HC Deb 03 November 1983 vol 47 cc994-6
16. Mr. Greenway

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current strength of the Metropolitan police against its establishment; how many officers are from ethnic minority backgrounds; and how these figures compare with those for five years previously.

Mr. Waddington

During the past five years the strength of the Metropolitan police has increased by 4,963 to 26,638 at the end of September 1983. Its establishment has increased by 326 to 26,915. During the same period the number of police officers in the force who are from the ethnic minorities has increased by 128 to 211.

Mr. Greenway

Are not these figures welcome, and clear evidence of the Government's successes in moving towards higher standards of law and order? Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that formerly sensitive areas are now much better policed and that the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is deploying resources more effectively than ever before towards a reduction of violent crime such as mugging and burglary in the Metropolitan area?

Mr. Waddington

I agree with my hon. Friend that the figures are encouraging, but we should like to see more recruits from the ethnic minorities. The figures are steadily increasing, but greater efforts should be made and a special recruitment campaign has been conducted in the ethnic minority press in the past three years.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Minister now take a special look at areas where there are high proportions of ethnic minorities—for example in Harlesden, where more than 60 per cent. of the population is part of an ethnic minority — with a view to introducing fresh initiatives for recruitment. particularly among schools careers officers and school leavers, such as lectures to sixth forms? Will he try to do something to dispel the problem that arises with the new police powers to stop persons, proposed in the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, about which the ethnic minorities feel particularly sensitive?

Mr. Waddington

It is not for me to go into the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, but I shall bear in mind the other points made by the hon. Gentleman, while repeating that it is possible that we should look into the whole issue of recruitment among people from ethnic minorities.

Mr. Aitken

Has my hon. and learned Friend noticed the small but encouraging increase in the recruitment to the special constabulary of the Metropolitan police? Will he do everything to encourage this trend, not least because the special constabulary is a useful bridge between the police and the community they serve?

Mr. Waddington

Yes, I agree with what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Madden

We all accept the need for more officers to be recruited from the ethnic minority background. However, is not the Minister concerned at the recent leaked academic report, which showed the extent of racist attitudes in the Metropolitan police among all ranks, including senior officers? What does the Minister plan to do to stop racism in the Metropolitan police?

Mr. Waddington

I think that the hon. Gentleman is referring to a report by the Policy Studies Institute. I remind him that it is greatly to the credit of the Metropolitan police that it should have commissioned such a report. A number of matters raised in that report have already led to action.

Mr. Parris

Has my hon. and learned Friend noticed what the Derbyshire constabulary is doing to attract more people from the ethnic minorities into the police force? Without in any way lowering the entrance qualifications, it is trying to get more people from the ethnic minorities into the cadet school. Is this not a helpful and interesting experiment?

Mr. Waddington

I agree with my hon. Friend, and it might be worth while commenting on what is happening in London, where some candidates attend instruction classes run by the industrial language training unit of the Inner London education authority.

Mr. Townend

Does my hon and learned Friend recall that many London Conservative Members spent much of the last Parliament asking for a review of the Metropolitan police establishment, which is way out of date? Now that we have the police in London up to strength, can we have an urgent review of the establishment? Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that when there are demonstrations in inner London, outer London is very vulnerable?

Mr. Waddington

My right hon. and learned Friend will have heard what my hon. Friend has said.