HC Deb 26 October 1989 vol 158 cc1032-3
1. Mr. Janner

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement concerning current policing levels in Leicestershire.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peter Lloyd)

My right hon. Friend approved 27 extra police posts for Leicestershire constabulary this year, bringing to 54 the new posts approved under this Government. In addition, 130 police officers have been returned to operational duties as a result of civilianisation and other efficiency measures.

My right hon. Friend is able to approve a further 1,100 police posts covering provincial forces and the Metropolitan police for 1990–91. He will consider the Leicestershire police authority's application for a further 75 police posts in that year with advice from Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary along with applications received from other authorities. My right hon. Friend hopes to announce his decisions as soon as possible and before the end of the year.

Mr. Janner

I congratulate the Minister on his new appointment and I hope that he will start well by answering yes to my questions. Is he aware of the appallingly high level of crime in the city of Leicester, where violent crime has more than doubled since his party came to power? Is he aware that his predecessor saw fit to make no allocation whatever of additional police officers to Leicestershire in 1988, despite the chief constable's call for more, and last year granted only one third of those requested? Will the Minister now answer yes to my request for a firm assurance that he will listen properly to our chief constable and help us to keep crime off the streets by getting more police on them?

Mr. Lloyd

We always listen properly to Leicestershire's chief constable. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman, to whom I am grateful for his welcome, is so dismissive of the successes of the Leicestershire police. The crime rate in the county is well below the national average and the clear-up rate well above it. Last year total crime in the county fell, falling by 9.3 per cent. for sex offences and by 5.7 per cent. for burglaries. The force has an extra 130 officers because the chief constable also listened to the suggestions of the Home Office and found that he could replace 130 officers and free them to go back on the beat by recruiting civilian staff. The hon. and learned Gentleman is heavy on hyperbole but short on the salient facts.

Mr. Latham

I, too, warmly welcome my hon. Friend to his new position and wish him well in it. Is he aware that my rural constituents are pleased at the increasing emphasis being placed on rural policing by Chief Constable Hurst and Superintendent John Mousley who has just retired? That is a welcome development, but it will require still more resources. I hope that my hon. Friend will bear that in mind when he considers a new allocation of police.

Mr. Lloyd

Of course my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will bear that in mind. He will also bear in mind that Leicestershire had additional police constables this year. He will listen carefully to my hon. Friend's suggestion that the county should have more next year.

Mr. Vaz

I join the demand by my two hon. Friends for additional police officers for the Leicestershire constabulary. The Minister should be aware that this week hon. Members representing Leicestershire constituencies received a report by the lesbian and gay organisations in Leicester showing that police officers were being regularly deployed inside public lavatories. Does the Minister agree that a better use of police officers in a constabulary that is under strength would be on the streets catching criminals rather than acting as agents provacateurs in public lavatories harassing people going about their lawful business?

Mr. Lloyd

I have not seen the report and I will not comment on it. Obviously, its content is a matter for the chief constable as an operational consideration and not for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary or for me.