HC Deb 18 February 1982 vol 18 cc391-2
8. Mr. Trippier

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current uniformed strength of the Lancashire constabulary; and what it was in May 1979.

Mr. Mayhew

At the end of 1981 the total strength of the Lancashire constabulary, including both uniformed officers and CID, was 3,153. This is a gain of 60 on the total of 3,093 in May 1979.

Mr. Trippier

I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Will he confirm that the increased numbers of police will mean that more will be seen on the beat than was the case prior to 1979?

Mr. Mayhew

It is desirable that officers should be returned to the beat from other duties whenever possible. However, it is a matter for the operational discretion of chief constables. I know that my view is widely held by them.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that any suggestion by the county police committee of a cut in the allocation of the budget of the Lancashire police would be unacceptable to the people of Lancashire? If he receives such a suggestion, will he rebut it with all possible force?

Mr. Mayhew

As my right hon. Friend has said, the allocation of the sums made available to police authorities is a matter for them. I am sure that there is a wide measure of agreement with what my hon. Friend has said. Most people believe that there should be no reduction in the number of police officers on the beat.

Mr. Alton

How many members of the Lancashire constabulary have been recruited from ethnic minority groups? Is the Minister prepared to remove the height restriction, which prevents Chinese and Asian applicants from joining the police force?

Mr. Mayhew

I do not carry in my head the figures for which the hon. Gentleman asks. It is no secret that everyone concerned with such matters wishes to see more suitably qualified representatives of the ethnic minorities in the police forces.