. I would say that members of the Sub-Committee are in very considerable debt to him for the work he put into this Report. I am sure that we wish him well in his new career.
I believe that the Home Secretary will be here later. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that Mr. Middlemas, like himself, started his early training as a historian under this roof and perhaps he will emulate the Home Secretary as a successful historian in due course.
There are also witnesses to whom I should like to extend thanks. One is Mr. K. A. L. Parker, the Under-Secretary at the Home Office, who is in charge of police matters. Another is Sir Joseph Simpson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who, although being an extremely busy man, found time to give evidence before us on more than one 1847 occasion and whose evidence was of the highest value. Another is Colonel Sir Eric St. Johnston, the former Chief Constable of Lancashire, with whom we spent a stimulating day. We should now like to congratulate him on his promotion to the post of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
I should like to tender my personal thanks to the long-suffering members of Sub-Committee B and congratulate them on the fact that they no longer have to suffer me. This is my Fourth Report on behalf of Sub-Committee B to be laid before three successive Parliaments. Now having reached my swansong, I think that I can say with the poet Coleridge:Swans sing before they die—'twere no bad thingDid certain persons die before they sing.Anyway, this swansong will be brief and not subject, as far as I can see, to encores.
Sub-Committee B started this inquiry in November, 1965, and met to take evidence for the first time on 31st January, 1966. The Home Office appointed working parties in that same month, January, 1966, to consider questions of the manpower, equipment, operation and efficiency of the police. The Estimates Committee reported in August and we received the Home Secretary's observations on 20th December. The working parties published their conclusions on these matters at about the same time. I think that we can say that the Sub-Committee covered the course in about half the time taken by the working parties.
The hon. and learned Member who is to reply to the debate on behalf of the Home Office will probably agree that our Report was satisfactory to the Home Office, because, of 23 specific recommendations which we made, only one was turned down and all the rest accepted if not in practice, then at least in principle. Therefore, unlike previous occasions, I shall not have to indulge in any captious criticism of the attitude of the Home Office to our recommendations. On the contrary, I should like to congratulate ourselves on having in many respects forestalled the conclusions of the working parties.
It is necessary to bring the extent of the problem to the attention of the 1848 House, because for reasons which I will give later, I think that the reports of the working parties rather glossed over some of the difficulties. The fact is that there is a dramatic shortage of police in this country. This is brought out very fully in paragraphs 32 and 33 of our Report. No police force in the country is fully manned and only one-third of them are within tolerable distance of being fully manned. This is a very painful situation.
Furthermore, there is a special problem about establishments. Up to 1961, police establishments were termed "realistic". They were based not on what was required in policemen adequately to police the areas concerned, but on what the chief constables concerned could reasonably expect to recruit. After the Police Act, the provincial forces were told to reconsider their establishments and to bring them up to a true figure, which I would describe as being an ideal figure, although, in order to confuse the issue, this ideal figure is also termed "realistic". We thus have to differentiate between the pre-1961 realistic figures and the post-1961.
With one stroke of the pen, Sir Joseph Simpson, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, raised his establishment from 18,204 to 25,000. This was a very big jump and in evidence he gave the reason for it. I bring this to the attention of the House. At Question No. 262 I asked:Your so-called realistic establishment is the ideal you would like to attain?He replied:No, Sir, not the 25,000. I would not like to say whether it was more or less. It is something of a cockshy to make apparent the vast deficiencies there are in the Metropolitan Police.I then asked:What is the value of this figure then?He replied:I think I am right in saying the recommendation of the Royal Commission was that realistic establishments should be approved for every force; and the Home Secretary, in seeing that that is done in respect of the provinces, also feels he has to put his own house in order. I have been saying for some years in my annual reports that we are clearly 5,000 to 6,000 men under strength.There is a great deal of uncertainty about what is the ideal establishment 1849 for a police force. I can illustrate this by two quotations which deal with the Metropolitan Police, which is naturally the force most short of men. In reply to Question No. 279 the Commissioner said:… every policeman in the Metropolitan Police is working 12 hours a fortnight longer than the hours prescribed by the regulations.Hon. Members will see from Appendix G on page 310 of the Report that on average a London C.I.D. man does 15 hours' overtime on top of a 48-hour week, so that on average a man in the London C.I.D. does 63 hours a week. That is a very painful figure.
I particularly draw the attention of hon. Members to Appendix G. It contains a police manpower survey by the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge. For the first time in history we have a record of how policemen spend their time. For that if for no other reason I commend the Report to the House, because it produces these very important figures.
There is another angle to this. The Home Secretary has embarked on a policy of the amalgamation of forces, which is to be compulsory if not accepted voluntarily. My Committee would not wish to criticise this, but it is in no way a solution to the problem of numbers. I take as an example the West Midlands conurbation and the establishment of the new force in the West Midlands which will include the boroughs of Wolverhampton and Walsall and the previous urban districts of Wednesbury, Willenhall and Darlaston. The new establishment is 1.962 while the strength, as at 6th June, is 1,172, very little more than 50 per cent. of establishment. This is shown from Question No. 996.
What happened? Two things have happened. First of all, no fewer than 350 policemen have applied to go to the county forces of Staffordshire and Worcestershire instead of joining the new West Midlands conurbation force. That is one thing, and on the other side—and this is also, I think, dramatic—the standards of policing required for the former urban districts of Willenhall, Darlaston and Wednesbury have been raised. Nothing has changed the character of those areas; they remain exactly the same urban areas as before, but because they are borough police forces instead of being part of the county forces 1850 their standard of policing is required to be substantially higher, and here we have this situation, where the new West Midlands force, which in some ways should be a pattern for future amalgamations, because it was done voluntarily, starts its life with very little over 50 per cent. of its true establishment.
I think this is an omen which has to be borne in mind, because I think it must be probable that further amalgamations will lead to further shortages of police, partly, as I say, through policemen preferring to remain with county forces rather than going to the new borough forces, and partly because of the higher standard of policing required. Both of these were matters not considered by the working party on manpower in the police—so far as I can see from its Report, though, perhaps, the hon. Gentleman who presided over the Sub-Committee will be able to correct me there if I have missed the point.
In its Report the working party devoted a quite considerable portion to what is called the annual voluntary premature wastage. It referred to the numbers of people retiring from the police force before pensionable age for one reason or another. Here it produced a statistic that the annual voluntary premature wastage was 2.4 per cent. of the strength, taking the country as a whole. Now, 2.4 per cent. does not sound a very large percentage, but I think one has to remember that we are legislating for people who decide to make their career in the police, probably to stay for 25 years, and therefore merely to keep up the numbers 4 per cent. have to be recruited annually. Nor will this be enough, as every year an additional percentage of 2..4 per cent. must be recruited to replace premature wastage. There is a very severe shortage indeed and it is building up.
The Working Party's Report in paragraph 39 referred to wastage in comparison with that in industry. I should like to take issue with the working party on that particular point. I do not think that an industry recruits exclusively people who are going to spend their whole life in that particular industry. I think there has always been in normal times an element of mobility of labour, of people who change their jobs very freely indeed. I say in normal times because 1851 these, with the financial measures taken by the Government, are not normal times and people do not change their jobs in these present times if they can possibly avoid it. Therefore, the comparison with industry is not a fair test, because the people who go into the police do so with the intention of making their career in the police.
Sir Joseph Simpson was cross-questioned about the wastage, and I refer to Question No. 284. I asked him,Are you in … the anomalous position of having to recruit twelve people in order to keep seven before they become useful to you?The answer was, "Yes."
This is a very substantial figure, and that is why the bulk of the Report of Sub-Committee B was engaged in dealing with the problem of wastage and the problem of easing the burden on the police, and this is something which really goes to the root of the matter, as, I think, is appreciated by the Home Office.
I do not want to pre-empt time, for I see a number of hon. Gentlemen who want to take part in this discussion, but there is a number of questions which arise from answers which were given by the Home Office and which I should like to put to the hon. and learned Gentleman. By and large, the Home Office accepted the Committee's recommendation for the transfer to traffic wardens of a number of duties at present carried out by police, and therefore the first question I want to ask him, in respect of this recommendation, which was also, of course, accepted by the Working Party, is, when he expects to be able to legislate on this matter, because, of course, he will have to legislate, and I hope he may give us some idea about that.
Secondly, I thought that the working party's Report was particularly strong on the question of civilianisation of police jobs. In fact, it produced a list of six jobs done by the police which local authority staffs could do and 18 which civilian staffs under police supervision could do, and I think this was a very important part of the Report. In addition to that, it found that the police might be relieved of court duties. I should like to know when all this will be effective, because these matters were included in the Working Party's Report.
1852 As an aid to recruiting, the Estimates Committee said that the purchase of houses by the police should be made easier and this was our Recommendation No. 22. This recommendation was deferred by the Home Secretary until he got the Working Party's Report, but the Working Party came out in favour of it, and it also propounded a very ingenious plan of its own, and I should like to hear in due course what the Home Office view of that plan is and whether the Home Office sees the probability of implementing it in the near future.
One case on which I join issue with the Home Office is in connection with the cadet force. We have got evidence that there is avery low wastage rate among recruits who have been cadetsThat is at Question No. 226. And, at Question 1166, one of our witnesses said:The cadet force produces the best policemen.We recommended that there should be a considerable increase in cadet recruitment, and I think that the Home Office rather missed the point in its reply, because the Home Office said that recruitment in certain areas of suitable boys is difficult, and yet the Home Office ignored the fact that only one applicant in ten is accepted at Hendon Training College, which suggests there is a wider field for recruiting cadets than the Home Office admitted.
Naturally, the rate of recruitment possible depends upon the training facilities, and in their reply to Recommendation 12, the Home Office have assumed that the Committee are talking only about residential training establishments, whereas in paragraph 46 of the Report the Committee say specificallyWhen the new amalgamations have taken place a great opportunity will be presented to create regional centres, whether residential or not.The Home Office working party on cadets recommended that there should be residential centres where necessary, but that where it was not necessary, e.g. in thickly-populated areas, centres should be non-residential, and this information was given in evidence by the Association of Municipal Corporations. That is, Questions Nos. 1188–9. Clearly, the conclusions in the argument about the high 1853 cost of residential centres do not apply to non-residential centres, and the Home Office reply covered both types. I should be grateful if the hon. and learned Gentleman could see his way to giving us some information on that matter.
Another point which we raised related to the rather ingenious suggestion that we should try and obtain an extension of police service to 35 years. That is something which appealed to a number of our witnesses. They felt that in police forces, compared with other forms of service, there was a special value in the older and more experienced man. The fact is that it is now open to a constable to retire on half pay after 25 years, and no less than 24½ per cent. do that. The alternative is to retire on two-thirds pay after 30 years, and only 17½ per cent. are willing to stay on as long as that. The only option open to a man who has retired on pension is to be re-employed at the bottom of the pay scale. It is not realistic for a man of 45 or 50 to come back at the bottom of the pay scale.
All that the Home Office would say about this recommendation of the Committee was that… full account will have to be taken of the implications for other public services.I would suggest that, in the Armed Forces, 90 per cent. of the people employed after the age of 45 are in jobs which could perfectly well be civilianised; in other words, they have ceased to be really effective members of the Service, unless they have very special skills. No doubt we shall have a chance of discussing that aspect next week.
I do not think that the implications for public other services should be taken into account. We have a police problem here. Our recommendation was that constables should be encouraged to stay on for 35 years by promising them that, after 30 years' service, they would receive not only their pensions, but the pay for the constabulary service. We felt that that would secure them for a minimum of 30 years plus the extra five years. Of course, that should be made subject to a medical test, and, clearly, police forces could not be compelled to re-employ people whom they did not want for one reason or another.
I do not think that sufficient attention was paid to that suggestion. It is a 1854 method which might help stop the wastage at a time when a man is particularly valuable to a police force.
Turning to the rate of recruitment, I wish to draw the hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to the fact that there is no inducement to graduates to come into the police service. From the Working Party's Report it is apparent that the Police Federation considers that an annual intake of 15 to 20 graduates spread over the whole service is sufficient.
Considering the brain-power which is now given to crime, I do not think that that is enough. In that respect, the Police Federation, who gave valuable evidence to our Sub-Committee and who certainly have a very important rôle to play, should be overridden. I think that we should aim at a greater intake of graduates.
If we cannot do that, rather more attention should be paid to our suggestion that greater scope should be given on the lines of the Bramshill scholarships, with police forces all over the country making arrangements with their local universities, as is done in Lancashire, to admit policemen to study for graduate degrees. It has worked out in the case of the Bramshill scholarship scheme, and the idea should be spread. They would be welcomed in the universities, and they would have a contribution to make, not only to the universities, but to the police forces when they came back.
There are other questions on which I should like to ask for a little information. The Working Party confirmed our Recommendation No. 8 about the physical standards and age of recruitment for entry to the Police Force. The Home Secretary has agreed to consider certain lowered physical standards and the possibility of recruiting up to the age of 40 where recruits come from a body in which they have previously known conditions of discipline; that is, the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy. I should like to ask when it is likely that this is to be implemented.
I should also like to ask the Home Secretary about our Recommendation No. 10, which concerns undermanning allowances. The Home Office was able to produce a fairly quick and easy reply by saying that it could not do anything until the incomes standstill came to an end. I wish to probe a little further and 1855 find out if the Department will undertake to look more carefully at undermanning allowances, because they are one of the aids which have to be taken into account if we are to remedy what is a really shocking deficiency in our police forces today.
We said that the problem is to secure national standards within the framework of local police forces. As we know all too well, crime pays little attention to national boundaries and none at all to county or borough boundaries. The institution of regional crime squads has shown a way of overcoming this. As one of our witnesses said, it is no good trying to paper over the cracks of a 19th century organisation, and perhaps there is a good omen contained in those words, as they are taken from the evidence of the gentleman who is now Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary. I hope that we shall see no further attempts to paper over the cracks, and that real consideration will be given to ways of dealing with the crime situation as it is today.
I did not want to take up the time of the House unduly, because the Sub-Committee found that its recommendations virtually have been accepted either by the Home Office or by the Working Party on the Police. We are very glad that, in reaching our conclusions, we have been thinking along the same lines as those eminent bodies.
It only remains for me to congratulate those hon. Members who have stuck this debate out. Those in attendance at these debates are usually few but fit. I get the idea today that, with a counter-attraction in another place, I am trying to present a poetry reading in a public house. I hope that these two Reports will provide material for a debate which will not only be constructive and useful, but is very timely indeed.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Dick Taverne)
Like the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) I very much welcome this opportunity for a debate on the police. We have had a most thoughtful and thorough Report from the Estimates Committee, and we have had a most valuable introduction to the debate from the Chairman of the Sub- 1856 Committee who presided indefatigably over all its meetings. His work in the Estimates Committee and the way in which he has presented its Report this afternoon show what a great loss his retirement will be to the Committee.
The virtues of the Report are twofold. First, it contains a large number of extremely useful recommendations. As the hon. Gentleman said, there was only one which the Home Office felt completely unable to accept, for reasons which were stated in the official comment. There are some which cannot immediately be implemented, or which require further consideration, but, generally speaking, the recommendations and the Report deserve the support of the Government, of the House, and of the country.
The second virtue of the Report lies in its value as a means of educating the public in its understanding of the problems of the police, and also making the public more aware of the changes which have been taking place in the police service itself. Appendix G, for example, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, makes available information and useful material to which access might otherwise be difficult.
The changes which have taken place are probably greater than those in relation to any other service, and are unparalleled in any other country. They involve three stages. First, there were the changes which came from the Royal Commission; the changes in the constitutional position of the police in relation to central and local government and in relation to Parliament. These were the changes made in the Police Act, 1964. Secondly, there are the structural and organisational changes being brought about by the programme of amalgamations announced in May. Thirdly, there is the intense internal reorganisation of the police service itself as recommended in the Reports by the three working parties which were published last month.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand if I do not take up the points that he made in the order in which he presented them. Indeed, it may well be that I shall not be able to deal with some of them, in the interests of keeping my speech reasonably short, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will reply to the debate, and I have made a 1857 note of the points so that he can take them up later if necessary.
I propose to approach the debate in four parts. First, I intend to say something about the progress of amalgamations and then to look at some aspects of the three subjects considered by the three working parties—equipment, manpower and operational policy.
When the large-scale reorganisation and mergers of police forces were proposed in May, they received a general welcome on both sides of the House. They did, of course, involve upheavals. I fully understand the difficulties caused to local police authorities, many of whom were justly proud of their long association with their local forces. We recognise, too, that the limitations imposed by the 1964 Police Act meant that in one or two cases the proposed amalgamations were perhaps not ideal from a geographical point of view, but the only real alternatives were either to do nothing or to wait for the local government reorganisation. To have waited for local government reorganisation would have meant a quite unacceptable delay.
The response to our proposals has been most encouraging, and the progress which has been made is perhaps greater than we were entitled to expect. Of the 30 schemes announced on 18th May last year, seven have been made, and one more has been submitted formally and is on the point of being made. In only four cases so far have compulsory schemes had to be initiated. Of the remaining 18 schemes, discussions are proceeding on the basis of agreement in principle in almost all the them. Over all, it is hoped that by 1st April next about half the schemes will have been made. By and large, therefore, progress on amalgamations has been extremely good.
I turn next to the question of equipment. One of the advantages of amalgamation is that the new larger forces will be able to make much better use of the more sophisticated and often expensive equipment which can play an increasing part in the fight against crime, and I want this afternoon to single out two developments which can play the greatest part in helping the police.
The first of these is personal radios. The advantage of personal radios has often been stressed and generally 1858 accepted. With a personal radio, a policeman will no longer be isolated. He will be able to summon support when he needs it. He will be able to pass back information without the need to interrupt his pursuit of the quarry by having to make a call at a telephone kiosk. He will be able to receive a steady flow of information from headquarters. The real question is how soon and in what quantities personal radios can be supplied. The present position is that by the spring of 1968 we hope that about 12,000 personal radios will be in use. It will mean that nearly every constable out on the beat will have this invaluable piece of new equipment.
Secondly, I want to say something about computers. A study by the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police Joint A.D.P. unit has shown the feasibility of a national computer system which can keep the majority of operational police records. The implications for police efficiency are obviously of great importance and perhaps I might elaborate what this could mean.
Let us consider, for example, a police officer who stops a car and has suspicions about the car, about its occupants, and perhaps about property that he finds in it. It will mean that within a matter of minutes he will be able to find out, through his personal radio, whether the car has been stolen, in some cases whether the property has been stolen, and whether the individuals of whom he is suspicious have records or are men who are wanted. Quite clearly the implications of this are very great indeed. All information of this kind which is known to the police all over the whole country could be fed into a computer system and made available almost instantly, not only to every police force but to every division within each force.
But I must sound a note of warning, because it would be a mistake to believe that this computer system will be available overnight. Final decisions cannot yet be taken, but it has been shown to be feasible, and discussions are about to start with local authorities on questions of finance and the way in which it could be operated. It is not a remote ideal. It is something just over the horizon.
I propose to deal now with the question of manpower, on which the hon. Gentleman spent a certain amount of 1859 time. As the Committee rightly recognised, premature wastage is one of the greatest problems facing the police. The hon. Gentleman said that the comparison drawn by the working parties with industry was perhaps not a fair one, but it was the outside consultants on the working parties from industry who said that if one looks at comparisons with industry one sees that the police service performs quite well, even allowing for the different conditions in police forces, and it was their view that the problems which faced the police service in one sense could be over-stated. Nevertheless, it is clear, and I think that it is universally agreed, that the loss of trained men in the middle of their careers weakens the effectiveness of the force.
A serious problem was presented by this wastage in 1966, though it is right to say that during the last few months there was a significant fall in wastage, and as far as the net gain in manpower is concerned the picture in 1966 was not altogether a bad one. The House may be interested in the figures for the last three years. In so far as these figures differ from previous ones, they do so because transfers have been excluded, and it is only right that they should be.
In 1964 there were about 5,400 new recruits, wastage was about 4,600 and there was a net gain to the force of 796 men. In 1965 recruits numbered 6,900, wastage was approximately 3,900 and the exact net gain was 3,008. The year 1966 showed 6,855 recruits—nearly the same figure as the year before—a wastage of 4,671, and a net gain of 2,174. Last year's figures show that it was not quite as good as 1965 but very much better than 1964.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that the figures that he has given are for England and Wales—or do they include Scotland?
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
Can we take it that wastage includes those retiring as well as those leaving prematurely?
§ Mr. Taverne
These are the figures for "premature wastage" in the words 1860 of the working parties. [Interruption.] I am sorry, I shall have to check that—No, I am wrong. I am considering the net gain to the police forces. The hon. Gentleman is quite right. These are figures for the net gain to the force as a whole. They include both premature wastage and wastage due to retirement.
§ Mr. Paul Dean (Somerset, North)
It would be helpful to have a breakdown of those figures. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us how many normal retirements there were and what figure represented premature wastage?
§ Mr. Taverne
I cannot give those figures offhand, but either my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will give them at the end of the day or I will write to the hon. Member. I want to make it quite clear that my initial reaction was wrong; the figures represent the total wastage from all sources. They are the figures of net gains. The net gain to the police forces last year was 2,174, compared with the net gain of 3,000 in 1965 and 796 in 1964.
Clearly, as the Report shows, a number of factors bear on the figure of wastage. One is the question of pay, but since this is a matter for the Police Council I am not in a position to say anything about it at present. Others were questions considered by the Working Party on Operational Efficiency, and I shall be referring to those presently.
On the general question of manpower and recruitment, the Sub-Committee made some valuable and relevant suggestions. Some I will leave to my right hon. Friend to answer, but I can say one or two things now. The question of age limits of up to 40 for those who have had experience in a disciplined service was discussed at a recent meeting of the Police Advisory Board and it was decided that this will soon be implemented.
On the question of extended service there is a difficulty, to which the hon. Member did not quite do justice. As was stated in the official comments from the Home Office, one cannot disregard the effect on public services generally. It is all governed by Treasury rules. We must look at the whole system of the public services, and while we may wish special exceptions to be made for the 1861 police it is far from being an easy matter and something which can be decided by the Home Office.
The Sub-Committee also suggested something about standards of entry and civilianisation. The recommendation on standards of vision has already been accepted. The suggestion that chief constables should have a discretion to accept men under 5 ft. 8 in. is being sympathetically considered by my right hon. Friend in consultation with the Police Advisory Board, and the proposals on civilianisation are in line with those coming from the Manpower Working Party.
As the hon. Member very generously acknowledged, it is fair to state that this Working Party really went into this question of civilianisation in a degree of detail which had not been done before. On matters such as a career structure for civilians and the extended use of traffic wardens, certain guide lines have been laid down which chief constables and local authorities are now working on, with the backing of the Home Secretary and the Police Advisory Board.
The House will, however, understand that, unfortunately, there are limits on the speed with which we can proceed. Extending some of the functions of traffic wardens requires regislation, and I am not in a position to say when it will come before the House. It is precisely in those areas where traffic wardens are most needed that their recruitment is found most difficult. Where we cannot get more police it is also the case, unfortunately, that we cannot get more traffic wardens. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there is enormous room for improvement in many areas, even under existing powers, and the new impetus towards civilianisation generally given by the Sub-Committee's Report and that of the Working Party can do an enormous amount to keep the policeman out of the police station and on the ground, and to take away from the policeman some of the duly and routine work which does not require the special qualities for which he has been trained and selected.
I want to say something about quality and quantity. There is a need for a larger number of better-educated recruits. I realise—as the hon. Member's Committee realised—that there has been no great enthusiasm in some sections of the 1862 service for the idea of attracting graduates. Perhaps, however, there are some signs of a change of attitude. There is certainly a realisation of the need to attract better-educated people. All those represented on the Working Party on Manpower, including those from the Federation, were agreed about this.
A graduate recruit is perhaps less of a freak than he has been in recent years. Only 25 graduates were recruited in the 20 years before 1965, yet last year there were 16. Again, the Bramshill Scholarship Scheme means that this year about 21 Bramshill scholarships will be available at universities, and that between 40 and 50 police officers will be engaged in full-time studies at universities. But when all that is said, the fact remains that last year, out of the 6,855 recruits only 16 were graduates.
Further, the demands of the service are likely to continue to become more exacting as police methods become more complex and sophisticated, and police forces become larger. Positions of responsibility in the service demand standards of intelligence and education which are similar to those needed in comparable posts in business, the Armed Services and the Civil Service. I am far from saying that those qualities are to be found only among graduates, but with the increase in the number of people going to universities it becomes more important than ever to attract a larger share of university men.
If there is one point in the hon. Member's speech on which I would place a slightly different emphasis it is on the question of necessity to recruit graduates. With the net being wider one cannot look in future for the same number of well-educated men who do not go to university. Unless something drastic is done the present pattern of university development will mean that less able men enter the police force than have done in the past. It is a case of taking action to avoid slipping back, but even maintaining the present position is not good enough, because the police service of the future will need more talent than ever before.
The Committee which I am to chair has been set up to look at to question of the recruitment of graduates. Clearly, I cannot anticipate the recommendations of that Committee, but I am convinced that a solution can be found which the 1863 police service as a whole can accept and which will not upset the career structure open to the constable, which has been one of the attractive features of the service.
Perhaps most important of all is the question of police methods. The working party which considered this matter also looked at the problem of management. It made some valuable observations and my right hon. Friend has asked chief constables to lose no time in following up its recommendations on man management. We hope that by the end of the year formal training in man management will have been introduced in all police forces, certainly for all newly promoted sergeants and inspectors.
Perhaps the most significant change of all in the police force of the future will be the modification of the traditional beat system. Hon. Members will have heard of the new unit beat police system which has been tried out in Accrington. Perhaps I should elaborate on how this system would work in a typical area and what it would mean in terms of manpower. Such an area would be divided into groups of units, each of which was formerly covered by three beats. As each beat in the past required five men, allowing for constant patrolling, weekends and holidays, this required 15 men to work it.
These three beats now become two. each of which is patrolled for eight hours out of 24—of his own choosing—by a constable living on the beat. The unit is also patrolled by a patrol car with which the beat constables are in touch by mewls of their personal radios. Five men are required to give 24-hour effectiveness to this police car. In addition, there is a collator who collects the information from the two beat men and the patrol car and keeps contact with all the units that cover the locality. In addition there is a detective constable appointed to each unit.
The result of this new combination of men in direct contact with the public, and making more intensive use of cars, is that there is a considerable saving in manpower. Seven men—five for the patrol car and two for the two beat units, each living on their beat, plus the part-time services of the collator, cover an area previously covered by 15 men. Thus, in 1864 Accrington—including further patrol cars for the whole town and other staff—the manpower saving is 12 per cent. The contact with the public has been improved, the crime rate has been reduced, the public like it because they can establish personal relations with the police constable whom they know because he regularly patrols the same beat, and the morale of the men has improved enormously. The work has become more interesting, responsible and productive, since the efforts of the men are more effectively directed to where they are needed. The new system makes the best possible use of the latest sophisticated and modern equipment, particularly the potential of personal radios and cars.
The system is already being applied in a number of different localities, although it cannot be applied everywhere because of different conditions. However, we hope that by the end of 1968 it will be in force in every area where conditions allow. The cautious estimate of the working party was that this could lead to an overall saving in manpower throughout the country of 5 per cent., but it might well be more.
The implications of this for the police service as a whole are clearly of the greatest importance. First, by improving morale, it may prove to be one of the most important factors in cutting down wastage. Secondly, it gives the service options which it never had before. The manpower saving could be applied in reducing the number of hours worked and the heavy overtime which many police officers must serve, to which the hon. Member for Walsall, South referred. It could also be used to reduce the demand for extra policemen and to stave off a further increase in the establishment figures which would otherwise be necessary. Alternatively, the men saved by the new methods can be used in commando and vice squads, as they are in some places, to give the police force greater flexibility. These recommendations—like the recommendations of other working parties—open up a prospect for radical changes in the police service which we have not seen this century.
I wish to pay a special tribute to the work of those who have served on these working parties. To a large extent, it has been a question of the police looking at themselves. A leading part was played 1865 by the Police Federation, which was one of the prime movers in the setting up of these working parties. However, every section of the service has shown itself prepared to face change and re-examine its old and traditional practices. I should also mention the work of those who came from outside the service to give help; Mr. Hamilton of Urwick Orr, Mr. Tann of P.A. Consultants, Mr. Elwes of Lyons, Mr. McCrea of I.C.T., Professor Holt-Smith from the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, and Mr. Truefitt, Director of Scientific Electronics at the Ministry of Aviation.
In the near future, as a result of all this work—of the work of this Working Party and many others—we should see a police force in this country which is further ahead in the use of modern equipment—and certainly in its development of systems of policing—than the police force of any other country in the world.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
I am delighted that we are having this debate arising out of consideration of these Reports and the whole House is indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'AvigdorGoldsmid) and the Under-Secretary for the extremely lucid and constructive way in which they have opened our discussion.
Few subjects are more important than the preservation of law and order, on the success of which so much depends. In the preservation of law and order the efficiency and morale of the police is a vitally indispensable factor, and it is that aspect of the matter to which I wish to refer. First, however, I should declare my interest in that, as the Home Secretary and most hon. Members know, I have for some time been the Parliamentary consultant of the country's senior police officers, namely the Superintendents' Association of England and Wales and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents. Because of that I have been careful to avoid entering into any public controversy on the difficult problems facing the police.
Senior police officers have a very difficult job to do. They have a marked loyalty to the employing authorities and, because they have come up the ladder, 1866 they have a deep concern for the morale of policemen generally. It is not always easy to reconcile these two factors. It is not an under-estimate to say, therefore, that at the time when evidence was being given to the Select Committee, the Superintendents' Association and the Police Federation too were both deeply disturbed about the way in which matters were drifting. The superintendents shared the view of the Federation that the forces of law and order were in grave danger of losing the war against crime. I jotted down some words uttered by a chief superintendent at that time. He said:Parliament, Press and the public must be brought to understand that we are engaged in a continuing, relentless civil war—the criminal against society—and because the police are not being given the tools for the job, society is losing ".At that time crime had been increasing by about 9 per cent. per year although the rate of increase may have since begun to slow down. There were more than three and a half times as many indictable offences, four times as many crimes of violence and five times as many youths engaged in crime as in 1938. Moreover, not only was there more crime generally but it was becoming more violent, more vicious and more organised. The blame for this disturbing state of affairs did not, and does not, lie with the police themselves because the detection rate per man has been rising. Where the police have been unable to step up the detection rate appreciably they have been overworked, inadequately equipped and not sufficiently well organised. The fault for this has lain squarely on those who in the past have been responsible for the administration of the police service and on us in this House who lay down an ever-multiplying set of laws and regulations which we expect that service to enforce.
I do not propose to pursue this in any detail, largely because I think the lesson has been learned. We heard this afternoon from the Under-Secretary some of the improvements which are now getting well under way. I would be the first to recognise that the present Home Secretary has grasped the nettle firmly. He did this when he first assumed office and took a number of useful steps which have the full support of the police service. He has rightly pressed on with amalgamations. He has set up working 1867 parties to review organisation, manpower and equipment. He is paying urgent attention to the need for proper research. We have heard from the Under-Secretary some encouraging news about the progress that is being made.
All this is useful if the resources are found not merely to recruit men of the right type but to hold them. I hope that the Home Secretary in reply to this debate will amplify some of the figures about wastage because the shocking thing is the number of men who have left in recent years with less than five years' service. This is where the wastage has been so serious. But if the resources are there not only to recruit the right men but to hold them and to equip them properly, all these developments are in the right direction and the Home Secretary deserves support.
But he will be aware that senior police officers, the superintendents, are deeply dissatisfied over one matter and are looking to him to put it right. I refer to their long-standing grievance over the practice of the Metropolitan Police of prematurely retiring fit and able superintendents at age 55. This is done under Regulation 59. Secondly, there is their grievance about the use of compulsory powers elsewhere to retire fit and able men after 30 years' service which in some cases can be before the age of 50. This is done under Regulation 60. The House should know about this.
In the Metropolitan Police superintendents are retired compulsorily at the age of 55, however fit and able they are and whatever distinguished service they may have given. To underline the absurdity of the position, this rule does not obtain anywhere else in the country and does not even obtain in respect of men whose forces have been amalgamated with the Metropolitan Police. Originally it was argued that this was due to the need to facilitate promotion flow but it has done nothing of the kind. As the Oaksey Committee on Police Conditions of Service recognised in its Report in 1949, in paragraph 211:We felt bound to reject the first of these suggestions …The suggestion that this practice facilitated promotion flow—as being contrary to the public interest:1868 The same view was taken by the Select Committee on Estimates in 1957–58 and again by the Royal Commission on the Police. The Select Committee on Estimates said:… whatever need there may be for such opportunities, your Committee do not regard the premature retirement of fit and able superintendents as a proper means of meeting that need. It is financially indefensible to pay one man to do a job and another suitable man pension for not doing it. Your Committee recommend that local police authorities be advised not to adopt the practice of retiring superintendents or other officers for the sole purpose of improving the rate of promotion in their Forces.Later the Royal Commission, in its final Report, said:In our interim report we referred to evidence that Regulation 52"—the forerunner of Regulation 60—which was being applied systematically in some forces with the object of creating a promotion flow and without regard to the overriding need to retain officers for the maximum service of which they are usefully capable. We commented that we should not expect this regulation to be used arbitrarily as if it were of universal application. Further evidence that the regulation is being used in some areas for this purpose has come to our notice during the preparation of this report. We regard this as an entirely improper use of the regulation, and we recommend that the Secretaries of State give instructions to police authorities that the regulation is not to be applied as a standing rule to provide for the automatic retirement of officers in the sole interests of promotion policy".There we have two powerful authorities laying down clearly what they felt. May I take the two issues separately? First, as regards the practice in the Metropolitan Police the Commissioner and successive Home Secretaries have continued to ignore the views I have just quoted. But we now have the Select Committee's Report before us this afternoon. Here the matter is referred to again. In paragraph 44 it is stated quite clearly:Your Committee also took note of the Superintendents' complaint that the Metropolitan Force obliged them to retire at 55, partly to improve promotion lower down and partly because this is regarded as the maximum desirable age under London conditions. This appears unreasonable because exceptions are made, inter alia for Superintendents in forces, such as the Romford area of Essex, which have been amalgamated with the Metropolis. … Your Committee, bearing in mind that Metropolitan Police policy can be waived, and that it is difficult to re-employ these men in provincial forces … considers this is an unfortunate waste of manpower.1869 It is high time that Parliament took note of the way in which the considered views of two Select Committees of this House and other authoritative bodies are being ignored. This is not just a matter of principle as some hon. Members might think. The practice is doing grave damage to the morale of senior officers and to the efficiency of the force. Why should fit and able men of 55 wait for retirement when re-employment at that age is difficult to find? Many of us in this House have been faced in our constituencies with the problem of men who fall out of employment through no fault of their own when in their late forties and early fifties and who experience enormous difficulty in finding a suitable job. We know the tragedy which often ensues. Here, as a result of the policy of the Metropolitan Police, fit and able men have to go at the age of 55. Inevitably the result is that many take the opportunity to get out before reaching that age.
I do not think the up-to-date figures have been published, but my information is that in the last five years—a period, incidentally, of rising crime—27 out of a total of 35 chief superintendents and 131 out of a total of 144 superintendents have left the Metropolitan Police before the compulsory age of retirement. Could anyone in his senses argue that this is in the interests of the force or in the interests of the public? The earlier Select Committee on Estimates, 1957–58 reported:It is financially indefensible to pay one man to do a job and another suitable man … for not doing it.So it is.
§ Mr. R. F. H. Dobson (Bristol, North-East)
The hon. Gentleman is adducing a very powerful argument, but would not he accept, that, if the age limit were removed, that would constitute a return to the pre-war situation, which was disruptive to morale in the force until the age limit was set?
§ Mr. Braine
This practice has obtained in the Metropolitan Police since 1933. I think I am right in saying that it does not apply to police officers who were in the force before 1933, and this is yet another anomaly. It is a practice which, with certain exceptions, is not followed anywhere else in the country. It is a practice which has been examined repeatedly by Select Committees and other authoritative bodies and found to be 1870 indefensible. There is no question of going back to any pre-war position. There is no evidence that this has encouraged the promotion flow in the Metropolitan Police Force, which has one of the worst records for recruitment in the country.
I turn to the second complaint, namely, the practice in some forces of enforcing compulsory retirement of fit and able men of all ranks, not merely superintendents, after 30 years' service. I am delighted that the Estimates Committee has recommended, in respect of contables at any rate, that something should be done about this.
The Superintendents' Association approached the Police Council for Great Britain on this matter in 1963. On 10th June of that year a circular letter was sent to the clerks of all police authorities and joint police committees in Great Britain drawing attention to the considered views of the earlier Select Committee on Estimates and the Royal Commission. I am sorry to say that the result was negligible. Those authorities that were enforcing the practice continued in the main to do so.
The Estimates Committee, in the Report we are now considering, refers tothe practice of enforced retirement of superintendents after 30 years' service often well before the compulsory retiring age of 60 …It could take place at age 49. The Report continues:… the Home Office explained that as a result of their earlier complaint"—that is, the earlier complaint of the Superintendents' Association—no force in England and Wales was now enforcing this rule.I am bound to tell the House that my information is that this was not correct. On 10th January the Secretary of the Superintendents' Association wrote to me saying that the Chief Constable of Devon has a force order requiring members of his force to retire on completing 30 years' service and has indicated that he will use it in respect of a particular superintendent. I am convinced that the Home Office did not know of this at the time that the Estimates Committee was advised that the practice did not obtain in England and Wales.
In Scotland there is one joint police authority which continues to defy everything that has been said on this subject. 1871 The matter was drawn to the attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1965. He referred the matter back to the Police Council. All that happened was that a fresh letter went from the Police Council to the Fife Police Authority. The answer—this is the way the Chief Constable of that Authority treats the Secretary of State for Scotland and Parliamentary Select Committees—is to be seen in an advertisement which appears in the Police Review of 3rd February of this year. This is an advertisement inviting applications for the appointment of a Superintendent (Admin.) in the Fife Constabulary. After giving details, the advertisement ends by saying:Attention is drawn to the fact that Fife Police Joint Committee operate a policy of compulsory retiral at 30 years' service.Who are these people who take no notice of what Parliament, the Royal Commission, and the Police Council have said on this matter, who take no notice of what is common sense and what is in the public interest?
I do not want to imply that the Home Secretary will not take any action on this. He has not been in his present office for long and he has had many important matters to deal with. But is it not high time—I beg the House to join me in stressing this—that he and the Secretary of State for Scotland took firm hold of this situation and ended a practice which is unfair, illogical and clearly contrary to the public interest?
§ Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that it is a great pity that the Home Secretary has not thought fit to make any comment on these two important matters which are raised in paragraph 44 but which are not framed as direct recommendations? If it is the custom for the Home Secretary to comment only on recommendations, is not this a custom which should be altered and extended to cover matters such as those referred to in paragraph 44?
§ Mr. Braine
No doubt the Home Secretary, in replying, will enlighten the House as to his view on this. There is a distinction to be drawn between his comment on the recommendation regarding 30 years' service for constables and the case I am putting to the House, because, in regard to the Estimates Committee's recommendation, the suggestion 1872 is made that a man might continue to draw pension and pay. I want to make it absolutely clear that, in asking that a superintendent in the Metropolitan Police Force should be allowed to go to the same retirement age as a superintendent in the country as a whole, there is no suggestion that he should draw his pension prematurely. In fact, my suggestion would save public money.
There is an additional anomaly here. I do not want to be too dogmatic about this, because the Home Secretary may have an answer. It arises out of the Scottish experience but could apply to superintendents in England and Wales. As I understand it, under Section 6(5) of the Police Act, 1964, a superintendent who is a deputy chief constable and who is compelled to retire by the police authority has the protection of Section 5(5) in respect of appeal before the retirement can be carried out. As far as I am aware, there is no such safeguard for a superintendent if he does not hold the job of deputy chief constable. If this is so, it is wrong and unjust, and it is a matter which should be remedied at an early date.
The matter I have drawn to the attention of the House is important in the sense that it affects the morale of senior police officers. All those to whom I have talked about police matters in the last year have been impressed by the steps that the Home Secretary has taken so far to modernise and strengthen the force. That is why they expect him to meet their legitimate complaint on this matter. I trust that in replying to the debate he will not disappoint them.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ensor (Bury and Radcliffe)
Speaking as a member of the Estimates Committee, I hope that the House generally will welcome the Report. I am sure that the whole House will join me in expressing appreciation of the speech made by the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'AvigdorGoldsmid) in presenting the Report to the House.
I want to take up the time of the House for a few minutes, not on any particular item in the Report, but on the police generally. I hope that the House will agree with me that the recent appointment of the former Chief Constable of Lancashire as Chief Inspector 1873 of Constabulary at the Home Office is very welcome. This is one of the best appointments that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made and I am sure that it will do nothing but good for morale and for increasing efficiency.
I have some knowledge of these matters. I have been prosecuting solicitor to the Newcastle Police, and prosecuting solicitor to the Metropolitan Police. At one time I even taught the new chief inspector his criminal law at Hendon Police College. I have some slight knowledge of police work, and I want to speak today not about the rank but generally about morale.
When we debated the Second Reading of the Criminal Justice Bill, all of us were horrified by the crime figures. We all know about the increase in crime today, with about 33,000 people in prison any day one cares to mention. A great deal of this is tied up with the police and the way they have to work. Our police are understaffed. We have not the numbers of police to do the job. Perhaps criminals are becoming more efficient or more intelligent—I do not know.
It is essential to improve relationships between the public and the police generally. This is one of the most important matters we can tackle. I am entirely at one with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary when he says that we must have bigger police forces and, therefore, we must have amalgamations. It has been said here and in many other countries that it is best to have a national police force. That is a matter of opinion with which I do not altogether agree, but the days when one could have police forces of 40 or 50 have gone for ever. It is a question of efficiency, of equipment and of uniformity.
All this calls for the big unit, though not too big. It is an unfortunate fact that the detection and conviction rate in the Metropolitan Police, the biggest we have, is not one which can be recommended to other forces. But amalgamation must take place to some extent.
Amalgamation will not deal with the problem of morale. We must pay the policeman the rate for the job. If we do not, we shall not bring the right type of person into the job. Let us make no bones about it: today in a policeman's job, be he constable or 1874 superintendent, we need a man of intelligence and education, able to use his head. If we do not get such men, we shall never be able to deal with the ever growing problem of crime.
A great deal of the time of the ordinary police constable today is taken up by jobs which could well he done by other people. Not long ago, I went to Bow Street magistrates' court on one of the traffic afternoons, and I counted the number of police constables there dealing with purely formal traffic cases, parking offences and the like. There were 80 of them present, and I submit that those 80 might well have been better employed elsewhere. We could employ other people to do traffic work of that kind, office work and such jobs as conveying prisoners on remand from court to court or from court to remand centre.
Now, another matter of importance for morale. I am a great believer in the police cadet system. We should bring boys in when they are young and enthusiastic. That is the time to keep their enthusiasm and keeness for the job. In the Metropolitan Police and the Lancashire Police Force there has been a hostel system running for some time. This should be extended throughout the country, because youngsters of that age, when they come in as cadets, need looking after in exactly the same way as we look after youngsters when they go into the Armed Forces. Proper hostel accommodation for them would be of great benefit to recruitment generally.
Apart from all that, it still remains for us to put across to the general public that the police must be supported. For years and years, generally speaking, the law has always been on the side of the accused. I am not suggesting that that is bad, but there are limits to what one can do. There are limits to what the police can do in the present circumstances of the administration of justice when, for example, irresponsible juries are prepared to do anything except the duty which they have sworn to do. This sort of situation is of no help to police officers who are trying to do their best. However much we agree that the innocent should be acquitted, it is equally important that the guilty should be convicted, and so long as we have that sort of attitude towards our police, we shall not have a satisfactory administration of justice.
1875 If I may, as a member of the Select Committee, I welcome the Report. I think that the Committee worked extremely hard on it, and, on the whole, it has done a good job. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the House will think that we have done a good job. But there is still a long way to go. We have to teach the people of this country that, without efficient, honourable and incorruptible police forces, we shall never get anywhere.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Ensor) was right to emphasise the need for labour-saving devices within our police forces. I was glad that the Under-Secretary of State took time to describe the experiments which have been going on in Accrington and the modern methods used there. Those of us on the Committee were extremely impressed by what has been going on in Lancashire and certain other parts of the country. If we are to win the battle against crime—we may not be losing it, but we are certainly not winning it yet—we must use the most modern methods, mobile patrol cars, walkie-talkies, closed television circuits beamed on difficult areas, and so on, if the police are to be on top of their job.
In Accrington and elsewhere, the man on patrol with his walkie-talkie can call up the patrol car very quickly and bring it to the scene of trouble. This system should be extended throughout the country so that every man on the beat can call up his main station or patrol car as quickly as necessary.
We must do what we can to help the C.I.D. to quicken its methods and cut out unnecessary work. The other day, I parked my car in Albemarle Street and went to listen to a lecture at the Royal Institution. When I came out, I found the window smashed and my overcoat taken from the back seat. There are young men going about nowadays with a device like a humane killer which breaks the window of a car and makes it possible to take anything of value out. I could not see a policeman nearby, so I went to Savile Row to report. The C.I.D. was so busy that I had to wait 1876 10 or 15 minutes until I could make my little complaint.
I suggest that when members of the public go into a police station to make a complaint they could be given a form on which they could state their name and address, age, telephone number and other particulars and so on to help the C.I.D., because when the C.I.D. man came I had to spend five minutes explaining my sex, age, telephone number, address and so on. That would be a small reform to help any complainant who goes into a police station.
We must also adopt modern computer methods. If we had a centralised computer system that recorded all criminals' details, which could be sent by teleprinter at any moment throughout the country, that would go a long way to tracking down criminals. I was interested in the success of the computer system in Chicago, where it is said that the police authorities feed the pattern of crime for the week into their computer and get a forecast of where crime will take place at the weekend. They can thus concentrate their patrol cars at the most dangerous points in Chicago.
More wardens must be called in to help the police in the regulation and control of traffic. It always distresses me to motor around Parliament Square when Parliament is sitting and find 12 policemen standing there trying to help us on. Of course, they cannot help us at all. They cannot do better than the lights, but we insist on having those dozen or so men helping us. We possibly want two at the entrance of New Palace Yard, but I do not see why we want policemen in the rest of Parliament Square. In any event, why could not traffic wardens do that job and be on traffic duty in most places?
In that connection, we want a large extension of the fixed penalty system for minor motoring offences. It has been quite successful for parking, and I would like to see a fixed penalty for an unlicensed car, for rear lights that are not working, smashed reflectors, and so on. The constable could pin a notice on the car or say to the driver, "You are committing an offence by not having a car licence. Pay £2 or go to the police station." That would prevent the waste 1877 of a lot of the time of the police in having to prove those minor offences.
I do not think that the system would be abused, any more than it is abused by the traffic wardens, and I claim that it is not abused by them. If the motorist feels aggrieved, he can always appeal to his local magistrates' court. There should be an extension of fixed penalties, as was recommended.
One could get only generalised impressions, but another thing that impressed us was the extension of the neighbourhood police officer, living not in barracks but in a house among the people he served. It seemed to me that this was clearly an extension of the old village "bobby" living in an area where he knew everybody and everybody could go to him. Another advantage of the neighbourhood police force over a centralised, barrack-ridden police force is that the public get to know their man. They can pass on tips and little bits of information more easily to the man who lives in the area than the man who comes from three or four miles away. We saw that in Greenwich and one or two other places, and it is obviously something that should be encouraged throughout the country.
We should make more use of special constables to help the police force. In London and many other parts of the country there have recently been attacks of vandalism on telephone kiosks. We could have recruited a few specials to patrol kiosks in vulnerable areas and to keep a special watch on that sort of problem. I do not know why the modern type of telephone kiosk is so much more vulnerable than the old, which went for 30 years fairly untouched. But it seems to be of weaker design, and is rifled in every part of the country. In my constituency, only about 25 per cent. of the kiosks were working at one time. In an emergency like that, special constables could have been called in to assist the police to track down the young vandals, many of whom are only boys or very young men.
The general impression one gets of the police is of shortage of policemen and overwork. The C.I.D. are over-worked, having to spend 27 per cent. of their time filling up forms, writing up reports, and so on. We must obviously do everything we can to recruit more police.
1878 I was very taken with the work being done in the cadet training establishments, for instance, that in the Hendon Police College, where the cadets are given physical and mental training of a very high order. In the course of a few months the College greatly improves the morale and physique of a cadet coming into the Metropolitan Police.
I should like to see such police colleges throughout the country, although not necessarily residential. They could be of a type to which the boy goes, just as he goes to school or university. I was sorry to hear that some areas do not like those training colleges. I think that Glasgow was mentioned as one that did not. Unfortunately, we could not take evidence from the Glasgow police, and did not have time to find out why they did not like them. But I should be sorry to hear that any town was opposed to having those cadet training establishments. Those which we saw were first-class.
At the other end of the scale, as has been mentioned, the age of recruits who come out of the Services should be extended. We should regard the police as a service like the Navy and Army, as being of that calibre. That reinforces my point about the need for more cadet training.
Great work has been done by the police in bringing to fruition the Bramshill College and making courses available for higher levels of the police. I am glad to see that, and I hope that courses will soon be available at Bramshill for every one of the new inspectors promoted throughout the country, because they should all have the advantage of them.
I am very glad that so much of our Report has been accepted. The paramount need for the police is modern methods, modern equipment, laboursaving devices, higher standards of recruitment and more recruitment, so that a greater part of the time of the police is spent not in the station filling up forms or in other detailed work but in combating crime. In that way we should, with luck, catch more criminals than at present.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, East)
Perhaps the most striking thing one notices on first arriving at the House is the courtesy of the police officers on duty 1879 in it. They should be mentioned as models of what police officers should be in that respect.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary seeks to restore the morale of the police, not only in the urgent way we have heard today, by more walkie-talkie sets and so on, but also by the Criminal Justice Bill. Police morale should be helped by provisions in that Bill relating, for example, to advance notification of a defence alibi, and the provisions for ensuring that far fewer criminals serve on juries. These are not measures which are aimed at the innocent but are designed to ensure that, while trials are fair, the balance is not weighted too greatly against the public, because it is the observation of this happening that tends to destroy the morale of officers in the Police Force, particularly those in the C.I.D.
Further, the Bill assists in the saving of time. We have heard today of 18 police officers in a magistrates' court. There will be substantial saving of time in preliminary proceedings under the Bill. The admission of formal evidence without the bother of calling police photographers and so on will also assist the saving of police time.
One would like to feel that, in future, more attention will be paid to the convenience of witnesses, including police witnesses, by judges and magistrates in courts so that there would then be a much greater saving of police time. It is still unfortunately true that our courts are run on the basis that those who sit as the tribunal are demi-gods and all must revolve around them.
There is, of course, one other thing that one particularly notices in magistrates' courts. This is that not only are police officers giving evidence, but police officers are conducting the prosecutions. In my view, it is not desirable for police officers to conduct prosecutions. When a member of the public coming to a court to be charged with a traffic offence sees that not only is the witness a policeman but so is the prosecutor, he gets an impression, which is no doubt erroneous but is still undesirable as an impression, that he is not getting a fair trial. I do not make the point chiefly for that purpose but mainly because experienced police officers are wasting their time in magistrates' courts 1880 doing a job which solicitors should be doing, and this is not sensible.
In Bradford, for example, two sergeants and an inspector prosecute daily. In Leeds, inspectors and chief inspectors prosecute. At the moment, one has to accept this situation because there are not enough prosecuting solicitors to do the job. In Bradford we could do with six prosecuting solicitors. In fact, there is an establishment of four and at the moment three have been recruited. Two or three months ago, there was only one. This sort of situation occurs all over the North-East.
It seems to me that if we want to save the time of possibly hundreds of senior police officers so that they can get on with the job of crime prevention and detection, we must look at the situation in relation to prosecuting solicitors. But until we change the salary scales for prosecuting solicitors and cease to tie them to the salary scales officials in the local town hall, we will not get enough of them.
Prosecuting solicitors stay with an authority for a short time and then move somewhere else, usually from the north to the south of England, to lusher pastures. There is a constant merry-go-round of change. That is not good. There are very young solicitors who are doing work which is too difficult for them, and, therefore, what we need is to introduce a new and separate salary scale for prosecuting solicitors. But I would add that the effect of amalgamations means that in future it may be that more experienced solicitors will be able to advise on difficult prosecutions throughout the whole of a region.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in his period of office, has been distinguished by activity designed to bring the whole of the police organisation up to date, and I support amalgamations. Clearly, there are forces which have not prosecuted fraud cases because they have not been equipped to deal with a complex fraud. With an amalgamation, one will get a proper fraud department capable of dealing with complex fraud. There will be savings resulting from reductions in the number of police headquarters. All these things are good. However, I have some disquiet about the fact that in certain areas the amalgamations seem to be too wide-ranging.
1881 Police recruiting tends to be better in the boroughs, I believe, than in the county areas. It is true that there is a trend from the county police to the borough police. What we are doing in many of these areas, certainly in the West Riding of Yorkshire, is to turn borough police into county police.
The effect in Bradford is already noticeable because there is a falling-off in recruitment, and we must be wary about recruitment. We need to keep it up and increase it. Bradford is 100 police under strength, and this is a continuing trend because of the uncertainty induced by the amalgamation proposals for the West Riding. The fact is that police officers nowadays are often owner-occupiers. In Bradford 65 per cent. are. They do not want to move about over wide stretches of the country. They have wives who work in the borough. They have friends and neighbours there, and they form a way of life and do not want to see it uprooted.
The new West Riding area measures 80 miles across. That means that a police officer in a borough where he has his home may be expected, and feel that it is expected of him, if he wishes promotion, to accept that promotion perhaps 80 miles away. The effect is, therefore, that he must sell his house and live elsewhere.
Under the borough system, that does not happen. Nor would it happen if a borough were enlarged to take in the surrounding area so that, while there would still be an amalgamation, it would not be so large as that at present envisaged, for example, in the West Riding. I ask my right hon. Friend to look in future at the situation in order to try to have new areas which are not too great and which are not so drawn that they force police officers to fear having to move house and leave their existing environment for another which may be very different.
Perhaps I can put in a special plea for Bradford. It may be noticed that I have mentioned the city rather a lot, and that is because I am one of its Members of Parliament. The city is waiting for a decision from the Home Office about the fate of a new police headquarters which should have been started. It was to be combined with a new system of courts and could have formed the headquarters 1882 for the new West Riding County Force. I ask my right hon. Friend to consider this. Bradford is the largest unit in the new West Riding Force, which consists of eight police areas. The headquarters proposed could be adapted if necessary, and I believe that senior police officers in Bradford believe that it would make an ideal West Riding county police headquarters. I do not wish to delay the House further; I know that this is usually said by those who have gone on for too long, or intend to go on for a great deal longer. I welcome this Report, the amalgamations proposed and the vigorous measures to re-equip and modernise the Police Force.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edumunds)
Like other hon. Members before me I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) and the members of his Committee for the work that they have done, reflected in this estimable Report. We are in the presence not only of the Report of the Estimates Committee, but of the working parties which the Home Secretary has presented, and of the Criminal Justice Bill. There can have been few occasions when so much activity in so many areas concerning the police has been before the House at the same time.
It is quite right that this should be so. As crime rises, so does public concern, and there is no subject that is quite so important. I must declare an interest for, as the Home Secretary and the House know, I have an affiliation with the Police Federation. Not only am I glad to say that to the House; I am proud to say it. The Under-Secretary ranged over a wide area. I too have been to Accrington, and like the hon. and learned Gentleman, I was impressed by what I saw.
I am not quite certain that the striking and very welcome results are entirely the consequence of the new system of policing. I have a feeling that they may reflect the much greater concentration of cars, equipment and publicity, upon that narrow front. But the experiment has so far proved a great success. One can only wish that something similar will be achieved elsewhere. Like those on the Estimates Committee, I have also had the pleasure of visiting Bramshill Police 1883 College, and I agree with hon. Members who felt it right to bestow such praise on the College.
On such a diffuse subject I want to concentrate upon two narrow points; first, the question of graduate entry into the police service. Some years ago the late Gilbert Harding, after leaving Cambridge, joined the police service. In uniform he was accosted on one occasion by a doctor who said in some surprise to P.C. Gilbert Harding, "You speak very good English, for a policeman". Harding's reply, I have always thought, was memorable. He said, "You don't do so badly yourself, for a doctor".
I put this point because it is vital that the police service should have more educated men, but I also put it because it is wrong for the public or the House to assume that the force does not have well-educated and well-spoken men. The hon. Member for Walsall, introducing his Report said, or I thought he said, that the Police Federation was opposed, on the whole, to an increase in graduates for the service. With great respect I must disagree with that. The Federation is not opposed to this; on the contrary, the Federation is in favour of it.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
The Police Federation is on record in the Report of the Working Party as being in favour of about 15 graduate entrants a year.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am glad that the hon. Member has pointed to that. If the Police Federation is in favour of 15 graduate entrants a year, then he is admitting that it is in favour of an increase. Everyone is in favour of more graduates in the service. Before the House or the Government gets carried away with the notion of graduates for the sake of graduates, there are one or two practical questions to be asked. I hope that the Under-Secretary, who will be leading the inquiry, will consider some of them. Do we know how large is the real need for graduates in the police service? A careful assessment would show that we do not really know how many graduates are required.
The arguments in favour are that educational standards are rising and that 1884 the police must keep up. Similarly, more modern methods and equipment and the increasing use of graduates on the other side of the fence, namely in the service of crime, must put a premium on more graduates in the service. On the other side of the argument, amalgamations will reduce the number of command type posts in the service, and there are already important inducements to graduates to enter the service. As the Estimates Committee says at page 25, paragraph 49:As a concession to graduates and other mature recruits, men of 22 now start at £800 a year compared with £700 a year for those under 22 …One should also point to the fact that the number of graduates is increasing a great deal faster than the public seems to realise. The Under-Secretary gave us some very encouraging figures. It is important that we should recognise their implication. In 1965, five graduates joined the police service—a very poor figure indeed. In 1966, 16 graduates joined. These figures are not the whole story.
During the past three years, from 1964 to 1966, a total of 23 other policemen went as students from the Police College to full degree courses at various universities, and last year another four policemen entered universities under arrangements made by their local forces. From these three sources—direct recruitment, the Police College, and the arrangements of local forces—a total of 48 graduates were added to the police service.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
The hon. Member knows very well that there is no certainty whatever that those who go on a Bramshill scholarship to universities will return to the police service.
§ Mr. Griffiths
There is never any certainty that those who join the police as graduates or otherwise will stay. It depends upon the general conditions, pay and hours of the police service. The prospects are for a bigger increase in graduate recruitment in 1967. A total of 21 students from Bramshill College will enter universities this year, and another six in all will probably enter through arrangements with local universities. If one adds to those men who will join direct from universities as a result of the recruitment campaign now going on under Inspector Peter Jackson, it is likely that 1967 will see up to 40 graduates recruited into the service. That is a far 1885 cry from 1960, when the Royal Commission reported:… we have not come across a recent instance of a university graduate entering the Service.I wish the Under-Secretary's Committee well. It has six weeks to report, which is not a very long time but it has done a great deal of preliminary work. With great respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman, who I wish was here, although I appreciate that he cannot be in attendance for the whole time, I would like to offer one or two suggestions for his investigation. It is very important not to rush off looking for graduates if we do not know what we want them to do when they have been recruited. We should wait until it is clear that the career structure for them will provide ample chances for advancement, without jeopardising the prospects of hundreds of perfectly able, ambitious and very much more experienced members of the existing service. This is important. The members of the police service want to get to the top, and nothing could be worse for the service, or, in my view, for the country, than if they were to see their prospects—their own piece of blue sky to which they aspire—removed by the intake of graduates from elsewhere.
Secondly, it is very important not to fall into the trap of creating a separate officer caste within the service.
§ Mr. Griffiths
As always, my hon. Friend has anticipated the conclusion to which I was gradually making my way. It is important that a separate officer caste is not created. This was tried before, in a fashion not intended perhaps, in the 1930s. It would be agreed on all sides that it did not work, or that, if it did, it worked rather badly. It resulted in resentment among the rank and file of the service.
Thirdly, I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to pay a great deal of attention to the professional and vocational training of the police within the existing service institutions, notably the Brams- 1886 hill Police College. We all appreciate the importance of general university education and the all-round academic background which the graduate may have, but surely what matters in the end is how good the man, whether a graduate or non-graduate, is as a police officer.
Therefore, the question which I suggest the hon. and learned Gentleman should ask about entrants to the service is not how good an academic record they may have, but how effective they will be as serving police officers. It is not only a matter of how good a brain the man may have or how good a memory he may have displayed at his university. The real questions are: how resourceful is be; how cool in an emergency would he; how resilient and persevering is he; how good would he be at dealing with the public and criminals? There is no reason to suppose that the graduate has more or fewer of those qualities than any other member of the community and certainly no more and no fewer than those sections of the community from which the police service draws its recruits.
My suggestion is that the hon. and learned Gentleman should pay much more attention to expanding the professional training, including the professional education, within the service and specifically at Bramshill. As I have said, I was glad to note the kind words of the Committee of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South about Bramshill. I should like to see Bramshill doubled. In particular, I believe that it would do nothing but good to have a second police college, possibly in the North. Perhaps it will take a long time to achieve this, but there is good reason for developing the education of the police graduate from within the police service. This would make an extremely valuable contribution, perhaps more than any other, instead of the great and, I fear, indiscriminate rush to try to bring in the graduate regardless.
My fifth point is much more general. The main reason more graduates do not join the police service is that lamentably they have a very poor impression of the financial rewards of the job and the prospects of the service. In my view, this is the result of, not just years, but decades of neglect in the supply of modern equipment, the construction of modern buildings and the development of modern techniques of man-management. I pay 1887 tribute to the Home Secretary for having set up the working parties whose reports give grounds for great hope that these serious deficiencies will be corrected. The acceptance of them is only part of the revolution in police methods to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred. As university graduates, sixth formers, and good, solid all-round boys coming forward to the secondary and grammar school see this revolution beginning to roll, I am sure that many of them will be attracted to the service.
There are, however, two very serious impediments to the recruitment and, above all, retention of men of the right calibre. The manpower report to the Home Secretary identified these quite clearly. It mentions, first, inadequate pay and, secondly, too long working hours. Without a substantial increase in pay and the early introduction in all forces of a five-day week, I doubt whether it will be possible to solve the problem of police manpower either quantitatively in terms of wastage or qualitatively in terms of the need for graduate entry.
I say these few words about that without going into detail. I am a little worried that the hon. and learned Gentleman's investigation may concentrate rather too much on recruiting and not quite enough on wastage. There is the suspicion that the official tendency may be to get in more recruits by a reduction in standards—for example, in the height standard. I do not know whether the Home Secretary has accepted the suggestion that the height standard should be reduced. If he has, has he not accepted that recommendation in the face of the unanimous view of the professional police representatives on the Police Advisory Board, and is not this a rather unusual step to take?
In my view, recruiting is not the chief problem. Wastage is the chief problem. There is no question that the main reason for wastage—the failure of the country to retain in its service well-trained, able and responsible men—is dissatisfaction with the conditions of work and pay. The Estimates Committee has said this, and the working parties have said it. The Association of Chief Police Officers has acknowledged it and the Police Federation, understandably, has said it, and said it again.
1888 I believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Home Secretary should place their main attention on the problem of pay and conditions. All else, important as it is, is secondary. This is not the time or place to refer to the question of pay, for it is a matter of negotiation. The police service is, to my knowledge, grateful to the Home Secretary for his personal efforts on its behalf in getting a rather special dispensation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Secretary of State. This is acknowledged and appreciated. But he will also appreciate that the service is waiting and watching carefully for the results. No doubt, in the fullness of time the results will be known. I hope that that time will not be long.
The second point is the question of the 40-hour week.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
Before my hon. Friend goes on to that point, would he not agree that a good deal of the Working Party's Report on wastage is designed to show that wastage is no worse in this service than it is in many others?
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. Friend may be right. I do not see how that adds to or detracts from the case which I am making.
§ Mr. Braine
Is it not a fact that up to a year or so ago at least half of those who left the service prematurely had had less than five years' service? This is the worrying thing to which the Home Secretary should direct his attention.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I believe that the Home Secretary is aware of my hon. Friend's point and has given great attention to it.
On the 40-hour week, I should like to quote the evidence given to the Committee by the Commissioner, Sir Joseph Simpson. Speaking of wastage, he said:The prime reason is that a good policeman can get a job which appears to him to bring him as good a monetary reward as he can get in the police service with the additional benefit of being able to get his Saturdays or half-Saturdays and Sundays off.I am sure that Sir Joseph Simpson, speaking from great experience, knew exactly what he was saying when he made that point. I realise that the Home Secetary cannot say when a 40-hour week will be possible, but I am sure he will accept that 1889 the sooner the better is the right motto for him to adopt.
I would like to ask the Home Secretary a question about amalgamations, to which the Under-Secretary referred at the beginning of his speech. Amalgamations must come, and must come quickly. The right hon. Gentleman will, however, appreciate that there are occasions when serving officers worry about what will happen to them in the course of amalgamation. I ask the Home Secretary to take the necessary steps to amend Regulation 20 of the Police Regulations to extend the statutory protection that this affords to all members of all forces which are involved.
The Home Secretary has given some assurances on this question, but I would like him to know that there still exists a good deal of misunderstanding, in particular from paragraph 43 of the Home Office Explanatory Memorandum of March, 1965. There is a worry among members of some county and borough forces that paragraph 43 would be applied generally only as long as it is expedient and, furthermore, that an undertaking by a chief constable to apply the provisions of that paragraph would not necessarily be binding upon his successor. I am sure that the Home Secretary, who is eager to see the amalgamations effected swiftly and successfully, will recognise the importance of giving that assurance to the serving officers.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)
The whole House will have listened with great interest to the contribution from the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), but I hope that he will forgive me if I do not immediately follow some of the points which he has raised.
Faced with crime figures which reveal a serious social problem, the organisation, equipping and recruitment of the police has become a question of major political significance. How we back up the police forces and, at the same time, preserve the rights of the individual against abuses from what, I fear, may well be a rather liberal climate of opinion in the country is a problem of some delicacy for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and one which, I believe, he has tackled remarkably brilliantly to date. Cer- 1890 tainly, the clamour by a vocal minority, urged on sometimes by irresponsible Press organs, for a return to rather mediaeval methods of dealing with crime will only be stemmed if we in this House show a willingness and readiness to create the real means to combat crime.
The mobility and sophistication of the criminal, the unattended wealth, particularly in cars, which abounds in our cities today, the ethos of an affluent society from which many are shut out and, I add, the entry of large-scale criminals backed up—this is what I have heard from quite responsible sources—by Mafia money from the United States are all factors which increasingly are difficulties faced by an already overstrained Police Force. Therefore, the first problem is that of recruitment.
While I strongly support the recommendation on page 20 of the First Report on relaxing standards of height, eyesight and age, this is only one side of the problem. Far more serious, as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has said, is the problem of wastage. It is not more serious than in other industries, but it is more serious in the context of the need to strengthen the force in the particular problem which we are facing. It should not he overlooked in that context that since 1958 the authorised establishments in Britain have risen by 25 per cent., whereas in the United States, with a mounting and far more serious crime wave, they have not risen at all. There are now more police per head of population than there were before in this country. The problem has, therefore, to be kept in context and in proportion.
Nevertheless, we must look into the problem of the policeman's leisure periods, because these are probably only matched in their incompatibility with a reasonable social life by the hours of Members of Parliament. There are too many examinations, too much attention to form and, I believe, an unnecessary military type of discipline which can be inimical to morale. Many choices are open to the policeman today in other fields where some of the indignities which he has to face in the force would not have to be faced. Rather than rigidity and formalised procedures, I believe that a greater initiative on the part of the policeman and greater freedom of action 1891 might breed a more contented and more effective policeman on the beat.
It has been said that one of the measures that can be taken is greater civilianisation, and with this I am entirely in agreement. This would allow the policeman to become more effective in his work. It is already happening with regard to traffic wardens, who, I believe should have their own national career structure. It is already happening with the transfer of police functions to civilian in some of our courts. In the Manchester City Magistrates' Court, for example, we now have civilian ushers. I believe that this principle could be extended on a far greater scale. Again, in Manchester, the fingerprint section is now run by civilians. There will be resistance to this, and I understand that there was resistance initially in that case, but this resistance will have to be overcome.
Nothing has been said in this debate, or, I think, in the Report, on the problem of recruiting police from among immigrants. I believe that we are particularly backward in this. While I realise the problems involved, we must try to use this potential section of recruitment in a situation where we have to recognise that a section of our society, of perhaps as much as 2 per cent., is composed of recent immigrants. There is, therefore, no reason why we should not try to incorporate in the police forces a greater number of immigrants.
We might also assist the police forces by giving greater powers to some of the auxiliary forces—for example, the parks police. I know that in the City of Manchester the parks police are particularly unhappy that they do not have the powers of even a special constable, although they face the same problems that ordinary policemen have to face. All these peripheral measures would release the policeman so that he can get on with his job more effectively.
I highly deprecate the growth of private police forces. Experience has shown that where these have developed—I quote my own city again—there have been many instances of violence. There seems to be a tendency to recruit the wrong sort of person, who often turns out to be no more than a strong-armed man invested with some sort of uniform which seems 1892 to give him authority. I think that the growth of this sort of force would be very adverse to law and order in our cities.
I believe, however, as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has said, that pay is still one of the overriding factors. I for one do not begrudge higher incomes to policemen. I want to see a highly-trained, highly-efficient, and well-paid Police Force. I want to see a Police Force that no one in this House would regard as anything other than a good career for his son to enter when his education is completed. The public attitude towards entry into the Police Force is that it is an inferior sort of employment. I deprecate that attitude and I am seriously concerned to see that we retain the high standard of entry and even increase it.
I was much impressed by the editorial in the Police Federation Newsletter after some rather foolish actions of a section of the police at a meeting addressed by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary some time ago. The editorial finished with these words:The loudest mouths braying their fury at Mr. Jenkins belonged to the emptiest heads—men who had probably never been to a Federation meeting in their lives before. If they achieved anything it was to emphasise the dangers of letting the Service run down to the point where such as they belong to it.It is sad that that should have been written in the Federation Newsletter. If we are to have a police lobby in Great Britain, it must be confined to wages, conditions and technical matters, because law reform is no more the prerogative of the police than military policy or defence policy is the prerogative of those in the Armed Forces.
Inevitably, because of the sort of life he has to lead in combating crime, a policeman may well have a one-sided and less objective view of the difficulty of dealing with crime and of the method to be adopted. I would therefore like to see a broader approach in police training. I was impressed with what was said about the training of existing policemen as against graduates, but I would like to see far greater emphasis in their training on the problems of criminology and penology and on the awareness of the need to preserve individual liberties.
A leavening of graduates in the service would assist in this and in raising 1893 the level of achievement and the standard of the service. It has to be done in a manner which does not unduly diminish the pay and promotion prospects of other policemen. I for one, therefore, welcome the setting up of the Working Party to inquire into methods of attracting more graduates and recruits of higher education into the force.
I believe that most policemen do their job well and conscientiously and often feel that they are let down by juries or judges, or even by legislators, who are unduly "soft", perhaps, on the criminal. They are sometimes over-sensitive to what are, in fact, constructive suggestions which are often regarded—and in the course of my profession I have spent a good deal of time with police officers in the courts—as evidence of hostility. Nothing could be further from my intention today, but it must be said that it was a sad fact that it took the tragic and terrible death of three policemen to bring home to the public the realisation of the hazards and the difficulties of the police service at a time when relations between the police and the public had been deteriorating rapidly over a period of years.
I deprecate the fact that they had deteriorated to such a degree and I think that this was particularly so in the Metropolitan Police area where I have myself witnessed several ugly scenes, often provoked by unfortunate behaviour on the part of the police and when even written protests have been treated in a cavalier fashion. Therefore, one of the things which we have to do to aid the police force is to secure greater public co-operation. This will make the police more efficient. One method is to set up on a local and regional scale committees for crime prevention in which the community at large and the business community, insurance companies and so on, can work together in order to help to keep down crime.
This is also why—and there is nothing contradictory in this—I would like to see independent tribunals to deal with complaints against the police, tribunals on which members of the public, civilians, as well as members of the police would sit, because this would give the public greater confidence that the police were not themselves above the law.
1894 We have heard a good deal about the equipping of the police and I wish to add my tribute to the work of the Home Secretary in speeding up the modernisation of equipment. This is also important for recruitment. We might also assist the police by equipping the public in some way, and perhaps my right hon. Friend can save some money for the Home Department by urging his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to give grants to those who use anti-theft devices and take strict precautions against the criminal.
Much has been said today about pocket radios. Some are multi-channel and some are two-way channels. Greater use might be made of pocket tape recorders. The other day I observed a policeman on the beat taking the details of a parked car—happily, not mine. I walked away and when I returned five minutes later the details were still being taken down. That is not in any way a criticism of the officer. A police officer taking observations can give detailed observations on a tape recorder in a few seconds, although it might take a considerable time to write the note. I hope that use of such instruments will be increased as time goes on.
We can learn much from, and I have been greatly impressed by, the experiment at Accrington which has been applied in other areas, not least in parts of Manchester itself. Have the experiments in closed-circuit television proved effective in the cities where they have been tried, Birmingham and Liverpool?
I add my tribute to the pioneering work by Sir Eric St. Johnston, now Chief Inspector of Constabulary at the Home Office and formerly in charge of the Lancashire force. Unit beat policing with the very best possible equipment and mobile support seems to be the thing of the future. I want these methods to be applied throughout the country as quickly as possible. We cannot allow old-fashioned methods to go unchallenged anywhere.
There is one thing in the Report and in the policy of my right hon. Friend about which I am not convinced. It is the view that amalgamation alone will provide modern methods or provide the panacea for some of the problems besetting us. Some amalgamations might 1895 endanger the close relationship with the public, through elected representatives, which it is important to foster. In paragraph 21 of the Report it is said:Nevertheless, they consider that the available evidence suggests that amalgamations on the scale now proposed will lead to higher costs …".Lower down it is said:The Chief Constable of Lancashire gave evidence that he intended to divide his present force of 3,604 into three geographical divisions, each with considerable independence, while the headquarters retained the functions of command and co-ordination. When his force reaches 6.723 this will become five divisions. In his opinion a division of 1,200–1,500 men is the optimum size for such units".We have to be very careful about amalgamations and about reducing the number of forces from 117 to 49, because the Home Office is restricted by the existing boundaries set out in the Police Act, 1964, and very strange results may be produced. Particularly in areas like mine, we shall have the most curious boundaries and remarkable anomalies. I underline the Committee's statement at paragraph 22:Your Committee were impressed by the evidence given by the A.M.C. that less sweeping amalgamations might provide more logical and efficient results; for example, to form a 'greater Manchester' by incorporating with Manchester nearby boroughs and that part of the county area which separates them rather than amalgamating the whole county of Lancashire with twelve borough forces.I do not want to expand on this because this is in itself a topic which I think is worthy of debate, but I do hope that my right hon. Friend will have another look at this very difficult problem.
Finally, I have been more than impressed by the swiftness of the Home Secretary in coming to grips with the problems which have been covered in this debate. A combination of enlightened penal methods and regard for individual liberty are, to my mind, in no way incompatible with support for an efficient, highly-trained and well-paid Police Force. I want a Police Force which is supported by the public in an all-out onslaught on crime, and, to my mind, unless all these elements are brought together, we shall not really achieve the right balance and the sort of police force a democratic community like ours requires.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. There are still a number of hon. Members who wish to speak, and I should like to call all of them if possible. Hon. Members can help me by making their contributions reasonably brief.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
As acting Chairman of the Select Committee on Estimates I should like to intervene for a very short time, to say, first of all, how very gratifying it is that so many of the recommendations of this particular Report have found favour in the Home Office and are, indeed, echoed to a very considerable extent in the Report of the Working Party.
Before coming to three particular points, I would quite briefly say, on the subject of amalgamations, how much I regret that Buckinghamshire is to be asked to join other counties. I could expand at considerable length on this, but it is not germane to the Committee's Report; but I think that the case, as put, is not made out, and that nothing but harm will follow from that. While I support the principle, I should like to register a strong protest in that particular case.
One of the recommendations, which was not accepted, referred to the question of height, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) said, speaking with an eye on the Police Federation, no doubt, that he hoped that there would be no modification of standards. I think it is understandable that he should have said that, and, moreover, that on the working party on this point the so-called professionals should take one view and the Home Office and the local authorities should take another. I think it would be quite natural if the Police Federation were to take the view that any modification of standards in recruitment would detract from the strength of its case to get better pay and conditions to solve the overall recruitment problem and if a contribution is to be made from some other quarter it would, so to speak, detract from the force of the argument that pay and conditions are the key to success. However experienced may be the source of that advice, I think that there could still be some ulterior motive associated with it, of which account should be taken.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
My hon. Friend is not arguing, is he, that a detective, for example, is any less a good detective because he happens to be a tiny man? Is he going to propose some way to meet that?
§ Sir S. Summers
What I am saying is that it is a pity that there is not more willingness to consider a reduction in height, and my hon. Friend's intervention merely lends strength to the point I was myself making.
I find the argument against change quite unacceptable. A change of one inch in the tolerable height of a policeman will surely not be so manifest to the public that he would be seriously handicapped in dealing with any disorders which may break out. We do not go about with rulers to measure the height of a policeman asking us to move on, or whatever it may be, and when one finds that one inch would add 40,000 additional people from whom there could be recruitment, that must make a substantial contribution to the whole subject of recruitment.
On the subject of wastage, the Working Party, as I said in an earlier intervention, made it quite plain that it regarded wastage in this career as really no worse than that in other careers. Moreover, in the Working Party. What is important made to Mr. Hamilton, of Urwick Orr, who approached the subject expecting to find an inordinate amount of wastage in this career and found it was—"relatively good" I think was the phrase quoted by the working party. What is important is to see to it that those on whom considerable expenditure has been lavished do not at the end of it all leave the service when really experienced. One may regret people leaving the service early on in their career, but the more experienced they are the more valuable they become, and the greater is the loss in terms of value if they leave towards the end of their career. That is why I was a little sorry that more encouragement was not given, in the reply to the Report, to the suggestion put forward by the Committee that encouragement should be given to those with 25 years' service to stay on a further five years by permitting them to draw their pension and pay at one and the same time. Agreed, that that suggestion has not been turned down, but I hope that in due course the Home 1898 Office will look at that and find it a helpful contribution to this topic.
On the subject of cadets, it so happens that, wearing another hat, namely, that of Chairman of the Management Committee of the Outward Bound Trust, I have come into contact with many cadets, of whom about 500 annually are now taking Outward Bound courses. In passing, may I pay tribute to the tremendous help we get in Outward Bound through the secondment for short periods of no fewer than nearly a hundred members of the police force who come as temporary instructors. Not only is it exceedingly valuable to get a fresh source from which instructors can be drawn, but there is the additional adventure that, for the first time, scores of young people undergoing experience of this type find that the policeman is their friend and not their enemy. It is of the first importance, in establishing that relationship with the public which we should all like to see, that that element should be borne in mind, and that is why, valuable as those people are to us, we are at the same time rendering a service to the police force by enabling them to come into contact with young people and demonstrate what friendly folk they really can be.
The cadets are not being used as much as the Committee hopes even though the ceiling of no more than 40 per cent. is thought to be the right maximum that it is proper to permit. I can only say that we find that, with very few exceptions, these young people are quite first class. Again, although they are not as yet qualified policemen, it is known that they have taken up this career, and again opportunity is being taken to demonstrate to the public that although they are going to end up in blue uniform, they really are no different in essence from other folk, and they can very well prove to be as much friends to the boys as the instructor who happens to be there at the same time.
We greatly welcome the collaboration which the Home Office is good enough to make possible. I hope the butter will be spread fairly thin, rather than in great dollops at any one time and in any one place to the exclusion of other types and qualifications. With that limited qualification, we hope very much that more and more will find it a valuable 1899 complementary experience alongside the technical training which these cadets get. If they are to be increased in number by further training facilities, we hope that we may be given a fair share of the additional number which will thereby be made possible.
As a result of these changes, brought about not only by this Report but by others, I hope that the public will continue to feel confident that we have a police force which is second to none in the world.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Albert Booth (Barrow-in-Furness)
I wish to refer to Recommendation (3) on page 4 of the Fifth Special Report of the Estimates Committee. It states:Legislation should be introduced, as soon as possible after the current programme of amalgamations has been completed, to amend the Police Act 1964 to permit further adjustments of police areas following the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government.It seems to be a remarkable piece of advice, rather like locking the door after the horse has bolted, to say that we should amend the 1964 Act after we have carried through the amalgamations, instead of vice versa. I doubt whether anyone knowledgeable in and sensitive to the needs of police areas would say that while we have the 1964 Act in its present form we can amalgamate police forces on an area basis which will make for the most efficient administration and efficient policing of those areas.
It is a recommendation which might very well be campaigned for under the slogan, "Do not give us the tools until we have finished the job", because that is the proposition with which we are faced in our current police amalgamations.
The Police Act, 1964 precludes amalgamations other than those of existing police areas, which, in effect, means other than under existing local government areas. Where small forces were concerned, very often county borough areas were suitable areas for policing. However, at a time when we are turning to much larger areas for policing, the same cannot be said of our county boundaries. Whatever else engaged the minds of those who drew up the county boundaries of Great Britain, I am certain that it was 1900 not the way in which we should want to police the country in 1967.
The amalgamations which are going ahead today have been referred to by my hon. and learned Friend. He quotes, with some pride and with justifiable surprise, the fact that there have been so many amalgamations already. In response to that, I can say only that the reason why there have been so many is that they are not truly voluntary amalgamations. If he had had to secure real agreement from local authorities, on the basis of the present 1964 Act, I doubt whether he could have told the House today that he had this number of amalgamation proposals agreed. The choice facing a number of police authorities at the moment is, "Do it of your own accord, or you will be forced to do it". There have been a number of shotgun marriages between police areas, and no one would suggest that shotgun marriages are the sort which we commend. In the same way, the amalgamations which we shall produce are not the sort which we could commend. This recommendation is one which we shall live to regret.
However poor the recommendation may be, since it puts its proposals in the reverse order, the observation made upon it tends to water it down and qualify it to an extent which is disturbing. It says:… it may be that the Royal Commission will recommend the creation of local government areas which would also make viable police areas.It may be, but if that is not the case what is the future for democratic control on a regional basis in police areas? What is the future for those who, rightly in my opinion, believe that the elected local representatives, sensitive to the needs of their own communities and appreciative of the peculiar circumstances in which their own local police forces have to carry out their work, can make a real contribution to those forces?
That has been possible until now because police area boundaries have coincided with local government boundaries and, therefore, the machinery for electing representatives to watch committees has been the simple machinery of our local government elections. But this observation allows for the possibility that that might not be so in the future.
1901 The observation goes on to say:If any adjustments were necessary, these could be achieved by amalgamation schemes being made at or about the same time as any local government reorganisation …Does anyone seriously believe that we shall not have to readjust our police areas when the Local Government Commission has done its work?
I am certain that every hon. Member who has studied the position, say, of the police areas in Lancashire knows that they will have to be adjusted. Indeed, the Chief Constable of Lancashire has more or less told us in his evidence that he will not run the whole of the area which he will have under his command as a single area, but will divide it into a number of divisions. He knows that that is the only sensible way in which it can be run. We in the House should have sufficient sense to realise that the only way to run areas as large as this is to divide them up for administration purposes.
§ Mr. Dobson
Would my hon. Friend not accept that there is now evidence that a regional system of some kind can be successful, one example being the South-West Region traffic experiment?
§ Mr. Booth
I concede that certain services can be administered very effectively on a regional basis, but I suggest that there is no evidence that all of the areas which will be produced by amalgamations, while the Police Act, 1964, remains unamended, will result in regions enabling us to have efficient police services.
If I might give a practical example, I can illustrate the point very well. In the Furness Peninsula, in which my constituency is situated, there are three police forces operating. At the tip of the peninsula, there is the Barrow-in-Furness County Borough Police Force. In the centre, there is part of the Lancashire Police Force area. At the top of the peninsula there is the Westmorland County Police Force area. Without amending the 1964 Police Act, it would be impossible to amalgamate the part of the Lancashire Police Force area which is in the peninsula with the Barrow-in-Furness County Borough Force, in spite of the fact that they form a continuous area, unless the county borough force were joined with the whole of the Lancashire force. Similarly, it would be impossible 1902 to take the part of the Lancashire force which is in the area and amalgamate it with the Westmorland force, although they have a common boundary.
The only regional force possible is one in which the administration for any land communication purposes would have to go through Westmorland from one part of Lancashire to another part of Lancashire. I do not think that it has been suggested that any regional administration which has worked up to now has been successful because it has carved up areas like this in which to operate. In fact, I am certain that that is not the case.
It is quite clear that the sort of procedure, and the sort of timetable envisaged in the observations runs roughly as follows: the present amalgamations should take place, legislation should then be introduced to implement the Royal Commission's recommendations, and thereafter transfer under that legislation of the services to whatever new local government bodies are decided upon. The recommendation is specific. It says thatlegislation should be introduced as soon as possible.The observation suggests that this legislation will be brought in at the same time as legislation is brought in to deal with the other recommendations which arise from the Royal Commission's Report on Local Government. I do not want to make any great point on this other than to say that a considerable difference of emphasis is involved.
Police services in this country are not peculiar in that they raise problems because they operate within local government boundaries. We have come up against this problem with a whole host of local government services. Where the police service is peculiar is that we have never solved this problem, whereas we have done with other local government services.
Section 12 of the Fire Services Act, 1947, made provision for fire services to operate in areas other than those in which they were based, and nobody doubts that that increased the efficiency of the fire service. Under Section 12 of the Education Act, 1948, this House made it possible for children to go to schools in local government areas other than those 1903 in which they resided, thereby making our educational service more effective and more efficient.
Under Section 15 of the Children's Act, 1948 we made it possible for children to reside in children's homes run by local authorities other than those in their own local government areas, thereby making this children's service considerably more effective. Under Section 21 of the National Assistance Act, 1948, we made it possible for old people to live in Part III welfare accommodation in any one of a number of local government areas, not necessarily in the one in which they previously resided, and in this way we utilised to a far greater extent than ever before the existing Part III accommodation facilities in this country.
This problem of trying to operate local government services, or trying to operate public services, purely within local boundaries has had to be overcome so that we could proceed with public services in this country, and it has been overcome in respect of the services which I have outlined.
The argument and the debate which must go on with regard to amalgamations is not whether there shall be amalgamations, or there shall not. This debate was won a long time ago. It is generally agreed, and there is a general will, that there shall be amalgamations. The real argument is whether they should be carried out on the basis of putting together existing police services, whether these should be the odd-sized bricks with which we build our new police forces, or whether we should be prepared to shape and cut up areas so that we can bring about new areas of administration for the police forces. I believe that there is a will to bring about such amalgamations. I do not blink the problems attaching to this, but these problems have been overcome in respect of other services. They can be overcome in respect of police forces, and in overcoming them we will render a service to the whole country.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Dean (Somerset, North)
The hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) dealt at some length with amalgamations, and particularly with the problems as he sees them in his area. I, too, propose to talk about amalgama- 1904 tions, but before doing so I join in the tributes which have been paid to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) who was Chairman of the Sub-Committee which produced this Report, and on which I had the privilege to serve. All those who served under my hon. Friend found him an extremely able and fair Chairman. He also ensured that we put in a tremendous amount of work during the 12 months or so we were engaged on this subject.
This is the first occasion on which we have debated the police since the abolition of capital punishment. Whatever our views may have been on that subject, I think the House will agree that it emphasises the obligation on the part of us all to ensure that the police have effective tools to do their job.
In view of the appeal which you have made to us to be brief, Mr. Speaker, I propose to be just that.
I should like, first, to say a word or two about amalgamations. I agree, as we did in our Report, that the amalgamations should go forward, and that if we were to leave these until local government boundaries were reformed we would lose a great many years. The whole question would be in the melting pot, with the result that the police would not have a chance to settle down, although I accept that some further changes may be needed later.
I think there is a feeling, perhaps outside, that amalgamations will solve a great many problems. I was particularly interested, as we studied this subject, to find that it does not necessarily follow that amalgamations will lead to lower costs. The evidence which we had, in particular from the A.M.C., suggested fairly strongly that the larger the force, the higher the cost may tend to be, particularly in certain circumstances.
I think that there is a strong case for saying that we will get greater efficiency, but, equally, efficiency depends to some extent on local good will, and if we were to get to the stage that people contracted out of their responsibilities to help in maintaining law and order because the police forces had lost their local base, we could end up with higher costs, without the greater efficiency which we desire. In other words, we could get the worst 1905 of both worlds. This is why the Report stresses the need to marry local pride in local forces with the development of the regional crime squads, with regional traffic experiments, and with the strong central services where these are appropriate.
The Report summed up the intention to try to get this balance when it said in paragraph 64 of the Conclusions:The problem … is to ensure national standards within the framework of local police forces.This is not an easy balance to achieve, but I believe that the amalgamations which are going forward are likely to achieve it in general terms.
I propose, now, to say a few words about the central services, and in particular the research and planning branch which I do not think has been mentioned up to now. When we studied this, it struck me, and I think it struck the Committee generally, that here we had a tiny establishment, at that time no more than 30, undertaking a vast range of work. I appreciate that the establishment has been somewhat increased since then. I believe that it now has a staff of 45, or some figure like that. I appreciate, too, that it is a very young branch. It has been going for only about three years, and there are obvious dangers in trying to expand it too fast, before it has settled down and got the measure of the way in which it fits in the sort of job it has to do.
Nevertheless, one cannot help noticing that it has already been given jobs which are absolutely critical to the future of the police force. It has been given the job of assessing the traffic experiment in the South-West and the other experiments that are going on and it has the job of looking into the various methods of beat patrol, together with questions of police equipment and wastage—all, in themselves, subjects of vital importance.
I find it difficult to see how an establishment as small as that—however efficient its members—can possibly hope to do this amount of work with the speed required. I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to tell us a little more about the observations that we made and our recommendation that the research and planning branch should be substantially increased. I notice that in that observation the Home Secretary says: 1906A fresh review of the establishment of the Branch is now being carried out, with the object, in the first instance, of determining what its future size and structure ought to be in the long term.I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to give us a little more information about future plans, both as to size and function, with regard to the research and planning branch.
I turn next to the question of manpower. Many hon. Members have referred to this, and I want to mention only one or two points very briefly. The Under-Secretary was good enough to give us the figures for net gains in the police service in England and Wales for the last two or three years. On the face of it, these figures look reasonably encouraging. Nevertheless, I believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman appreciated, when he was interrupted, that the figure of wastage is of equal importance. This figure will enable us to see more clearly than almost any other whether the new pay scales and the new methods which are being adopted are having an impact on the problem.
§ Mr. Richard Sharples (Sutton and Cheam)
Does my hon. Friend realise that the real problem is that of premature wastage?
§ Mr. Dean
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. The figure for premature wastage is the one that we want. We all know the vicious circle involved in under-manning. Under-manning means longer hours. Longer hours mean bigger burdens on the police. Bigger burdens on the police mean frustration for them and—of equal or more importance—frustration for their wives. 'This means wastage, which means difficulty in keeping up the detection rate in crime. This is the vicious circle that we shall face so long as our police forces are under-manned to the extent they are at present.
As was shown in the Report of the Working Party this emphasises the necessity of providing the police with the most modern equipment. The modern criminal has the best equipment which the rich pickings of crime can buy, and it is essential that we should ensure that where a case has been made out for a certain type of equipment, that equipment should be made available as speedily as possible. We were somewhat 1907 disturbed by the apparent delay in the provision of wireless sets and personal radios. I was glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman was able to tell us that fairly substantial progress is being made, at any rate with personal radios. Nevertheless, it seems likely that about a year will elapse before what is now regarded as a vital piece of equipment for the policeman on the beat will be available virtually to every policeman patrolling on foot. In view of the shortage of manpower, I hope that we shall be able to ensure that when a piece of equipment has proved itself of value it will be made available as quickly as possible.
I now turn to the subject of alternative sources of manpower, and traffic wardens. The hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that in areas which have the most acute undermanning there is probably equal difficulty in recruiting traffic wardens to help relieve the police of this work. He will remember that the Working Party stressed the need to extend the functions and numbers of traffic wardens. Remembering the amount of time that police now have to spend on traffic duties, we must take the view that this is a ridiculous situation. Much police forces are spending as much time on traffic duties as on the investigation of crime.
I agree that we cannot entirely separate traffic offences from criminal activities; indeed, the traffic experiment in the South-West showed clearly that traffic duties, especially on motorways—we have one in the South-West—and on trunk routes bring a bonus in the detection of crime. Nevertheless, it was strongly recommended that the time had come for a much more effective stand to be taken where traffic wardens were not being used but where it would appear them to be used to relieve the police of traffic duties.
I welcome the fact that the Home Office has accepted a substantial proportion of the recommendations put forward, and I hope that further attention will be given to the points that I have raised.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. R. F. H. Dobson (Bristol, North-East)
It is a pleasure to follow in debate the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean). I agree with almost 1908 everything he said, and I join the general welcome that has been given to a debate on the First Report from the Estimates Committee. It contained a tremendous amount of valuable information, and that information has been supplemented by the facts given today by my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary. Several major themes run through the Report. These themes have been fully brought out in the recommendations. There is the amalgamations theme, and the manpower situation theme, and the questions of modernisation and the need for modern and better equipment for the police forces.
I must declare an interest in this matter. Like the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), I can say that my father was for many years in the Police Force. I have relatives serving in the Police Force today and I have always been interested in police affairs.
I want to deal first with the traffic experiment in the South-West. It was not particularly costly, because, as the Chief Constable of Devon pointed out, most of the cost was absorbed by the forces involved, and the Home Office found an additional £14,000. What did they get for this money? They decreased the number of non-injury accidents in this period by 42 per cent. and the number of accidents involving injury by 7½ per cent. They decreased the number of fatal accidents by the remarkable amount of 22 per cent., and the number of serious accidents by 24 per cent. At the same time, they found about 12,000 reportable cases and gave 36,000 verbal cautions, and about 3,000 people were given advice by the police. The hon. Member for Somerset, North mentioned that during the experiment the police picked up a bonus by arresting 296 people, having caught many of them red-handed, with the goods on them—indeed a worthy "fall-out" from this experiment.
I share many of the views expressed by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds about the manpower situation and I was particularly pleased to see some of the suggestions made by the working party—although I do not go all the way with all of them, and I intend to pick some of them apart. It is true that there is a shortage of policemen and that there has been a shortage for a long time. The figures given by my hon. and learned 1909 Friend earlier show that it might be possible for the gap to be closed; and certainly if the unit beat police system could be introduced to give maximum cover throughout the country, a great improvement would be made—although I very much doubt whether the system could be introduced everywhere with the same amount of success.
The first thing to be done is to reach the present establishment figures. It must be an indictment of our statistics that we do not know exactly how many policemen are needed to police the country properly. This must be frustrating to the Police Federation—this artificially low ceiling of the number of policemen throughout the country—when the Federation argues its case for better pay and conditions, a matter to which I will come later.
It is and always has been vital to attract the right type of recruit into the police force. An article appeared in The Guardian on 6th February in which reference was made to adding education to police intelligence. The article forcefully brought out the fact that while only a small number of graduates entered the force and while that number would probably always remain small, one of the principal problems was that of the general level of education. The level of education is an important subject when one bears in mind that more than half of the people recruited do not have any O-levels and that only 1.9 per cent. of recruits have two A-levels. It is obvious, therefore, that the general educational standard of entrants should be improved. Only in this way will we attract the right type of person.
I welcome the desire of the police authorities and the Home Office to increase the number of graduate entrants. It would be nice for a chief constable to have one or two B.Scs., B.As. and Ph.Ds walking the beat, but that is hardly the best way to use manpower of that sort. I do not, however, decry the desire to obtain more people of that calibre. Indeed, it is a valuable education in itself to be a policeman and any graduate would benefit from that education, although there must be a restricted use for people with such qualifications.
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds referred to what was known as the Hendon Scheme which operated before 1910 the war. It never was successful. It was viewed with great suspicion by members of the police force, who thought that it was designed to bring in the "officer class". That was resented by men who were waiting for the very promotion which they thought would be denied them as a result of the scheme. This is a question of balance and it must always be considered when speaking of the recruitment of people who are academically highly trained. I do not believe that they should be given immediate and accelerated promotion, although they probably merit it. A sounder scheme was that put forward by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds. He was right in saying that there are in the police force at present many people of the right calibre for the top postings. This is where the Police College at Bramshill has a vital rôle to play.
In referring to police cadets I should, perhaps, declare an interest in that I spent a short period as a police cadet before I went to sea. It was a sort of fill-in job. I am not pleading for police cadets because of my experience as one, because that was an experience more years ago than I wish to recall. I make a plea on their behalf because when a police cadet joins the police force and stays in the force I do not see why his service prior to the age of 19 should not be counted towards his total police service. It is true that he is not doing the full range of police jobs, but, then, very few policemen do. Over a period of years the full range of jobs is done, but they are not done at any one time. A police cadet is really doing the whole range of jobs, but gradually, and many of the jobs he does as a cadet are repeated later in his full service. I therefore see no reason why his earlier service should not be counted towards his pension rights and so on.
Several hon. Members referred to the use of traffic wardens for various types of police duties. I do not object to that, although—and I say this with diffidence lest I get pinched for leaving my car in the wrong place—we should consider whether we need a better standard of traffic warden before, holus-bolus, thinking of giving him or her more authority. I accept that there are many traffic wardens who could undertake traffic control 1911 duty. The Devon police force, about which I know something, has been employing people who are not even traffic wardens for point traffic duty, and many of them have done an excellent job. This was mentioned by the Chief Constable of Devon in his evidence. If we are to give traffic wardens a great deal of additional authority, we must accept that we shall need a higher standard of recruit, and that, in turn, that will require a national scale of pay and conditions of service which will be beneficial to traffic wardens in the long run.
One can sum up the manpower situation by saying that if we do not pay the proper rate for the job we will not get the police we need. I do not entirely agree with that part of the Estimates Committee's Report which put forward a method of making sure that people remain in the police force after 25 years' service. It would be better to have a general increase in pay, both at the lower and maximum scale. I suggest that that would keep policemen in the force for a longer time.
This problem is discussed on page 270 of the First Report from the Estimates Committee, where it is pointed out that 25 per cent. of policemen leave after 25 years' service. After pointing out that a balance must be struck, the Report refers to:The possibility of lifting the whole scale so that there is improvement at both ends. This is nothing more than a direct pay rise and would of course be very popular with the Staff Side".I am sure that it would, and that on this subject the Report is right. That is the way to tackle the situation if we are to get the best possible people to join the police force. No one who has not lived very close to a policeman's job could realise just how anti-social it is for the people who work in it. Everything which we in this House can do to make the Police Force more efficient, we should do. I am sure that the Report goes some way along these lines.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)
The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Dobson) has made a very thoughtful and constructive speech. I am only sorry that he is an example of "premature 1912 wastage". I am sure we welcome what he has said today.
There are many wise and sound recommendations in the First and Fifth Reports of the Estimates Committee. I want to approach this debate from a rather different angle from that from which most hon. Members have spoken. I speak as chairman of a joint police committee in Scotland. That is the equivalent of a watch committee in England. I am particularly glad that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has been on the Front Bench throughout the debate picking up points from our English colleagues. I hope that he may have some comments to make for Scotland later.
The vast bulk of the Report concerns England, but I am glad that it had a specific chapter on Scotland and went into the problems there in a fair amount of detail. Many of our problems are of course very similar to those in England. I am glad to say that except in areas where there is a small population solutions are more easy to find. As in so many spheres of administration, money is a prime factor, although it is not the only factor.
This Report excluded consideration of police pay, but I know that it is very much in the minds of all the members of the Committee. It is absolutely essential that a fair and generous award should be settled as soon as possible. If we want more able men—we do not want those who would not be an asset to the service—they must be offered attractive payment. In the last two Reports by H.M.I. in Scotland it was shown that the most prevalent reason for resignation from the force is poor remuneration, and the most serious wastage is in Glasgow.
Following directly from the question of pay is that of increased pensions. The value of a good pension in the 'sixties and the 'seventies would be a great attraction to bringing in more recruits. There is a good case for this. Because of their loyalty to and love of the service, officers who have already retired should receive adequate consideration. It is a great asset if those retired officers can feel a strong pull towards the service and bring in recruits by talking in favourable terms about it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) made a valuable 1913 point about the compulsory retirement after 30 years service of police officers from certain forces in Scotland. This is an extraordinary waste of manpower. The Secretary of State is quite rightly prepared to lay down the law about amalgamations. He should also be prepared to lay down the law about the compulsory retirement of police officers in Fife.
While speaking about attracting recruits and specifically mentioning pay, I bring in the question of housing because good modern accommodation must be available, particularly in rural forces such as the one of whose committee I am chairman. The hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. Edward Lyons) made very valuable points about asking officers to move from their homes in borough forces into rural areas when forces are amalgamated. This problem is bound to arise, but, if a force has already provided good modern homes, there will not be such a major disadvantage. We must provide good homes because the whole country owes tribute to the extraordinarily valuable work done by police officers' wives. For that reason alone they should have as high a standard of housing as a police committee can afford.
Many hon. Members may consider that in the fight against crime the sophisticated weapons of wireless and finger-printing and so on are the first consideration, but I do not think that any dramatic results will come unless there is happiness within the service. Therefore, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of a good pay structure and good housing. The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland have made plans for amalgamations. I cannot, of course, speak for English opinion, but in Scotland I think this is warmly supported. Hon. Members on this side of the House gave speedy and constructive help to the passage of the recent Bill.
I should like to know the position of those chief constables who will lose their jobs through amalgamation and thereby very likely become deputy chief constables perhaps doing the work of superintendents. In years to come will they see a wage structure which will allow them to have increases as if they had continued as chief constables? The only word of warning I utter about amalgamations is that we should proceed no 1914 further than those presently projected until we have had the reorganisation of local government in Scotland. In our country a geographical area is of greater importance than the establishment and strength of a force because distances are so very much greater in relation to the area covered by each police committee.
I am slightly critical of the time which the Secretary of State for Scotland is taking to deal with the problem of establishment. Police committees are rightly concerned with the cost of the police service and to see value for the money that the ratepayer provides. When a chief constable asks a committee for an increase in establishment, that is very carefully considered. It is then put forward to the Secretary of State only if opinion at local level is absolutely certain that it is justified. When that has been done, the Secretary of State should approve the proposal much more quickly than he has done in the past.
He may say that hardly any force in Scotland is up to establishment, but a number of them are within five or 10 of establishment. The situation there is very much better than it is in England. Chief constables rightly like to keep a few vacancies in reserve for police cadets or for exceptional candidates who may come forward. We need to be generous in regard to establishment.
I wish to put on record the opinion held widely in Scotland of the exceptionally high standard of the police college there. We have heard about the English one, but the Scottish one at Tulliallan Castle is also very good indeed. On recent visits there I saw the new swimming bath and the other new buildings which have been erected. I wish to put on record the outstanding work which is being done by the H.M.I. The annual report is excellent. The visit to the force by H.M.I. is always stimulating and constructive. I am, however, critical of the fact that, although we have a very good and constructive Police Advisory Committee, it is all too seldom graced by the attendance of a Scottish Minister.
I should like to talk about our great advance in radio and communication between forces in Scotland. It is much better than most people think. There are wireless masts dotted about most of Scotland so that forces can be in constant touch one with another. The Dumfries 1915 and Galloway police can easily get in touch with the Cumberland and Westmorland Constabulary, and so on.
Most of us have followed with great interest the experiment at Accrington. In some rural forces in Scotland it is rare to find a policeman on the beat in the countryside without a van of his own in radio contact with his headquarters. In this way, in perhaps a slightly different sense, Scottish police are just as advanced in their thinking and policy as is the force in Accrington.
I want to bring to the Secretary of State's attention a difficulty which should be settled soon. As the A74 dual carriageway has extended virtually now from Glasgow to Carlisle and is in effect a motorway in Scotland, it puts an enormous burden on the police forces from whose areas it runs. It is unreasonable that these forces—the Lanarkshire and the Dumfries and Galloway forces—have to bear the exceptionally heavy cost of the extra patrols on a road which is primarily for through traffic from Glasgow to London. People as far away as Stranraer—100 miles from the dual carriageway—might well rightly resent paying a proportion of the expense of the traffic patrols on the road. This is clearly a case for an official grant.
A word on police cadets. I have studied the English Report and the Scottish Report, which is probably called the Scott Report, and looked back as far back as the Oaksey Report of 1949. They are all most interesting and valuable, but they are all too rigid in their recommendations. Flexibility must be the keynote in dealing with cadets, particularly in Scotland, where each force is of a small numerical strength, with the possible exception of Glasgow. As I was critical earlier of the Secretary of State in that I believe that a recommendation, or perhaps more than a recommendation, should be made to Fife, may I say that I believe that strong recommendations should be made to those forces in Scotland, particularly Glasgow, to get on with the introduction of cadets into their service.
Boys become cadets because they want to be policemen. In saying that I may or may not carry the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East with me. Cadets do not join because they want two or three 1916 years' high pressure education. This is why I am far from certain that the suggestions made for residential police colleges are right. An attempt should be made to secure that cadets stay in their own homes so that at night and for part of the day when they are off duty they are not specifically connected with the police. Their police work should come during their normal office hours when they are under instruction from police officers. They should not be 100 per cent. under police control. I do not encourage the idea of residential colleges.
I strongly oppose the recommendation in the Reports that there should be only a percentage of police cadets in each force. This is an incredible deduction. We want as many cadets as we can get, because they are the boys who want to make the police service their career. They are full of enthusiasm. It would be wrong that any chief constable should suddenly say, "I cannot recruit any more police officers from my cadet strength, or I should have 30 per cent. or 40 per cent."—whatever the prescribed figure will be—"of ex-police cadets in my force". This would be an untenable position.
The general tenor of the debate has been to pay a tribute to the police forces. We want to see a better wage structure, a better pension structure and better conditions of service. It is up to the House to ensure that all police officers are given the right tools to do the job and the right help so that the relationship between the public and the police is of the very highest order.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Norman Buchan)
I will take this opportunity of making a brief intervention. The right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) will realise why it is to be brief—we do not want to make long statements at this stage. Certain points raised by hon. Members require an answer.
We have been treating the Fife matter extremely seriously. Fife requires all officers to retire after 30 years' service. The argument seems to have been based on Regulation 67, which provides for compulsory retirement in the interests of the efficiency of the force. The way 1917 in which Fife has been using this Regulation assumes that after 30 years' service a policeman is no longer efficient. There might be some force in this as regards the man on the beat. Many of us think that there is very little in it as regards senior officers. I hope at an early date to be able to discuss the position with the Fife authority. It has a point of view. I think I should listen to that point of view.
I am pleased to be able to tell the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) that Glasgow has now decided to recruit a cadet force. I expect to hear from Glasgow very shortly, when it will be asking for formal approval—and it is very unlikely that this will not be given. We are as pleased as the hon. Gentleman will be that Glasgow has taken this decision.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
While the Under-Secretary is on the subject of Glasgow, can he tell us what is the present position of wastage in the Glasgow force which a year ago was extremely serious, particularly in respect of emigration?
§ Mr. Buchan
I had hoped not to be subject to intervention. It was almost a gesture by the House in allowing me to intervene at this time. The shortfall position in Glasgow is not the worst in Scotland. Dundee is slightly worse. The Glasgow figure is about 13 per cent. I have not got the precise figure before me, but we can leave it at 13 per cent., if that will satisfy the hon. Gentleman.
The hon. Member for Dumfries pressed upon us the necessity for one of the Scottish Ministers to visit the Scottish Advisory Board. I am pleased to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that the Secretary of State is to take the chair at the next meeting of the Board on 17th February. There is a full agenda covering many aspects which have been dealt with in this debate. I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that a very far-reaching and useful meeting will take place for all of us concerned with this aspect in Scotland.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
The position of Members of Parliament and that of the police has one thing in common. Most of us work all hours of the day and night. We have a myriad of problems of all kinds. We 1918 are expected to be able to answer almost every question as if we were jacks of all trades and masters of none.
I, too, wish to pay a tribute to the Estimates Committee. It has made a thundering good Report. It is a first-class job of work. Many recommendations are made. I regret to say that the Government have not done anything more than taken note of them: they have not committed themselves.
I want to deal with what I conceive to be the two major issues affecting the police today. Governments for the past two or three years have done absolutely nothing to deal with the antiquated, Victorian structure upon which the police forces are based. Second, they have done little except to waffle over the necessary decisions required for modernising and reforming the police. They have delayed for at least two years unnecessarily, in my judgment, in action which is required to meet crime. I regard those as valid criticisms against this Government.
The first question must be that of structure. I am convinced that, if the structure of our police forces is correct the other twin problems of wastage and manpower and relations with the public which lie at the back of success in detecting and convicting the criminal will be much nearer solution. One most important aspect of the question of structure has not been pursued in the Report. Policemen are of two totally different types, two different animals, so to speak. During the early part of the war, I had the pleasure to command a platoon in the Welsh Guards which comprised 40 Cardiff City policemen. They were magnificent men, the whole lot of them. But of those 40 only one could possibly have been made into a detective, and in fact only one did become a detective. On the other hand, there are many smaller men, 5 ft. 3 ins. or 5 ft. 4 ins. in height, the Cockneys to be found in the East End of London, perhaps, who would make splendid detectives. But what a ludicrous sight they would be in any county constabulary.
We have, therefore this major problem. Senior criminal investigation officers based in London and elsewhere favour a system which would enable the C.I.D. to be under the separate and direct control of the Home Secretary in a Queen's Constabulary running parallel 1919 with but quite separate from the ordinary police force. It is one task to train a man to be a policeman in a county force, perhaps to become a man on the beat in a village or to become a successful county officer, with the myriad functions and duties which the police are called upon to undertake. That is one task which calls for one type of personality, and it may well be that standards of height, physical requirements and so forth are relevant to that police force.
All who have spoken in the debate today have talked about our police forces as though they are all one, all composed of one type of man. They are not. The failure of the whole system at the present time stems entirely from an inability to recognise that criminal investigation is a science which calls for a certain class of character in men who can make good detectives. To achieve this aim, there must be a fundamental reappraisal of the structure of our police forces. In my judgment, this is the really important factor.
If we were to set up, as we should—we are moving slowly and cumbrously towards it—the right structure under the Home Secretary, with a Queen's Constabulary to deal with the detection and conviction of serious crime, this would in no way render nugatory or valueless the detective departments in the county constabularies which could continue to run in parallel. It would not mean the nationalisation of the police. But it would mean that, under the Home Secretary, there would be a force responsible for detecting serious crime, and this would be a national force.
How would it operate? The Committee's Recommendation No. 3 was that the Minister of State should have sole responsibility for crime, delinquency and prisons, together with the fire services. In my judgment, this is absolutely right. What we are doing should be recognised as a war. It is the flabby attitude of the present Government in their approach to crime which is part cause of the difficulty. I say that although many of their ideas are sound and much of what they are trying to do is feasible and along the right lines.
There are many opportunities to learn the facts and the lessons to be drawn. It is interesting that the Report before us 1920 proceeds very much along the lines that many of us who have been considering the matter separately have been following. There is a growing measure of agreement on these issues. There must be amalgamation of our forces down to 40 or thereabouts, and we must amend the Police Act as soon as possible to enable those amalgamations to be rapid and effective. At the same time, we should introduce the C.I.D. constabulary to which I have referred, working in parallel with the other forces. In that way we can succeed in tackling crime, setting about it as a real war effort.
What are the reasons for wastage and for bad public relations? I have had interviews now with 50 or 60 people in the detective forces and with eight senior detectives of high rank who have recently retired. My analysis shows that for detectives—I think that their reasons are different from those of the ordinary policeman—it has nothing to do with pay. It has entirely to do with the serious frustration which they feel in the work which they are trying to do. To be a good detective, a man works all hours of the day and night, but, when he has finished a long case on which he has worked 14 hours a day, perhaps, for six or seven days, he hopes that he will have a reasonable period of leave. He does not get it. The case book is overloaded.
The trouble is not that detectives object to trying to do the work. It is that they cannot deal with 14 cases at once. At Rochester only a few weeks ago, the senior officer had himself and two men to do a case-load of 14 serious criminal cases. It is possible to do only four of them properly, so they had to select four or five and the other nine or ten could not be done at all.
One could give many examples of this sort of thing. There is frustration in the uniformed branch. Let us bring it out. It is there. Uniformed policemen feel that they are kept back, that they are not able to engage in their work as they want to do it. There are restrictions on them, the idea being that they ought to go home in a bowler hat at the end of the day, that they ought not to mix in clubs lest it be thought that they are frequenting with undesirables, and so on. There is the lack of secretarial assistance. All these things and others lead to frustration 1921 and thus to wastage, and the whole question must be reviewed.
These, and others like them, are the reasons why the young detective is leaving the force. There is the difficulty of the Judges' Rules, and the general complexity of the matter which sometimes takes away the imaginative enterprise which men want to show in their work.
Why are relations with the public bad?—because, unfortunately, there is a small section, a very small section, of the police who have not been telling the truth in cases. This gets around. A very small section gives a bad name to a magnificent force. The few individual cases of corruption—they are few and far between—receive publicity. The real problem here is to get rid of the "verbals" and change the system. It is antiquated. There is no proper forensic department. Scotland Yard is hopelessly out of date and the experts are hopelessly overworked. For example, there is no expert on textiles or fibres, and no industrial expert. The research and planning branch needs a complete revolution. We need the creation of a special university department to assist research and planning into modern criminal methods and techniques. We need to evaluate methods that will enable us to reduce crime, and that does not merely mean computers but something wider.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) mentioned tape recorders. They are an absolutely vital part of officers' equipment when they go out on duty, but they do not have them. If a detective takes a tape recorder he can record all the data on the scene and conversations made at the time with any person, including any person who is later accused. In addition, when he returns to the police station the whole of the information can pass automatically into one machine there and be compiled, thus eliminating a need for all the manifold reports which are the real reason for the police frustration.
In turn, we should insist that the recorded voices will be the acceptable evidence, not the disputed "verbals". In many trials, days are spent because a police officer says, "Well, he said to me, 'The game's up. I give in, guv'nor'." Of course, recognising that that is one of the old "verbals", counsel 1922 for the defence proceeds to cross-examine at great length, and in the end the accused goes into the witness box and says that that is quite untrue. Hours are then spent determining who is telling the truth. It is ridiculous that in the modern age we must go through that paraphernalia in the courts week after week and month after month, when we could insist that if the prosecution wants to produce evidence it shall be the recorded voice of the accused taken at the time.
The C.I.D. constabulary to which I have referred is the beginning of the sort of revolution I want to see, for it is my profound conviction that one cannot change and tackle crime today by using the old structure of the old Police Force. There must be an entirely separate wing.
One hon. Member said that the graduates would be specialists. Of course they will, because there is a tremendous career in being a great detective. If one has a double First that might make one into a great detective. A double First honours graduate from Oxford or Cambridge should be proud to enter the service if he is to be a detective, but he does not want to be on the beat. Similarly, a little cockney from the East End of London, who has perhaps come up the hardest way in life, may have a wonderful eye for detection and become a great detective, but would look idiotic on the beat.
If we approach the matter in a new and imaginative way and recognise that detection and conviction of serious crime are separated from and above the duties of the ordinary constabulary; if we do and say in the House what every single leading detective will tell one—I was with one on television—if one gives the detectives the chance to be separate from the uniformed branch, then and then alone shall we begin to conquer crime and succeed. There are many recommendations in the Report which are wholly admirable and which will help towards progress along that way.
Although I think that we are justified in attacking the Government for the inaction over the past two years, I have a sneaking feeling that the present occupants of the Front Bench recognise some of those things and I feel sure that they want to put them into effect as swiftly as they can.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)
We all welcome the work put into the Report and the time given for the debate, because so often the voice of the police goes unheard. All too often they are mentioned in Parliament, or their names appear in the Press, only as a result of a dramatic incident. By their disciplinary rules they are unable to answer back.
I think that part of the respect in which they are held is because they are quite divorced from politics, but one result is that that increases their isolation and distance from the public who should be so grateful to them. There is increasing evidence that that social isolation is the cause of premature wastage. It is an isolation which is inevitable not only by reason of their extra hours of duty, which we share to some extent in this place, and which also extends to wives and children, who are also divorced from the public.
It is therefore very important that their housing should be interspersed among members of the public as far as possible and not be together in "barrack blocks". One very good result of the neighbourhood scheme which I believe started in West Sussex, was tried out more extensively in Accrington, and will now be tried in many other parts of the country, will be to diminish that isolation. It will restore the policeman as someone whom the public know by name and as a human being—in much the same way as a village knows the village constable—and not, as is so often the case in urban communities, as a mere anonymous symbol of authority, either helmeted on a motor cycle or driving about in a motor car, whom the public fail to recognise as a human being with as many problems and frustrations as they have.
Even more than matters of pay which have been mentioned tonight, the problem is ultimately one of increasing the policeman's status in our society. That can be done only by extending and developing his training and recognising that he is now called upon to do the duty of a skilled social worker. He is so often the first person to encounter the various deviates and inadequates of our society, and if he has some knowledge of elementary mental problems, of crowd psychology, and of immigrant attitudes, 1924 those are the new skills which will help him as much as the mechanical aids he is now being given.
We all welcome the new vigour of the Home Office in attacking all the problems of the police. None of us in the House begrudge the money that will be spent on their new equipment. I would like to go even further than the Home Office have had so far the courage to go. Although for many years I have been a keen member of the National Council for Civil Liberties, I would welcome a fingerprint register in this country, because I believe that it is a basic freedom that people should not be wrongly identified. That would be a stronger deterrent to crime than any other feature that has been suggested. It would be of great value in identifying drunks, suicides and people who have lost their memory. I cannot see that it is an infringement of civil liberty to have an efficient police, able to act on accurate information rather than the reverse.
We all recognise that the police deserve every aid that money and our efforts here can give them. But, equally, there are reciprocal responsibilities on the police, because ultimately they function on behalf of the public. It is for the public to determine the form which they wish their police to take.
I should like to make three suggestions about the ways in which I would prefer the police to develop. Recently, we have recognised that there should be an independent person to investigate complaints against civil servants. I have reached the conclusion that there should be independent investigation of serious complaints by members of the public against the police force. I know that the Home Office recognises that there are vocal members of the police very much opposed to this; but through the kindness of the Chief Constable, I was enabled to carry out a sample poll among all ranks of a typical English county police force. To my surprise, a slight majority of all ranks were willing to accept such independent investigation. The most pungent argument advanced by policemen against it was to ask why lawyers, for example, should not have the same institution erected to investigate complaints against them. I am also in favour of extending it in that direction.
1925 The second point on which the police are unnecessarily opening themselves to criticism is in what one might call the unhealthy and unnatural pallor of members of the police force. At present about 2 per cent. of our population consists of coloured immigrants—approaching about I million in number. One therefore might expect, on a pro rata basis, there to be some 2,000 coloured police officers in the country. Unless one shares the racial theories of Dr. Vorster that colour inevitably signifies lesser merit—and I am sure that no one in this House subscribes to this—one is extremely surprised to find that there are only two coloured regular police officers in the country. We are glad that they have been appointed—both during the last 12 months.
§ Mr. Taverne
I realise that the number is still not great but it is more than two. I believe that a total of five have been appointed—four definitely and the fifth on the way.
§ Mr. Whitaker
I am delighted. One unfortunate feature however is that in the Metropolitan Police, which is about 6,000 under strength, there is at present no coloured police officer. I very much welcome the Home Secretary's reiteration that he would welcome a coloured police officer here as soon as possible. But, when a coloured police officer is appointed, I hope that there will be no nonsense about his being allowed to operate only in immigrant areas, because nothing would do more to contribute to good relations between the immigrant communities and the police and also for racial relations in this country than to see a coloured police officer in London being treated in exactly the same way as any other police officer. One does not want the first one appointed just because of his colour, because that would be racial discrimination in reverse. One wants the man to be treated in exactly the same way as a white-skinned person—on merit.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that it seems to be the policy, certainly in large areas and in London, that people should not be allowed to join if they are coloured? Although this policy is not official, it seems that this is how it works in practice.
§ Mr. Whitaker
It is difficult to say without knowing personally the coloured applicants who have been refused entry recently. But I think that it is stretching coincidence too far that none of them was up to standard, especially as some have had police experience in the West Indies.
My last suggestion for improving relations with the public is through a democratically elected police authority. The London Metropolitan area and the City of London are the only parts of the country to be without such a police authority, and I would ask my right hon. Friend either to decide that police authorities do no good, in which case they should be abolished in the rest of the country, or, if they do do good, to decide that the Metropolitan Police Force should also have a democratically elected police authority, particularly as we in London have, I believe, a higher police precept in our rates, than any other part of the country.
This would improve police-public relations in London. It would keep the public, through their councillors, in touch with the problems of the police, giving an additional link with the Metropolitan Force in the feeling that it was part of their own democratic authority. I ask my right hon. Friend either to bring London into line with the rest of the country, by appointing a police authority, or to bring the rest of the country into line with London by abolishing police authorities.
Anything that we can do to improve the lot of the policeman will act to the benefit of society itself If we in our speeches today criticise the police, the effect of the suggestions which we have made, if put into practice, will increase public co-operation and confidence in the police service, and this will help the police themselves in their lonely but essential struggle on our behalf.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)
Like everyone else who has spoken, I welcome the Reports and the very hard work that has gone into producing them. I believe that there are two underlying themes. The first and most obvious is that we are faced by an overwhelming shortage of police. The second is that, even if the adage is not necessarily true that what Manchester thinks today the rest of the 1927 country thinks tomorrow, in police matters it is true to say that what Manchester did last year, the rest of the country is possibly considering doing next year. Looking at all the recommendations in the Reports, one sees that many are based on experiments which have taken place in Lancashire in recent years.
I want to turn to the question of the overwhelming shortage of police because I think that the Under-Secretary of State would agree that clearly this is in direct relationship, in many ways, to the amount of crime and that those towns where crime is increasing the most are those where the detection rate is the lowest and where the shortage of police is the greatest of all.
If one looks at the figures of the Metropolitan area, one finds with horror that the number of police is apparently less now that in 1921. Crime has gone up enormously in that period. So I am sure, like almost everyone else who has spoken, that the most important thing of all is to get an immediate and vast increase in the size of our police force.
It appears from the figures given by the Under-Secretary of State that recruiting is standing up fairly well. The trend was said by the Estimates Committee's Report to be upwards and I believe that that trend has continued since it was published. The things which can be done, such as increasing the age limit, will probably give a slight advantage in that direction.
But far more important than the question of recruiting is that of the premature wastage that is occurring. The figures here are getting steadily worse. Whereas the Estimates Committee refers to, I believe, 2,000 a year in premature wastage, the Working Party document for 1966 shows that the wastage was 2,300 for the first nine months alone.
In trying to judge the cause of the wastage, one must accept that what W. S. Gilbert said many years ago is still basically true—that, for many reasons, the policeman's lot is not a particularly happy one. We as a society impose a great deal on the police. We expect from them courage which we do not expect from others. We expect from them the highest possible standards of honesty and intregrity. We expect them to be willing to take and be open to a great deal of criti- 1928 cism from various sections of the community.
In addition to all that, we impose upon them very long and irregular hours of work. All that we can put against this are two things. One is respect for them, and this is where the relationship between police and public is so important. There is a need to retain respect for the police. Secondly—and this is where I believe that the Government can help most of all—we have to say that the police deserve a better pay rate than they are receiving.
Not only is it necessary to say that the policeman should be paid an equivalent rate to what he could receive in outside industry, but it is also necessary to compensate him for the burdens placed upon him; to compensate for the hours that he works, the amount of weekend working, the shift working and the number of times that he has to go out for long hours at short notice. If we are to get the police officers that we want, we have to be prepared to say that they should not necessarily get the equivalent rate which would he paid outside, but that they should be paid more.
Questions of conditions and shortages are all part of the same vicious circle. Conditions cause the frustrations in the force, which cause wastage, and one cannot put those conditions right unless one increases the rate of entry into the force, which means that one has to put up the rate of pay. Knowing that the Home Secretary is extremely anixous to do all that he can to combat crime, I hope that he will see that the Treasury does not let him down, or let all of us down by preventing us from getting the type of police service that we require.
I have read the Estimates Committee's Report and the Working Party's Report about graduates in the police service, and I am sure that there is room, although limited, for more graduates in the police force. Perhaps more important than getting graduates, is extending the scheme, such as was started in Lancashire, of sending people in the force to nearby local universities as part of their training. I would like to know how this and other similar schemes are going, and whether there is an expansion of the idea. This overcomes the difficulty of bringing in people who might in some way interfere with the existing career structure. Instead, one takes the man who has been in the 1929 force for two or three years and done his basic training. He is encouraged to go to university and then return to the force.
I should like to say a word about amalgamations. I am convinced that the Home Secretary is right not to wail for the local government reviews, as was almost suggested by the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth). The whole House will be pleased to hear what the Under-Secretary said about the amalgamations which have gone through. I am sure that he would agree that, for example, the amalgamation of the Cheshire County Force and the borough forces in the area, is a very good example of a voluntary amalgamation—not a shotgun wedding as was suggested by the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness. It is one which will lead to an improvement of police administration in the area.
§ Mr. Carlisle
Some of us on this side of the House wrote a pamphlet with that very title, "Crime knows no Boundaries", and we put in that pamphlet many of the recommendations which the Home Secretary is putting into effect.
To return to the question of recruitment, it seems that amalgamations of the size that we are contemplating are in danger of creating certain difficulties for individual members of the force. One thing that impressed me when, with one or two of my hon. Friends, I spent a day with the Lancashire Police, was that the number of transfers from the county force to the borough forces were greater than in the opposite direction.
The reason almost always given was that the policemen, or more particularly, the policeman's wife, does not like the idea of having to be moved long distances during her working life, moving from one tied house to another. It is felt that if the couple move into the area of a smaller borough force, they can get a home of their own and establish themselves while their children grow up. I hope that the Home Secretary will see that in these amalgamations, which are necessary for efficiency purposes, whenever possible officers are not moved long distances but are encouraged, and given the opportunity to buy their own homes, so that al the end of their working life they have a home of their own, rather 1930 than suddenly finding themselves out of a tied house. We should also be prepared to accept that sometimes the police officer, like others, may travel short distances to work instead of moving home.
Are we doing enough about the adequate use of police time? With a shortage of policemen one has to see that their time is used properly. I am convinced that a lot is being done, and the Home Secretary through the Criminal Justice Bill is attempting to deal with some of the problems of time-wasting in courts. But is he pressing enough to get rid of police officers acting as ushers in courts? My impression is that this is coming slowly, but that it could come faster, and that it is coming faster in the higher courts than in the magistrates' courts. I wonder whether more pressure could not be put upon the court authorities to make use of civilian ushers.
There is also the point about greater use of traffic wardens, by giving them increased powers, and so taking some road traffic work from policemen. I was slightly disturbed to hear the Under-Secretary say that, although he welcomed the proposals in the Estimates Committee Report, he did not foresee when Parliamentary time would be available to give the necessary additional powers to traffic wardens.
My hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) referred to the Research and Planning Branch of the Home Office. Reading the Estimates Committee's reference to it, I was depressed to see how small it was and the vast number of subjects with which it was apparently trying to cope. We have heard today about the successful Accrington scheme. A similar scheme is being carried out in the Birmingham area. We know of the scheme for motorising the police at Kirkby, near Liverpool. We know of the juvenile liaison officer scheme which is being carried out in Lancashire and in other forces.
If these schemes are to be of any value, they must be analysed and the results must be considered by a body in the Home Office which can decide whether the reason for the reduction in crime in, say, the Accrington area is the effectiveness of the new form of patrolling or merely the effect of the publicity which that scheme has brought to the area. If the necessary research is to be carried 1931 out, I should have thought it essential that the Home Office should have a larger and more active Research and Planning Branch than it had when this Report was written and, indeed, larger than it still has, although I gather that it has increased in size.
It is the number of police and the relationship between the public and the police which can probably do more than anything to reduce crime. We in the House have a considerable part to play in the relationship between the public and the police. By our debates we can set a standard of respect for the police which has been shown in every speech made today. It is easy to get into the headlines by making a critical remark about a police officer. As the Home Secretary knows, the occasional cases of policemen getting into trouble inevitably receive publicity. If we could set an example by expressing respect and admiration for the policemen in what they do and get that attitude adopted throughout the country, we might do away with the feeling of social dissociation which policemen now have, and many of the causes of premature wastage would disappear.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)
I have sat through most of this very important debate, and the outstanding feature of it has been the concern expressed about the police force and the level of comment.
I listened with care to the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). He made an excellent speech which contained some throughtful comment and admirable suggestions. However, he made a slight error which I was glad he attempted to correct. He said that during the past three years the Government have waffled over police structure and have done nothing. However, he rightly indicated that the Government Front Bench had shown considerable interest in trying to correct that situation. The standard of debate has been so high that it was unfortunate that in a very good speech the hon. Member attempted to make a political point which only confirmed that the problem existed before the Government took office.
Everyone will agree that this problem has been growing over a number of years. 1932 We are living in a nation where violence and crime are becoming like a cancerous growth. An hon. Member said that crime has no bounds. There are people in this excellent country taking advantage of the welfare provisions long accepted by both parties for the good and health of the country. They have respect for neither person nor property as long as they can get the maximum gain for themselves at other people's expense. This is the kind of problem with which the police forces have to deal.
When we are discussing the relationship between the police forces and the general public, we must try to understand the psychology which is evolving in this climate of crime and violence. One of the most serious problems is that when the general public want to assist the police, on those occasions when the police need assistance, they are reluctant to do so because the consequences, within the welfare state, of this interference are so great to themselves. To put it in a nutshell, if a man who is buying a house, who has a family to look after, and who faces the cost of living at today's standards of life, suffers physical hurt in assisting the police, the consequences for his family, as he sees them, are very great.
It may sometimes be felt that the public do not help the police because they do not want to help them, when the truth of the matter is that they have larger considerations in their minds. The police, on the other hand, may feel that the general public are not co-operating. I suspect that there is a much greater public opinion in support of the police than many of us realise and that the reputation of the police among the general public is much higher than is sometimes suggested.
When we discuss the rôle of police in society, it is essential to consider how best, through the Government, we can give them moral and material support in their task of protecting the public. In other words, we ask ourselves the simple question—are we getting value for money. I do not ask whether they are getting too much or too little, but is the money being used in the right direction? Have we the right priorities?
Let us consider the Home Office responsibility for the police as reflected in the Estimates. Ten years ago the expenditure 1933 was £43 million. The Estimates for 1966–67 is just over £100 million. At first glance one would conclude that this was a tremendous increase in financial support, but from time to time the Estimates Committee has pointed out that there are priorities on which this money could be much better spent. I will draw particular attention to that later. I understand that all these figures take into account that the Exchequer grant to local police authorities is up to half their expenditure. The remainder of the Estimate is spent on these items: £516,398 on special grants for the Metropolitan Police; £208,000 on salaries and expenses for the Inspectorate of Constabulary; £2,877,000 for special establishments, such as police wireless, forensic laboratories, training centres and the police college; and £350,000 on training, which seems inadequate to meet the problems which I have described. Appropriations in aid amount to just over £500,000.
The priorities for this kind of financial support may be crystallised when the Home Secretary's recommendation for amalgamations begin to be implemented. They will also be crystallised with the implementation of the proposals of the Local Government Boundaries Commission and the Royal Commission on Local Government, and especially with the implementation of the reports of the three working parties into manpower, equipment and operating efficiency. Four advantages resulting from these inquiries can be underlined immediately—the erosion of many of the problems which have been mentioned, an increase in efficiency, the creation of better promotion possibilities and the establishment of an instrument sharp enough to deal with the problem of increasing crime and violence.
The 117 forces in the country are eventually to be reduced to 49. Whenever amalgamations take place in any part of our society, whether in local authorities or units of commerce or industry, there always arises the problem of how best to deal with those already serving in the present system. Manpower shortages and present conditions and pay and the number of duties outside priority functions appear to be disincentives to recruitment. I hope that in the process of amalgamation the greatest care will be taken to 1934 see that there is no demotion or worsening of conditions to create further disincentives. This is the most important aspect of the exercise of amalgamation. The interests of those already in the service, at whatever rank, should not be allowed to suffer, for that would increase the disincentives which are now worrying the police
There should be a reduction in the range of duties outside the immediate priorities of police work. I am thinking not only of traffic work, but of police acting as court bailiffs or ushers. I hope that, in accordance with recommendations already before my right hon. Friend, those duties can be reduced to a minimum so that we can get not only greater physical efficiency of organisation, but nearer to the individual's view of the priorities of his work.
In order to give time to an hon. Member opposite to speak I shall say a brief word only on the question of research and planning. I was rather surprised not only when I looked at the whole range of functions which the research planning unit is supposed to be doing but when I looked at the Estimate Committee's Report and the evidence of Mr. K. A. L. Parker, the Under-Secretary in charge of the Police Department, when answering the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on this subject of research and planning. He had this to say on the subject of the personnel in the Department, and it is recorded at page 38:They are all Government scientists, members of the Scientific Civil Service who have served in other Departments before—very often in the Service Departments. Some have had previous experience in our own Scientific Advisers Branch which in the past has been concerned mainly with civil defence but which is now taking a much wider responsibility for other aspects of the Home Office work, and in particular the police side of things.On the question of qualifications Mr. Parker added:The Scientific Officers are graduates; the Experimental Officers may be; but the Scientific Officers correspond broadly to the Administrative Class in the Civil Service and the Experimental Officers to the Executive.One should pause for a moment to look at the range of qualifications, and the size, in terms of numbers, of the research and planning centre, though I must remind the House of the date of those statements, 7th February, 1966, and one 1935 must expect that there must have been changes in the numbers and possibly some change in the emphasis on qualifications. There must have been time since that date to bring about, in such an important part of the organisation as this, the kind of change to inject into the whole system the amount of research, the amount of planning, and the right kind of it, which are necessary.
Therefore, I hope that the Home Secretary, in addition to all the other things which, I am sure, he has taken into account, will bear in mind that not only must the police forces be improved in quality, not only must they enjoy the right kind of conditions and of pay, not only must they have the right kind of injection of training of cadets—and, we must not forget, adults for the force—not only must the right amount of money be there to cover the overall duties and the general provisions of the service and of the common services for the police, but that also they must have the right kind of efficiency which can be brought about only by physical, material changes in the institutions which are supposed to give the maximum amount of support to the police. Therefore, we want a larger, more competent, more highly qualified research and planning unit or centre.
I close by saying this. During my own public life I have never understood why it is that we take so long to answer many of the questions which beset us. Possibly that is intrinsic in a democratic system, and we must balance our liberties against rates of progress.
In this matter, there is great urgency. I appeal to the Home Secretary not to take too long awaiting the Reports of working parties and commissions. The problem is identifiable. If at the moment we cannot get all the answers, we must provide auxiliary forms of assistance. One that I have put to him as an area of further examination, in addition to civilian staff, special police and traffic wardens, is the employment of non-uniformed auxiliary services in the field—people who not only have the right of arrest but who have official support in law as non-uniformed officers, so that they can help the proper examination of the whole of the area of their community, detect where wrong is being done and, in that way, help the police do a job 1936 which the present thinly spread forces are incapable of performing.
§ 8.50 p.m.
Mr. Richard Sharpies (Sutton and Cheam)
The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter), like everyone else who has spoken in the debate, made a speech which was both constructive and helpful.
I should like to begin, as others have, by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) and members of the Estimates Committee upon the Report which they have produced. They have had the satisfaction not only of producing a report which is first-class in itself, but also of having the majority of their recommendations accepted by the Home Secretary within a very short time. They have also had the satisfaction, perhaps, of providing the basis of a debate which has cut right across party lines and shown the House of Commons in one of its best moods.
This is not a debate on crime. However, the background to the debate is the rising crime rate. The provisional figures which have been quoted in the Press show that last year, in 1966, there were 1,133,862 indictable offences in England and Wales. If that figure is correct, that was 6 per cent. up on 1965, which in turn was 6.2 per cent. up on 1964. As the leading article in The Guardian on 31st January said:The robbers are winning, which is another way of saying that the community is losing.This is not a debate about robbers. It is a debate about the police. The whole tone of the debate has shown the respect which hon. Members feel towards the police, and our wish to try to help them in every way that we can in facing the many difficulties which beset them.
The Home Secretary has had no lack of advice as to how he might go about his task. Nearly two years ago, the Police Federation produced its pamphlet, "The Problem", which set out in considerable detail and with many constructive ideas the way in which the Federation thought things ought to be solved.
Today we have the Report of the Estimates Committee, and we have also had in time for today's debate the Reports of the three Working Parties on Manpower, Equipment and Efficiency 1937 which were set up by the right hon. Gentleman. We have also, if I might introduce this note into a debate which has cut across party lines, had the Conservative Party Report, "Crime Knows No Boundaries", from which I am glad to say many ideas have been incorporated into the Estimates Committee's Report, and into the reports from the three Working Parties.
All the knowledge that we need is probably there. The recommendations about what needs to be done are also there, and I was encouraged by what I heard the Under-Secretary of State say this afternoon. The test of the Home Secretary will come in the drive with which he carries out what we all agree needs to be done.
Some of the recommendations, particularly those of the three Working Parties, will be fairly expensive, and I shall say something about this a little later. Some of the recommendations will certainly be controversial. Some of the amalgamations which the Home Secretary is putting through at the moment are undoubtedly controversial, but I believe that this policy of amalgamations, which was initiated by Mr. Henry Brooke when he was Home Secretary, is absolutely right, and it has my full support.
I believe that we are moving in the direction of regional forces which will be backed tip and supported by a central intelligence system, and by common services provided centrally. This is the direction in which I hope we are moving. I do not want to go as far as a national police force, but even going as far as we are doing produces many problems.
My hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) spoke of the problems of the individual police officer who joins a comparatively small force and then may have to move his house and his home to another district if his police force is enlarged. I do not know the solution to this problem, but I believe that it is one to which the Home Secretary should be giving serious consideration if he has not already done so.
I said that many of the recommendations, particularly those with regard to equipment, would be fairly expensive, and the working party on equipment says on page 74 of its report:It is implicit in all we say that the cost of equipping the police service of the future 1938 will be heavy—a good deal heavier than it has been in the past.It goes on to say:The important thing is to ensure that limited manpower is supported to the full with modern equipment.I do not think that anyone would disagree with that verdict.
The cost will certainly be heavy. The Report calls for an additional 3,000 motor vehicles of a saloon type for ordinary police duties. It calls for the provision of dictating equipment and tape recorders to save the tedious writing out of reports and to enable the policeman to spend more time on carrying out his police duties. It also calls for full scientific aids for traffic control, and for modern communications both by radio and by line. The Under-Secretary of State told us this afternoon about the provision of personal radios for policemen. I do not underestimate the importance of that, and I was glad to hear this afternoon about the progress made in this direction.
Of equal importance is the establishment of an adequate line of communication and the linking up of police forces by teleprinters, and so on. We can greatly increase the efficiency of our forces in this way. Finally, there is the call for a national computer network, of which we were told something this afternoon. I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to carry this matter a little further than his hon. and learned Friend did. I was left with the impression that although the recommendation is accepted in principle, it may be a long time before we see a national computer network in operation.
These things will be expensive, not only in terms of running costs but in terms of the outlay of capital. One of the problems which the Government will have to face is that of financing the capital expenditure which is needed if we are to give the police the tools they need to carry out the job. There is an urgent need to consider the whole question of financing our police forces. We must look again at the proportion of the cost which should be borne by the central government.
Equipment can help the police to be more efficient. Properly used, it can enable a better deployment of the manpower we have. But in the end the efficiency of the Police Force will depend 1939 not upon its equipment but upon the men and women serving in it.
One of the problems that we have discussed is that of premature wastage. No one can be complacent about its present rate. On page 20, the Report of the Working Party on Manpower says:This year … has been marked by a serious deterioration, for in the first nine months of 1966 the total was 2,301. If this level of wastage were to continue the total for the year would certainly be the highest since 1954, and possibly the highest for very many years.We have not had the final figures. The Under-Secretary gave figures for total wastage, but I should like the Home Secretary to tell us the total figures for premature wastage for 1966, and to say how they compare with former years, in the light of the statement from the Working Party to which I have just referred.
I should like to know the figures for men with two years' service or more. It is when a man has done two years' service that he becomes of the greatest use to the police force. He has the experience and the training, and a great deal has been spent on him. The real tragedy concerns the men who leave the force after having completed their initial two years. The Police Federation has given a great deal of thought to the problem, as has the Estimates Committee.
Undermanning is the cause of many of the problems at present facing the police, including that of wastage. Under-manning leads to weekend working, long hours and split shifts. It is the cause of much dissatisfaction and there is great force in the contention of the Federation—reported in paragraph 51 of the Report of the Working Party on Manpower—that… it is often the inconvenient times of day and week when the police officer has time off, and the lack of a five-day week, that adversely affects wastage …".There is much truth in that. A policeman is entitled to expect a family life in the same way as anyone else. Like an M.P., he probably has a wife who has reasonable grounds for complaint if her husband is not occasionally home at a reasonable hour.
I understand that the Home Office Research and Planning Board will be reporting to the Home Secretary on the causes of premature wastage. When is that 1940 Report expected, and can we be assured that it will be made available to the House? My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) referred to the problem of premature retirement among senior ranks and I hope that the Home Secretary will also deal with that matter.
Much has been said about civilianisation. Both the Estimates Committee and the Working Party on Manpower made strong recommendations about the increased use of civilians. There is no doubt that many of the jobs now being performed by the police could be performed equally well by civilians. I am thinking of work in the police courts, work in police stations—typing and so on—and work in records offices. For this type of work assistance from civilians can be important. We should also be able to make greater use of retired policemen. They have a police background and are valuable, particularly from the security point of view. Having said that, there are definite limits to the jobs which civilians can do. They can help the police, but there are a vast number of duties which can be performed only by policemen. We cannot replace large numbers of policemen by the importation, so to speak, of large numbers of civilians. Civilian help can make a big contribution, but it cannot solve the problems facing the police.
All the Reports call for the greater use of traffic wardens. If they are to be given further duties they will be unable to perform them unless we are prepared to give them at least the minimum powers they require to do these jobs. I recall that during the 1965 debates I strongly argued that police wardens be given increased powers to enable them to carry out their traffic duties. I was told at the time that those increased powers were not necessary. They are necessary, and while traffic wardens do not need the powers of policemen, they should be given sufficient power to, say, order a vehicle to stop or order a driver to obey certain instructions.
I wish to ask about the recruiting of traffic wardens in the Metropolitan area. Can the Home Secretary say what are the numbers serving today in the Metropolitan area? What will be the number required when the new parking areas come into operation? Is it a fact, as has been 1941 stated in some quarters, that the extension of those areas in Greater London is being delayed by the inability to recruit a sufficient number of wardens? I realise that I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to produce some figures at short notice. If he is not able to do so now, perhaps he will let me know.
I refer to another special aspect of police work, the work of the fraud squad. It is true that the number of cases has been decreasing in recent years, but I wonder whether this reflects the true position. The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis said in his Report for 1965, when referring to this decline in the number of cases:A contributory factor may be the greater tendency to trade as an incorporated company. There are outstanding signs that as cases of increasing complexity and importance are referred to the Branch, the actual number of cases concluded will not necessarily any longer accurately reflect the volume of work undertaken.I think we have sufficient evidence to realise that this type of crime is probably growing at present and is likely to grow quite extensively in future as the criminal branches off into this type of activity, which of course can be highly profitable. The sums of money involved are out of all proportion to the kind of sums involved in more ordinary crime. Can the Home Secretary give an assurance that the fraud squad and those dealing with this type of crime will be able to draw on all the outside professional assistance which they may need? I am sure that we will have read the disquieting report on the City page of the Sunday Telegraph of 15th January, which said that 18 men from the total staff of the City fraud quad aloneinvestigated cases involving a total of more than £15½ million.Those figures are frightening. I am sure the Home Secretary will pay particular attention to this aspect of police work and the equipment which the police have to deal with this growing problem.
A number of hon. Members on both sides of the House have spoken of the problem of the relationship between the police and the public. This was touched on by the Estimates Committee in its Report. There is no doubt that as the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis said in his report for 1965, the almost universal ownership of motor cars 1942 has contributed very greatly to this problem. On the other hand, events like the tragedy of last year must bring home to the public that the policeman who is questioning a motorist about some minor traffic offence may within minutes be facing a situation such as that which faced those three brave men.
I believe that the relationship between the police and the public is improving. I believe that the public has a much more real appreciation today than it had even a year or two ago of the very real problems which face the police in carrying out their often very dangerous duties. In this connection of the relationship between the police and the public, the increased use of traffic wardens and the growth of fixed penalties for motorists has done much to help. Often the trouble with the general motoring public and the differences which arise with the police comes where the line of demarcation is not very clear. Often differences arise when a motorist parks his car and is not sure whether he is allowed to park there and is then had up for obstruction by a policeman. The greater use of parking meters and greater clarity in instruction to motorists can do much to help.
If the Report on management and efficiency is accepted, there is no doubt that the beat system will go out as we knew it in the past. There is a danger that, if we were to put nothing in place of the beat system, we should get into a situation that exists in so many parts of the United States where the police act only as a kind of fire brigade arriving on the scene after a crime has been committed.
I very much welcome such experiments as that which has been taking place in Accrington. Equally, I welcome the Under-Secretary's remarks that it is intended that this system should be extended wherever possible. We all recognise that this system probably would not work in the centres of the large conurbations. I should be interested to know what ideas the Home Office has for meeting the problems in such areas.
The individual policeman, knowing his area and those in it, backed up by all the resources of modern mobile well-equipped forces, is what we want to see wherever possible. The difficulty is in achieving this in modern conditions.
1943 Finally, the Police Federation in its news letter of January, 1967, described the situation which we have now reached as "the chance of a lifetime". Whether or no we are able fully to take that chance will depend, as we all know in the House, just as much upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer as it does upon the Home Secretary. All that I can do tonight is to give the assurance to the Home Secretary that if he carries out the reforms, which we now know are needed, with all the vigour which the situation demands, he will have the full support of those of us who sit on this side of the House.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)
To some extent—I make not the slightest complaint about it—the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) went a little wide of both the Report of the Estimate Committee and the Reports of the three working parties, raising a number of issues about police policy generally. He said that the debate had shown the House of Commons at its best. I agree that all the speeches were extremely constructive, though I think it possible that the House of Commons is at its best when it is a little fuller. Arguably, acute though the problems of undermanning are in the police, they have been at least as acute in the Chamber today. But, subject to that, I am with him.
I thank the hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'AvigdorGoldsmid) and his Committee for the extremely valuable work they have done in producing this Report. As the hon. Gentleman knows and understands, I was not, to my great regret, able to hear his speech today, but I read his Report extremely carefully. In my successive offices. I have found that he provides Reports of great value. When I was Minister of Aviation, I found his Report on the working of the Air Corporations a document of great importance, and I find his Report on the police of no less value today.
The hon. Gentleman raised one matter on which he wanted rather more information than my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State gave in his speech, and the same question was touched on by several other hon. Members. I refer to the request for a little 1944 more information about wastage in 1966. There is no question but that the wastage situation in 1966 was unsatisfactory, though to be seen in context it must be set against very satisfactory recruiting figures. But, of course, the two are to some extent separate.
The final figure for wastage was 2,965, that is, wastage as opposed to retirement on pension. One big ray of light in this connection is the recruiting figure for 1966, 6,900, which is just about as good as in 1965, so that those two years are the best two years for a very long time past. Purely on the question of wastage there is also a small ray of light in that—the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam will probably recognise this as he quickly does his arithmetic—the figures for the whole year were not quite as bad as the figures for the first nine months would have led one to expect them to he. In other words, the last three months of the year were about the best three months, so that there was a slight tailing off in wastage there.
I think that it would be for the greatest convenience of the House if, after a debate in which everyone has made a constructive contribution, I took up points made by hon. Members roughly in the order in which they spoke. I propose to do that rather than raise general themes as my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State did at the beginning.
I thank the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) for his constructive approach as well as for the valuable work which he does as adviser to the Superintendents' Association. He raised the specific question of retirement of superintendents in the Metropolitan Police District at the age of 55. He put the case with great force and persuasiveness, so much so that it may have appeared to the House that everyone was on his side. I am not necessarily saying that I am against him on the issue—there are many arguments on both sides—but it is not he case that this is an act of stubbornness on the part of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
There is a deep division in police service opinion on the question. It is not that the official side of the Police Council is holding out against the unanimous view of the service side. Far from it. The question came up for discussion on 30th March last year. It was adjourned at the 1945 request of the staff side. It came up again on 25th October and the same view was taken. There are great difficulties about it, but I recognise that there is some force in what the hon. Gentleman said. I shall look into the matter myself. But the Commissioner, very much with the best interests of his force at heart, as he always has, takes the view that the present course is the right one. He is supported by a great deal of opinion within the police service, but I shall none the less have a careful look at the issue myself in view of what the hon. Member said this afternoon.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Ensor) spoke of the importance of support from the public for the police, and that theme has run through the debate to some extent. It was taken up later by the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). We all agree that this is a matter of crucial importance and that police-public relations—good relations both ways—are very important as a factor in enabling the police to do their job of protecting the public properly.
My hon. Friend also raised the question of proper rates of pay for the police, and that question was, of ocurse, raised also by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), who raised a number of other points as well to which I shall come later. As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State singled out the police for special mention in his statement introducing the White Paper in November. Those were no idle words, and I hope that we can negotiate a settlement which will be fair to the police and everybody else concerned in the not too distant future. We are certainly not going to sleep on this matter.
I think that a well-organised, contented police force is of crucial importance in the fight against crime. As hon. Members on the Standing Committee on the Criminal Justice Bill know—some of whom I see here, and see only too often these weeks—we are locked in Committee not in dispute but in long debate on the Bill. It is clear that while it is highly desirable to have the best criminal law possible, one can have the best criminal law in the world and it will avail one little unless one has the police force to make it effective. I have no doubt that an effective police force, well-organised 1946 and well-equipped, with a high morale and able to be a deterrent because of the high chances of detection, is the best deterrent and the best safeguard against crime that we can have.
The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) raised a number of points about police manpower and its most effective use. He mentioned in particular that the 12 policemen directing the traffic in Parliament Square struck him as a waste of police manpower. That matter is before the House at present. I am very anxious that police manpower should not be dissipated, and when I took office as Home Secretary, I felt, possibly rashly, that I could save the time of one, or indeed, three, policemen by dispensing with the police officer who had traditionally stood outside the house of the Home Secretary for a long time past. I am also looking into whether we need the 12 policemen in Parliament Square. That matter is currently before the appropriate Parliamentary Committee and if the House decides that we should do without them it would be very welcome to me and would be a useful saving of police manpower and time.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, East (Mr. Edward Lyons) spoke about police amalgamations, as did a number of other hon. Members. He said that he was certainly in favour of them in principle, and I am very glad to say that there has been no opposition to them in principle. The only opposition—mild opposition—which has come in practice rather than in principle, has been from my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, East who said that he was not quite sure about the position in the West Riding. I can understand a Member from Bradford taking that view, because Bradford is one of the biggest forces to be amalgamated.
Equally, the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) was not too keen about the amalgamation of Buckinghamshire with other Thamesside county and borough forces. So also my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow in Furness (Mr. Booth) expressed a little doubt about the way things were working in practice, even if not in principle. He suggested that it would have been better if we had tried to amend the Police Act before the amalgamations rather than afterwards. I do not think that that would have been the right course to take.
1947 To have amended the Act would have been a much more complicated matter than is sometimes thought. Many issues would have been raised. I think also that, to have amended it in such a way as that which no doubt would have been in the minds of many hon. Members—that we could do what we cannot do now and amalgamate parts of police areas rather than whole areas together—would in some ways have created a greater problem from the point of view of local authority control of the police than is created merely by amalgamating existing authorities.
It is by no means clear how one achieves the representation upon a police authority of a segment of a county which was cut out of the county as a whole and put in between several boroughs. Therefore, I thought it right to proceed. I think that it is a matter demanding urgency. It would have been wrong to do nothing while awaiting the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government.
Had one done nothing, one would have been confronted with a strong demand to go much further and perhaps to take the police away from local government altogether—a result which I would have deplored. I think it right to proceed as quickly as one can within the existing powers. When we get the Report, we shall look at the matter again and see whether the areas it recommends broadly speaking accord with police areas of about the number we are suggesting. But I am sure that we do not want to go back to a larger number of police authorities than the 40 or so which will result from my proposals.
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, who is extremely expert in these matters and has very close connections with the Police Federation and therefore speaks with great authority, put forward a number of points. I am grateful to him for the way in which he did so. To some extent he took issue with the hon. Member for Walsall, South on the question of graduate recruitment to the police force. This was touched upon by my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State, but I would like to say a little more about it because it is an issue to which I attach the greatest possible importance at present.
1948 We should try and see the issue in proper perspective. I do not for a moment take the view that we should or shall move to a situation in which the top posts in the police would be open only to graduates. I think that that would be a grave error. We find in our political life, and in many other aspects of life, that, even if we have a healthy leavening of graduates, it may well be that top or near-top posts are nonetheless occupied by people who are not graduates.
But we have to face the fact that the population of our universities is rising very rapidly and therefore there is inevitably a creaming off to the universities of the most able people who leave school. The police force must therefore increase its proportionate intake of graduates and use them not only for the topmost posts but throughout a wide range of ranks within the police service, and it would be a great mistake for the police to approach graduates on the basis that it wanted them only for chief constable or even assistant chief constable posts.
One needs them in a wide range of posts, as well as having some non-graduates in the highest posts. But in the whole development of our modern education and of society, unless we get into the police force a proportion of graduates substantially higher than 16 out of 6,000, which was the result in 1966, undoubtedly this will be a difficult situation that will be one which will work against the police force attaining the proper professional status that it wants and that I want and which I am sure all right hon. and hon. Members want to see it have in the coming decades.
The Bramshill system is very valuable and we shall press forward with it. It is useful therefore to send people who have already entered the police forces to university. I do not believe that these two methods are in themselves the complete answer to the problem. I do not want the police service to be too much apart from ordinary life. I want people in it who have been to universities before becoming police officers as well as after. I also want the force to recruit people who have gone straight to universities from school, because to an increasing extent people of great talent will do this. The matter should be seen in proportion. It is not a question of reserving the top jobs for graduates; it is a question of 1949 getting more graduates than we have been getting recently, in the interest of the service.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
In Cambridge last week I saw a student, about to become a graduate, who had spent six weeks at the Bristol police headquarters to discover whether he wanted to join the service. He decided against it simply because he thought that the prospects and the pay were not adequate. Will the Home Secretary deal with the general point as well as the particular one?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I am aware that the question of prospects in the service is of great importance. There is also a special problem about graduates who necessarily and inevitably enter the police service at a later stage in their lives than non-graduates. We cannot pretent that that aspect of the problem does not exist, and we must try to find some method of dealing with it.
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds also raised a more specific point about the protection from transfer of officers in county forces after amalgamation. I want to give as helpful a reply as I can. As he knows, there is statutory protection for policemen serving in a borough force from being moved after amalgamation without their consent. There is no similar protection for county policemen, and there never has been, because a county has always been so big that they might have had to move in any case, independently of their amalgamation.
Despite this, the Home Office has asked the chief constables, not informally but in a circular, to see that as far as practicable, former county members should not be assigned to duties involving a move to a different area from that of their old force area. The Police Federation has made representations that ex-county policemen should be given the same protection as borough men. I have no grounds for thinking that chief constables have not been acting in the spirit of the advice given in the Home Office circular, but I am considering whether anything more can be done to deal with this aspect of the problem.
It is a complicated matter, and I cannot say that one can indicate a complete solution, but I am anxious that these 1950 amalgamations should go through with the minimum of friction and hardship for all ranks in the police service. The amalgamations are supported by the bulk of police at all ranks. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), made a number of points arising out of the Estimates Committee's Reports, and out of the Reports of the three working parties. He strongly supported the point to which the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, to some extent took exception, the majority recommendation of the working party Report that height restrictions should be somewhat reduced. He also placed considerable emphasis on better leisure periods and on doing away with unnecessary and excessive discipline. What can be agreed, and two of the Working Party Reports touched upon this, taking an extremely forward-looking attitude over discipline and management, is that the Home Office has made it quite clear that out-of-date disciplinary practices which are unnecessary and a bar to recruitment and an effective modern police service, ought not to be kept in being.
I think that I would pitch my sights rather higher than the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam. I hope that the police can look forward to a better family life with more time than is available to most Members of Parliament. What we are all most anxious to do is to give the police more time off in accordance with the normal pattern of working compatible with, but in no way decreasing, the protection to the public.
The Accrington experiment is not unique to Accrington. It is a development of the Kirkby experiment and the work going on in the Speke division of Liverpool. The great interest and attraction of this experiment is that it shows that by using new methods policemen can save manpower, have more time off and give better protection to the public. This is a remarkable achievement. It shows the great attraction of not being hidebound in one's approach.
The hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean), apart from supporting strongly the general proposals on amalgamations, raised some points about the Police Research and Planning Branch of the Home Office. This branch was set up in 1963. A good deal of groundwork was required to establish it on a sound 1951 scientific basis on which a good research framework could be built. It has been expanding rapidly. In 1966 the number of officers in the branch doubled to 40. This is a rapid rate of expansion. I cannot make any firm proposals about the future. We may not be able to keep up that rate of expansion. It may not be right to go at that rate. But we attach the greatest importance to the work of the branch and hope that it will play a substantial part.
My hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) mentioned the point with which I have to some extent dealt—the extreme importance of protecting those in the police, at all ranks, from demotion or hardship as a result of amalgamations. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Dobson) mentioned some points about graduates, which I have also dealt with to some extent in commenting on the speech of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds.
The police are facing a period of considerable challenge but in a spirit of experimentation and movement such as we have not seen for quite a long time. The proposals for police amalgamations amount to the biggest scheme of police reorganisation which we have seen for over a century. The present programme of equipping individual policemen with personal radio sets revolutionises the equipment position as it concerns individuals, and brings about a striking change in police methods in the interests of the work and the effectiveness of the individual policeman. That is going on very rapidly, and a large part of the programme will be complete in about a year.
We have a great number of reports on police work. We have the Reports of the Estimates Committee which is the peg for this debate. We have the three working party Reports. All ranks in the police service, with Home Office help and some outside help, sat down and worked together at their own proposals in a way rarely achieved before. There is a great spirit of movement and experimentation throughout the police service. I am glad that Sir Eric St. Johnston, who has a considerable record of achievement in Lancashire, has just taken over the job of Her Majesty's Chief 1952 Inspector of Constabulary in this exciting and challenging time. He will do a great deal for the police service during his period of office.
The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam quoted the leading article in the Police Federation Newsletter this year entitled "Chance of a Lifetime". In the debate about a year ago he quoted accurately—I tried to catch him out on a date and failed; he was right and I was wrong—a rather gloomy editorial in that publication about low morale. The fact that its editorial this month did not talk about low morale but was entitled "Chance of a Lifetime"—not certainty, but chance—marked a considerable improvement in the prospects for the police service. I hope that in the coming years we can make a reality that greater feeling of hope for the future which I believe there is in the police service. That will depend not only on the Government but on the support which the Government get from Parliament in facing these problems. We are, therefore, particularly grateful for the Estimates Committee's Reports and for the way in which it has been debated.
§ Mr. Winnick
Would my right hon. Friend answer the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker) about coloured policemen? Is there a rule that coloured policemen should not be recruited? It seems that there are only five in the country.
§ Mr. Jenkins
There is no such rule. I regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker) is not here. I was not able to be present to hear his speech, but I answered a Question of his yesterday, which my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick) may have seen, in which I indicated why the recruitment of coloured policemen in the Metropolitan Police area had not gone as well as I had hoped in the last year. We have recruited coloured policemen elsewhere in the country. We have I think five at present. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South frowns. I attach great importance to the recruitment of properly qualified coloured recruits to the police service. I do not think that anyone would suggest that the police should recruit those who are not properly qualified, and inevitably larger numbers will 1953 be coming forward when, as is now becoming the case, we have a lot of coloured people who have been brought up and educated in this country. This is now rapidly becoming the case and I hope that in the Metropolitan Police District we can see a number of suitably qualified coloured policemen recruited in the coming year.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
Can the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point which I was making and which I believe to be of considerable interest to the country? Does he not think that the time has come for considering whether there should be a special constabulary for the criminal investigation departments? This would not be a national police force, but there is throughout the whole of the criminal investigation department a genuine belief that this should be dealt with and——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member may ask the right hon. Gentleman a question, but he has exhausted his right to make a speech.
§ Mr. Jenkins
This is clearly a question which merits consideration. There are some arguments which run the other way, because there is a very respectable view that it is desirable to keep C.I.D. officers in the closest contact with the uniformed branch of the forces in which they serve. Were one to organise an entirely separate national C.I.D. service, 1954 this would run counter to that proposition. I am not saying that that is necessarily in all circumstances a decisive argument, but it is one which has to be set in the balance against the persuasive arguments which the hon. Gentleman deployed.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the First Report from the Estimates Committee and of the Fifth Special Report from the Estimates Committee relating to Police.