§ 16. Mr. Fowler
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the current strength of the Royal Ulster Constabulary; how far this is short of establishment; and whether he will make a statement on the progress of recruiting.
§ Mr. David Howell
On 25th April the strength was 4,100. This is 296 short of the establishment authorised for the current financial year. Recruitment to the Force during 1971 was satisfactory but declined during the first three months of 1972 despite considerable expenditure on advertising and publicity. Consideration is now being given to renewed efforts in this field, including the further use of television advertising.
§ Mr. Fowler
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has been subject in the past to a great deal of unjustified criticism? Does he also agree that a strong civil police force is in the true interests of all the people in Northern Ireland and that, therefore, policies for increasing recruitment should be given the highest priority?
§ Mr. Howell
I agree very strongly with both of those propositions. As I said, priority and consideration are being given to stepping up recruiting and increasing publicity in order to main to maintain a high standard of recruiting.