HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc591-3
3. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made in terms of available manpower or money of the effort of the Metropolitan Police in accompanying abnormal indivisible loads last year; and what were the normal duties of the police officers allocated to those duties.

Mr. Woodhouse

During 1963 traffic patrols escorting abnormal indivisible loads through the Metropolitan Police District covered 253,600 miles and the duty occupied 21,600 man-hours. These escorts are regarded as part of the normal duties of the police in the regulation of traffic. The estimated cost of this part of their traffic duties was £22,000.

committing this offence, which is quite inexcusable and extremely dangerous?

Mr. Woodhouse

The figures of prosecutions show an increase. It is not for my right hon. Friend to give an instruction to the police in this matter, but I have no doubt that what my hon. Friend has said will come to their attention.

Following are the figures:

Mr. Digby

Would not my hon. Friend agree that this is a waste of police manpower, which is short anyhow? Has not the time come to impose some kind of disincentive on those who move these loads, for instance, by making some charge? Do not they have every advantage by sending by road and not by ship or rail?

Mr. Woodhouse

Suggestions to this effect have been made from time to time, but the practice of the police is not to make any charge for their services on the public highway or any public place. The police prevent obstructions on the roads as part of their general duty to the community, and it would not be feasible to distinguish this from their other public duties.

Mr. Hocking

Would my hon. Friend confirm that these heavy vehicles already pay much in excess of normal vehicles in Road Fund duty?

Mr. Woodhouse

That is a question not for me but for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.