HC Deb 15 February 1968 vol 758 cc1559-60
6. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied that facilities are adequate to maintain all new electronic and mechanical equipment being used in police forces; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Callaghan

I am not aware of any general difficulty on this score, but if the hon. Gentleman has in mind difficulties in any particular area and will write to me, I shall be glad to examine the matter.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I am grateful for that Answer. In general terms, in relation to the increased use of this equipment, can the right hon. Gentleman say if he considers that the Ministry of Defence might make use of some of those coming out of the Forces, whose experience might be of value in maintaining this equipment, much of which is of a comparable nature to that used in the Services?

Mr. Callaghan

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. It is quite true that, for example, the number of pocket radio sets in use will have increased from 600 in January, 1966, to 20,000 by the end of this year. This is having a substantial impact on the nature of policing and I will, therefore, be delighted to consider any suggestions about bringing in technicians who can help us to service this equipment and thereby save extra manpower.

Mr. Whitaker

How many of our police forces now have computers? How near are we to the identification of fingerprints by this method, which the United States has been using for many years?

Mr. Callaghan

I cannot answer the first part of that question without notice. Certainly there is a substantial development at Scotland Yard, which I had the opportunity of seeing for myself the other day, when they rapidly—within a matter of minutes—identified somebody who was wanted; and I hope that that will bring terror to the hearts of some would-be evil doers.