HC Deb 28 April 1966 vol 727 cc928-9
16. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now take steps to reorganise police forces on a national basis.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

No, Sir. But I intend to make a statement shortly outlining my proposals for the further amalgamation of police areas in the interests of greater efficiency.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

While thanking the Home Secretary for that reply, in part, would he not agree that because of the appalling increase in crime, much of it committed by criminals organised on a national basis, the time is now ripe for the police forces to be organised on a national basis so that they can cope with these crimes adequately?

Mr. Jenkins

I am certainly aware that, because of the growth in organised crime, it is vitally important to organise police forces in the most efficient way possible to combat that crime. But one does not do that by grasping at a phrase, whether it be a national police force or something else, and I want to study the matter carefully.

Mr. O'Malley

Rather than considering ad hoc amalgamations of police forces, will my right hon. Friend give detailed consideration to the potential advantages in present-day conditions of multi-purpose regional authorities whose functions would include the provision and control of police forces?

Mr. Jenkins

It is a matter of great concern to me and to anyone responsible for the police to see what comes out of the Royal Commission on Local Government, but I do not want to have a standstill on police amalgamations during the two years or so for which that Commission must sit, and I propose to press ahead vigorously during this interim period.

Mr. Hogg

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he is likely to make his statement, and will he take into account the fact that many of us on this side of the House, and perhaps on the other side, too, attach great importance to a forward move in this direction?

Mr. Jenkins

I hope to make a statement within a matter of two or three weeks.