HC Deb 08 December 1949 vol 470 cc2066-8
28. Earl Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the shortage in the establishment of the Metropolitan Police and the strain upon their members owing to the serious increase of crime, he will circularise local authorities within the Metropolitan Police area, asking them to increase the number of traffic lights and reduce the number of regulations in force in regard to street hawking and the parking of motor cars, so as to make more police available on duty for the prevention of serious crime.

Mr. Ede

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is considering proposals to instal additional traffic signals at about 20 places in the Metropolitan police district where the police are now employed to direct traffic. As regards street hawking, I assume that the noble Lord has in mind the position created by Part IV of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1947, under which numbers of perambulating traders have been registered by the local authorities; the Commissioner of Police is at present discussing the situation which this has created with the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee. As regards parking, the "No Waiting" regulations, which place restrictions on vehicles waiting in scheduled streets, were made by the Minister of Transport; I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that their effect has been to promote the flow of traffic and to reduce accidents and that they are therefore of help to the police.

Earl Winterton

While the answer of the right hon. Gentleman is very satisfactory in so far as it meets the points put in the Question, is he aware that the fact remains that very often when hold-ups on shops are being made, the constable is employed in the near neighbourhood jotting down in his notebook particulars either of street hawking or of the parking of cars, and that a clever criminal can pretty well find out what the policeman is doing?

Mr. Ede

I think that is rather an overstatement of the opportunities for the criminal, but we are doing our best, as the answer shows, to relieve the police of duties that can be performed in other ways, and I hope that that process will continue. I also hope that the improved rate of recruiting for the police will continue.

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