HC Deb 25 January 1951 vol 483 cc282-4
12. Wing Commander Hulbert

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire county police forces are employing plain clothes officers on traffic duty; and whether this action has his approval.

Mr. Ede

The measures taken by the police to prevent and detect breaches of the law are primarily the responsibility of the chief officer of police and my approval is not required. I am, however, aware of the experiment, involving the use of plain clothes motor patrols for the purpose of checking reckless and dangerous behaviour on the roads which has been undertaken in Oxfordshire, and in view of the appalling toll of road casualties I am in sympathy with any experiment which has as its object the prevention of dangerous driving and the detection of that small minority of selfish and reckless motorists who at present disregard the law.

Wing Commander Hulbert

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that these tactics, which are resented by the community, will not be countenanced by the Metropolitan Police.? Is he also aware that under the law as it stands motorists are only required to stop for a constable in uniform, and what is the position of motorists who may be signalled to stop by thugs whom they have no means of identifying?

Mr. Ede

The understanding with regard to the Oxfordshire experiment is that no person will be asked to stop unless the constable is in uniform. The position of a motorist asked to stop by anyone not in uniform is as it always has been.

Mr. John Hay

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one of the quickest ways of solving the accident problem on the A.40 road is for his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to allocate more money for road widening and improvement?

Mr. Speaker

That has nothing to do with this Question.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many who have given the closest study to the problem of road accidents will entirely approve his original answer?

Wing Commander Hulbert

Does the right hon. Gentleman's original answer mean that these cars with plain clothes officers on board will carry uniformed officers as well, or will one of them do a quick change act in the car?

Mr. Ede

What I understand happens is that they are in uniform but they wear over their uniform an overcoat or raincoat which they can quickly discard should it be necessary.