HL Deb 10 December 1946 vol 144 cc744-65

4.28 p.m.

VISCOUNT TRENCHARD rose to ask His Majesty's Government, when the Hendon Police College which was closed at the beginning of the war is going to be reopened; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, it was with some doubt that I put down this Motion that stands in my name in regard to the Police College at Hendon as the last thing I want to do is to introduce controversy into this most important question. All noble Lords who spoke in the last debate with regard to tourist travel claimed that it was no Party question. I too claim that this question of the efficiency and leadership of the police forces of this country is no Party question; it has nothing whatever to do with Party politics, in my view.

I would like to say now to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who I understand is going to reply for the Government, that I am not in any way criticizing or attacking the Government, because this college when it was set up was set up under a Coalition Government, and when it began to fail it did not fail under this Government. Therefore, I hope that the noble and learned Lord will realize that, if anything I look to this Government to put right what was allowed to slide. I repeat that it is not a Party question. What I am interested in is that the magnificent force, the Metropolitan Police Force, should be put in a position and remain in a position in which it can feel that it is up to date in the modern world, is efficiently led and able to carry out the necessary changes to its organization which may be required by the increase in the population, the increase in crime and the changing conditions of life in London.

I remember when, many years ago, I went to the Metropolitan Police Force for a short time. I do not want to go into the past, but I found then for one thing that there was no single map of crime kept for London. There was no map of London, only a map of England. If were asked why that was I would say it was because of the leadership. I do not want to go into other things of the past, or to mention pay, which has been dealt with. We know that the standard of living and the cost of living have gone up everywhere, and it is only right that the police should get their increase.

I hope the Government, and the noble and learned Lord in particular, will not think I am imbued with class legislation. It is not class legislation that I am going to talk about this afternoon. Although I have been accused of it, surely nobody would really believe that I favour class legislation or try to keep the leaders of any profession to one particular class. Surely the Air Force proved in the 1914–18 war, and most of all, in the 1939–45 war, and in the period between the two wars, that there was no class distinction. It was a question of choosing the right type of young man who would make the most efficient leader. There is no force in the world whose leaders are chosen more democratically than those of the Royal Air Force. But that is not the question; the question is: What is the best way to train leaders? What are officers? They are leaders. That is the important point. I hope the Government will realize the spirit in which I put my question; it is not based on any question of class.

I feel that the Hendon Police College in the past has been misunderstood by many. I want to begin this afternoon by saying definitely that although in the past I claimed that direct entry should be allowed into the Police College, I am not pressing that in any way to-day. I agree that they should all go through the ranks first, as in the other Services. I should like, however, to say in my own defence, that in the past only a very small percentage came in direct. I agree that they should now all go through the ranks, but I am concerned as to when the best of them should be taken to be trained at a college for positions as leaders in the years to come and for how long they should remain at that college. I remember that when I was at Scotland Yard I received as much help from the Labour Party of that day as I did from others, and I acknowledge it. I listened to suggestions from anybody, and many were most valuable. It would not, in fact, have been possible to have done some of the things that were done at Scotland Yard if I had not had the assistance of all Parties.

What did I find when I went there in 1931? I found a wonderful force which was terrifically handicapped by not having up-to-date and efficient leaders of all ranks, a force which was tremendously handicapped by having an out-of-date organization, and not only in the technical aspects of the work. There were no maps and no statistics. There was not a statistical department in Scotland Yard except the Finger-Print Department. But they were also handicapped by their welfare arrangements. Within 400 yards of your Lordships' House I found barracks that were not fit for animals to live in. The disgraceful state of the cubicles and the barracks generally would not have been possible if the force had been properly led. There have been many Committees on this subject in the past. In the 102 years of the life of the Metropolitan Police Force there have been many recommendations for alterations of its officering arrangements but they have all been pigeon-holed. I fed that if it is to be efficient and to remain efficient the Police Service should offer ambitious young men a career comparable with careers offered by other professions and other forms of Government employment. Unless that is done you will not attract the best men to the service. The question is, therefore, how to attract them and, when you have attracted them, how to train them?

What are leaders, and what has been called the "officer class"? They are a group of picked young men taken from any and every walk of life and given at an early age a training to fit them for the higher posts in their profession. I should like to suggest to you that the Hendon College was, in fact, a democratic institution in the best sense. Here were collected for a period of two years men from elementary schools, secondary schools, public schools, and universities. They worked, played and lived together, and this intermingling of different types was undoubtedly beneficial to all. This, I am certain, was one of the reasons for the success of the College. It will, surely, be generally agreed that in any service maximum efficiency can only be achieved by securing a sufficient inflow of the right type of men, some of whom, if properly trained in early years, will rise to controlling positions and fill them successfully. At present in the nation there are boys who have no mare than elementary education, whilst others continue to secondary schools and still others who go on to universities. In the Police Service you want all types, and it should be the aim of the Service to attract some of the very best from all of them. As I say, they will only come if they see a chance of being selected early for special training so that they can get on—or those of them who pass a stiff Selection Board.

The purpose of the Metropolitan Police College started at Hendon in 1934 was to achieve these two objects. During the whole course of its existence the Metropolitan Police Force had failed to produce its own higher leaders, and most of the top posts had had to be filled by importations from other Services and professions. There was, I believe (although I am not qualified to speak on it), a similar state of affairs in the provinces. For many years it had been the usual practice to fill vacant county Chief Constableships by bringing in men from outside. This would obviously not have been done if the system had been sound.

This curious situation arose from a number of causes. In the first place, in the earlier days not enough men of the best type were electing to make their careers in the Police Service, and in the second place, the training given—and that is the thing that matters, the training given to them when they do come in, because you can train nearly anybody—failed to produce the leaders required. Another reason was that in the absence of any opportunities for accelerated advancement (and this, I beg the Government to remember, is important), the average age of Superintendents and Chief Constables was too high, and those who might have had the ability required for the yet higher ranks were already too old and too near their time of retirement to be given further promotion.

The war has been over now for quite a long time. The police forces of this country are short of men, and crime is increasing. Recruits are not coming forward in sufficient numbers. I would like to suggest that the reason for this is that there is no Police College to which the best of the young men could be selected to go after they have done their time in the ranks and at which they could be given a longer training. At the present there is no suggestion, as far as I can see, of its being reopened, or if there has been such a suggestion, I have not heard of it. It seems a little unfortunate that the recently published Annual Report of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis does not even mention the Police College, which surely was one of the most important developments of the last ten years.

Various unofficial statements have appeared which suggest that the authorities have in mind quite a different sort of college—a place where police officers with considerable service might receive short courses of training in police duties. Such a college—I cannot call it a college; such a place for promotion examinations is not what I mean, and I do not think it would achieve any of the objects which the pre-war college was designed to secure. Its existence would not attract men of the highest quality from all walks of life, and such training as it gave them would not be given at an age when training is most effective. I do hope that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack in his reply will be able to assure me that these statements about the college are incorrect and that the plan which was approved by your Lordships' House and by another place, many years ago, will not be fundamentally altered.

I have said that the pre-war college was successful in achieving its objects. There were, of course, a few failures, but I am dealing now with the young men in their early twenties who went through the two years' course at Hendon; and the subsequent careers of the majority of these I would suggest is sufficient proof of the soundness of the scheme. A number of these young men are already holding the appointments of Chief Constables in counties and boroughs in this country, and I believe these positions are always advertised. Applicants put in for them, their records are examined and then they come down to a short list. Let me tell your Lordships that not very long ago the short list for a county Chief Constableship consisted of boys who had passed through Hendon College. It is curious, if this college is such a failure, that the counties and boroughs outside London should choose the boys who pass through the college. Apart from that, five of these Hendon boys have become Chief Constables, two have become Acting Chief Constables, one has become a Superintendent, one has become an Inspector General abroad and two have become Superintendents abroad. One has been made Chief Security Officer in the Colonies, and one a Superintendent of a very big dockyard abroad. Five or six have become Lieutenant-Colonels in the Army, five or six Majors, one a Group Captain in the Air Force, and others hold responsible positions in civil employment. A good many have become Sub-Divisional Inspectors in the Metropolitan Police Force.

During the war I received a letter from a man I had never met in my life who said that some of the Metropolitan Police had gone abroad and said how wonderful they were. There is nothing new in the principles I advocate for finding and training leaders for the police service; it has been done for centuries. All the three Fighting Services recognized this during the war. They selected the bulk of their officers from the ranks at an early age, passed them through O.C.T.Us and other similar training establishments. By so doing, they discovered the best and continued their training at the right period of their lives. The average age for entry to a college Should be in the early twenties, but I should like to qualify that for the purpose of this debate. At the outbreak of war a large number of young police officers joined the Fighting Forces. A high proportion of these proved them- selves first-class leaders in war. They are now back to their peace-time occupation in the police force and are, of course, a good deal older than the age at which I ordinarily recommend students to be admitted to a long college course. I hope, therefore, that though they have had no opportunities while serving in the Armed Forces but have given fine service to the country during this war, they will be taken on until the war generation is used up. These men should obviously be given a chance of entry to any co11ege.

I saw in the Press quite recently a statement made by the Home Secretary when addressing the Police Federation of England and Wales. He said he intended to see that there would be no special recruiting for a short cut to an "officer class" I feel I must have misunderstood what he meant by this, and I am rather at a loss. I would ask the noble and learned Lord to amplify this remark, because some of the police may also have misunderstood what he meant. I feel certain that the Home Secretary could not mean that he was only going to take men for this college after they had done eight to fifteen years' service on the streets and promote them according to their seniority, that is to say, from the date of joining the force. In that way you will always have old men at the top, and you will not have used their brains and trained their brains at the time when they are most receptive to training. To be trained for work in a police force men must be taken at an early age. Unless you do that the police force can never be efficient. If, however, you take them early enough it will mean much for the future of the force.

I leave this point because I feel there must be some misunderstanding about what the Home Secretary meant. I suggest that it is absolutely essential to retain what I believe to be the two fundamental principles in any future police college. In the past, I agree, there was a good deal of opposition to the Hendon Police College by a large number of men in the Metropolitan Police, and I would ask your Lordships to listen for a short time as to why that was so. One has to remember that in no service can all the people who join get to the top. It is mathematically impossible. Even if fifty per cent. get to the top, you can take it that there are still men one off the top, and when promotion comes they retire the next day because they have reached the retiring age. Mathematically, if you work out a curve of promotion, you will find that everybody who joins the Army does not become a Field-Marshal. I know there is a saying that every man carries a Field-Marshal's baton in his knapsack, but that does not mean that every man will become a Field-Marshal. Every clergyman does not become a Bishop, and every man interested in politics does not become Prime Minister.

I will now come to the reason. When I joined the Metropolitan Police I found over fifty per cent. were constables—the noble and learned Lord can correct me if my figures are wrong—who were still walking the streets and could not get any further. In those days there was an impression that the poor unfortunate men could not get on and had to remain without a chance of promotion. Naturally when they saw young men taken into the police force and put over their heads they said that that blocked their promotion, when in fact it really had little effect upon it. The same applies in the Army, where a number of men have to remain as corporals and privates. The police force was formed over 100 years ago, and its system of selecting officers may have suited a police force of about 2,000 to 3,000 men. When it was 8,000 it did not suit it. They tried to get the system changed, but nothing was done. When it was 16,000 another Committee tried again, but it is harder every year you postpone the change. I do not know what the Government feel about this point, but I do know that many people have told me that these ideas are sound and that a young man should be taken early to be trained.

I would like to bring to your Lordships' notice this afternoon some remarks which have been made, not in the Conservative Press but in what I believe is called the Labour Press. I am not very good at which is which sometimes. The Tribune starts by saying: The higher posts in the police force can be filled either by promotion from the ranks or by importing proved leaders, such as Army officers, from outside the police force. Trenchard introduced a modification by creating a Police College to which he sent a few selected young men from outside the force, but also a larger proportion of chosen young men from the force itself. I cannot weary your Lordships by reading it in full, but I have not cut out anything against it. I am quite willing to hand the paper to the noble Lord, if he wants to see it, afterwards. Another paragraph reads: Apparently the Home Office set up a large Committee (about 18) mainly of Chief Constables. They have recommended the first alternative. So -far this report has not been published. But this Committee did not include any firm supporter of the Trenchard thesis. Had such a man been included there would certainly have been a strong minority report.… A service should be able to produce its higher officers from its own members without going outside, as has hitherto been the case with the police. But no service should insist on arduous, slow promotion through the ranks. In the Fighting Services, picked young men, after a short course in the ranks are sent to a specialized course for training officers. The same system should be adopted for the police. I should also like to quote from an article in the Economist of the 26th October, which reads: At a time when so much progress has been made in methods of selecting and training men and women for promotion, it is disappointing to hear of steps which can only be a rearded as retrograde for the police. The War Office Selection Boards have been the most prominent example of the new methods of picking out men of any age and rank, even the very young and stripeless, and putting them through exhaustive tests in order to select those most fitted for Commissions. The successful experience of the Services makes it the more surprising that a Home Office Committee consisting mainly of Chief Constables the majority of whom are recruited from outside the police force and very frequently from the Services themselves, should have neglected current experience and be recommending methods for the police which are antiquated and far less satisfactory than those in force before the war. For years the great problem of the police has been to breed sufficient men capable of holding the highest posts and to do away with the need to recruit almost all Chief Constables from outside the force. The Hendon Police College was one attempt to overcome this difficulty for the Metrpolitan Police. Many of Lord Trenchard's innovations met with resistance from the men, but much of it was a natural reaction to new ideas—the self-protective instinct to cling to seniority rules—and was in process of readjustment. In my own career, thank goodness, I did not cling to seniority rules, and I beg you to lay down that system for all time for the police force.

I would like to repeat one point. Although in the past I advocated taking in young men from outside the force and letting them go to the college, I have refrained from saying anything about that, and I do not want to advocate it. They can all come from the police ranks now with the present system. I feel that there are two main points that must be decided. First, on what shall this college be based? It must be based upon taking men in the early twenties—excepting the war-period men—who must be given at least eighteen months to two years' training so that you will always keep an efficient and up-to-date police force. Secondly, men so trained, who pass successfully through the college, should receive accelerated advancement. I beg to move.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, I do not think there is anyone in this House who deserves to be listened to with greater sympathy when he talks about questions dealing with our Services, military or civil, than the noble and gallant Viscount who has just addressed the House I am only sorry he did not have a bigger House to address. I am sorry, for instance, that the Benches opposite are not better filled than they are at this moment. He has raised a very important labour question to-day, and I had hoped that more of the noble Lords opposite would have been here to listen to it. I remember very well that when I was at the Home Office the question of the Police College created a good deal of prejudice and misunderstanding. It was supposed to be a class affair and an attempt to militarize the police. Let us be quite clear that there is no intention whatever in anybody's mind to militarize the police. The police are a civil force in almost every respect. They differ from the Fighting Services, and the last thing in the world that any of us had in our minds was to militarize the police force. At that time we had not had the experience of the war in the matter of the selection of officers and leaders. I think the machinery for selection has entirely dissipated any idea that class interests enter at all into these matters of the selection.

What does emerge, and it is a fact to which the noble Viscount has drawn emphatic attention, is that the police force as it is to-day has never been reformed and has never kept up to date with modern methods. For generation after generation there have been attempts to introduce new methods into the police force, but from the time when it was only a force of a few thousand under Sir Robert Peel until to-day when it has scores of thousands; scarcely anything has been done. Whereas in every walk of life in the world outside—military and civil—there have been adopted these new methods of selecting young men at an early stage in their career and fitting them by special training for holding high posts in their subsequent careers, very little of that kind has been done with the police. The beginnings of the college were only showing themselves when I left the Home Office, but, at the same time, even the limited record of the Police College up to the present is a very creditable record. The noble Viscount quoted the cases of the counties who have looked to these young inspectors for their high posts in the local police forces, and several of the Colonial police forces have also selected these young men.

I am sure we should try to avoid what has always happened in the past—namely, that when it comes to the top posts in the Metropolitan Police or in the county police forces, there is a very general tendency to go outside the police force. If you look at the officers at the head of these forces now you will find, in many cases, that, owing to the fact that there was no suitable material in the forces themselves, the authorities have had to go outside for their selections. I notice that in the speech to which the noble Viscount has referred, the Home Secretary also said that he intended, in the future, not to go outside the Metropolitan Police Force for his promotions. If that be the case, it strengthens very greatly the demand for a college of this kind, that will train leaders from their earliest days in the Service, and will enable him to have at his disposal material from which he can make his Commissioners and Chief Constables. Unless a system of this kind is employed, I do not see how, without lowering the general standard of the police, he will be able to avoid going outside to get men for these higher appointments.

The noble Viscount, to-day, has removed from the picture one, of the factors that certainly prejudiced the idea of the police college in the years immediately before the war. He said that he did not contemplate direct entry into this college. He was prepared to move on the lines that have proved so successful with the three Fighting Services during the war, and to make every entrant into the police go through a period in the ranks. I think, if I may say so, that that is an improvement on the original scheme. It seems to me to remove the prejudice that had been created against bringing in young men from outside and giving them the rank of Junior Inspectors.

I would have thought, myself, that in view of the experience of the three Fighting Services in the War, the success of this experiment and the urgent need to provide the police with better material for promotion to the posts of senior officers it is essential that a college of this kind, based upon the noble Viscount's original conceptions, should be formed. And it should be made perfectly clear that this is no attempt at class differentiation, nor is it an attempt to militarize the police force. I therefore support the Motion of the noble Viscount, and, as a former Home Secretary, I say to the House that I think, in the interests of the police, it is essential that a college of this kind should be formed and satisfactorily supported.



My Lords, I spent five years of my life in work at the Home Office and, however inadequate my service may have been in other respects, I think that I am entitled to a certain measure of public gratitude for the fact that I succeeded in inducing the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, to accept the post of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He did so against his own wishes and desires, and indeed contrary to arrangements which he had already made. It was purely out of a sense of public duty that he accepted the office. He has mentioned to-day that it was for a short period, but, as a matter of fact, he served in it for four years, and improved very greatly the efficiency of the whole force.

Perhaps one of the greatest of his achievements was the establishment of this police college which is tinder discussion to-day. Of course such an institution ought to have been established years and years before. It is extraordinary that it was never done previously during the hundred years that the police force had been in existence, but I suppose it was always imagined that the police was a sort of rough-and-tumble business, a force which could be managed more or less by rule of thumb. However, now that rogues and criminals have become technicians in their trade, it is necessary that the police also should become highly specialized in their counter measures. Moreover, Parliament is continually placing fresh duties, the fulfilment of additional functions, upon the police forces, and the police system of the country is becoming a complex and highly technical profession.

As both the noble Lords who have spoken have mentioned, the Metropolitan police force has never, hitherto, produced its own chiefs from its own ranks. That is because of the method of promotion from within. After all, fifteen, twenty or thirty years' application to more or less routine duties, through all the different ranks, does not tend to evolve men capable of showing the necessary grasp and initiative which is called for in the high command. The result has been that the best posts in the Force in the past have always gone to outsiders. That is wrong, and it is discouraging to the force as a whole. If it is to be remedied, the first step must be to secure that in their youth the most promising members of the force should receive special technical training.

It is right, as is now proposed, that young men should go first into the ranks, for experience of the conditions of the rank and file is one of the qualifications of a good officer. That has been recognized in our day in the Defence Services and indeed in many businesses. The young cadets of business are often put into lower ranks before being taken into the executive posts. I believe that people at the head of hotel businesses if they have sons or other relatives whom they wish to 'put into their businesses, usually send them to start in the sculleries and kitchens. But they do not keep them there for two or three years, and then promote them to other subordinate posts and keep them in subordinate posts for five or ten years before bringing them into positions of management. The procedure is similar in many of the other great industries of the country. Young men may go into business to get training at the bench or in the foundries as the case may be, and they are swiftly brought forward into positions of authority. The same idea is now applied in the Services of the Crown, and the experiences of our Army during the recent war was most striking in that regard.

We all know of the system that was then established of War Office Selection Boards and Officer Cadet Training Units—W.O.S.B. and O.C.T.U., as they are technically called, and how that system has been exceedingly successful. Under it, young men go through the ranks and the most promising, on the recommendations of their Commanding Officers, were quickly given opportunities of promotion. But could you imagine, in the Army, the authorities insisting that every man should become a private, then a corporal, then a sergeant, then a Second Lieutenant, then a full Lieutenant, then a Captain and so on, before he can attain the rank of General? It is quite certain that that would by no means conduce to success in war, while the system now adopted has unquestionably given us a far better and more efficient Army than we have ever had before. Why should the police force alone differ from businesses and the Military Services and be deprived of such an advantage? Why should there be insistence that its chiefs must have ten, fifteen or twenty years of routine experience before they can be given opportunities of command?

Unless this new system, which was first introduced by the noble Viscount, is revived and continued, the right men of the right class will not come in. They will just simply keep away because they will not agree to go through all these years of routine service before getting the opportunity to use the talents which they may know themselves to possess. Equality of opportunity is an essential democratic principle, and we who call ourselves Liberals follow the creed of politics which has striven for that all through the generations. But equality of opportunity must be applied first in our educational system. Throw open our secondary schools and universities to the whole nation. That is now rapidly being done, and the best students from the secondary schools and the universities should be afforded opportunities in the police force as in other Services to go in and to secure quickly the promotion to which their special qualifications may entitle them.

I hope we are moving towards a classless society. That is the proclaimed purpose of the Party now in power, and I for one entirely support that aim. A classless society, however, does not mean that men are to become leaders in all the various branches of our political, Indus- trial and social organization, merely by seniority, that they are all to be assumed of equal capacity and to rise equally, and with equal speed, to the higher ranks, We want to gain advantages from the new order by drawing our talent from the whole nation, but we do not want to throw away the advantages that the old order possessed of securing for the higher posts men of the best education. That would be discouraging access to the higher posts for the men who have been to secondary schools and universities.

Certainly there is a reaction from the long centuries of privileges granted to the well-to-do, and the well-born (as we sometimes call them) in giving them posts of profit under the Crown above their personal deserts. In reaction from that, we must not give posts above their deserts to other people, merely because they do not belong to the well-to-do classes. That would be a kind of inverted snobbery. That is not democracy; that is demagogy. True democracy holds that the nation has a right to draw its leadership in all activities from the best in the whole population, and to produce a literal aristocracy, government of the best, out of its own democratic system. That the members of the wealthier classes should secure advancement above their qualifications when others are better, is wrong; but for members of the poorer classes to secure advancement above their qualifications when others who are better are available, is also wrong.

Here we have a question of principle—on what lines our social transition, which has now been going on for a long time, shall go on proceeding in the future. This matter is really a test case, and that is why it merits the very careful consideration of your Lordships' House, and of the whole country. Upon the principle adopted in this outstanding instance the future well-being of the nation may in large measure depend. For my own part, I share the anxieties of the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, as to the future of this police college. I trust that the Government will reply to-day to the question of whether the college is to be reopened and, if so, at what age the students are to enter. I sincerely trust that the answer may be such as to relieve those anxieties.

5.13 p.m.


My Lords, I speak from a quite different angle from that of the three noble Lords who preceded me. I can only add my quota to the debate as a member for many years of a Watch Committee, although a very important Watch Committee. I hope the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will say that Hendon College is going to be reopened. I visited that college from its very beginning to its closing. The noble Viscount, who was then Commissioner, made a grave mistake in making the college the residence of a very small, privileged, hand-picked body of students. I got to know many of them personally. They were a grand lot of young fellows. The only thing against them was that they had come in at the wrong door. I hope that in his reply the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, with be very forthright, and will say that Hendon College shall be one of several colleges to be opened for constables—those who have carried the lamp, as we say in the provinces—and that Hendon College will not be allowed to be under the sole control of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

If he will allow me to say so, the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, was a genius in administration, and we have a gem of a Commissioner to-day. But Hendon College should be one of several colleges belonging to, and administered through, say, the Home Office—through a board of governors if you like. Entry should be not simply from the Metropolitan area. When the noble Viscount instituted his privileged class at Hendon, he sent a cold shiver down the backs of young fellows with good education—not a university education, but a good secondary education—from our London grammar schools and similar establishments, of which there are plenty. When he said: "I will promote at once a young chap who has done eighteen months' efficient service at Hendon, I will make him an Inspector," they felt it equally. I would remind your Lordships, in reply to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that promotion in the police force, by its very nature, must be slower than promotion in either the Army or the Air Force. The very number of sergeants and inspectors who are needed—the even smaller number of superintendents—. means that the gate of promotion—you might call it a postern gate—is largely closed. It is easier for one of Viscount Trenchard's nominees to go through the eye of a needle than for constables who are not hand-picked to become sergeants, let alone inspectors.

I had the privilege of joining a Selection Board for the Army on a few occasions, and of seeing the young fellows who were to be picked for the O.C.T.Us. We can still adopt that method in the police force, and yet recognize and appreciate the channel which is there, the advice of the Chief Constable to the Watch Committee. Let us copy what the West Riding Police Authority have done. They have a most admirable training centre in Yorkshire. The principle needs extending, and we want similar centres in other parts of the country. Open Hendon College, which, as I say, is admirable, for the southern counties—although I deprecate even that. I well remember paying a visit to the college just before it was closed, and finding twenty-four inspectors, men in their "thirties" who had come in for a refresher course at the college. It did them the world of good.

When, as I think he did, Lord Temple-wood stated that we had not made much progress in the training of our police, I would rather deprecate his suggestion, because any Watch Committee worth its salt has its own course, though one which, I agree, may be inadequate. In West Riding it is to some extent inadequate, but they are now, and have been for many years, seeing the light. It is now out' of the question, as it was out of the question during the war period, to have a Sandhurst course, with training extending over a period of eighteen months. I do not know but I believe that in the Royal Air Force the training had ro be somewhat longer than in some of our O.C.T.Us. In the infantry, I believe training, was cut down to four or five months, and in the artillery to under six months. Therefore, let us get hold of these young fellows and give them a six months' course. Some of them may be married. Let them take their wives along with them.

I trust that the House will set its face like flint against the prehistoric policy which the noble Viscount adopted when he was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force. So far as privileges are concerned, I hope they are done with once and for all. Let us throw Hendon open as quickly as possible. I would suggest that we extend these colleges in the provinces. We need them if our police forces are to be able to tackle modern crime. Let us realize that a policeman's lot when he is on his beat by himself is a lonely one, and the training of a policeman is not comparable with, and cannot be treated in the same way as that, let us say, of a company of young lads in the infantry or some other arm of His Majesty's Forces.

I am glad that the noble Viscount has introduced this debate. I hope that he will force an answer from His Majesty's Government that Hendon, Harrogate and similar places shall be made available and that young fellows shall not have to be handpicked; that there shall be a proper method of selection through the appropriate channels, that they shall be allowed to train, and shall not be as old as Methuselah before they are promoted to Superintendent or Chief Constable. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that the idea that there can be an equalitarian basis of promotion has gone by the board. Therefore I am hoping that the Lord Chancellor will be able to say that Hendon will be opened as one of several colleges under a new régime, that there will be new ideas, and that the course shall be open to all young constables who can benefit from it.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad that the noble Viscount has raised this matter, which is obviously one of very great importance. His speech, reinforced as it was by the speeches of two previous Home Secretaries, and further reinforced in certain aspects by the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down and who has much practical experience, is obviously one that the Government must take into consideration.

I am, however, in this rather difficult position to-day. It so happens that to-morrow is the day on which the Home Secretary is meeting the representatives of the provincial police authorities, that is to say, the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations, in order to see whether a police college can be evolved, not confined to the Metropolitan Police but available to the police forces throughout the country. That was, indeed, one of the ideas of the Hendon College. In its later stages Hendon did take police officers from the provinces. But it did not work very well. As the noble Viscount knows quite well, there were difficulties. I am quite certain that we should do well to consider whether we should not try and constitute this college on a rather wider basis extending to the provinces. If that is so, noble Lords in all parts of the House will realize that I should to-day be very ill-advised, within a few hours of to-morrow's meeting, to state any definite point of view which would seem to indicate that the Home Secretary had made up his mind before he heard the views and representations of these two bodies. Therefore, if your Lordships will allow me, I will discuss this matter on very broad and general terms.

Of course, I agree that we owe it to the police and we owe it to ourselves to see that the police are given every facility for dealing with modern crime as it exists to-day. That means a very high degree of training and a very high degree of skill in the various methods which the up-to-date criminal uses. Therefore, obviously, we must aim at efficiency. I will state quite frankly, that whatever else may be said about Hendon College, there is no doubt that no criticism could be levelled at it on the ground that it failed to secure efficiency. On the other hand, great men can always afford to admit that they have made mistakes, and I think it probable—indeed I inferred it from his speech—that the noble Viscount will agree that it was unfortunate that he tried the experiment of bringing in a certain proportion of young men from outside. I do not know the exact figures; I have had them given to me; I have not got them at the moment, but my impression is that something like one third were people who came from outside the police force altogether, with no previous police experience. They came largely from the public schools, and when they had passed through the college they were at once appointed Junior Station Inspectors.

That was the position, and there is no doubt that the police force felt considerably disturbed about it. Fortunately, we have a very fine body of men in the police and the fact that the police were disturbed about this—were disgruntled, if you like, about it—is a fact which any wise administrator must take into consideration. And, therefore, the noble Viscount in his speech to-day said quite plainly that he was not now pressing any claim for that sort of entry. He realizes that every policeman must now serve some time in the ranks. As to the length of time which he has to serve in the ranks, obviously I am on rather delicate ground, in view of to-morrow's meeting. May I say this? On the one hand, I do not think that his service in the ranks should be merely colourable. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, referred to the fact that eminent people in the catering trade send their sons through the scullery, through the kitchen and so on. I suspect that they stay in the scullery only a few days and in the kitchen only a few weeks. They can then say that they have been through the scullery and the kitchen, but I should imagine it is rather colourable. I think we must avoid that mistake.

In view of the present feeling in the police force, I am certain it would be unwise to think that we were having what was really this direct entry in another guise. But having said that, equally I think we should do well to avoid the other thing. The noble Viscount referred to arduous and slow promotion, and seemed to think that men would not be able to get to this college for fifteen years. I sincerely hope that it will be nothing like that length of time, because I quite agree that you should select not on the mere basis of age or passage of time. You should no doubt have regard to experience, but surely you should also have regard to intelligence and to character. I devoutly hope that those selecting the young men who have been through the ranks—and really served in the ranks—will select them for a police college on that sort of credentials.

I do not suppose that the time to be spent at the police college will be as long two years, as I think the time used to be. I think it will probably have to be shorter. I think it will be much more embracing. By that I do not mean that the course will be more embracing, but the number of men coming in will be much larger and, as I have said, they will come in not only from the London Metropolitan Police but also from the provincial forces, and possibly that who are going to serve in the Colonial Services will go there. You will therefore get a mixing of all sorts of people. Those are the sort of lines on which the course will probably be developed.

But may I add this? I believe it is a scheme which will grow. I think at the present moment, in starting it again, we should be very wise to consider the atmosphere which prevails to-day in the police force in regard to such a scheme. I think we should be wise to start on the sort of lines I have indicated. But it is an expanding idea; it will develop, and I sincerely hope that, whilst avoiding anything that can be thought to be an officer class in the police, or anything of that kind, we shall at the same time make it quite plain that the men we want to get into high position in the police force are men who, after adequate experience, have shown by their skill, judgment and initiative that they are men who can be entrusted with a great position. I am afraid I have replied to this debate in very general terms. I think your Lordships will appreciate, in view of the discussions which are taking place to-morrow morning, that I have deliberately refrained from going into greater detail with regard to this matter.

5.33 p.m.


My Lords, I cannot do more than thank the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack for his very courteous reply, although, to be quite frank, I do not think he has answered the main point more than to put into very nice language that it is coming out against my thesis. The question of opening the college to all the police forces of this country has a lot to be said for it,. but it does not alter the basis of the college. The noble and learned Lord seemed to criticize me for not having opened it to all. A large number of people wanted me to do it, but they were attacking me for wanting to unify the whole of the police forces under the Metropolitan Police, and were saying that I wanted to eat up all the provincial police. I only started the college for the Metropolitan Police Force because the Metropolitan Police Force is the force for which I was responsible, although I hoped that other forces would join in. They did not join in then, but I understand now that they want to.

I would urge the noble and learned Lord with all the force that I can muster to represent to the Government that it is not a question of saying that a man has to have a lot of experience. It is a question of what are the best ways of training although some experience in the ranks is no doubt good. The noble and learned Lord devoted part of his speech to making reference to my introducing people from outside. I do not defend that here to-day, because I do not want to weary your Lordships, although I could give a very good explanation, which would no doubt convince a number of your Lordships, as it did then.

To come back to the point that part of the time should be served in the ranks which was not a humbug, I entirely agree on that. I want the same as is done in other professions. If a man goes before a Selection Board and is selected as a likely leader he should not be kept back on the streets to do a certain term but should be given a chance straight away. I say definitely that if you keep a man too long on the streets, or too long in the ranks—and as to the definition of "too long we may differ—you are doing him harm if it is intended that he should become a leader. He will not be as efficient as he would be if he were taken earlier. It is hard enough to train a constable to be a constable, but it is a thousand times harder to train him to be a superintendent or an inspector. He wants more training and, therefore, he has got to be taken earlier. You will never keep the police force up to date, any more than it was kept up to date before, in their ordinary amenities and standard of life, unless you take men who are trained and keen for it at the earliest possible age after they have had a minimum experience in the ranks. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.