HC Deb 20 May 1982 vol 24 c464
17. Mr. Lennox-Boyd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has held any discussions with chief constables on the measures being taken by them to increase public confidence in the police.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am satisfied that the vast majority of the public have full confidence in the police. The welcome increase in police strength has allowed chief constables to return many more men to the streets, where the public wish to see them. My officials are discussing with chief constables and others the terms of the guidance that I propose to issue shortly about local consultation arrangements between the police and the community.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Does my hon. Friend agree that the public are often not aware of the many functions and duties that the police carry out on their behalf? Does he agree that the system of open days at police stations has been an enormous success in fostering further confidence between the public and the police? Will he give encouragement to extend those open days where possible?

Mr. Whitelaw

I know—because I come from near my hon. Friend's constituency—that they had a successful open day at Morecambe. Open days should be encouraged, and they are very well supported by the public when they are given.

Mr. Snape

Will the Home Secretary publish comparative figures for crimes committed and detected in 1978 and 1981? Having done so, will he publicise those figures widely? That at least would stop the Home Secretary's efforts to delude his own Back Benchers into thinking that the Government have been even remotely successful in their campaign to reduce crime?

Mr. Whitelaw

If the hon. Gentleman would like to table a question on those matters I shall, of course, answer it.

Mr. Edward Gardner

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one way of increasing confidence in the police would be to encourage chief constables to resist the temptation of making public statements when they can be avoided?

Mr. Whitelaw

I think that chief constables are aware well of the feelings of some hon. Members and of what the House has frequently said on that subject.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does the Home Secretary agree that one way of creating more confidence in the police would be to remove the need for eminent barristers such as the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) to have to spend days in court making allegations of misconduct against the police? Would not this be much less likely if all interrogations were tape recorded?

Mr. Whitelaw

I should have thought it was clear to most people that some policemen make mistakes and that some are guilty of misconduct. However, for every policeman in those categories, there are many hundreds giving a great service in protecting the citizens of this country.