HC Deb 26 April 1956 vol 551 cc1949-50
12. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the time of the Metropolitan Police is now spent on crime detection and prevention, and traffic duties, respectively.

Major Lloyd-George

About 13 per cent. of the actual strength of the Metropolitan Police are engaged whole-time in the Criminal Investigation Department and about 8 per cent. are employed whole-time on traffic duties. It is not possible to say precisely what proportion of the time of other members of the Force is devoted to these duties, respectively, but it has been estimated that a constable on ordinary street duty for a period of eight hours spends about 17 per cent. of his time directly on crime detection and prevention and about 6 per cent. directly on traffic duties.

Mr. Awbery

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that it is not long ago that the police did fire-fighting service as well and that when the firefighting service became large enough it was separated from the police? Now that road traffic duties have become so great, will he not also take road traffic duties away from the police? If he is not prepared to do so, what is he going to do to increase recruiting for the police force?

Major Lloyd-George

That is another question. We are doing everything we can to increase recruitment to the police force by every means. The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that traffic duties and criminal duties are not necessarily mutually exclusive, because many cases in connection with traffic duties are connected with crime. We cannot possibly separate them.

Mr. Younger

Would not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman agree that the key to the problem is whether or not the duties one talks about require police powers, like powers of arrest? If they require powers of that kind, is it not advisable that those powers should be exercised only by the fully-trained police force?

Major Lloyd-George

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. It is a very tricky problem, as he appreciates, to have other special forces simply dealing with traffic problems where traffic affairs are often connected with criminal affairs, and it would be very difficult to differentiate between them.