HC Deb 12 April 1984 vol 58 cc512-3
3. Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to improve police efficiency and effectiveness.

Mr. Brittan

Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary are encouraging forces to apply the principles of efficient and effective management contained in the guidance that I recently issued to chief officers and police authorities. My Department contributes to improved efficiency and effectiveness through its work in such important areas as crime prevention, police training, new technology and research.

Mr. Brown

That is a helpful answer. Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that on Humberside all the work that he is trying to do through the inspectorate will be undermined because the police committee is deliberately withholding the funds necessary to ensure adequate policing in the county?

Mr. Brittan

I am very well aware of the activities of the Humberside police committee, as I have visited Humberside quite recently. Of course, those activities have forced the chief constable to decide on the allocation of resources that it has made available. In the light of subsequent developments, I shall look to the inspectorate to report on the effect of the reduction in resources on the efficiency of the force.

Mr. Bell

Will the Home Secretary consider sending another circular to the police suggesting that the inspectorate's reports be made public?

Mr. Brittan

The value of the reports would be diminished if it was not possible to include confidential material in them. Home Office circular No. 114/1983 readily makes clear the factors which I think can assist in improving police efficiency and effectiveness.

Sir Edward Gardner

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that one of the most successful ways of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the police in dealing with the sort of crime that alarms people in large cities is to put even more policemen on the streets? What steps is he taking to achieve that?

Mr. Brittan

I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. However, exactly how to carry out that policy will vary according to the needs of particular forces. The operational plan for moving in that direction must be a matter for each chief constable. It can be done. For example, the police commissioner in London has redeployed his force in such a way that many hundreds of policemen are back on the beat—something that has not happened previously.

Mr. Bermingham

Does the Home Secretary agree that the efficiency of the police force is, to some degree, dependent on the amount of investment in both manpower and facilities in the police service? If local authorities are restricted on the amount of money available, and if the Home Secretary wants an improved and more efficient police force, will he consider putting more central Government funds into the police service?

Mr. Brittan

Local authorities decide their priorities between services. The amount that the Government have provided is carefully designed to ensure that if the Government's priorities are reflected in local authorities' decision making, the effectiveness of police forces throughout the country will be enhanced.