HC Deb 02 March 1989 vol 148 cc389-90
9. Mr. Jessel

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on Metropolitan police recruitment.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

A total of 2,160 officers were recruited to the Metropolitan police force during 1988, an increase of about 100 on the figure for 1987. On 31 January 1989 the strength of the force was 27,932, the highest ever and some 5,680 higher than in May 1979. The present establishment is 28,115 which could be reached by the end of March this year.

Mr. Jessel

Is my hon. Friend aware that those figures show an encouraging and welcome trend which is a considerable achievement both for the Metropolitan police and for the Home Office, considering all the other employment opportunities in the south-east? Does he agree that, as part of the fight against crime, the commissioner should aim to increase the number of police officers on the streets and on the beat in areas of outer London such as Twickenham?

Mr. Hogg

May I deal first with my hon. Friend's constituency of Twickenham? At the end of last year there were 349 police officers policing the Twickenham division, which was 18 more than in the previous year. I am aware that on 1 January the arrangements were changed and that my hon. Friend's constituency is now being largely policed from Richmond-upon-Thames station. Consequently, precise figures and comparisons are not possible. On the more general question, my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that at the end of 1987 the number of days worked on street duty had increased by 13 per cent. compared with the end of 1986, and that during 1988 there was a further improvement of 7.5 per cent. in hours spent on street duty. That will continue.

Mr. Maclennan

Does the Minister believe that the Metropolitan police are satisfied with their resources to deal with white collar crime?

Mr. Hogg

I very much hope so, because when the hon. Gentleman's party, as it then was, was in power in 1978–79 it was spending £295 million on the Metropolitan force and today we are spending over £1 billion.