HC Deb 03 July 1968 vol 767 cc1481-3
17. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many police officers were recruited to Scottish forces in the first six months of 1968; how many men were lost to the forces in the same period; and what was the main reason given by those who left the forces voluntarily during that period.

Mr. Buchan

During the first six months of 1968 a total of 458 police officers—418 men and 40 women—were recruited to Scottish forces: in the same period 358 officers left—313 men and 45 women. Voluntary resignations accounted for 186 officers—151 men and 35 women: information about the reasons given for resignation is not available for this period.

Mr. Taylor

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the numbers of long-serving police officers leaving at present give cause for concern when we have an increase in violent crime? In view of the reasons for leaving the force given by those who left last year, can the Minister give an assurance that the greatly increased productivity, as a result of unit beat policing and other factors will be taken fully into account in the September pay review?

Mr. Buchan

All factors will be taken fully into account. It is a cause for certain satisfaction, although I do not want to make too much of it, that the total number of police officers has increased enormously—105 of these were men—and that of those who left there has been a larger proportion because of retirement rather than resignations. Both those facts are cause for congratulations to the Government and the police authority.

Mr. Lawson

Will my hon. Friend explain why there is so much talk about the shortage of police constables when we know that over the past 10 years the number in Glasgow alone has increased by nearly a quarter?

Mr. Buchan

That is true. The ratio of police to population has increased enormously, as my hon. Friend said. I take it that one of the reasons for the continued anxiety about numbers is the crime situation. I am determined to push up the numbers in order to deal with that situation.

Mr. MacArthur

Does the Minister agree that one of the best aids to the recruitment which we so much need would be for the Government to show greater understanding of the problems confronting the police in their fight against crime? Does he agree that a good start would be made if the police were given powers to search where the possession of an offensive weapon is suspected?

Mr. Buchan

I sometimes think that I should provide the hon. Gentleman not only with that, but with a gramophone needle. We have gone over this many times in the past six months. We must try to restore confidence, which some hon. Members opposite have sapped in the City of Glasgow by the continual reference to the inadequacy of police powers. There is no inadequacy of police powers. That is what we should be emphasising if we are concerned about dealing with crime rather than making political points.