§ 5. Mr. Janner
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a further statement on the level of police manpower in Leicestershire.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
My right hon. Friend has approved an increase of 27 police posts in the establishment of the Leicestershire constabulary with effect from 1 April 1989, bringing it to 1,760 officers. Fifty four extra posts have now been approved for the force since May 1979. In addition, the chief constable has been successful in recent years in returning about 130 police officers to operational duties through civilianisation and other efficiency measures.
§ Mr. Janner
Is the Minister aware that in 1985, chief constable Goodson asked for an increase of 256 officers and got none? The following year, his successor, chief constable Hurst, asked for a total of 136 additional officers by this year. He got none in 1986, 1987 or 1988. The allocation of a total of 18 officers plus nine probationers 385 this year is ridiculous, inadequate and ludicrous, when violent crime has doubled since the Government came to power, and all types of crime are still increasing throughout Leicestershire.
§ Mr. Hogg
I have increasingly noticed that the hon. and learned Gentleman is so excitable that he has a tendency to leave his judgment at home. That being so, I shall tell him a few facts which, if he cares to reflect on them, he will find rather comforting.
For example, in 1978–79, £15.65 million was spent on his constabulary police force. Today, the figure is £52.77 million. The police and civilian strength of the force has been increased by 222. The chief constable has managed to bring 130 more officers on to operational duties by way of civilianisation, and he has identified a further 63. That is a considerable expansion in the number of policemen on operational duties.
§ Mr. Latham
Does my hon. Friend recall replying to an Adjournment debate which I introduced on this matter and which was supported by most, if not all, Leicestershire Members? Is he aware that Conservative Leicestershire Members do not speak in the dismissive way in which the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) speaks? We are glad that there has been an increase in manpower, but we look for further increases in years to come.
§ Mr. Vaz
Is the Minister aware that his Department has just approved the establishment of a divisional headquarters in my constituency, at a cost to the taxpayer of £2.3 million, as a result of a campaign by local residents? Bearing in mind the figures that have been correctly put by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), in real terms there are only a couple of officers available per subdivision. Sickness, training and other matters must be taken into consideration. How on earth will the Government assure my constituents that they take law and order seriously? Does the Minister suggest that the chief constable should order cardboard cut-outs of police officers and stick them in the windows of Hambleton police station? Would he be minded to have a cardboard cut-out of the Home Secretary, to enable him to go around the country, lecturing and frightening the Asian community?
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Gentleman might have spent some of the time on his feet doing some homework. I have a bit of good news for him. The clear-up rate for his force, at 44.7 per cent.—I am using the 1987 figures—is much better than the rest of England and Wales, and there are 37 other forces with poorer records than his.