HL Deb 05 May 1964 vol 257 cc1137-40

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average case load of C.I.D. officers: what amount of overtime is being worked by C.I.D. officers: and what steps are being taken to bring in more civilian personnel to take over routine office duties in the police and to equip police stations with modern office and labour-saving equipment.]


My LordS, no reliable figure for the average case load of C.I.D. officers can be obtained, because no clear division can be drawn between the work of crime investigation done by the uniformed branch and the C.I.D., and the records kept nationally do not show the fluctuating strengths of the Criminal Investigation Departments in all the forces in the country. In broad terms, however, the average case load per operational detective in England and Wales in urban forces may be said to be in the region of 250 a year; in rural forces the figure is considerably lower. The case load in Scotland is, in general, lower than the level in England and Wales. In the Metropolitan Police the average number of complaints of crime investigated by C.I.D. officers on divisional strength in 1963 was 322.

According to figures supplied by the Association of Chief Police Officers for the use of the Police Council for Great Britain, the weekly hours of overtime worked by operational detectives in provincial forces in England and Wales during the last four months of 1963 were, approximately, 10½ for chief inspectors, 9½ for inspectors, 8½ for sergeants and women police sergeants, 7 for constables and 4¾ for women police constables. Comparable information provided by the Chief Constables (Scotland) Association showed the weekly hours of overtime in police forces in Scotland during the same period as, approximately, 5½ hours for chief inspectors, inspectors and sergeants, 4½ hours for women police sergeants, 5 hours for constables and 2 hours for women police constables. In the Metropolitan Police the figures for the same period were: chief inspectors 17½ hours, inspectors 20 hours, sergeants 15¾ hours, women police sergeants 10½ hours, constables 14 hours and women police constables 9¾hours a week.

Opportunities for employing more civilian staff to take over routine clerical duties from police officers are continually being looked for, and appointments of civilians being made which release police officers for other duties. I am told by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary that much is being done to equip police stations with modern office and labour-saving equipment. In the Metropolitan Police the simplification of procedures and the provision of up-to-date equipment are constantly under review by the Research and Planning Branch of the Commissioner's Office.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for that very long and thorough reply, may I ask whether he would not agree that this really represents a rather appalling picture, when it is considered by experts that 50 cases a year is sufficient for a C.I.D. officer, whereas he has mentioned 200 or 250, and in some areas of London, I believe, it is as high as 500? Is it not really rather too much for a C.I.D. officer to manage, and at the same time keep his patience? Would the noble Lord not therefore agree that there is a strong case for taking special measures in this matter to provide C.I.D. officers with more tape recorders and more typewriters, and, above all, for recruiting many more policewomen into the Force, as a matter of urgency, in order that they may take over some of these other duties?


My Lords, as I say, these figures are approximate, because it is very difficult to tell, when you are talking about case loads, whether a detective undertakes the whole investigation or only part. It is quite clear, of course, that in cities like London, where the police are under strength, the case load must be heavier than in forces where the police are not under strength. One of the troubles about recruiting more policewomen—and it is not as difficult as one might think—is the wastage. They are apt to be very attractive and they get married; that is one of the great troubles. But, of course, it is a matter which is causing concern. As regards the provision of tape recorders, I am informed by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary that there is no difficulty about this. They are provided, and if a detective wants an additional tape recorder for particular work at any time, it is quite easy to obtain. I do not think there is any difficulty about tape recorders.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that as far back as 1958 the Select Committee on Estimates in another place reported on the police in England and Wales, and drew sharply to the attention of Her Majesty's Government the need for modern office equipment and for the civilianisation (if I may coin a word) of some of the clerical duties in police stations? That was six years ago, and yet we are getting the same old story. Does the noble Lord not think that is a long time to await action?


In fact, police forces are proceeding, both with civilianisation, where possible, and with the use of modern equipment; but the noble Lord must remember that that there are quite a number of police duties which cannot be done by civilians.


My Lords, is the noble Lord accepting the implication of my noble friend's supplementary question, that, whereas it is a waste of a male police constable's time to be engaged on clerical duties, it is not a waste of a woman police constable's time? And will he not consider the employment of civilian staff for these duties?


Of course, women police constables do specialized work, but it is just as much a waste of their time if they have to do unnecessary clerical work as it is in the case of a male police officer.


My Lords, if the noble Lord says it is wastage to get married—a most unfortunate term, I think, which rather reflects on the noble Lord himself—may I ask him why these married women cannot be used for these civilian jobs?


On a part-time basis.


They are, of course, frequently asked if they will stay on and do civilian jobs, but they cannot remain in the police. When I said, "wastage", I agree with the noble Baroness that perhaps that was unfortunately phrased, but I was looking at it purely from a police point of view.


I should just like, if I may, to press home this question of urgency, because, although I know a great deal has been done, there are still stations where I know the policewomen's branch argue with the station officer about who can use the typewriter at certain times, and where there is an enormous amount of time wasted in writing out summonses, and so forth—


Order, order !


I think some kind of direction would help. Does the noble Lord agree?


Yes and no, my Lords.

Back to