§ Dr. Cable
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the Government's guidance to the Metropolitan Police Service on the use of civilians within police stations; and in what circumstances civilians may be given responsibility for the supervision of detainees within police stations. 
§ Mr. Michael
The Commissioner tells me that the Metropolitan Police's civil staff are employed in a wide range of roles in support of operational police duties. There are currently 4,835 civil staff employed at divisional police stations within the Metropolitan Police District. Guidance on the use of civilians in the custody area of police stations was issued to all police forces on 6 July 1993. The guidance provided a list of tasks which were considered suitable for trained civilian staff working under the direct supervision of the custody officer.
The Commissioner tells me that civilian gaolers were formally introduced in the Metropolitan Police via a pilot scheme in May 1993. Since then, it has been acknowledged that, despite having no special powers, they can make a useful contribution in assisting the custody officer in the management of detained persons. Their main role is to deal with a wide range of important routine matters on behalf of the custody officer concerning general welfare, housekeeping and detention conditions.