HC Deb 03 December 1970 vol 807 cc1435-8
1. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will call for a report from the Chief Constable on the level of police recruiting in Hampshire.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Richard Sharples)

149 persons have been recruited to the Hampshire Constabulary in the first ten months of this year, compared with 129 in the whole of 1969 and 98 in 1968.

Mr. Judd

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Would he not agree that the Hampshire Police have a creditable record of crime detection and that this represents a heavy load on the existing staff because of the difficulties in recruitment? Would he not also agree that, as in other parts of the country, it is totally unfair to exploit the sense of service and loyalty of the police and that it is high time that the country ensured that the police have adequate conditions of service and proper pay?

Mr. Sharples

I am certain that no one in the House, least of all my right hon. Friend, wishes in any way to exploit the loyalty of the police. Negotiations about pay are now proceeding in the Police Council and it would be quite inappropriate for me to say anything about that. As a resident of Hampshire, I fully endorse the hon. Gentleman's tribute to the Hampshire Police.

Mr. Speaker

It is not in order to anticipate a later Question on the Order Paper.

16. Mr. Rees-Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further steps he proposes to take to encourage recruitment into the police force; what inducements he proposes to offer serving personnel to remain; and whether he will postpone the retirement age owing to the serious manpower shortage.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

Recruiting by individual forces is being assisted by a substantial increase this year in national publicity; and in agreement with the local authority associations provision has been made for helping in some local recruiting campaigns. With regard to pay, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply already given today to Questions by other Members. As regards retirement, police officers may be granted extensions of service of up to five years in suitable cases. I doubt if a general change in the compulsory retirement age is called for.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Does my right hon. Friend feel that he will be able to find a way of encouraging personnel who retire this year after 25 years' service to remain in the service, bearing in mind their pension provisions? Does he recognise that, quite irrespective of pay, the basis of recruitment depends upon attractive terms and conditions of service? Will he look carefully into those conditions to ensure that the police are able to obtain the type of assistance which all of us expect to receive in our commercial and general life?

Mr. Maudling

Both of my hon. Friend's points are very important, and I can assure him that they are very much in the mind of the Police Council. It is important that I should say again that the problem is not only recruiting but wastage. In some ways the wastage of trained constables is a bigger problem than recruiting.

Sir G. de Freitas

Will the Home Secretary encourage the use of the Willink formula when questions of pay and conditions of the police are discussed?

Mr. Maudling

If I answered that, I should be doing what I said I ought not to do, namely, make a statement while negotiations are in progress.

Sir D. Renton

Would it not help if a special effort were made to recruit special constables, who can do much to help the police at times of great stress?

Mr. Maudling

That is a different point, but I shall be glad to examine it.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Is not the easiest and simplest way of getting all the police that the right hon. Gentleman wants for the Government to give them the 43 per cent. increase which they gave to the chairmen of the nationalised boards and people in the higher Civil Service?

Mr. Maudling

That may be an easy and simple way. I doubt whether it is a wise way.

17. Mr. Rees-Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what inducements he proposes to offer to university graduates to encourage their recruitment into the police; and whether he will offer terms within the Metropolis enabling recruits to choose service exclusive to the Department of Criminal Investigation.

Mr. Sharples

A graduate entry scheme introduced in October, 1968 offers the prospect of accelerated promotion to successful candidates. The suggestion that there should be direct recruitment into Criminal Investigation Departments for service confined to those Departments has been considered on previous occasions and has been rejected on grounds which remain valid.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the graduate entry scheme as it stands is a complete failure? It has not been taken up by the universities, and they find it unattractive. If we are to succeed, youth must be offered the service it wants. Is it true to say that detective investigation is the same as the general duties of the police force? The universities want the opportunity to defeat organised crime. Will not the Home Secretary look at this carefully and give them an opportunity of doing so?

Mr. Speaker

Long questions mean fewer questions.

Mr. Sharples

I do not accept that the graduate entry scheme has been a complete failure. I should like to see many more graduates coming into the police force. The matter raised in the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question was examined carefully. Both the Working Party and the Royal Commissison came down firmly against the proposal of having a separate force and separate recruitment for the C.I.D. for very strong reasons. I think that those reasons were correct.

Mr. David Watkins

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that a return to the now sadly eroded standards of the Willink Commission would be an important means of encouraging police recruitment at all levels?

Mr. Sharples

We are getting back to the subject of police pay, which is a separate question.