§ 2. Mr. Goodlad
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next expects to meet representatives of the Police Federation.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
I have no arrangements at present for a formal meeting with the Police Federation.
§ Mr. Goodlad
When the Home Secretary meets the Police Federation, will he be discussing with it the very worrying trend of experienced police officers leaving the force after four or five years? Does he think that there are any factors involved other than pay, which is belatedly subject to review—for example, morale? Is he proposing any remedies?
§ Mr. Rees
Over half of those who leave the police force do so within two years. As we discussed in the debate the other day, this is a worrying aspect of recruiting young men and women. We shall see what Lord Edmund-Davies comes up with. I have given my view on the importance that I attached to this matter.
There are factors other than pay—night work and so on—which will not be met by a pay increase. Morale may be one part of it. But, like so many other factors in penal reform and so on, there are no simple answers to those matters. I do not believe that it is within the remit of a Home Secretary or anybody else to say something that will solve a problem which arises in the public service, particularly in those parts of the public service in which people work unusual hours. Young men these days want to be at home with their families. That is perhaps one factor.
§ Mr. Greville Janner
When my right hon. Friend has discussions with the Police Federation, will he discuss the problems created for police officers through the holding of marches by organisations such as the National Front? Does he not think that the time has come when he should take the decision about banning a march rather than leaving it to the local police chief?
§ Mr. Rees
We have had this discussion before. The law puts this on the grounds of public disorder. Is my hon. and learned Friend suggesting that I should take the decision whether a May Day march should take place on the grounds of something more than the argument put forward by those in the march? I disagree with those who think that that is the way to do things. This must clearly be dealt with on the ground of public 640 disorder. It is not a question of passing the buck, because whoever is made Home Secretary is not suddenly translated into a policeman.
§ Mr. Aitken
When the right hon. Gentleman meets the Police Federation, will he raise with it the need to strengthen, revitalise and restructure the Special Constabulary? Does he not agree that this fine body of men and women could do with a clear lead from the Home Office to show that we need more voluntary police officers on the beat?
§ Mr. Rees
I agree. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that this is something about which the Police Federation feels strongly. It is against any extra people joining the Special Constabulary. It speaks up very strongly against it at meetings I have at the Home Office. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to have a shot at talking to the Police Federation about this. I have.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
When my right hon. Friend next meets the Police Federation, will he discuss with it why it has taken so long to set up a monitoring procedure on suspects' rights to inform relatives? Can he confirm whether it was the Police Federation which put a veto on the carrying out of what was an undertaking given to the House, or is it merely that the civil servants have moved slowly on this matter?
§ Mr. David Howell
Can the Home Secretary give us a reassurance that the Edmund-Davies interim report on police pay will be available before Easter?
§ Mr. Rees
No, I could not do that. I have told Lord Edmund-Davies "Make the report in your own way. I will not interfere with what you are doing in any way." For me to do so would be a grave mistake. Perhaps I should say what I have said obliquely about this. I would rather that this was a report which stood the test of time, as did the 1961 report, than that it was something quick and slipshod, produced to meet some narrow political need.