HC Deb 21 July 1988 vol 137 cc1273-4
4. Mr. Higgins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he anticipates there will be an increase in the number of uniformed police on the beat in Sussex.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will consider the application from Sussex police authority for more police officers, along with similar applications from other police authorities, before making the next allocation of additional police posts under the programme which he announced in May 1986. We cannot at this stage give an exact date for the decision.

Mr. Higgins

My hon. Friend will recall that in March 1987 he issued a press statement saying that 66 additional police were to be provided in Sussex to enhance operational police strength, mainly in terms of increasing patrol cover and community policing. That statement was completely untrue. There has been no increase in the number of police on the beat in Sussex. When will my hon. Friend put the matter right?

Mr. Hogg

I understand my right hon. Friend's concern, and he has always put his case with much vigour. but I have to say that I do not agree with his conclusions. Since May 1979, for example, the police establishment in Sussex has increased by 121, and the number of civilians employed by 154. Even allowing for the fact that 109 of the police officers have been allocated to Gatwick duty, there has none-the-less been a significant increase in the number of police officers available for operational duty.

My right hon. Friend will be aware—and I think that he will welcome it—that at Worthing there has been a change in the operation of the uniformed and crime process units, which I am glad to say has significantly increased the amount of time available for patrol duties by all officers in these units.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Was the most recent request for extra police for Sussex met in full? Perhaps the Minister might extend it to Kent.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is about Sussex.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

If it was not—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should confine the question to Sussex.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

If it was not met in full for Sussex, why was it also not met in full for Cumbria? [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is an absolute abuse of our procedure to try to ask a question on a completely different topic.