§ 8. Mr. Matthew Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall on the use of special constables at weekends to police towns and villages in Cornwall.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
Deployment of the special constabulary is an operational matter for individual chief officers. I understand from the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall that in Cornwall special constables are deployed at weekends to assist with such occasions as local carnivals and fetes and to assist with local crime prevention initiatives.
It is common for the special constabulary to police rural towns and villages at weekends in support of regular police officers.
§ Mr. Taylor
The Minister may like to know that my constituents, particularly in Truro and St. Austell, have reported considerable feelings of intimidation to me. In the light of that, I have on a number of occasions asked for more full-time constables, but the Government will not give the Devon and Cornwall constabulary the numbers that it would like. Will the Minister therefore look into the question to see whether the excellent work done by the special constabulary, whose numbers have risen recently, cannot be used to mitigate some of my constituents' worries, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings?
§ Mr. Hogg
I am very much in favour of the special constabulary, which can, indeed, do a valuable job. In terms of the manpower available to the force, the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that since May 1979 the number of police in his county force has risen by 133 and the number of civilians by 160. He will also be pleased to know that the force has a clean-up rate well above the national average and that the number of offences per 100,000 of the population is well below the national average.
§ Mr. Harris
I welcome the figures just mentioned by my hon. Friend, but is he aware that the 800 or so special constables in the counties of Devon and Cornwall between them now account for 80,000 hours of policing? Does he agree that this is a public-spirited duty, and will he do all he can to encourage people to join this excellent force?