HC Deb 29 June 1950 vol 476 cc2427-8
2. Mr. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the average number of policemen employed daily during the three months ending 31st March, 1950, on regulating temporary traffic lights on road repairs or other obstructions; and why this sedentary work need be done by full-trained police officers at a time when they are needed on the beat.

Mr. Ede

During this period the average number of constables engaged daily in the Metropolitan Police district in operating police traffic signals was 16. Police experience of traffic control is necessary for the efficient operation of the signals and more police would have been needed for the manual control of traffic at the points affected if signals had not been used.

Mr. Gammans

Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that in some parts of London exactly the same sort of traffic light is operated by watchmen, and in view of the fact that the sight of a London policeman on his beat in the suburbs is becoming an increasing rarity, would it not be the right principle to see that the police are used on strictly police duties?

Mr. Ede

It is not the kind of signal apparatus that is in question; it is the site at which the signal is to be operated that determines whether a policeman should or should not be employed there.

Mr. Awbery

Would the Minister give consideration to the establishment of a supernumerary force to concentrate on road traffic work, thereby releasing police to carry out the duties for which they were recruited?

Mr. Ede

The difficulty is that a supernumerary force would not have the same powers as the police.

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