HC Deb 04 June 1964 vol 695 cc1239-40
34. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in order to deal with the problem of hooligans on the banks of the Thames, he will take steps to set up a joint river police force operating from Teddington Lock up to Lechlade, Gloucestershire, with power to apprehend offenders com- mitting acts of vandalism from the banks of the river.

Mr. Brooke

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis accepts the desirability of extending his river patrols to the stretch between Teddington Lock and Staines, and is in consultation with the Thames Conservancy with a view to making arrangements for this. In the upper reaches of the river, offences are usually committed from along the river banks and adjoining recreation grounds, and can most effectively be dealt with by policemen on foot, rather than by boat patrols. The riparian police forces already co-operate with one another to whatever extent is necessary, and I do not think there is a need to set up a new force.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the throwing of bottles from the banks, the shooting of air guns from the banks and other acts of hooliganism cannot always be dealt with by foot police because of the lack of such police on the banks? Would it not be better either to give powers to the Thames Conservancy navigation officers to go on the banks from a boat or to set up the joint police force which I have suggested?

Mr. Brooke

No. Sir. I know my hon. Friend's sincere concern about all this, but it seems to me that someone throwing bottles or shooting an air gun from the bank is much more likely to be caught by a policeman on the bank than by a policeman in a boat.