§ Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the discussions which took place recently between officials of his Department, the chief constable of the west midlands and the chairman of the West Midlands county council police committee about the use of plastic bullets; and what is his policy towards the borrowing of plastic bullets from the Metropolitan police by constabularies outside the London area.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
In reply to a question by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lyell) on 26 November at cols.515–16, my right hon. Friend said that, where a chief constable concluded that he required plastic baton rounds, and this was endorsed by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, he regarded it as essential that the equipment should be available to the force concerned. The purpose of the meeting with officials on 5 December, which was attended by the police authority chairmen and chief constables of Greater Manchester, West Midlands, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, was to work out how such a requirement was best met.
At the meeting the chairmen of the police authorities explained the position in their particular authorities. The chief constables expressed the view that there was a need for their forces to have plastic baton rounds available. None of the four police authorities had yet agreed to their purchase. The Department's officials stressed that it was my right hon. Friend's wish that all parties should consult and proceed in co-operation, if possible. It was made clear, however, that, if necessary, the equipment and training in its use would be provided through central facilities under Home Office auspices.
Arrangements for the loan of items of equipment between forces are, in the first instance, a matter for the chief officers of police concerned.