HC Deb 12 March 1970 vol 797 cc1545-6
22. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on his policy regarding the appointment of members of the police force as community relations officers.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

A number of chief officers of police, including the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, have appointed senior officers to act as community liaison officers in selected areas. It is part of their duty to coordinate divisional activities affecting race relations and to promote and maintain good relationships with immigrants and immigrant organisations.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that reply. Would she not agree that the employment of the police in this capacity does more than anything else to demolish the distrust and prejudice against the police which unfortunately is widespread in the immigrant community?

Mrs. Williams

This whole activity, which is one part of the functions of the police, is of the greatest possible importance. The hon. Gentleman may like to know that some research is shortly to be undertaken on the whole question of the relationship between the police and public, and that that research has the full support of the Metropolitan Police.

Mr. Molloy

But would my hon. Friend not agree that what has helped even more the relationship between the public and the police is the fact that my right hon. Friend has tightened up the law on firearms, drugs, and so on, and has corrected the many errors that he inherited from his predecessors opposite? He had to deal with the wishy-washy situation that existed to enable the police to do their duty.

Mrs. Williams

There is no doubt that for the proper champions of law and order the House needs to look to hon. Members on this side.

Mr. Hogg

Will the hon. Lady read what her right hon. Friend said earlier about undesirability of introducing this subject into party politics?

Mrs. Williams

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will recognise that I am introducing not party politics but merely an attitude of objectivity towards the facts.