§ 14. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will institute a review of police establishment strengths in England and Wales.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
Police force establishments are kept under review by chief officers, police authorities and Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary. Police authorities are responsible for fixing the authorised establishment of forces, subject to my approval. I recently completed consideration to applications for increases from 16 police authorities and I am prepared to approve additional posts for eight forces, including the Thames Valley police.
§ Mr. McNair-Wilson
I am grateful for the layer remarks of my right hon. Friend, but does he not agree that there is a considerable disparity in the ratio of police to population in different constabularies? The national average is one policeman to 431 members of the community, whereas in the Thames Valley it is one policeman to 565. Is not the latter figure the lowest in England and Wales and is there not a case for a substantial rise in the number of police constables in the Thames Valley force?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
For those reasons, which I accept, among others, I was prepaid to authorise 10 additional posts for Thames Valley. As my hon. Friend appreciate, its strength has increased by 445 in the past three years.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there are enough policemen in the middle ranks of the force of sufficient calibre to take up the most senior appointments?