HC Deb 05 November 1969 vol 790 cc1011-2
41. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total manpower available to police forces in Scotland in September, 1963, 1965, 1967 and 1969.

Mr. Ross

Respectively, 10,717; 11,311; 11,617; and 12,016.

Mr. Manuel

I am delighted at the substantial increase in the strength of the force, but could my right hon. Friend tell us the amount spent in recent years on mechanical aids used by the police for the prevention and detection of crime?

Mr. Ross

The figures I gave apply to total manpower—police, traffic wardens, civilian clerical and civilian technical staff. Total expenditure on equipment and maintenance of vehicles since 1964–65 up to the estimate for the current year has risen from £678,000 to £1,327,000.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Will the Secretary of State agree that increased civilianisation and more traffic wardens are not in themselves an answer to the serious shortage of manpower in the police force? In the year to date, has there been a net increase or decrease in the number of police officers in Scotland?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman will recall that I answered that question to him just the other day. I think that the figure was a loss of 12. I notice that he carefully missed out 1966 in his selective statistics, which would have given him a slightly different overall picture. As regards Glasgow, I think that there was a increase of 14. I appreciate that these are manpower figures, but I take it that the hon. Gentleman does not suggest that releasing policemen from office and traffic duties does not in itself give us more men to deal with the more serious aspect of crime.

Mr. MacArthur

What is the shortage in the regular police strength today, and what steps is the Secretary of State taking to bridge the gap?

Mr. Ross

The shortage in relation to establishment is at present about 900. What we have done to bridge the gap has been to try to make the conditions of service in the police as well as pay much more attractive, to improve relations between police and public and to secure their co-operation. I think that we are succeeding in that way.