HC Deb 07 February 1963 vol 671 cc645-6
12 and 40. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) to what extent recruitment for the police has been affected by the minimum height requirements for recruits; and

(2) whether he will lower the minimum height requirements for recruits to the Metropolitan Police.

Mr. Woodhouse

The minimum height standards undoubtedly mean that some otherwise suitable applicants cannot be accepted as police recruits, but my right hon. Friend does not think that it would be in the public interest to lower the minimum height of 5 ft. 8 ins. prescribed by the Police Regulations.

Mr. Goodhart

Is my hon. Friend aware that the average height of adult men in this country has recently been estimated at 5 ft. 7. ins., which is below the minimum height requirements? Is he aware that if the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) had applied to join the police they would have been rejected by all the police forces in this country and those forces would have lost possibly valuable recruits?

Mr. Woodhouse

I am aware of the statistic to which my hon. Friend has referred, but I think this illustrates the point that it is generally desirable and accepted by public opinion that a policeman should be in a position physically to rise above surrounding humanity. As to the point made about right hon. Members of the Opposition Front Bench, I suppose that it is at any rate to the advantage of this House.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Does my hon. Friend realise that in the finest police force in the country, the Nottingham City Police, we maintain a minimum height standard of 6 ft., and we are fully up to strength and have a waiting list?

Mr. Woodhouse

I am aware that a number of police forces insist on a minimum standard higher than the minimum laid down by the Police Regulations. There is no reason why they should not, if they can fill their forces.