§ 24. Mr. Ralph Howell
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will compare the latest police recruitment figures with those for the same month in 1971 and 1970; and if he will show the net change in the strength of the police forces as a percentage of the total strength.
§ Mr. R. Carr
The number of recruits in October, 1972 was 758 compared with 703 in October, 1971, and 609 in October, 1970.
The percentage net gain was 0.25 per cent. in 1972, 0.33 per cent. in 1971 and 0.20 per cent. in 1970.
§ Mr. Howell
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people believe that a much greater increase in recruitment is necessary to ensure that the law is adequately enforced and that people receive the protection to which they are entitled?
§ Mr. Carr
Yes, indeed, and I am glad to say that with the important exception of the Metropolitan area, where numbers are almost static, the strength of the police force throughout the country as a whole over the last two years has been rising, and is continuing to rise. I hope that this situation will continue.
§ Mr. John Fraser
Is not that situation of the Metropolitan Police much more serious than that? During the current year it has lost 1,035 experienced officers, which it can ill afford to lose. What is the Home Secretary doing to make sure that experienced officers who know their own community well will stay in the force and not be replaced by raw recruits who need time to get to know the job?
§ Mr. Carr
This is a difficult matter. The commissioner is giving great attention to it, and we are also giving great attention to recruiting. The commissioner is well aware of the need to do all we can to retain those officers we have. It is wrong, however, to think that the total strength of the Metropolitan force is falling. It is rising very slowly, but not nearly as fast as I would wish.