§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, all of us in this House recognise and respect the continuing interest which the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has in all matters concerning that great Department of State, the Home Office, in which he once served with distinction. I accept, immediately and completely, the absolute sincerity of his concern for the police forces of this country. At the same time, we cannot fail to notice that this Motion coincides with a quite cynical campaign to exploit proper concern with problems of law and order, for the narrowest of political Party purposes. Many of us recall the days when Tories tried to cover up their political bankruptcy with a Union Jack. Those days, I am glad to think, are now largely over. But they have no more right to claim special concern with the concept of law and order than they had proprietorial rights for our country's flag.
Although, understandably, the popular Press have not failed to extract all possible human interest out of the terrible 1173 tragedies which have recently afflicted policemen and their families, it is noteworthy—and I am glad to think this— that the serious Press have not exactly welcomed this new Tory election"gimmick "and I was especially interested to see that, according to the Observer, a spokesman of the Police Federation commented that:This is the first time that areas of police responsibility … have been taken as party political propaganda …".And that:The last thing we want is to be propelled into a political argument".That is a sentiment which I think in this House we would all respect. For myself, I propose to state facts and get the record straight. If we look at the record objectively we shall see that there is as little need for panic and alarm as there is for complacency. And if the Shadow Home Secretary insists on comparing Party records, and if he wants a past record against which to judge present performance, I cannot be fairer than to quote for him the "Conclusions on Manpower" reached in paragraph 79 of the Interim Report of the Royal Commission on the Police, presented to Parliament in November, 1960, in which it is said:Our survey of the manning of the police forces of Great Britain has led us to conclusions which can only be described as grave. In conditions which demand a standard policing as high as that required at any time in this country's history we have found a shortage of police manpower seriously affecting nearly half the country's population; a resort to methods of patrolling which, making all allowances for the technical advances of recent years, have the appearance of an expedient rather than a policy; and, perhaps most disturbing of all, a practice of estimating police requirements which, we believe, obscures the present realities and encourages resignation to a situation which ought not to be tolerated.It is worth recalling that the present Home Secretary was at that time uniquely placed, with his connection with the Police Federation, to exploit that paragraph for political Party purposes. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, will agree with me that Mr. Callaghan at that time never once made the kind of criticism in the public Press that we are now getting, and that in fact he did his utmost constructively to help the Home Secretary of the day.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, I was not Home Secretary at that 1174 time, so I cannot speak with authority; but I think it is also worth noting that the Royal Commission was set up by the Conservative Government, who asked it for an early report on police pay.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I am suggesting that we compare, and I am going to compare, the present situation with the situation disclosed in that paragraph which required the setting up of the Royal Commission. So I now turn to the present record.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, asked me for the total number of indictable offences in England and Wales in 1969. I can give him only the figure for the first nine months of the year, which was 1,115,627. The noble Lord suggested that a bigger increase occurred after the Labour Government had taken office. In fact, from 1955 to 1964 there was a continuous increase. A 13 per cent. increase was recorded in 1957 and 1958. Since 1965, although there was still an increase —and on that I agree with the noble Lord—the increase rate has in fact been lower. That is some improvement. It is not something that will give us complete satisfaction, of course; but if we are to get the figures down, as I hope we shall, we have first to lower the rate of increase.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again, but I do not think we shall get very far with this choosing of selected figures. For reasons of his own the noble Lord took 1955 as the base year; I took 1951, so as to give the picture over the whole 13 years of Conservative Government, which seemed to me to be the fairest way of making a comparison with the four years of Labour Government.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the noble Lord chose to compare one period with another period, and I have tried to fill in the facts in between.
The noble Lord referred to the proportion of crimes cleared up and said that in the Metropolitan area the chances of being caught are about one in three. But here again, although I readily agree with him that the proportion is too low, the fact is that it has been increasing steadily. It has not been a significant increase, but the trend has been in the right direction; and in fact the overall figure for 1968 1175 was that 41.9 per cent. of crimes were cleared up.
Larceny constitutes the largest single group of offences, followed by breaking and entering. Clearly, however numerous and efficient the police are and I think this was what the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, was saying), they cannot do everything to prevent theft, and the responsibility to take reasonable preventive measures rests upon householders and owners of property, especially of motor vehicles.
Offences of violence against the person comprise less than 3 per cent. of the total crimes committed, but there have been— and here we come to the worrying feature —serious increases in recent years, even after allowance is made for the fact that the community now regards casual violence more seriously than it did, with the result that offences are much more likely to be reported and to result in a charge. Understandably, the public are concerned about this kind of offence. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that this category of offences embraces acts ranging from homicide to relatively minor assaults, and it needs to be noted that the increase in recent years has been more marked in the less serious crimes of violence. Moreover, a large proportion of these crimes are not committed against strangers but result from domestic disputes or neighbourhood quarrels.
My Lords, two other factors contribute to the growth and the statistics of crime. One is that with personal radios and panda cars a policeman can reach trouble much more quickly than before, so that affrays which would previously have gone unreported now result in charges and figure in the statistics. The other factor is that amalgamations and the supervision of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary have led to a higher standard of recording crimes. But I have warned against complacency, and I emphasise that these factors do not account for the whole increase, which remains a serious one and of which the Government take an extremely serious view, particularly where violence is involved.
That brings me to the question of police manpower. Since the Labour Administration took office at the end of 1964 the number of police officers on the strength in England and Wales has 1176 increased by 11,082, an average annual growth of 2,216. This is not as much as we should have liked, but it is a bigger increase than the impression which is created by certain other people. More-over, this rate of growth is almost half as much again as it was during the 13 years of which the noble Lord spoke earlier. Contrary to some assertions, this Government have never stopped recruiting; and although police authorities were told previously that there was a limit on the number to be recruited, they have since been told, as the noble Lord himself has said, that increases provided for in the 1970–71 Estimates have been authorised in full. Moreover, to-day not only is the quality of recruits as import-ant as ever but the opportunity is avail-able—more now than ever before—for an individual member of the Force to develop his potential ability.
I was rather sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, did not find it possible to pay a tribute to the present Home Secretary for his encouragement of the Bramshill scheme. At present there are 164 graduates serving in police forces in England and Wales, and there are also some 60 police officers who are now being given a chance which, but for this new development within the modern progressive course, they would never have had before—a chance to go to a university and to read for a degree. Our hope is that these figures will grow. My information coincides with that of the noble Lord: that the quality of these men is something of which we can be eminently satisfied.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said something about the possible development in the recruiting of civilians and traffic wardens to help out the available police strength. I agree with him that this is important, but again the facts show that much has been done in this field. In the 13 years of which the noble Lord spoke the total increase was 10,700 traffic wardens and other civilians—a rate of increase of 800 a year. In the five years since the Labour Party have been in power the increase has been 13,400—a rate of growth more than three times that which took place in the earlier years. Under this Government the total manpower devoted to the police role in England and Wales has increased by practically 25 per cent.
1177 But, of course, manpower is only part of the story. As the noble Lord said, equipment is essential for maximum effectiveness. In 1963, the last full year of the previous Administration, about £5½ million was spent annually on equipping the police; to-day we are spending £12 million. In the same period—that is, from 1963 to now—we have nearly doubled the number of police cars on the roads. In 1963 a mere £500,000 was spent on radio communications for the police. This has been increased nearly five times, to well over £2 million. Twice as many police cars are now equipped with radio, and the police now have 23,000 personal sets operational—about one set for each nine policemen. I understand that this compares with fewer than 500 sets when the noble Lord himself was in office.
All those concerned are entitled to take credit for this, because the fact is that the last few years have seen a complete tranformation in the operational methods used by the British police. The money spent on cars, radio communications and other equipment has been invested to produce an entirely new method of basic policing, the so-called unit beat policing, to which the noble Lord himself made a passing reference. The noble Lord asked for comprehensive planning. But this new system results from comprehensive planning: panda cars did not come out on the streets by chance. They form part of a remarkable change in the pattern of policing which was deliberately planned. I have heard it described as the biggest break-through since Peel set up the Metropolitan Police in 1829. The system is now giving a better service to the public, measured in terms of time, and it is bringing the police into closer touch with the public than has been possible for very many years in the past.
The noble Lord asked about management techniques, and I agree with him that these are important. They are now being used. There has been a greater concentration of resources and efforts on these matters during the past six years than at any time in the whole history of the police forces of this country. When the Government took office there existed only the rudiments of a police research and development organisation, consisting of four scientists and five police officers. This has been built up, encouraged and 1178 strengthened, until to-day there are some 50 officers in post, including nine police officers and 34 scientists, with more shortly expected. The results have manifested themselves in a number of ways including the unit beat system, and other improvements are likely increasingly to show themselves as the various aspects of police activity are brought under scientific scrutiny, and other advanced techniques, including the use of computers and other specialised forms of equipment, are being brought to the aid of the Service.
Because of the promise of this work, and of the importance which the Government attach to it, it was decided to concentrate responsibility for it in a new Police Planning Organisation. This Organisation got under way towards the end of last year. It now brings together the work previously done by the Police Research and Development Branch, mainly in the field of operational research and equipment, with other work which has more recently been developed to provide police forces with a management information system, based upon programme-budgeting, as an aid to the more effective allocation of resources. The two aspects are complementary, and are to be used to support and enhance each other.
This is a co-operative venture with enormously hopeful prospects. The Organisation is administered by a senior civil servant acting with the advice of the Inspector of Constabulary who pioneered the work of the Police Research and Development Branch. It comprises a group of scientific officers, with a senior scientist in charge; a group experienced in accounting and managerial techniques, under the direction of an economist; and, as important as any, a group of senior police officers seconded from forces, which is to be under the control of an officer of the rank of assistant chief constable. The particular responsibility of the police group will be to interpret the needs of the service to the Organisation and its work to the Service, but its members will also be closely teamed with the scientific and other staff in the development of particular projects, so that police experience will continue to permeate the whole work of the Organisation. Close contacts are also maintained with the universities, industrial research groups, and research units 1179 in other Government Departments. My Lords, we do not regard the work of the Organisation as in any way an intrusion on the independence of police forces; essentially it is intended to concentrate their experience, and to harness it with the necessary scientific and economic skills, so as to give effect to their common purposes.
Probably there is no more significant example of applying scientific aids to police problems than the police national computer project which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced at the end of last month. The policeman, and particularly the detective, needs to have ready and speedy access to police records on crime and criminals if he is to carry out his duties with the utmost precision—the sooner he can get information, the more likely he is to bring those responsible for crimes to justice. Police records dealing with these matters are at present dealt with manually at the Central Criminal Record Office at New Scotland Yard and at regional criminal record offices. But the task of maintaining these records and handling inquiries—which exceed one million each year—has created very considerable problems. With these problems the computer is best fitted to cope. The Government have, therefore, decided to put these records on a central computer complex and to provide a special police communications network throughout England, Wales and Scotland which will enable forces to obtain very rapid response to their inquiries.
When this complex is in full operation a police constable investigating some incident in a quiet country lane can get information from the computer in a matter of minutes—through his personal radio via the H.Q. computer terminal. To do all this will cost money; some £16 million or more is to be spent over the next ten years; but it opens up remarkable prospects and no one will deny, I am sure, that we should find the money required. This computer installation will be the biggest police project of its kind in the world and there is no doubt that it will have far-reaching effects on many aspects of police organisation.
As a result of what the Government have done within the last few years the British police now lead the world in the application of scientific techniques to 1180 their problems; and the computer is yet another example of projects which this Government have nurtured through their planning stage and are now bringing into full operational use. Within two years from now the benefits of the aid of this computer will be at the disposal of all policemen in this country.
The record that I am putting before your Lordships also shows equally outstanding achievement in the field of crime prevention. Within the last two years members of industry and commerce, and the T.U.C., have for the first time been closely associated with the work of crime prevention. They have been brought into consultation and we now have the benefit of their advice on all aspects of crime prevention work, including the difficult but important field of industrial and commercial crime prevention. In addition, crime prevention panels have, with their assistance, been set up in every large town in the country: by this means the police and leading members of local communities come together round a table to plan to prevent crime in their localities. Under Government auspices, there have, during the last four years, been national and local crime prevention campaigns—including broadcasting, television, advertising in the Press and wide distribution of publicity material. These developments, we shall all agree, are of considerable importance to them, since they serve to bring the public and police in closer contact in dealing with crime.
My Lords, I have confined myself to facts about the police and their work, for that is what the Motion before us deals with. I have not gone into the causes of crime, nor have I attempted to deal with the different social attitudes and atmospheres within which crime may be encouraged or discouraged—though I have my ideas and that is a most fascinating field. If I have tended to compare one set of facts, covering one chronological period, with another, it is only because we need to set the record straight after recent unfortunate Party propaganda. I have set out to show that not only do the Labour Government and the Labour Home Secretary care about law and order, but they care efficiently and effectively.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, that the numerical strength, the efficiency, and the equipment of the police are the prime protection of the 1181 law-abiding public against criminals. I claim that, as of to-day, under the present Government the numerical strength of the regular police forces is greater, the efficiency higher, the equipment vastly better, than at any previous time. But I add immediately that the policeman's task has never been more formidable. To the extent that this debate gives us all an opportunity to acknowledge the debt that we owe to the policeman in discharging his task, we are particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. Whether we watch on the television screen the steady way in which a policeman moves off to search for an armed desperado, or whether we see the relatively good humour with which he holds back the fans at a theatre first-night or the fanatics at some demonstration, we can but be grateful to the British "Bobby".
I recognise that mere words of gratitude are not enough. I know that it sometimes seems that far less essential members of our community appear to be grabbing bigger financial rewards, simply because they can exploit economic power. I am glad to think that although the agreed Pay Review for the police is not due until September, an interim increase is being considered. An immense amount has been done in the last few years to increase the effectiveness of the police— much more, I suggest, than any of us realise. No doubt more still can be done. I liked the last few sentences in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. I liked his references to the career prospects in the police forces of this country. I believe that if our newspapers devoted a little more time to that aspect of the situation they could render a considerable service to us all. In the meantime, if there are any constructive ideas from any side of this House, I assure noble Lords that they will be studied.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD O'NEILL OF THE MAINE
My Lords, at a time when it is fashionable to denigrate all forms of authority it is right that we should give tribute where tribute is due. I would therefore say, quite shortly, and agree with the noble Lord's remark, "Thank God for the British ' Bobby'!" To the average person going about his lawful business the policeman is a friend and, I have always found, a very friendly friend. I 1182 think that is true of all our police forces all over the country.
We in Northern Ireland are very fortunate that Sir Arthur Young, so recently directing police affairs in this capital City, is now head of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Noble Lords may have noticed that he recently recommended an increase in the R.U.C. establishment, from the figure of approximately 3,000 men to a new figure of approximately 5,000 men. I might add that no noble Lord knows more about this subject, after his most careful investigations, than the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. It is ironic that Northern Ireland, so often described as a "police State" by those who are perhaps unfriendly to its continued existence, has in fact been operating with this tiny force of dedicated men. I am reliably informed that when there was a "spot of bother" some time ago in Grosvenor Square, London, 7,000 police were there to deal with the situation, and another 7,000 were in reserve. We in Northern Ireland, when there were "spots of bother" in Londonderry involving many thousands of demonstrators, often found that there were only 500 police available to deal with the much more difficult task of trying to keep two rival factions from seriously injuring each other.
I see my noble friend—I suppose I should not use the word "friend", but he is a very old friend—Lord Stonham, sitting opposite. He, like Lord Hunt, knows a great deal about this matter and has been most helpful to Northern Ireland in the past. I feel that the terms of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, stressing the importance of the morale, the numerical strength, the efficiency and the equipment of the police is therefore equally applicable to the situation in Northern Ireland as to that in the rest of the United Kingdom.
At the same time as supporting my noble friend's Motion, which I do wholeheartedly—and how could I do anything else when he was good enough, along with my noble kinsman the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, to act as my sponsor the other day?—I feel, nevertheless, that despite our worries and our anxieties we should appreciate how very fortunate we are in this country in dealing with a law and order situation which in many respects is the envy of the world.
1183 Two small stories come to mind to illustrate my point. I hope that the first will not be thought too lighthearted, because I believe there is force in its point. A branch of my wife's family have for long lived in Sicily, and a cousin has from time to time been in the habit of visiting London to keep in touch with relations. One Sunday morning on a recent visit she saw outside her hotel a pile of Sunday papers. Passersby dropped the correct sum of money into a bowl and took the paper of their choice. This is something with which we at home are perfectly familiar. Her comment to us was that in Italy people would not only take the papers but the money as well.
My second story is more personal, and concerns my first visit to the United States, in 1959, when I have a shrewd suspicion that my old friend Lord Roberthall (who I am glad is to make his maiden speech to-day) was probably at the World Bank Meeting at Washington on that occasion, too. Arrangements had been made to show me round the building on Capitol Hill. It was a lovely warm afternoon at the end of September. Everything in that beautifully laid out city looks deceptively close, and I decided to walk down through the park in front of the building on my way to the National Gallery, which appeared from the top of the Hill to be only about a quarter-of-a-mile distant.
I suppose I had covered about 200 yards when a very large man, some 6 ft. 6 ins. tall and weighing about 18 stones, appeared from behind an oak tree. "You've got an interesting face", was his opening remark. When he told me that, I spoke really nicely and explained that I was British and had only just arrived on my first visit to America. By this time I realised that he was an educated chap who had perhaps gone off the rails: "Well", he added, "I hate to do this, but I've just got to have the price of a drink". An ominous bulge in the back pocket of his jeans seemed to indicate that, if necessary, a certain persuasive power was being held in reserve. In a last effort at composure I mumbled something about having only small change in my pocket, the denominations of which I was not familiar with. In a fairly friendly way he said, "But I guess you've got a quarter". I had, of course, no idea, on this my first full 1184 day in America, to what coin he referred; but by this time I was fully persuaded that discretion was the better part of valour. I produced a handful of change and the gentleman courteously picked out a quarter of a dollar, advising me that in future I would doubtless remember what a quarter looked like. He apologised once more for troubling me, and ambled amiably away. Now that frequent subsequent visits have taught me more about the most powerful country in the world. I realise how fortunate I was to have been subjected only to this gentlemanly encounter. "Why", said my American host that evening. "you actually walked across the park?" —and then a long pause—"You must be crazy!"
Fortunately noble Lords can still walk across St. James's Park in broad daylight without let or hindrance, and they should be thankful that that is still the position in Britain to-day. Crime is certainly on the increase, and we must support our forces of law and order as well as we can. We have, however, not yet reached the position which exists in suburban areas of American cities where people are equipped with lights which go on automatically in their living rooms in the evening—in that way, of course, they can make a possible intruder think that they are at home—while at night their gardens are floodlit so as to discourage a burglar who has already poisoned their guard dog.
I should like here to touch, if I may, on a related point. There is in Britain today—and I am coming back now from America altogether—a vast decline in the adherence to any religious morality: and I feel that one of the problems of the 'seventies is to consider how some new morality, some new modus vivendi, can replace the convictions commonplace in our parents' day. The ever-declining figures of church attendance, which I heard referred to last week by the noble Lord, Lord Soper—ever-declining figures, at least in the established Churches— make this a matter for urgent consideration. Just to hope that there will be a return to organised and established religion is flying in the face of published trends. I therefore feel that people of all, and no, religious convictions should try to make this one of the "in" things to discuss, alongside environmental pollution, drugs, abortion. 1185 and all the other fashionable topics of the moment.
Last week this House debated youth and community work in the 'seventies, and made a valuable contribution to perhaps the most important problem facing the country today. Those who embark on a life of crime usually start young. Modern industrial society produces conditions which were absent in the English village one hundred years ago. There were, of course, other problems in those days—grinding poverty and a short expectation of life, to mention but two—but because the country was still close to the town, some of today's problems were absent. I realise that many noble Lords, especially on the other side of the House, will disagree, perhaps even violently, with what I am about to say, but I sometimes regret that National Service was abolished altogether.
§ LORD O'NEILL OF THE MAINE
Even a period of six months, though doubtless too short to produce really efficient Servicemen, would give a young chap a new look at life outside the urban area in which he had been raised. If that could include service abroad as well for as little as three months prior to starting on a civilian life, he might then have a wider outlook on life and feel that he had a role to play in society without adopting a life of crime.
In the job I was performing until last year I often had to make unpopular decisions and unpopular statements, and so I shall not be entirely shocked, or surprised, if what I now say does not find universal favour with all my noble friends on this side of the House. I am against capital punishment, and I played no small part, with whatever influence I 'then had, in ensuring that Northern Ireland followed the law in Great Britain. I today still have no regrets on that subject. I am glad that we in Northern Ireland achieved that change by a free vote of the Northern Ireland House of Commons. But it is now my solemn duty to draw the attention of your Lordships' House to a vital difference in the legislation as it exists here and the legal situation in Northern Ireland today; a person who kills a policeman there will face the possibility 1186 of capital punishment. Surely, my Lords, that is a sensible provision.
In my view the Government should take a long look at this pressing problem. If they ignore this grave situation, or procrastinate as policemen are murdered month by month, they will be faced with such mounting anger that they may be forced to reintroduce capital punishment right across the board. That, in my view, would be a tragic and retrograde step. So, my Lords, that is why I urge them, not in the interests of reactionary Right-Wing views but in the interests of forward looking, sensible administration, to give the police the protection they deserve. We are utterly dependent upon the police, and as demonstration succeeds demonstration—some policemen were seriously injured in Cambridge last week—and as violent crime succeeds violent crime (I think I am right in saying that three policemen have been killed in three months) we must surely appreciate that we owe a great debt of gratitude to this magnificent force, which is the envy of the world.
There is a small additional point which I have not mentioned. If someone kills a person who is in the service of the Crown and is acting in the course of any duty, that person can also find himself in danger of facing a capital charge. I have some reason to believe that that particular provision at home in Northern Ireland has made it possible for me to address your Lordships to-day. But let me assure the Government that I am not suggesting that they should seek this additional protection for themselves at the present time, even though their popularity has perhaps passed its peak. I, for one, should be content if they would protect the police who protect us. Let us then, my Lords, see to it that this noble House makes it unmistakably clear to the Government of the day that it speaks not only for the police but also for the people; for it is to Westminster that the people look for some clear understanding of their anxieties and for some alleviation of their present problems.
§ 4.42 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF COVENTRY
My Lords, for the first time in my life I find myself standing between two noble Lords who are making a maiden speech, and I regard it as a very special privilege 1187 to pay not only my own tribute but a tribute on behalf of all noble Lords here to the speaker who has been addressing us during these past minutes, because he is a man of such outstanding distinction. The talents of this House will undoubtedly be enriched and enhanced by the advent of such a national figure; and in view of his long, and often painful, experiences of disorder and riot it was surely particularly fitting that his maiden speech should be made on such a subject as we are considering to-day. That we listened with such rapt attention to a speech which was both humorous and, at the same time, in places deeply moving is, I am sure, an indication of the respect which all of us have for such a leader. I am sure that I voice the convictions of all your Lordships, when I say that I hope he will find many opportunities of taking part in the debates in your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I speak to-day in two capacities: first, as a member of the Church which during these past years has played a not unimportant part in seeking to deepen the relationship between the police and the total community. In response to an invitation as far back as 1964, issued by the then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Joseph Simpson, and the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, the Churches were asked to establish a Commission under the leadership of the then Bishop of Birmingham, Dr. Leonard Wilson. That the findings of that Commission were of value is I think indicated by the fact that five years later, in 1969, at the International Police Conference held in Beirut the presidential address consisted almost entirely of quotations from the report issued by that Commission.
Following the publication of that report there have been three important developments. First, a continuation committee was set up, under the auspices of the British Council of Churches. That Committee, now called the Committee on Police in the Community, is still functioning and doing its work extremely valuably. Secondly, a consultation was held at Bramshill Police College in March last year, attended by leaders of the police, the Home Office and the Churches, the purpose of which was to set up groups in every area covered by the 47 police forces to deal with this 1188 whole question of a better understanding by the community of the police and their work, and to attempt to do what the noble Viscount so ably mentioned; that is, help the community to play its rightful part in dealing with the increase of crime to-day.
As recently as this, year, a series of courses have been held for police officers, clergy and social workers in William Temple College, Rugby, in my diocese. These courses, attended by no fewer than 150 police officers, have briefed police and clergy to play their full part, and an integrated part, in the changing social conditions of our day. I mention this merely to show that the Churches have been deeply involved in these important and unprecedented initiatives, which I think have assisted in the development of the new conception of the role of the police in the community.
There was a time—I think we must face this—when the public tended to believe that the police were exclusively responsible for public order and the containment of crime, with the public merely lending a hand occasionally. But the report which I have already mentioned insists that the real responsibility rests with the community, which is assisted in carrying that responsibility by the Police Service. With this in mind, it is vitally important to break into the growing isolation of the police and to establish ever-growing links between the police and the community. It is interesting to note that the police have now created a community relations office, devoting very special attention to racial tension and to those situations in which young people are involved.
At the outset of my speech, I said that I was speaking in two capacities. I have already covered one aspect, and I now want to speak as a member of the public who has felt it is high time that the people of this country woke up to the fact that the members of the police force are doing an onerous, demanding and highly responsible piece of work, which demands first-rate pay and more than adequate pension, and conditions of work and promotion that will compensate for the inconvenience of overtime, shift work, weekend duty and danger, In the past, men joined the police force because of the security and status of the job but this 1189 situation has been largely eroded by inflation. To-day, in a high wage-earning area like my own city of Coventry, it is not long before the idealism of the young policeman is eroded by the disillusionment of their senior police colleagues and the tempting financial prospects offered by industry.
With regard to status, in the past men joined the police force because it afforded them an interesting, exciting and responsible piece of work—naturally, with the prospect of bettering themselves through promotion. But to-day the police force does not appear to have the same status in the life of the community that it once had. I wonder whether the general public realise the gravity and seriousness of the situation at the moment. This debate may do something to enlighten the public in this respect, and the speeches already made will, I am sure, have done so. But it is serious that the number of resignations during 1969 has been estimated as 2,000 police men and women with less than three years' service; that 6,700 personal assaults were made on police in England and Wales during that year; and that the take-home pay of many policemen was, at the worst, £11 per week, and at the best, £15 per week after deductions. Furthermore, I wonder whether the public realise that the police forces of this country are 17,000 short of their official establishment, and that that figure relates principally to the big cities. If one combines these facts with the conditions under which many policemen have to work—long hours and overtime; shift work; frequent weekends on duty; an increase in crime, with malicious woundings amounting in 1968–69 to a very high average, not far short, I think, of 100 a week—it is not surprising that recruitment is not coming up to the total that all of us, I think, would like. This points to a very serious situation.
I listened, as one outside Party politics, with very great respect to the remarkable record put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick; and I should have thought that anybody must have been deeply moved by what he had to say as to the Government's part during these past years. Nevertheless, I am sure that he would be the first to agree that we must not settle down into the mere (as it were) happy belief that everything is well, be- 1190 cause I feel sure that it is not. To-day the police need to be still better equipped —educationally, physically and mentally —to cope with the complexity (and I underline the word "complexity") of the human problems that can be found in any one area of a city. Furthermore, the public is better educated and more aware of their rights—and the public includes the criminal, big or small time. The policeman to-day is dealing with highly organised crime, which is the result of the activities of intelligent, astute men with ample resources. These activities are widespread, and range, as we well know, from complicated company frauds to the stealing and exporting of works of art; and to counteract all this there is needed a very high level of expertise.
Furthermore, the dangers confronting the men and women of the police force are to be seen in the increasing use of shotguns and violence in bank raids, which are becoming almost commonplace. The majority of the police are more than prepared to accept these risks and injuries, but we should not be surprised if they feel that their material rewards still do not reflect this hazard; and, furthermore, it should make us seriously to think, realising that the policeman has to rely on voluntary funds to look after his wife and family if he is killed on duty. Again, there is another side of the picture which the public needs to have in its mind as it considers the police force of to-day. I refer to the very high level of character which the public, quite rightly, expects of the police force, and the immensely high level of punishment that is meted out to a policeman if he fiddles his expenses to the extent of a few shillings more than his entitlement. For this he can get a three-months' suspended sentence of imprisonment, a substantial fine and be dismissed from the Service. Quite naturally, he compares this with the very small fine, which can be as little as £4 or £5, which a member of the public receives for kicking a policeman.
Furthermore, the nature of the life of a policeman to-day is becoming increasingly difficult, over against the background of a fabric of social behaviour which, alas!, as we all know, and to which reference has been made, is becoming increasingly threadbare. The level 1191 of moral life, in certain respects but not in all—I would venture to underline that: not in all—is declining visibly. Crime undoubtedly is increasing with enormous speed, thus throwing an extra load on a seriously depleted establishment; all of which puts an immense strain, as we have heard, on the fewer, individual officers. Furthermore—and this is something which is happening throughout the whole of life—the nature of their work is becoming increasingly difficult. The law, for instance, if I may dare to say so, is becoming increasingly more detailed and complex, which makes it necessary to recruit men with a capacity and ability to absorb and understand the numerous Statutes, regulations and orders. All this necessitates having men with a broad, well-educated and intelligent outlook upon life. But is the police force likely to obtain men of high intellectual calibre if the rate of pay is so comparatively small, and where the conditions of work can be so demanding?
Two things are needed urgently: first, that the public shall be alerted to the facts of the situation. They must be made aware that the police force to-day demands a highly intelligent, competent man of great moral integrity who, in a society in which vice is increasing with alarming rapidity, will carry out a job of increasingly heavy responsibility. Therefore, for this, he must receive a better rate of pay than at the moment he is receiving. I was most interested to hear Lord Beswick's hope that an interim increase will be made shortly. I hope indeed that that is carried out. Further, the policeman must know, my Lords, that his future years, after retirement, will be adequately catered for, and that his family will be provided for adequately in the case of tragedy. That, first, is what is needed.
Secondly—and this is very important —the image of the policeman in the mind of the ordinary citizen must be improved. On the whole, it can safely be said that it is very wide of the mark at the present. A good many people still think of the policeman as a man who directs traffic or enforces parking laws. These are highly important functions; but, in addition to this, the beat patrol man in a congested high crime area is called upon to make highly sophisticated judgments which have a major impact on the lives of individuals. Such judgments are not 1192 mechanical in nature, and such men are engaged in the difficult, complex business of human behaviour. Therefore, as I have said, their intellectual armament must be no less than their physical powers and protection.
With this in mind, police training must be related to these requirements, and this training must be based on a far wider and deeper study of, and research into, criminology. If all the reputable writings on that subject were collected together, they would not occupy a very large shelf in any library. Attention, I should think, though, must be drawn to-day to the quite excellent developments in this direction which, thank God!, are now happening in the University of Bristol; and already note has been made that the police have themselves made substantial provisions for scholarships to universities, and there are also some excellent courses for the police at Bramshill. All this is good, but it is not enough because the training of the police is of such crucial importance, and emphasis must be placed upon the difficult but positive social tasks which the police have to perform in helping, advising and protecting the public. The Service therefore requires these gifts and qualities of men of a very high calibre—and only the best will do, my Lords.
If at times in this brief speech I have overestimated what may appear to be the blackness of the situation, at the same time there is much that is very hopeful, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, indicated. While, on the one hand, the police force to-day is in a very serious situation—it might almost be said alarming—and while it is also true that authority is being increasingly questioned and undermined, that moral standards in certain directions are falling and vice increasing, there is still before us the picture of a police force which is understaffed, not too well paid, in need of still better training and of stronger supportive backing from the general public. But, on the other side, there are hopeful signs that improvement is just round the corner, and that the public is slowly becoming aware of the immense importance of the Police Service to-day. So I should like to join others in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, for calling attention to this very important subject.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD ROBERTHALL
My Lords, in addressing your Lordships for the first time, I hope I may be allowed to express not only the sense of privilege that I have in finding myself here at all but also my gratitude for the great kindness which the House extends to "new boys" and which makes being here so agreeable an experience. I ought also to say that, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and most of the other noble Lords who have spoken, I cannot claim to have any special knowledge of the police. But the subject is too important to be left to the experts. It is as important that we should improve the public attitude towards the police and the law as that we should improve the police morale and numbers and efficiency. As I am sure we should all agree, these are two sides of the same coin, and it is in the frame of mind of an ordinary member of the public that I have tried to formulate my remarks. As my old friend Lord O'Neill of the Maine reminded the House, the British public have a reputation as a law-abiding people who think of the police as their friends; and, as he also reminded us, that is something for which we are envied all over the world. But it is not a gift of Providence like the climate or the Channel; it is something which we can keep only if we work for it.
Young people are not to be expected to be thankful for what they have inherited; it is their business to be critical and to try to change things. But as we grow older we become more conscious that, as Winston Churchill said— and it moved me very much when first I read it—we are only life tenants and we should try to hand on the national heritage in a better shape than we found it. If we think something is valuable we should say so and try to foster it. In this context, whatever the young may think of some of the things about them, I do not believe that many of them really want an anarchistic society. I do not believe that any of them would like such a society if they found it.
It is an essential for a law-abiding society that its members should respect the law and should wish to see it enforced. It is an alarming feature of our present situation that we have so many laws which are enforced in an arbitrary 1194 and capricious way. The most obvious example that I can think of are the motoring offences to which the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, referred. I am ashamed to confess that some years ago, before I was raised to this dignity, I was myself convicted of exceeding the statutory speed limit and was, very properly, fined for it. I was chastened by that experience and, perhaps conscious that I had lost one of my three lives, tried to do better thereafter. But in the next few years it seemed to me that I was passed by all the motorists of southern England. I know that that is an exaggeration and that many of them were law-abiding; but I was passed, and still am passed, by a very large number. And when I am hooted at or when people flash their lights at me, I must confess that I find it a little trying as I move out of the way, and I wonder whether I am not an accessory to the offence that they are committing.
If one stands for a few moments at traffic lights one sees a number of drivers who accelerate when they see the amber and go through on the red. Bus lanes are excellent things; but if one stands at the bottom of Park Lane in the rush hour one sees a great many drivers besides bus drivers who think that they are excellent things. This is in no sense a criticism of the police. The rapid growth of motoring has placed on them what must seem an insuperable task. There are not enough of them; and, as several noble Lords have made plain, they have much more important things to do. But I do not think we should be so complacent as to let even motoring get the better of us in this way. It is my impression, both from observation in America and from what happened here after we introduced traffic wardens, that once it becomes likely that people will be caught the whole problem becomes very much easier, the number of offenders diminishes and it becomes much more apparent who they are. Although this may seem trivial, I believe that there is a real danger in the cumulative effect of our whole attitude to the law. It must be damaging that people who think of themselves in general as respectable should come to regard those parts of the law that they do not like as something like a lottery or football pool in reverse —where you are unlucky if your name 1195 comes out of the hat. We could all give other examples.
My second one, which was also referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, is that of the demonstrations which become more frequent and more violent and attract many young people. As I have said, it is right that young people should be critical, and it is a good thing that they should be willing to demonstrate for their beliefs. But there is a very widespread feeling that it ought to be plainer than it is whether these demonstrations go beyond the law or not. I am told that the law on this subject is very confused and complex. There is a very widespread feeling that if the people concerned do go beyond the law more should be done to limit the inconvenience, or worse, which they cause to the law-abiding citizen. It weakens his respect for the law, and it must be harmful to the characters of the demonstrators themselves that, when they are allowed to disturb or assault others, or even the police, they should then appear to be asking for sympathy or protection, or complaining about police brutality. Those who take the sword— I will not say, "shall perish by the sword", but at any rate I think no harm would be done if they felt the flat edge occasionally.
In these ways I feel that there is a danger that respect for the law will be eroded from both sides. The feeling that some offences cannot be checked makes us apathetic about the law; the feeling that demonstrators can cause great inconvenience, assault the police or occupy other people's properly with impunity makes us angry. I have spent many years of my life in the university world, and I regard the present system, in which a university education comes much more from ability than from means is an enormous improvement. But I wonder whether any of us would dare to-day to support a referendum on the future of students' grants. I support the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, in his wishes for better morale and better equipment, and for a larger Police Force. I feel sure that the Home Secretary shares his wishes in this respect.
What I have been endeavouring to say, my Lords, is that we should also do more to cherish the public support for the police and for law and order. There is widespread sympathy for the police. I 1196 sometimes think that it would be pleasing if we could organise a demonstration to show this sympathy. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, need worry that this would require so many police that the criminals would have a good time. The police have to do the work, and I am sure the public would like to feel that the police themselves were consulted about the problems and about the way in which they are dealt with. I have no doubt that the Home Secretary also is conscious of this, and that he does consult them. Nevertheless, I think it should be made more clear to the public that this is done, and particularly if it is known that police wishes have not been complied with for reasons—but I will not refer to the recent debate. Certainly attempts should be made to explain to the public why the advice of the police has been overridden.
My Lords, my last point is one that was made in a recent article by Mr. David Watt, the political editor of the Financial Times. Not only should we uphold the law, but we should constantly review it, especially in what one might call the sensitive areas where public opinion is changing or where the problems of enforcement are getting more difficult. There are some laws which we must have, and although we cannot enforce them in the way in which we should like to do, the public can see that we are all trying our hardest. But if there are laws which the public can see are enforced by hardly anyone, then I think we should ask whether it does not do more harm than good to keep them 0:1 the Statute Book.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, it is my pleasant privilege to thank the noble Lord, Lord Roberthall and to congratulate him on his excellent maiden speech. I do so with very great pleasure. He achieved in his speech something which, despite the three "maiden speeches" that I have made in this Chamber, I have never been able to achieve: he managed to be direct and short, and those are highly desirable attributes. Your Lordships will be aware that because of his very wide and great experience the noble Lord, Lord Roberthall, could have spoken as an expert on academic, industrial, Governmental and oilier subjects. Instead, he chose to speak about the police, as he said, "as an ordinary man", I 1197 am sure that we look forward to further speeches from the noble Lord in either capacity, ordinary man or expert.
May I also add a word to what has been said already about the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine. I looked forward to it, and I hope that we shall hear him on many future occasions. The noble Lord was good enough to refer to me as his friend, and that is so. I had a "front seat" during the months, in fact during the years, when the noble Lord conducted the affairs of Ireland; when they were extremely difficult and dangerous and afflicted us with deep concern. I had great admiration for the courage, skill and self-sacrifice which the noble Lord showed then, and I am very glad that we may look forward to further contributions from him in your Lordships' House.
My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Beswick, I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, for introducing this debate today. I agreed with many things that he said. I agree that we must conscientiously measure what is needed to meet the crime wave. I imagine that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was thinking not only about police forces and police strength but of the possibility of strengthening the law. In that connection I would say that when it was looked at in an endeavour to meet particular difficulties which have arisen recently, it was not found easy to devise new powers which would not at the same time destroy or endanger what we all regard as essential liberties and freedoms. I also agree with the noble Lord that the police are the friends of free-dom and that those who resort to crime are its enemies.
I was rather unhappy to hear in the last speeches made in the debate references to feelings—genuinely held, of course—that something needed to be done about the image of the police in the public eye. One thing which we can all do is to speak truly and give the facts about the police. As some of your Lordships may know, I am Chairman of the Appeals Committee of the Police Dependants' Fund and so I am in a position to know something of the image and the standing of the police in the public eye. I can say that it is very 1198 high indeed; I do not know of any time when it was higher. Of course, no situation that one reaches is ever good enough, and we must strive more. But I feel very strongly on this particular point, and I often think that some criticisms and comments that are made are perhaps ill-judged. I wonder sometimes whether all the facts and figures, and all the real things, have any effect.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, in his very interesting and eloquent speech, said that he was glad to hear the facts given by my noble friend Lord Beswick. One of the facts was that although crime was still increasing, the rate of increase had lessened and was in fact some 6.8 per cent. Yet the right reverend Prelate went on to speak about the ever-rapidly ascending volume of crime. My Lords, we should stick to the facts and not say things which give pain to those who spend long hours, days, and even weeks, and give everything they have, to getting the crime figures down. Although I agreed with so much of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, and although I thank him for the fact that he did not, as might have been the case, start this as a Party political debate but made a balanced and very fair speech, nevertheless, implications and criticisms of what the present Government have done did creep into it and I feel that they should be answered. One of the criticisms was on the question of the recruitment of police officers. I know that my noble friend Lord Beswick has given some important figures and I would give others.
This Government took over in 1964, after 13 years of Conservative Government, during which period we did not have acute economic problems. Your Lordships will recall that Mr. Macmillan assured us that we had "never had it so good." During that period, the total strength of the police forces in England and Wales was only 77,800; that is, officers available for duty. That was after what was then an unprecedented crime wave. To-day, there are not 77,000, but 91,762 officers in the police forces; that is, an increase of more than 15 per cent. in five years. It is an annual increase of more than 2,200, a rate which was never achieved by the Party opposite. This is important when we consider the increased tasks. Because of the efforts of this 1199 Government there are now seven police officers on duty for every six who were on duty when we took over.
There has also been an immense increase in civilian aids to the police about which my noble friend gave the figures. Recruitment has never been less than 5,000 in any year, and for the coming financial year the police authorities" estimates have been met in full. Everyone in this House agrees that the numbers must be still further increased as rapidly as possible, but the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, knows that there are limits to the number of suitable, high quality young men who can come forward in any one year and to the number who can be properly trained and assimilated. It is not only a question of money: we just cannot get suitable men. I leave it at that. We all know that if men who were unsuitable were taken on, or were only semi-trained, it would be a bigger disaster than not having them at all.
I would ask: is it too much to hope that responsible critics and critical opponents of the Government would acknowledge that the Government have done a good job in this field—adding, if they wish, that the national interest demands even better? It is only half the truth to base arguments to the contrary on a comparison of the present police strength with establishment. The right reverend Prelate did this when he said that the police were 16,000 men short. My Lords, when we took over in 1964 the total authorised establishment of the police forces in England and Wales was 86,500. That was the establishment which the then Government thought was sufficient, although they had enlisted some 10,000 men fewer than that establishment. To-day, our actual strength is 5,000 above that establishment. Quite properly, however, we have sharply increased the total establishment, which is now 104,500—an increase of some 18,000 in the paper establishment, which has not yet been wholly taken up. So do not let us put this point about the establishment as if there were some great failure. Establishments should be kept under continuous review, as has been done by this Government. In my view, there must always be a gap between establishment and actual strength, and 1200 we must keep adjusting establishments to expanding needs.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, the noble Lord has suggested that as Home Secretary I had thought that 86,000 was a proper number for the police. Believe me, that was not so. Many establishments badly needed revising, but there were many other things to do which were more urgent at the time, and it seemed to me wrong to divert people on to the job of revising establishments which were already well above existing strength. I give the present Government credit for having revised them. But in my time I certainly did not regard 86,000 as a satisfactory figure.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I accept what the noble Lord tells me. He was too busy with other things to revise establishments. My answer to that is that the establishment was then 86,500 and there were only 77,800 men and women in the forces, so that he was 9,000 under an establishment which he now agrees was too low. I am prepared to accept that, but it does not affect the point I am making. What matters is not the paper figure of establishments but the number we have in the forces. Of course we have to watch the question of establishment, since it is no use having it force which cannot increase because the paper figure has not been properly adjusted.
Another thing that must constantly be looked at—and the noble Lord referred to this—is wastage, by which I mean resignations other than by normal retirement. The wastage figures are regrettably high. Last year, some 3,000 men left prematurely, and the figure has been high for many years. It is not a new phenomenon and it is not surprising, because of the arduous and difficult nature of police officers' duties. If we study the figures of premature wastage for the last ten years, we find that in 1960 there were 2,745 resignations without pension or gratuity, and I take that to mean resignations of officers who were dissatisfied, otherwise they would not have resigned without taking pension. Then there were fewer resignations in each subsequent year until 1968, when the total was 2,842. Because of the larger force, this meant that the actual percentage of resignations had fallen. 1201 In 1960 there were 3.7 per cent. of premature resignations, and in 1968 3.2 per cent. That is a little better but still too high.
I would now make some suggestions which I hope may help to reduce the number of early resignations of experienced officers whom we cannot afford to lose. Although numbers are important, no less important, as my noble friend Lord Beswick demonstrated, is the efficient deployment and equipment of the available forces; and in this field there has been very great progress. Certainly in my time at the Home Office, when this was a matter in which I took a considerable interest, I was delighted with some of the things that we were able to do. There were the unit beat system, the great investment in panda cars, and in personal radios—and there are now 23,000 such radios available, My noble friend said that that represents one for every nine police officers. Even arithmetically it is one for four, but, as my noble friend pointed out, it is one for every officer on duty, which means that every officer is in immediate touch with his own station and headquarters. And when the computer is working on a national scale, I hope in two years' time, there will be instant aid and information to a constable anywhere, which is bound to mean a great improvement in the reporting and detecting of crime.
It is only a large and continuing increase in the number of crimes committed that has obscured the great progress that has been achieved. I agree that it is a breakthrough. We are inclined to talk all the time in terms of the total number of crimes, and that is what has been done in this debate. But so far as the police are concerned, the only measure of their success is to pay attention to the number of crimes cleared up. That is the true measure of the burdens carried by the police and the measure of their success in coping with them. For example, in the four years from 1960 to 1964, the average number of indictable offences cleared up annually was some 386,000. In 1968, the total was 540,000 —that is, an increase of 40 per cent. When we talk about productivity and what the chaps are doing it means they brought 40 per cent. more offenders to book than they had done in the preceding four years. I do not know of any other 1202 service with a comparable record. We who are politicians and support the police, and the newspapers who support the police, would perform a useful service by drawing attention to this success and using it to illustrate the great importance of the police to every one of us.
It is with this record in mind, my Lords, that I think we should examine the proposals we have to face for a political campaign on law and order. The courts which dispense justice and the police who maintain order have always been, and in my view must continue to be, outside Party politics. I therefore regard it as deplorable that the Party opposite have decided to make this a Party political issue. In my view, it can only do harm to both law and order No one can complain about the very proper concern of the Party opposite at the state of crime, a problem which affects us and most industrial countries in the world. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, that it is no good talking about what the position is in some other country—we are concerned with the position here. But I strongly object to the way in which this subject has been made a Party political football by the speeches of some Conservative leaders, and notably Mr. Quintin Hogg, who is reported, at a time when he should have been speaking with all the weight of a Shadow Home Secretary, as saying that Mr. Wilson, the Prime Minister:is presiding complacently over the biggest crime wave of the century".Frankly, I say that this was despicable, and I hope that noble Lords opposite will feel that, in their speeches, in this House and in the country, they owe it to the country and to themselves explicitly to reject this statement.
In 1964, before Labour took office, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, in a speech referring to the current crime figures, said:Burglaries and housebreakings have increased two and a half times; crimes against women four times; crimes of violence five times ".He did not then say, suggest or imply that Mr. Macmillan or Sir Alec Douglas-Home were "presiding complacently over the biggest crime wave" in history—as indeed it then was. No Minister or Party, and no Member of your Lordships' House, is or could be complacent about 1203 this evil. The politician who declares otherwise is in my view acting with disgraceful responsibility, and it is bound to recoil on his own head. Indeed, it has recoiled on Mr. Quintin Hogg, because to support his case he referred to the Richardsons and the Krays. He forgot that they committed their crimes under Tory rule, and were brought to justice, under Labour, by two of the most painstaking, courageous and brilliant actions of the century. This is something that we can say again and again. The officers concerned have to take the can back every time: and when they do this kind of job, which takes well over a year, with endless work and struggle, and they finally succeed, nobody says a word for them.
One only has to state these facts to illustrate that what Mr. Quintin Hogg said, and apparently tried to do, is dangerous, squalid nonsense. There should be no Party strife on this subject. We should all work together to strengthen and support the police; give them the men and the equipment that they need, and let them get on with the job—a job which they do better than any other force in the world. Home Secretaries sometimes have to take political decisions, as Mr. Callaghan did over Grosvenor Square and again in Northern Ireland, and they must suffer the consequences if they are wrong. But they are not to blame for individual crimes or for the level of crime. These are matters for society as a whole, irrespective of Party, and only society as a whole, by a sustained effort, can so change the climate that the level of crime will be reduced.
Finally, my Lords, I want to make some suggestions which, in my view, if implemented will help to reduce wastage in the police. There is a tendency for most people to believe that money is the sole, at least the main, answer. I do not think it is. Advertisements for the Metropolitan Police say that the starting salary for a man of 21 is over £1,000 a year, plus a free house or tax paid rent allowance up to £400 a year. They earn every penny, of course; but it is not a bad start. A man can be a sergeant in three years and an inspector in five years, earning over £2,000 a year. Men are applying in satisfactory numbers on these terms. Of course the level of pay is important, and the Police Council are now considering an interim settlement. The machinery is there and is being used, and I trust 1204 that a satisfactory agreement will be reached. I hope, however, that included in any overall settlement there will be some changes to meet points of difficulty from which early resignations arise.
Only a minority of officers can hope for promotion, but all experienced officers are of great value, and they should be given more recognition for experience. A constable is thought to reach maximum efficiency with six years' service, but he cannot get a long service supplement until he has served for 14 years. If the supplements could be increased and another one introduced after, say, ten years' service, we should probably retain many officers who now leave just when they are most valuable. Similar arguments apply to officers who are promoted. Some sergeants are leaving the service without pension after 15 or even 20 years' service. They are usually men who have failed to pass the examination for inspector, and having reached their maximum pay they see no prospect for the future. A supplement after eight years in the rank would meet this difficulty.
A similar case can be argued for inspectors and chief inspectors. Inspectors and chief inspectors also have a legitimate complaint in that they are excluded from the payment for normal overtime. They should either be paid for overtime on the same basis as the lower ranks or the difference should be recognised in their salaries, as it is, or is supposed to be, with superintendents. I say "supposed to be", because a longstanding and indefensible anomaly lies in the fact that, because of a different basis for payment of hours worked and for expense allowances, some chief inspectors now suffer a loss of income when they are promoted to superintendent. This is insupportable, and it has been going on for a long time.
There are other anomalies, such as the fact that, because of the different basis of payment for hours worked, some detective constables are paid more than inspectors. These things must be cleared away, and if pay is under consideration they should be cleared away now. I would ask my noble friend to take note of another cause of anxiety, which is the belief that the new National Pensions scheme will devalue police pensions. I trust that this anxiety is ill-founded. If it is, I urge Her Majesty's Government 1205 to give an assurance that the police will not be asked to pay more to receive less.
Police officers are, as we all agree, a special class of people; but they are also men. Part of their duty is to supervise and control demonstrations, and they do it remarkably well. From all that has been said in this debate I, for one, want to let the British police go on handling demonstrations without too much interference from us or from anybody else. But in the process of handling these demonstrations they learn about militancy and what it can sometimes achieve. Political militancy by the police is unthinkable to most people, including the police themselves, but that is all the more reason why any proper cause for grievance should be investigated and dealt with. There should be really constructive action at national level, with the maximum of consultation and trust. Our police forces are part of the very essential fabric of the British way of life. They are the finest in the world. It is our responsibility to create and maintain conditions to ensure that they go on keeping that place.
§ 5.40 p.m.
My Lords, in asking for the indulgence customarily accorded to maiden speakers in your Lordships' House, I promise to try not to be controversial and, which is easier, definitely to be brief. In thanking my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor for introducing this Motion, I must confess that as I come to speak to it any confidence which I derive from foreknowledge of your Lordships' generosity is not unattended by feelings which might appropriately be likened to those of a young constable who, on going to "feel a collar" for the first time, finds that a bevy of chief superintendents have got there before him. Nor am I unaware of the shadows of my noble friend Lord O'Neill of the Maine and the noble Lord, Lord Roberthall.
My Lords, I am neither involved in police work nor in the administration of the law. My interest is general, and my remarks addressed to morale and numerical strength in conjunction. That the law-abiding public is fortunate in its police and in the protection they afford is, I think, as unquestioned, as is the counter proposition that our con- 1206 stabulary are fortunate in the majority of our public. Evidence in support of the first proposition has of late been dramatically provided by Press and television coverage of troubles in other democracies. Support for the counter proposition can be deduced from the sympathy for the Service in its present difficulties, and the continued good relations generally, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has just said.
The official 1968 crime statistics show that, despite an upturn in the percentage increase in the indictable offences from the marked low of 1967, police success, in terms of such crimes cleared up, again showed a marginal improvement, as did the 1967 percentage in comparison with that of 1966. Success, my Lords, achieved despite below strength establishments. I have no head for figures and I have failed, I fear, to find how to compare the differently set out statistics for my native Scotland with those for South of the Border. But it appears that in Scotland there has been a drop in crime, and the police forces there have achieved similar improvement to that in England in the percentage of crimes cleared up. That is on the one hand. On the other there is recorded evidence to support the contention that morale in the Service is not all that it might be. There are the facts of low recruiting figures and below strength establishments and, I am told, an apparent upswing in the number of seasoned officers leaving the force—some resigning without pension or gratuity.
To help me form some perspective, I did some "leg work", and sought opinions on the beat in an effort to reduce the issues to levels at which I might feel competent to form judgments. Since I have promised to be brief, I will not go into the detail of the several lengthy conversations I have had with officers in and out of town. I will instead offer for your Lordships' consideration the two conclusions to which I came, and which I feel bear most directly on morale. I claim no particular scientific justification nor scholarship for reaching them, but for what they are worth they are as follows. The first concerns manpower. It is that with fewer men to share with paperwork and chores, and that with the increasing amount of time spent dealing with demonstrators of various kinds, there is a frustrated feeling that the constable 1207 has less opportunity individually to get on with his preferred everyday basic policing. The second is that there is a feeling that in terms of pay, conditions and leisure opportunities, there increasingly are aspects of the affluent society in which the constable is steadily and progressively dropping back in comparison with his civilian contempories.
The first point can be dealt with by increasing manpower, civilian and uniformed. The second may, on the face of it, sound merely like a claim for special consideration, often met in wage negotiations. However, I invite your Lordships, as I have tried to do, very carefully to redraw the balance sheet of pros and cons of the constable's way of life, not just his job, in terms of 1970 and the events of recent months. If on doing so you reach conclusions similar to those that I have drawn, you will, I respectfully suggest, find that it is fair to say that there is a strong case for a fundamental rethink about police rewards and conditions or, as it was put in the fourth instruction to the 1960 Royal Commission:The broad principles which should govern the remuneration of the constable having regard to the nature and extent of police duties and responsibilities and the need to attract and retain an adequate number of recruits with the proper qualifications.As justification for my view I quote from Lord Macaulay, who wrote in his critical essay, Gladstone on Church and State as follows:We consider the primary end of government as a purely temporal end, the protection of the persons and property of men …And further what he wrote in an illustration of this point in these words:… and that no part of its efficiency for that end should be sacrificed in order to promote any other end however excellent.On these grounds might it not be suggested that the excellence, variety and complexity of the many social and welfare provisions of the past 25 years, with which I am certainly not quarrelling, have by virtue of their merit and the demands they have made, along with the charm and claim of measures concerned with amenity rather than welfare, drawn the attention of all of us away from the just claims of a Service which continued to produce results, and consequently drawn attention away from the civil aspect of Macaulay's contention.
1208 My Lords, I have inevitably oversimplified a vexing and complex issue. I recognise that the individual constable is neither necessarily paragon nor superman, but remember too the often grim and sometimes dangerous nature of his job, and the outstanding quality of the force he is proud to serve. My Lords, I hope that for his sake and ours we can improve his lot.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, the whole House will agree that we have listened to a maiden speech of singular clarity, cogency and charm. Had we not seen on the Paper that this was a maiden speech, I do not think any of us would have believed it. The whole House will expect to hear from my noble friend on many future occasions. Perhaps I may also say how glad I was to hear the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord O'Neill of the Maine, which fully came up to our great expectations.
My Lords, so excellent and comprehensive was the speech of my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor in opening the debate, and so many are those who have put their names down to speak, that I think I shall be complying with the wishes of the House if I confine myself to a single topic. My noble friend Lord Brooke mentioned various previous debates on this subject or related subjects, all of which I heard but in none of which, I think, did I take part. But I remember some of those debates and hearing from my noble friend Lord Brooke, and from the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and from others, a great number of statements with which I fully agreed. Yet there was an aspect of this matter which I, as a lawyer, thought had never been sufficiently explored. It is to that aspect that I wish to address myself. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, paid tribute to the sincerity of my noble friend Lord Brooke. Perhaps he will allow me to pay the same tribute to his sincerity. I do not know how far he will agree with me in some of the matters I am going to explore, but I hope he will at least consider them.
The matter with which I am going to deal is the additional strain on the police and the addition to their task which are caused by demonstrations and by the threat to valued liberties that these demonstrations involve. I believe that 1209 the problem has been increased and exacerbated by the spread of some false doctrines by many who ought to know better. I am not sure that any other lawyer is taking part in this debate, and my approach and interest is that of a lawyer who has been all his professional life very much concerned with the subject of constitutional law and our civil liberties. One of this country's greatest boasts and greatest claims to international fame for a very long period has been its contribution to the preservation of human liberty and individual liberties; and we have been a free and law-abiding country. These matters have depended, as our greatest constitutional writers have pointed out, on the prevalence of the rule of law.
I am certainly not going to weary the House with the main considerations in a famous chapter of Dicey, but there are certainly three elements in that rule of law. The first is that no man can be punished except for breach of the law; he cannot be punished at the discretion of the executive Government or any tyrant. That is perhaps the first quality of the rule of law. The second is that no man is ever above the law; everyone is subject to the decisions of our courts and the ordinary tribunals. The third great principle is that our great rights under the Constitution have been determined as a result of judicial decisions on the rights of private persons.
In contrast to many other countries, we have believed not in great declarations of principle but in the provision of remedies. Our liberties owe much more to the decisions of the courts and such remedies as the writ of habeas corpus and the Acts of Habeas Corpus than they do to any general declaration of principle. So it was, as has often been pointed out, that when Voltaire visited this country his predominant sentiment was, in Dicey's words, that he hadpassed out of the realm of despotism to a land where the laws might be harsh, but where men were ruled by law and not by caprice".I now come to the matter on which I think so much nonsense has been spoken: the alleged right to demonstrate. If there were such a right to demonstrate, do your Lordships not think that we should find some reference to that right in the great works on our Constitution or in some of the famous declarations of human rights? 1210 I am coming later to how far it can be truly said that there is a right to demonstrate. But I do not believe in inventing new names for old rights, which lead people astray by making them think that this right is so overwhelming that they can ignore the law. The right which is nearest to it is the right dealt with in the chapter of Dicey called "The Right of Public Meeting", and there is a very important decision on that subject to which I will refer later in my speech. It may be that some noble Lords are not only interested about the right of public meeting but may also remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the Assembly of the United Nations, of December 10, 1948, and nearly two years later, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of November 4, 1950. Both those great Conventions deal with the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the first in Article 20 and the second in Article 11. So that is well established.
There are these valuable rights of assembly and others, but they do not give the slightest right to override anyone else's right, or to break any criminal law. The great mistake of talking about the right of protest is the suggestion that there is something so noble and splendid about protest that, unlike all these other great rights of free speech and assembly, and so on, it may have to be satisfied in some way at the expense of the law. It is perfectly true that it may be said that there is in England a right of protest; but just as one might say there was a right to spit, you are not entitled to do either if you thereby break the law or contravene other people's rights. My Lords, there are these rights of assembly and they are very important, but there is not now, there never has been and, if we are wise, there never will be, a right to demonstrate which entitles anybody to destroy the freedom of other people or to break the criminal law.
I now come to the great error to which all this discussion and, as I think, misrepresentation of the right to demonstrate, has led. There has been a great deal of discussion: fake, for example, the proposed attempt to prevent a South African cricket team from playing here 1211 later in the year. There has been some discussion by journalists and by members of all Parties on a subject that is completely and absolutely irrelevant; namely, whether the people who want the cricket matches to take place are in a majority or a minority. It does not matter in the least, because the nature of the law is that everybody is entitled to exercise his rights under the law and it does not matter whether these people are in a majority or a minority. So if this subject is further discussed in the Press or on any of the other well-known media I hope people will get it into their heads that, when human rights are invaded and lawful activities are interrupted, it does not matter a tinker's cuss whether those activities that are interrupted are activities which a majority desire or only a minority.
My Lords, that brings me to the case which I said I would cite. I regard it as an extremely important case in our constitutional history. I have quoted it before in your Lordships' House. It is the cast of Beatty v. Gillbanks and it was a case that came before the Court of Queen's Bench in 1882 and is reported in 9 Q.B.D. at page 308. The case is an amusing and short one to read and has very simple facts, like so many of the great cases on which our liberties depend. It arose in the following circumstances. The Salvation Army, with which many of us are familiar, formed processions and paraded through Weston-super-Mare, with band, flags and banners. It had done this on various previous occasions. Its aims were perfectly lawful; they were thoroughly reputable people. There was another body of men who hated the Salvation Army like poison and who called themselves the "Skeleton Army", and they decided that they would obstruct these processions, induce fights and cause a general commotion. This was done on various occasions and it alarmed the inhabitants. So the magistrates eventually issued a notice saying that the Salvation Army was not to conduct its procession through Weston-super-Mare. The Salvation Army, with splendid knowledge of the nature of English liberty, had a procession through Weston-super-Mare, and continued even when asked by the police to desist. One member of the Salvation Army was arrested, whereupon the others carried on.
1212 The case came before the Court of Queen's Bench and the only judgment is the judgment of Mr. Justice Field, because the other learned Judge simply concurred. I will read these famous sentences from his judgment:What has happened here is that an unlawful organisation"—that is, the "Skeleton Army"—has assumed to itself the right to prevent the appellants and others from lawfully assembling together, and the finding of the justices amounts to this, that a man may be convicted for doing a lawful act if he knows that his doing it may cause another to do an unlawful act. There is no authority for such a proposition.My Lords, I hope there never will be.
Now let us think what is being suggested for this coming tour of the South African cricketers. Nobody disputes the right of the hosts to play cricket with them; nobody disputes their right to come; nobody disputes that the cricket grounds cannot have their turf destroyed without breach of the law. Yet there are various bodies that are threatening to disrupt and to make this tour impossible by assault, by attacks on property and various other illegal acts. My Lords, I cannot pretend that I am wildly interested in cricket, with the exception of village cricket which I love watching; but whatever the case may have been for having this tour or not having it when it was first suggested, my view, as the view of one who loves English liberty, is that it would now be an absolute disaster if the tour did not take place.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I am not in the least deterred by the fact that the young hooligan section of the Liberal Party has come to a different conclusion. That is the affair, and possibly what is nowadays called the headache, of the Liberal Leaders (if any). But those of us who are interested in the survival of English liberty must really say that we have had enough of this illegal disruption of perfectly lawful activities.
That brings me to this conclusion: if we do not insist on the preservation of rights to everybody who possesses them under the law, then there is no purpose in political action at all. Those of us who enter politics—and I now include 1213 members of all Parties—do so with the intention of trying to improve the law and to alter it from time to time as we believe to be in the public interest. But suppose that the law, when it has been made, has no effect whatever; that any hooligan who dislikes it can arrange a demonstration in order to make it impossible for lawful activities to take place. If that happens it defeats the purpose of politics altogether.
That leads me to my concluding thought, and that is the almost unbelievable folly of those Communist and other Left-Wing demonstrators, the extraordinary folly in believing that if they succeeded in making force effective against the law they would be the ultimate winners. Have they never heard of the Fascists? The only thing that gave the Fascists even a temporary influence in this country, and the only thing, in my opinion, which could conceivably bring them back, would occur if it were widely thought that these were the only people prepared to stand up to the illegal violence of the Left. I care passionately for human liberty and the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. I know that the evils of these demonstrations may seem small in comparison with the great crimes with which most of this debate has been concerned. Yet if we study what lies behind these demonstrations, I believe we shall find that I am not being imaginative or saying anything farfetched when I say that they are threatening the survival of the rule of law in this country.
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I, if it is not out of order, ask him one factual question? I cannot claim to represent either the hooligan element of the Young Liberals—because I am not young—or the leaders of the Liberal Party: both would equally reject my ideas on the subject of demonstrations, on which I agree with him. But on the general proposition that there is no right to demonstrate, to advertise one's views or advertise one's grievances, where in the great Charter is there any right to advertise one's goods?
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, there is the most ample right to undertake what is generally called demonstration. 1214 If the noble Viscount will read the chapter that I have mentioned in Dicey, he will see that the right of public meeting (I have given one leading case: there are others; and I have simplified it) of course permits a wide range of demonstration. What it does not permit is breaking the law or interfering with the rights of others. There is no right whatever of thronging the streets to prevent people from getting to Lord's; there is no right whatever to destroy the turf in Lord's; there is no right whatever to do any of those things that certain gentlemen whose names will be known to the House are intending now to do.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, I rise to support my noble friend Lord Brooke, and also my noble friend Lord Conesford, in what they have said. In view of the long list of speakers I propose to trespass upon your Lordships' time for only a very few minutes. I ought perhaps at the beginning to say that I was one of those who both voted and spoke against the abolition of capital punishment. I only mention that now, because I do not mean to discuss the question; I accept of course that Parliament has decided. But I ask your Lordships not to depreciate what I am going to say because of the fact that I took that position at that time, having then at the top of my mind the memory of how for many years the special privilege given to the police in this matter had the effect of saving many innocent lives because as a consequence burglars came without firearms. But of course I accept that decision, and I am not going to reargue it this evening. Nor am I going to argue the question as to whether some people have tried to take political advantage of the situation.
I want only to say this. It is the case —and everyone knows it is the case— that quite a number of groups and professions have obtained very great advantages by acting in a way that is some-times contrary to the previous traditions of their profession, and they have had priority in consideration as a consequence. I am not going to argue the intrinsic merits of their claims, but will only say that the priority so given must have been observed by the police. They did not have this priority, but they have nevertheless behaved in the way to which 1215 they have long been accustomed. I think it right to say that in view of all these considerations, and of course of the many other things, besides the danger of being killed, which have been referred to in the course of this debate, imposing special strains upon the domestic life of policemen and their wives, we should recognise the fact that up to this moment the police have continued to maintain the traditions of behaviour to an extent which I think calls for our sincere congratulations and recognition. They must sometimes have been under very great strain when they have observed what has happened in other cases. Perhaps at no distant date the strain on them might become insupportable.
I was therefore extremely glad to hear that apart from the mechanical aids which they are given to assist them in the course of their ordinary duties the Government intend to advance to an earlier date the reconsideration of their pay and conditions. I should like in this connection to say how sincerely and strongly I agree with my noble friend, Lord Brooke in speaking not only of actual payment but also of status and recognition as a profession. We ought to recognise gratefully not only that the police have borne all the dangers and difficulties, the disturbance of their domestic relations and so on, that have been mentioned, but that up to this moment have maintained the traditions of their profession as to their work and behaviour. And I would express the very strong hope that the Government will, by the measures which they are now contemplating, hasten the time at which they will reconsider the conditions, the payment and the status of the Police Service and give full consideration to the status advocated by my noble friend Lord Brooke. I would ask your Lordships' House to recognise how greatly strained the police must have been and must now be, but how up to this moment they have not succumbed to those strains.
§ 6.20 p.m.
My Lords, I will follow the good example of the noble Lord who has just sat down and detain your Lordships for only a few minutes. Since we debated the abolition of capital punishment just before Christmas three policemen have been murdered. My noble friend Lord Brooke, in opening the 1216 debate to-day, said that he had no intention of getting involved in the question of the abolition of capital punishment. That has been fully debated and a decision has been come to by this House and by another place, and certainly I am not going to reopen it. At the same time, I think that we have seriously to consider whether in appropriate cases some further penalty can be imposed on criminals who murder policemen.
Only a few days ago the criminal who shot the two policemen in Glasgow was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation from the Judge that the sentence should be not less than 25 years. I must admit that this is from only a Press report, but it is, reported that on receiving that sentence the criminal remarked that he was surprised that it was not heavier, and that, with good conduct, he could earn remission which would secure his release in 16 years. He is at present aged 31. On that reckoning he should be out when he is 47. That is a quite different prospect from that of being hanged next week. One may ask: what is your suggestion. I must confess that it seems pointless to continue to give longer and longer sentences, but it seems to me quite illogical that one can impose or recommend 25 years for the murder of a policeman when one imposes 30 or 40 years imprisonment in respect of a train robber.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? He recognises that if one looks at the past record in regard to how many years, in practice, life imprisonment has meant, it is very much less than that number of years and therefore is quite a small deterrent.
My Lords, I of course recognise that. I think the noble Lord is quite right; I believe the average is 12 years. But has not the time come when we have to think up some other punishment for the murder of policemen and, if you like, prison warders? The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said that any suggestion would be listened to. The only suggestion that I can make—I do not pretend that it is a very good one—is that some new form of penal settlement should be considered. This was, and may still be, a method tried for many years by the French Government—highly civilised and practical people. This 1217 added penalty would almost certainly mean that the prisoner would be deprived of visits from his family. I agree that that is a serious deprivation, but that penalty seems to me to be as nothing compared with the suffering which that person causes to the family of the victim.
The obvious reply to the suggestion of a penal settlement is: where could you establish such a place and how could you staff it? To that question I agree there are not many convincing answers. But I hope that Her Majesty's Government are giving some thought—perhaps they have already done so—to introducing some new instruction, or to amending the law, so that those convicted of the murder of a policeman on his lawful duty shall suffer some exceptional penalty.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE
My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate, and I am sure that we are all grateful for the restrained and reasonable manner in which it was introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. I hope that elsewhere and throughout the country this issue will be discussed in the same atmosphere. I welcome, too, the opportunity of hearing new voices in the House. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Roberthall, for being absent when he spoke, but I was delighted to hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gray, speaking from his experience in Scotland, and also the voice of the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill. I sometimes wish that Lord O'Neill had not exported some of the tensions of Northern Ireland to the West of Scotland, because otherwise our crime rate might be considerably lower than it is.
I want to deal specifically with the position in Scotland, for while Lord Brooke and Lord Beswick inevitably quoted the statistics supplied by the Home Office, these refer exclusively to England and Wales. I want to assure your Lordships that the concern which has been expressed in this House by Lord Brooke and by other speakers is shared North of the Border. I regret to say that my native City is a city of violence and of crime. The City of Glasgow has a crime rate per head of the population in excess of all other cities in the United 1218 Kingdom. Looking at the statistics for last year of crimes involving malicious woundings, I see that Glasgow had about three times as many crimes of violence as Birmingham. In Glasgow the figure was 933; in Edinburgh it was 96, and Liverpool had just about half the number of crimes of this type recorded in the City of Glasgow.
It is not the purpose of this debate to analyse all the reasons for such crimes. These are special situations and features in the West of Scotland. There is a long tradition of conflict and violence, and a long history of poverty which has contributed to violence in the City of Glasgow. I want to say that, recognising this as a major problem in this City, the Government have taken substantial measures to improve the recruitment of policemen to deal with the situation. But despite the special provisions that have been made in this City, such as special allowances for policemen and so on, the force is still around 500 deficient in regular police officers. This is a large number.
The question we are discussing to-day is, what can we do to make the police more effective, and to improve recruitment? The Government have been mindful of that need in Scotland. In looking at the figures for 1965, I see that the authorised establishment for Scotland was 11,077, and the actual establishment was 10,346. In 1967 the authorised establishment was 11,200, and the strength of the force had fallen to 10,200. I am happy to say that last year there was an improvement in the number of police officers serving in Scotland.
Why is it that the strength of police in Glasgow is deficient to this degree? Many noble Lords have ventured advice on this matter. There is no doubt that the conditions of policemen are a contributory factor; it is no longer an attractive job. As the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said, there is a need to elevate it to a profession. I speak with some personal experience in this regard; my daughter married a policeman, and I have a somewhat intimate knowledge of what life with a policeman means. It means very irregular shifts; it means that sometimes this young man, who has a young family, is on duty from 2 until 11; another week from 10 to 6; and another week from 6 to 2. The 1219 occasional demonstrations and other activities demand that he frequently works 11 and 12 hours a day.
When these young people come home they frequently, as a relaxation, turn on television, and they are conscious of the kind of wages explosion that is taking place throughout the country. They realise that, despite having their domestic life disturbed with the shift system, being in a position that many of the amenities of social life are denied them because of the shift system, and also their isolation in so far as the husband is a member of the police force and is in a rather special social category, their wages are much lower than the national average for industrial workers in this country. We demand from the police that they, in their actions, carry out a loyal service to the State and to the community; but if the State, in return, disregards that commitment and does not reward these people as they should be rewarded, then the kind of loyalty which is necessary in a force of this kind cannot be encouraged.
There is one other factor. We must face the fact that in society people are rewarded not simply by the amount of money they receive at the end of the week, but that there is also a question of social status involved. As I say, I speak with some personal knowledge on this matter and I regard some of the young people in the police as excellent, devoted citizens, but in our society do we give these young men the respect that we give to other professions? I must confess that I find that this is an important factor in so far as recruitment to the police and loyalty within the police is concerned.
The Government in Scotland have tried to make the force, despite the deficiency in numbers, a more effective instrument. They have done so, as we do in industry, with a greater degree of capital investment in order to ensure higher productivity. Reference has already been made to the greater mobility of the police through the provision of Panda cars, and these now cover the area in which live three-quarters of the population of Scotland. There is also the amalgamation of the police forces from 31 separate forces in 1966 to 20 forces to-day. This makes them more effective; and by the creation of a centralised crime squad the 1220 detection of crime is also made more effective.
Attention is being given, somewhat belatedly if I may say so, to the career structure in the police. I "eel that the police should be looked at as we would look at any other business and great opportunities provided for the bright young men in the force to emerge to positions of leadership, without the necessity of serving so long on the beat, and so on, and in the various aspects of the Service. I am glad that we have now a central selection scheme which sponsors young men for degree courses at the universities. All of this adds up to making the police a more attractive form of service and elevating it to being a career.
Inevitably this debate has spread over many other issues, and I hope that the House might consider the basic issues which have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. The use of firearms has been raised. The police themselves do not wish to be armed, and I think we would make a great mistake if we were to encourage the idea that our force should be armed. One look at the United States should convince us that this type of action might cause a deterioration in our social life and in the relationships between the police and the public.
I am sorry to say that the death penalty has been once more raised in this debate. May I say just one word in this regard? I was very concerned with the incident that took place in Glasgow in which two policemen lost their lives, and I resent the intrusion of the B.B.C. and other people into the private agony of these young people after they had relived the agony of their husbands' deaths. The trial had gone on for two or three days and the people involved had read the reports in the Press of what had happened on the death of their husbands. Within a short time of the judgment being given, the inevitable B.B.C. were on the doorstep with eager young men prompting the reply to the question, "Are you in favour of restoring the death penalty?" I regard that as an intrusion on privacy, and I regard it as an undesirable way to secure comment on this important subject. What did they expect the young people to say?
With this feeling, I should perhaps say no more other than this: if we want to keep crime down, it is not only a matter 1221 of recruitment to the police. I think we ourselves must examine the kind of society we are building and the kind of things we are encouraging in our society. Are we acting wisely in encouraging a kind of Bingo, lounge bar society—the kind of society in which people feel that they can get things without making substantial contributions? I think that in our consideration of crime, which is beyond the particular reference we face to-day, we should consider whether the pressures of advertising, the kind of Bingo society, the encouragement of consumption of alcohol, are desirable in our society, or whether we should consider giving our society a national purpose and a sense of direction, fostering values that are more important than these which are being encouraged. In this way we could, perhaps, lighten the burden of policemen.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ LORD BALERNO
My Lords, it seems to me that although the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said he was not in any way going to speak for Scotland, Scotland has rather"barged in"on this debate. I should like to start by saying that, being also a native of Glasgow, while I would not in every way support what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, has said I should at least be prepared to stand with him in the robe of the penitent for the sins of the dreadful City of Glasgow, which I left many years ago.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, spoke about the degree courses for police constables, a point which my noble friend Lord Brooke raised in the first place. If I understood him aright, the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, replying to my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said that there were 160 graduates in the Police Force. What I should like to know is how many police constables there are at the present moment who are going through the universities. I wonder whether the police force could take a look at what the Armed Services are doing in this respect and. more especially, at what the R.A.F. is doing. The Services have their cadetships going and, while I understand that there is a similar cadetship (although it may not be called a cadetship), or grant, available to policemen, I wonder whether in fact it is being put across with the same vigour. Since the R.A.F. decided in the last 18 1222 months that, so far as possible, it would have graduate entry, cadetships have gone ahead very fast. I would draw that point to the attention of the Government.
I have one other point to make, and I hope that I shall not take too long. I think we are inclined nowadays to take for granted too many things which were not taken for granted by our forbears. I think it is rather a paradox that, as civilisation advances, we have to fight to keep for our own day and generation other things which for centuries were taken for granted. I would cite the two examples of air and water. That also goes in the case of law and order, which we used to take for granted. The advance and complexities of civilisation, and the other competing claims, are such that we now have to fight for the maintenance of law and order in this country. We have, as it were, suddenly woken up to discover that we must do something about it. I submit that we must get our priorities right, and that order precedes law. Without order, law cannot rule, law cannot be effective; and it is upon the police that order depends.
Many suggestions have been made to-day about how the police may be helped and encouraged. May I add one more? There should be stiffer penalties for those who defy the police or who refuse to obey the orders of the police. I can take this one step further, with my tongue a little in my cheek, knowing that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will profoundly disagree with me. I should like to see a law which states that anybody resisting arrest by the police forfeits his right to complain against the police, at least until he is charged in the police station. At the present moment, the type of person who assaults a policeman has no respect for the policeman as such. But such a person knows what power is, and even if he will not treat law with respect, he will treat with great respect the power that enforces order.
I was much taken with a remark made in his maiden speech by the noble Lord, Lord Roberthall, that those who take up the sword should at any rate feel the flat side of it. I thought that a very sensible remark indeed. My noble friend Lord Brooke said that we do not want a police State, but I do not think that would in way lead to a police State. It is a bit 1223 of common sense that the man who defies the police would very quickly understand. I come back to a statement made by my noble friend Lord Brooke, that the police are the friends of freedom.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ LORD REDESDALE
My Lords, Parliament has been active, to put it mildly, in introducing legislation, and over the last two years the volume has increased. It is a sobering thought that, when it goes down the line, there is often only one policeman on his lonely beat who actually has to enforce many of those laws. His knowledge has to be almost encyclopædic, and his abilities and virtues comparably extensive. It now takes two years to train him, and an estimated further four before he reaches peak efficiency. He has to live by a strict disciplinary code, and has many restrictions statutorily placed on his private activities. The hours he has to work are long and, in many cases, unrewarded by overtime. Danger is a part of his life.
We require virtual supermen to do this often thankless job. yet their remuneration is decidedly modest. It is no wonder that the police forces feel that they are being given a poor deal. Morale must suffer when so many grievances are left uncorrected year after year. The situation is getting very serious and, despite Government reassurances, something is wrong when it is estimated by the Police Federation that 3,000 officers will have left the Force during 1969, without pension or gratuity. In other words, they have reluctantly decided to give up the police as a career. This wastage is not only expensive; it is very dangerous.
Pay is a major grievance. It took the abortive 1919 strike, with its repression, to produce the Desborough Report. This brought pay and conditions up to a satisfactory level, but only two years later the situation was again fast deteriorating, the right to strike being statutorily and permanently removed, and the Federation were left to fight their case with few teeth. Over the years succeeding Administrations failed to keep faith with the police. To-day the police are constantly having to deal with militants but are not allowed to be militant themselves. A police strike is unthinkable, as we are so dependent on their services. But—and it is a big"but "— 1224 to those whose labour is indispensable, society must in return give a satisfactory basis of pay which automatically keeps up with the cost of living.
Admittedly, the Willink Report set out to do this, but even on straight terms police pay was down 13.8 per cent, on the Willink scale as at December 31, 1969. With imminent massive wage increases, this figure could be doubled by the autumn. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, promised a. rise at the April interim report. I hope that it will be the 10 per cent, increase which the Federation are very realistically requesting. Pensions are also troubling police officers. Their pension scheme has always been contributory, unlike that of the Services. It is restrictive, as no money already contributed can be taken out if a police officer decides to leave the force before completing 25 years, or 30 years, as it is now. The National Superannuation scheme now worries police officers, as they feel that they may well have to contribute more to get less.
The fact that the police are something like 16 per cent, below authorised establishment has meant that much overtime and extra strain has been placed on police officers. Compensating time off does not pay the grocer's bill. These officers felt that they had been dealt with in a mean way when the Police Council official side proposed that the annual leave should be reduced with the introduction of the 40-hour week. Also, forces not able to introduce the 40-hour week from April 1 this year are compensating officers for overtime at only plain time rates. Again, inspectors and chief inspectors do not get normal overtime. Either they should get it or they should have larger salaries to compensate for the mass of overtime that most of them are always working.
Police pay has become so complicated that it is fast becoming very unfair. The undermanning and oilier allowances are inequitable. It must be desirable to return to a simple national standard of pay which is fair. Of course policemen have to work long hours, at odd times and in all weather conditions. This they accept; it is the job they take on. There should be a straight rate of pay to compensate them for this; and in view of the danger and restrictions it should be generous. The present undermanning is placing an 1225 ever-increasing workload and strain on police officers. This results in family stresses. The officer may have a vocation for police work; but what about his poor wife, who sees less of him, has fears for his safety and has to do the shopping, bearing in mind his relatively modest salary? Differentials are a constant bone of contention. I was going to raise the same examples as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, raised, but he took the wind out of my sails in this respect, so I shall move on to my next point.
The Police Advisory Board Working Party on rank structure has a hard but very necessary task ahead of it. It is extremely difficult to determine exactly a policeman's job. It will be necessary for this job to be evaluated before determining any future rank structure. Operational Research has already done a splendid and similar job in creating and developing the dramatically successful unit beat policing system. Presumably the Working Party will draw heavily on the services of the excellent Police Planning Organisation to give job evaluations for any new rank structure. It is an urgent matter, but with large basic rates of pay the differentials will restore themselves to a degree. Rent allowances also crop up as a source of discontent. They are advertised as tax-free, but because of the rebate system not all the allowances come back. Finally, when a policeman retires he expects to get the outstanding balance; but this is not paid back, since rebate is paid only to serving officers. The amount is not very big, but this is yet another irritation that undermines morale.
Another aspect of the present unfair system discriminates against young men who either join the Force after serving as police cadets, or join when they are 19 years old. They have to wait until they are 22 before going on to the 22-year-old rate of pay, which applies to anyone joining at that age. It would be better to start everyone at the 22-year-old rate and to increase the increments, at the same time dispensing with the age pointing system. This would prevent the men with five to six years' service from leaving at this stage of their careers. Talking of wastage, of course there is the problem that will arise in 1971, when those officers who joined the Force in 1226 1946 and who will have served their 25 years will be due for retirement. Unless some inducements are given to them, the Police Force will lose a great many officers at that time.
The abstract of the New Police Act 1829 states:The absence of crime will be the best proof of the efficiency of the police.One hundred and forty years later, the demands on the police in the way of other services have greatly increased, but that original definition still holds good. The Act was good and well conceived in its aims, one of which was that a constable should cover any one point in his beat at least once in every ten minutes or quarter of an hour. This gave a satisfactory response time which over the years, with the increase of population and areas covered, steadily declined, until the introduction of cars and, now, the pandas, with the unit beat policing system, have improved the response time to, on average, about nine minutes. Ironically, greater efficiency and better response times have increased the number of incidents in which the police are involved. For instance, in earlier years a fight would have been over before a policeman arrived, but now he gets there more quickly and the incident appears in the statistics as an affray. More cases of carrying housebreaking implements, of receiving, and other offences are discovered, which increases the statistical totals, and can in some cases cloud the issue.
The advent of computers must lead to proper crime evaluation, which will greatly assist in crime prevention. The central computerised records system will help when it finally arrives, but that is only a start. Computerisation of fingerprint records is essential, and one hopes that the research and development on this project will bear fruit and that as soon as it is a working proposition money will be forthcoming to implement it. The increasing level of crime must be halted, and to do this it may be necessary for everyone in this country to be fingerprinted. I know that this is an abhorrent idea to some people, but some very minor personal liberty has to be given up as our society gets bigger and more complicated—
§ Lord PEDDIE
My Lords, may I draw the attention of the House to the 1227 fact that the noble Lord is reading every word of his speech? It is exceedingly difficult to follow, and if he persists in doing it will he kindly speak in a louder voice?
§ LORD REDESDALE
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for drawing my attention to that. I am sorry; I had written down a certain amount of my speech because I did not want to cover ground that other noble Lords covered. I am sorry if I was not speaking distinctly.
I have already mentioned the work that has been done with Operational Research, but this again can be regarded only as a start. The major companies that are successful and are expanding at the moment spend round about 10 per cent, on research and development. It would seem that if a figure equivalent to some 10 per cent, of the amount of money that is spent on police forces were spent on research and development over a short period of time, the benefits would soon become very evident. The Planning Organisation to which I referred earlier has done a splendid job, but it could certainly do with an extra 40 or more scientists. I should be very interested to know how the noble Lord considers this will be affected by the Green Paper on Industrial Research and Development which has recently been published.
Finally, new techniques, methods and equipment are requiring higher standards of training. The greatest praise should be given to Bramshill College, which has done so much in introducing management techniques and other operational training for police forces. My Lords, we have the finest Police Force in the world. I feel that it is up to us to show its members that we appreciate them by remunerating them in a sufficiently generous style.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I want to resist the temptation to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, because I intend to deal with only one point which so far has been touched on only slightly by the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Coventry. I could say to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that this may well be a case where one could begin to count the 1228 advantages rather than list the disadvantages. It will be understood by certain people in your Lordships' House if I say that there is a very high percentage of professional social workers, including probation officers, who have university degrees and who work many more hours a week than the police and get at the age of 27 or 28 only what the policeman starts with at the age of 22. But that does not make it right.
§ LORD REDESDALE
My Lords, would the noble Lord be kind enough to give way for just one moment? Those very worthy people do not have restrictions placed on their private lives. They can have other business interests, and they do not work to a disciplined code.
§ Lord WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I do not know what the noble Lord means by"restrictions", but, so far as I know, for the large number of professional social workers or for probation officers there is no time to have outside interests, by virtue of the fact that they are working morning, noon and night. But if the noble Lord will allow me to leave it there, I want to deal with only one matter and that is the public image of the police. If I say anything which appears to be critical, may I say, very sincerely, that I have worked for many years in a service very close to the police and there is no one in your Lordships' House who has a greater respect for the value of the contribution they are making to the community at the present moment. But we have to face the fact that many people are very concerned at the deteriorating relationship between the public and police and the growing and continuing hostility towards them. The criticisms which are made of the police from time to time cannot be ignored if, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said, we want a police force where the morale is high. I do not think that the matters which we have been discussing this afternoon will be solved by higher pay, by greater opportunities for advancement or by better working conditions, whatever they may be. The real solution lies in the main with the police themselves, with some help from the Government—and I will come back to that later.
The role of the policeman in our society has changed considerably over the years from that of a neighbourhood friend to 1229 that of—I say almost exclusively now— a law enforcement officer, a role which I am sure it was never intended that he should undertake. The multiplicity of our laws, not always clearly understood, if I may say so, by the most informed members of the community, and the continuous increase in crime which makes the apprehension of most criminals impossible, combine to give the police officer a discretion as to whom he will question, investigate and report upon. And many people to-day are asking: how does he make his choice and whom does he choose? The role of the policeman in our society is a difficult one and I am the first to acknowledge it. He is called upon to deal with many different and difficult types of situation. It is not an easy task and can be performed to the satisfaction of the individual member of the community only if he, the policeman, makes certain that he is not motivated by his own attitudes and prejudices.
Many people to-day think that this is the position with many members in the police force. Rightly or wrongly—I do not know whether it is right or wrong— many coloured people also feel that they are unnecessarily harassed by the police. Many people feel that there are other forms of discrimination—and here I refer particularly to the"out" groups in our society, those groups who are supposed to have opted out. I think that we must face the fact that the longhaired young men and the shorthaired girls, the wearers of peculiar clothing, are often the subject of attention by the police because it is felt that there may be fertile ground there for investigation.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, rightly referred to the growing sympathy with the criminal. That is another fact which I think we must face. We must ask ourselves why so many people in the community tend to sympathise with the wrongdoer as distinct from members of the police. Here I feel very strongly that the mass media do not help in getting over the right kind of picture, the kind that I feel is due to the police. If one looks at television—and I am thinking of"Z Cars"and"Softly Softly "—one gets the impression that the top brass in the police force are little more than bullies to those underneath them. That 1230 seems to go right the way down the whole structure of the police force as represented in those two programmes—programmes which are seen by millions of people. Notwithstanding the fact that there has been an appreciable improvement in recent years, it does not surprise me that there is difficulty in recruiting. I do not think that anyone can see either of those programmes on television without getting a false impression of the police force. The interpretation which the mass media tend to put on the police and the sort of picture that they present to the public leave much to be desired.
A successful policeman is one who knows how to handle people, and I think there ought to be a great deal more training in the field of personal human relations. His training should include some seminars, some discussions, some understanding of what we mean by personal relations and human relations; because in the last analysis that is what is going to count. It is not whether a man can take down a very good story, not whether he can accurately record something. In the last analysis what really matters is what his relationship is with the person he is interviewing or investigating or is about to report on. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, talks about the community seeing the police force as a social service. I think we have to see the police force as a social service, but it has to be staffed by men and women who not only see it as a social service but see it fulfilling the functions we require of a social service.
We must face the fact that a large number of policemen are to-day very much opposed to modern methods of treatment of delinquency. Very often I have heard a policeman say, when a person has been put on probation, "This is a let off." It is not a let off; it is a method of treatment. The police themselves must see that if we are going to reform delinquents we must have various methods of treatment, and they must be among the first to recognise the value of them. But, having made this critical comment, I would pay tribute to the contribution which the Metropolitan Police are making in various parts of London in working with professional social workers, with probation officers and with children's officers in dealing with the youngsters who are"pre-delinquent" 1231 and likely to become delinquent, and in dealing with the situation in consultation with the professional social workers, without bringing the matter to the court.
But many people believe that the way a situation or an inquiry is dealt with by some policemen depends on the standing and status in society of the individual whom they are investigating or dealing with. Perhaps the House will allow me to draw attention to a letter in The Times dated January 21 last. It was written to the editor by a doctor from Guy's Hospital. It was headed, "Parking for some." It reads:At 10.45 p.m., inadvertently and in error (yes, I confess) I parked my tiny red ' Mini' in the last available space on a taxi-rank (not realising this to be the case, since amongst the Mercedes, Rolls-Royces and other salubrious cars there was not a single taxi). Needless to say, the area was off Park Lane, between the Dorchester and the Hilton. 5iome thirty minutes later—"this is a doctor, my Lords, from Guy's Hospital—I returned and found that my car had been towed away and impounded. Adjacent to my car site there still remained the same Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce and the same Mercedes (the only two I remember). I am forced to pay £4 10s. removal fees and £2 fine. As a hospital house physician I can hardly afford the petrol to run a Mini. Perhaps it would be of value to invest in a larger car.That kind of thing is by no means isolated. It is the kind of thing that happens, and we all know it happens; and it is the kind of thing that brings criticism upon a police force, many members of whom, as I recognise, are doing a magnificent job.
My Lords, I believe that there is one thing that the Government could do to improve the police image and I ask the Government to do it without further delay. It is to establish a civilian board, or boards, to deal with allegations made against the police, irrespective of whether the allegations are made by members of the public or from within the Force itself. The referring of complaints to a chief constable who, in turn, may bring in a high ranking officer from another police force if he thinks it necessary, does not allay the feeling that the police are both judge and jury in all matters of complaint against them. I believe that the setting up of such a board, or boards, to be the most important single factor in improving the public image of the police and for stimulating morale.
§ 7.12 p.m.
LORD MOWBRAY and STOUR-TON:
My Lords, it seems to be my fate to follow the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell in these debates on the police: I remember doing so on the last occasion. As the first speaker from the Dispatch Box on this side of the Chamber since we had the three maiden speeches, two from the Benches behind me, which were such a useful and valuable contribution to the debate, I should like to say how delighted I was to hear them. It is an honour for me to be able to speak in support of the Motion moved by my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and it is more than pleasant to be able to say how glad one was to hear from the Minister all that is being done to strengthen the morale of the police and assist in their work.
Nevertheless, my Lords, we have to contend with the fact that crimes of violence against the person were up by some 20 per cent, in the first ten months of last year, and there were over 1,124,000 indictable offences, a 6.8 per cent, increase compared to a similar period in 1968. These figures were recently announced by the Home Office. Your Lordships will recall that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, was talking about Scotland, and when I was there yesterday all the papers contained the announcement that in the last few years since hanging was abolished (and I speak as an abolitionist) nine policemen have been murdered, compared with about 27 policemen murdered there over the last 50 years. People are struck by these figures, and they are worried. There is a genuine desire for action to be taken. As the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said, the question is what action shall be taken. Should we have more police and better equipment? More police merely in increased numbers would, we agree, be meaningless; they must be properly deployed.
I have read the book entitled, The Police—A Study in Manpower, by J. P. Martin and Gail Wilson. It is a fascinating book. They state the facts and leave the reader to argue them, They concentrate on the fact that money spent on training is almost completely wasted through premature resignations. One of the objects of this debate, as I see it, is to try to get a consensus of opinion about 1233 why resignations take place and how we may stop them. It is a proven fact that police recruits who come from the police cadet forces have a very much better record of continuous service in the Force than recruits who come from outside. One would therefore like to be able to have confirmation from the Government that they will encourage the recruitment of more cadets. Hitherto, cadets have been a bit of a bogey for police forces, because they cost money when they come on to the establishment instead of policemen; but in the long term they are cheaper because they stay longer and do not need training when they are constables. Their services may then be used almost immediately.
The House of Commons Estimates Committee recommended that police forces should be encouraged to recruit a minimum of 40 per cent, from the cadet forces. I understand that the Home Secretary is considering this, and I should like to endorse the Committee's recommendation because it seems to make good sense. We have heard about civilianisation, and again this has been recommended by the Estimates Committee. One of the sad things the Committee noted was the fact that in the slowdown of recruiting the civilian people suffered, as well as members of the uniformed force. We all know that traffic control and parking troubles such as are experienced by Lord Wells-Pestell's friend could be dealt with by traffic wardens if they were trained. I believe that something like 500 policemen are used as ushers in police courts, which seems unnecessary. Clerical work and photographic work, and all these duties, could be assisted by civilian staff, so that uniformed police were released for specialist duties.
Let it be said at once that noble Lords on this side of the House always give credit where it is due, and we welcome the announcement by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, confirming what was mentioned by the Home Secretary about a computer. understand that it will be a £2 million Burroughs computer and that it has already been ordered. This computer will deal on a national scale with all sorts of things, including fingerprints, and will provide an enormous technical advantage for the police. The computer will not be installed for two years, and 1234 it will take a long time to feed into it the 3½ million statistics held by the Criminal Record Office. I am sure that during the two-year initial period the Home Office will be training the police to use the computer.
Criticisms have been made of programmes on television, and I suggest that we might look to the Continent for one form of comfort and for a suggestion of something that we might do here. There is a programme on the Continent called, "Dossier X Y unsolved ". It is a programme which has been shown there for two years. It is beamed ten times a year, and each programme lasts for about an hour. The programme is broadcast to the German-speaking people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The police find it enormously useful and the public seem to like it. I am told that the viewing ratio is about 62 per cent., which means that on average some 25 million people watch it.
In these broadcasts, which take the form of short film sequences, of which there have been 19 programmes so far, they have presented 127 unsolved crime cases and of these 73 have been subsequently solved with the help of viewers. 1 gather that after every programme over 2.000 calls come into police headquarters. Of 108 people wanted for whom the police have put out calls on these programmes, they have actually picked up 75. I would merely ask whether it is possible for some noble Lord, perhaps some television expert like the noble Lord, Lord Willis, to give a nudge to the Government, because this seems an idea worth pursuing.
Coming to the point of the contempt for law and order, only 13 days ago we had the principal of Edinburgh University complaining that when there was a five-day"sit-in"of some students in the university buildings he appealed to the police for help. They felt that they were unable to do so because they were frightened that they would not be upheld if they helped to evict the students. The principal then felt obliged to organise what he called a"Dad's Army"of senior staff at the university and they had to go into their own premises to rescue confidential files and documents. I think this is a case where a university authority ought to be able to expect the police to help them in time of trouble. 1235 This point was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Conesford.
The last Royal Commission on the police stated that the maintenance of law and order ranks with national defence as a primary task of government, and every speaker to-day has supported this contention. In 1960 the Commissioners said that there was grave cause for concern. What would they say to-day! They said that there were not enough police then, and it is a known fact that there are not enough to-day. At that time the average deficiency was 14 per cent. To-day, according to the Police Review of a fortnight ago, the deficiency is 16.23 per cent., which means some 17,000 police vacancies of which we know some 5,500 are in London. If we accept the fact that there are 11,000 more police now than when the Government took office, since 1964 the establishment has also gone up by some 15,000, so that although there are more police the gap is that much greater. We seem to be running a race in which the tortoise gets ahead and we never catch up.
The point that worries mo is that, taking into account the resignations of police, including many recruits, far more than 11,000 have come in. This figure represents the net gain. What we have to stop is this wastage. I was looking at the figures for England and Wales, which do not include the Metropolitan Police, and for the first 10 months of 1969 there were 4,350 resignations. Of those, only 1,370 were normal retirements after 25 to 30 years of service. The number who retired with less than 25 years' service but more than 3 years was 1,600, and what is most upsetting is that 1,356 resigned with under 3 years' service. That is why my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor, this Party, the Government Party, Peers on all sides of the House and all citizens are frightened.
In April of this year the basic working week of the police will come down from 42 to 40 hours, and with the present uncertain policy on undermanning allowances and shortage of police for duty, conditions are going to be made worse rather than better. But we were glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, say that an interim payment announcement is to be made soon. Obviously this will help to stem the wastage. At the moment police pay is appalling. It was worked 1236 out last month, taking a sample of 1,800 policemen, that one in seven were taking home less than £15 a week. This is for a body of men who have to be whiter than white among so much corruption around them, and in this affluent age where so many people have so much with which to bribe and tempt.
The recruiting situation is better, but in fact in 1968 there was a net decrease of 0.4 per cent, in the establishment strength, which means that recruiting was not keeping pace with wastage and increasing establishment strength. Admittedly, in 1969 the situation was better with a 1.3 per cent, net increase on authorised establishment, but establishment has been held down a little artificially and soon will have to go up again.
My noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor mentioned the report of the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire who talks of a force in a state of unrest. He also says that demonstrations and counterdemonstrations have made the police feel that they are a permanent buffer. One has every sympathy here. We on these Benches arc in favour of the right to demonstrate, which is one of the oldest rights of democracy. In a civilised country such as ours we hate to think that this would ever suffer, but, as my noble friend Lord Conesford brilliantly pointed out, the hooligan element docs not have the right to break up lawful assemblies, whether for debate or sport or—at a certain university— for eating in a Mediterranean atmosphere. Most of us would agree that only Lenin and his Communist successors, and Hitler's Nazi Movement have subscribed wholeheartedly to the view that political ends justify any means, but it is in fact what some of these extremists who want to break up all assemblies they do not like are trying to practise.
We have to stop bodies such as the M.C.C. being put in the pillory and made to feel that they are doing wrong by asking people of whom a minority do not approve to come and play games. I dare say they do not approve of what is going on in certain parts of the world, which is perhaps at the back of the minds of some wreckers, but the right to play games and to meet people is an inborn right of the law. If the police find a lot of people attacking the things they have to defend it does not improve their morale. I 1237 should like to ask this question. If the law does not give the police and magistrates' courts sufficient power to deal with these things, cannot the Forcible Entry Act of 1831 be looked at and used and, if not strong enough, strengthened? Again, why cannot the Public Order Act 1936 be enforced? And if not strong enough, strengthened? None of us has any wish to make Party capital out of national issues, but everyone has a duty to draw attention to the weak links in the chain of law and order. That is what we are trying to do. Some people perhaps do it more colourfully than others. The sporting public, we know, have received strong verbal support from the general public. There are a few people who support the rabble rousers and who have high intentions. We all know that they are very good.
The noble Lord, Lord Soper, who unfortunately is not here, said in this House quite recently that he found our policemen outclassed in argument by these demonstrators. I think that since the noble Lord last marched and countermarched, with his genuine religious fervour and sincerity, these affairs have got out of control. The last thing the hooligans want to do is to argue—they want a fight; and we all know that they do their best to inflame mob riot. We must do our best to see that they do not have any success, and that the police get the support of the public. On Monday of this week the result of a poll carried on in a national newspaper showed that 82 per cent, of the people thought that public demonstrations ought to be more strictly controlled, or banned. So the police know on whose side the public are, and that must give them comfort.
Sir Eric St. Johnston, the Chief of Constabulary, in his Report last year (and his Report does not cover the Metropolitan Area) draws attention to the factthat more people are becoming more dishonest each year and are prepared to break laws against the person and property. A most disquieting feature of recent years has been the increased tendency to violence, not only in political demonstrations, but in assaults on police officers in the execution of their duties. Figures available show an enormous increase from 1964 to 1968 of some 67 per cent, in these crimes.Therefore, my Lords, we on these Benches reiterate that, in no Party spirit 1238 but out of pure duty for the preservation of the Queen's Peace, there should be an honest advance to making the job of a policeman attractive, both financially and by the quality of his working conditions, and not least in giving him full moral support in dealing with the unruly elements with which he has to deal.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ LORD MAELOR
My Lords, the House must feel grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke' of Cumnor, for initiating the debate this afternoon on the state of the police. As a former Home Secretary he can speak with great authority, and I believe that we should be well advised to pay particular attention to everything he said, with the exception of the Party points: I think he was rather naughty in introducing those. I shall probably be underlining some of the observations he made in the course of my remarks.
With the exception of the Armed Forces, the Police Force is the only body of men and women prohibited by Statute from enforcing their demands and aspirations by strike action. It is therefore only right and proper that we, as the nation's legislators, should evince an interest in their welfare, and periodically in this fashion discuss their affairs. I believe we can make the proud boast that we have the best police in the whole world. I have been reading the last published Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary. As a one time chairman of a police committee, I have had the privilege of accompanying these inspectors on their tours, and I can assure the House that they miss nothing in the course of their inspections. I was therefore struck by one observation of the Chief Inspector in his Report. This is what he says:As a result of these visits and our close contacts with forces, my colleagues and I continue to be impressed by the high sense of duty shown by members of the police service, and in reporting that the police forces of England and Wales are efficient I must record the unanimous confidence of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary in the service.Such tributes are not confined to people directly connected with the police force. I frequently read the Police Review. In the issue of January 9 I saw a photograph of Mr. Denis Howell, M.P., the Minister for Sport. At first I wondered what crime 1239 he had committed to have such prominence in that magazine, but I am pleased to say that he had committed no crime. As a matter of fact, as Minister of Sport, he had sent a special message to the Police Review to pay a personal tribute to all members of the police force for all they do to ensure the continuance of top-class sport in this country. This is what he says:I, myself, am fully aware of the great courage and skill shown by the police in dealing with difficult situations in tightly packed crowds caught up with emotional fervour, and I hope all ranks of the Force will accept this message as a token of appreciation of their work. I express it both as the Minister responsible for sport and as an active sportsman who has often had cause to admire the efforts of our policemen.I think that is a very worthy tribute by the Minister of Sport.
I was also pleased to read some time ago the tribute paid by Mr. David Ennals, who was Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office. He was referring to the work of the police in breaking down the barriers in connection with race relations. They are called upon to undo the evil that is wrought by Enoch Powell—and we all know what Enoch has been up to. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, would tell us that there is a certain Enoch mentioned in the Bible, and it is said of that one:Enoch walked with God.My Lords, I do not know who the devil this other Enoch has been walking with. I am certain that he has not been walking with his Leader, Edward Heath—he is out of step with him, and he is yards behind the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. Well, let us face it: the inflammatory speeches of Enoch Powell create a nasty situation in many parts of the country, and it is the police who have to tackle the problem of racial misunderstanding and secure law and order. Mr. Ennals said:It would be a tragedy if at the same time as the police are making a determined effort to break down the barriers others were to stir up prejudice against the police. There is some evidence that this is happening, and lasting damage to race relations could result.Any discussion on the state of the police to-day has to be carried out against the background of current concern, which has been expressed here so many times this afternoon, with the law and order situation generally. Year after year in 1240 the 'sixties the criminal statistics have shown depressingly regular increases. The total of indictable crimes, which in the mid1950s had stood at half a million, topped the million mark for the first time in 1964. By the end of 1969 it was heading for one and a half million.
The first priority in dealing with the problem must be the police. Some important steps to improve police efficiency have been taken in the past few years, as was emphasised by the noble Lord. Lord Brooke of Cumnor. There cannot, for example, be any complaint about the Government's response to the call made some years ago to improve the equipment and efficiency of the Service, and particularly the increased expenditure on vehicles and radios. But attempts to increase the police numbers by recruiting, and by retaining the men already serving, have been entirely disappointing. In 1968 there was a tiny net increase of only 207, compared with a net increase in 1967 of 3,768. From April to September of 1969, there was an actual net reduction of 174 men. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, dealt at length with the morale of the police, and praised it—and, indeed, the morale has been highly praiseworthy. Nevertheless, I want to utter a word of warning. Morale among police is lower to-day than it has been for years past. I will go further and say that it is rapidly reaching the breaking strain. That can be proved quite easily. Only one conclusion can be drawn from all this: that something is seriously wrong when the Police Service cannot recruit more men than the numbers who are quitting for other employment. That is perfectly true.
It is ludicrous to expend large sums of money on recruiting or advertising when the persons who respond do not even take the trouble to fill up the application forms when they see the conditions of service; when they see what they will be actually taking home at the end of the week for their services. I was told only last weekend that a policeman in my part of the world, which is of course the most civilised part of the world— and a good policeman at that—had left the Police Force to work in a factory and is now earning £8 more at the factory than he was as a policeman. Naturally enough, he tantalises his former colleagues by showing his pay packet 1241 to them at the end of the week. My Lords, let us face the situation squarely, and say quite frankly that the men and women in our Police Force are badly paid, and underpaid. It is this fact that lowers their morale. I do not have to listen to the nonsense which we have heard this afternoon about not emphasising too much the matter of wages and salaries. Let us be honest with our-selves: that is the point that counts with most of us. There are very few people in this country who do not take note of the wages or salaries they can earn in their profession. Do not let us be hypocritical in a matter like this.
I am aware that the Police Council are busy at the moment negotiating an interim award before it is finally decided later in the year how much the actual rise in salary must be. I agree that it would be very wrong for this House, or anyone else, to interfere with any negotiating body in what they do. It would be wrong for us even to suggest what this interim award should be. I am, however, going to ask my noble friend who is to reply on behalf of the Government whether he can give an assurance tonight that when the Police Council make their recommendations next week, or next month, they will be immediately implemented by the Government. If he answers "Yes", the news will be passed throughout the Police Force by tomorrow morning, and nothing will steady their morale so much as to be told that the Government intend immediately to implement whatever recommendations are made by the Police Council.
I would instance another reason for the decline in morale. There has been a report that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be intending substantially to reduce the amount of pension that may be commuted for cash; and, furthermore, that the present rules may be changed so that the whole, or a large part, of any lump sum which may be taken will be taxable and not, as at present, tax-free. I do not expect my noble friend to deal with that point tonight, because it is rumoured that it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has these things in mind. Nevertheless, this report has caused consternation, and any such action is regarded not only as unfair, but personally disastrous to those concerned. The Chancellor of the Ex- 1242 chequer would be well advised to leave well alone. As a Welshman, I should not be surprised if, as a compatriot, he takes my advice.
So far, my Lords, I have mentioned only the material rewards necessary to effect an improvement in police recruiting. In the long term, however, there are other, and equally important, considerations. The community as a whole should assess with sympathy and intelligence the job it expects the police to do. We must all carry some responsibility for the education of the public concerning the role and function of the police in our society. There is a lack of knowledge about their real work and of the whole world of crime. This is accentuated by the fact that the mass media—particularly television—distort the real thing, and are basically hostile. I am making that charge here tonight, but I believe that even the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. are basically hostile towards the police, with the result that what we have heard from my noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell is true: it is creating a wrong impression on the public mind.
It is, therefore, necessary to restate the functions of the police in the community. They are fourfold: first, the prevention of crime and the deterring of law breakers; secondly, the protection of life and property; thirdly, bringing criminals and those guilty of antisocial behaviour to justice and, through justice, to rehabilitation; fourthly, safeguarding the democratic rights of minorities. It is felt that your Lordships' House would want to endorse those aims. Indeed, the police can function adequately only if the whole community believes they are good aims. In an imperfect world, such as the one in which we live, it is surely accepted that moral, social and, if necessary, physical force will have to be exerted if those functions are to be carried out.
I should like to say a word on law enforcement. It is the duty of the police, as part of the civil authority, to maintain an orderly society. Young people to-day believe in flamboyant demonstrations; and they have the right to demonstrate. I was rather surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, question the right of these people to demonstrate. It is good for us to-day that our ancestors demonstrated. But for the demonstration of the suffragettes we should not have my noble 1243 friend the Baroness on the Front Bench tonight—I am sure of it. It was the demonstration of the suffragettes that earned rights for women so far as Parliament is concerned. And it is good for us that our ancestors struck work on many an occasion to secure better terms.
It is a dangerous doctrine, however, and one that puts the whole fabric of organised society in jeopardy, to argue that demonstrators are justified in resorting to violence to achieve their aims, however praiseworthy those aims may be. Violence on the street is certain to get publicity; it is bound to. That in itself is a dangerous trend. The fact that violence makes the headlines and that television cameras never fail to be there —we have all noticed that—means that violence comes to be regarded as an accepted, and indeed an essential, part of any demonstration. Processions and demonstrations, particularly those which have political objectives, can create real problems in police/public relationships.
There has been a great deal of comment upon police handling on these occasions. Demonstrators come to believe that the police support authority at the expense of the law, which of course is quite untrue. Provocation on the part of demonstrators may be considerable and often is deliberate. A person who sits provocatively in the street, technically for the hindrance of traffic but in fact in order to oblige the police to remove him, invites rough handling; of course he does. That is part of the price he must expect to pay if he chooses to assert his opinions in that way. He is breaking the law by obstructing the highway, and the police must remove the obstruction. That is what the police are doing when handling demonstrators. Television gives us the picture in order to show us, I am sure, how cruel these men are when handling a man or a woman, particularly a woman, who has been lying on the road. But that woman has done that deliberately and is there to obstruct the traffic, thereby breaking the law; and the policeman is there to protect the law and consequently has to remove the demonstrator in the manner he does.
The protestor or the demonstrator knows all this in advance, and the enforcement of the law does not bring into question whether his cause is right or 1244 wrong. It may be the demonstrator's right and duty to seek to change the law, but it is not that of the policeman. The policeman cannot change the law; he may think that the law is wrong, and may have every sympathy with the demonstrator, but he would not be doing his duty if he did not carry out the law and protect the law, whatever his personal opinions may be. Ugly scenes may arise in situations of this kind, but no one should blame the police for it. I wish that the television authorities (I am perhaps repeating myself), both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., would be less anxious than they are to portray a policeman as a rough handler when he is obliged, for instance, to remove a man or woman who is lying on the street. All that that policeman is doing is to protect the law, which we have made— we here and Members of another place are the legislators—and in doing so he protects the public at the same time.
My Lords, one final word. Referring to something that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, mentioned, I wonder whether some breakdown of police customs needs to be carried out. I am referring to promotion. As we all know a policeman cannot be promoted unless he passes a written academic examination. Many a policeman who is not an examinee is in consequence prevented from being promoted, although in every other way he is all that a policeman could be. I am wondering whether the chief constable should not have the right to promote such a man, irrespective of a written examination, if that man has proved himself to be an excellent police officer. It is done in other professions. In the teaching profession one cannot teach in a county school unless one carries a degree, but if the director of education finds a non-degree teacher in the junior school to be a first-class teacher, able to put a lesson over better than the majority of teachers, he would not have the slightest hesitation in placing that teacher in a secondary school, in spite of the fact that he or she has not a degree. That should be done so far as the police are concerned also.
Before resuming my seat, I should like again to thank the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, for initiating this debate. From what he said in his speech it is obvious that society gets the police it deserves. It certainly gets the police 1245 it is prepared to pay for. It is for us to ensure that we have the kind of policing that we desire. Once we achieve that, we must sustain and support the police both morally and in material terms.
§ 7.58 p.m.
My Lords, I know that we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor for raising a subject which is of profound importance to all law-abiding citizens— and, indeed, to those who are not. Last week I had the chance to talk to a senior officer of the police and he lent me the Report of the Commissioner for the year 1968 and several copies of the Police Review, the weekly news magazines of the British police. From the Report of the Commissioner (this is the latest Report available to me) it appears that at the end of 1968 the Metropolitan Police were 5,441 under establishment. It also appears, apart from the ceiling put on the recruiting of the police by the Government—which has now been raised but at the time seemed most unfortunate —that the greatest problem is the wastage through resignations prior to retirement age. In the Report it is estimated that the value of property stolen was £22 million and that, of that total, 10.5 per cent. was recovered. In the Police Review the cost of crime is estimated at £500 million a year, and the cost of accidents at £215 million. These are staggering figures, and in studying them we must draw conclusions.
May I attempt to give your Lordships the factors that are evident in considering the future of the force? First, there can be no doubt that we cannot in this country—nor, indeed, can any other country—have a Police Force on the cheap. Secondly, I understand that equipment has improved to a great degree, and the proposed national computer will be of infinite value. It is generally felt that helicopters would be of great assistance in crime prevention and also in traffic control. Thirdly, it is a fact that although there is now no difficulty, I understand, in recruitment, wastage is, as I have said, exceedingly high. This would appear to be due to inadequate rates of pay, especially for the married man; to the fact that there are few opportunities of promotion and also to 1246 the fact that situations offered by private firms for security jobs provide better facilities than does the Police Force.
My Lords, may I come to conclusions on the factors about which I have spoken? I sincerely believe that the police must be treated an an élite Force in our country, especially as, by tradition, they are unarmed; and it is essential that they should be brought up to establishment. In order to achieve this pay must be brought up to a standard which will ensure continuance in the Service. It takes a good deal of money to train a police officer, and it is pure waste if shortly after he is trained he resigns for another job.
I understand that an interim supplement to the biennial review of pay is to be announced soon. This review should take into account not only the increasing wastage but also the great increase in crime, and hence the added responsibilities of the police. Many of us have noticed, as we go on our way, something suspicious and have passed on with a slightly guilty feeling that perhaps we should have reported what we saw. The policeman (or it may be the policewoman), on the other hand, has a duty to inquire, and takes great risks in inquiring on his own initiative, knowing full well that he may be wrong and may be criticised by his superiors for his action.
Although equipment has improved it is manpower that is required to man that equipment, which should be used not only for the detection but also for the prevention of crime. We all know the immediate effect on drivers of the near proximity of a police car. We all know the immense value of the constable on the beat, especially equipped, as he is to-day, with a two-way radio. But, my Lords, let us remember that the police car and the radio set are quite useless without well-trained men ready to use their initiative and to take risks in operating them. Above all, these men must feel certain of the backing of the public; and they must be satisfied that their profession is really worth while. As in the Army, their morale is highest when essential and dangerous work is to be done. I feel sure that the comradeship within the Force is excellent, but the members of the Force must have the assurance that should things go wrong they will have a 1247 fair inquiry, and if they should in the course of duty lose their lives, or be permanently crippled, they will have the full support of the State for their families.
The ever-increasing traffic problems and the terrifying crime siuation can be fought only by having an adequate and élite Police Force. And we can have this Force only if we treat the men in it as élite and pay them on a scale commensurate with their work. This country will get the Force it deserves. My Lords, I hope that we shall choose wisely and, by our choice, shall ensure the safety and happiness of our people.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ LORD WOLVERTON
My Lords, I should like strongly to support the Motion of my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor and to thank him for allowing us to debate this most important subject about which we in this House are all most concerned. My only excuse for intervening for a short time in the debate tonight is that for approximately five years of the nine years which I spent as a member of the West Suffolk County Council I was on the Police Committee and therefore I learned something of the workings and the problems of the police. Now that the police reorganisation of three years ago has been completed, the West Suffolk Police have been amalgamated with the East Suffolk and the Ipswich County Borough Forces. Before this important debate, I took the opportunity of seeking an interview with the chairman of the Suffolk Police Committee and the Chief Constable, who very kindly gave me some of their valuable time to discuss the problem as they see it in the Suffolk Police Force. I wish to put those views before your Lordships to-night.
The morale is fairly good, but it would be better if the pay claims could be settled as early as possible. I was glad to hear tonight that negotiations are actively proceeding, and we hope that something may be done at least before September. We also hope that the rent allowance extra claims may be agreed at an early date, because this force, which includes the old Ipswich force, has 22 per cent. of the men living in their own houses. That was the policy of Ipswich County Borough. As the men in the police force did not move outside the 1248 borough, the police authorities wanted the policemen to have their own houses for retirement.
Next is the all-important question of the establishment. The establishment of the Suffolk Police force is about 980 men. They are about 115 men short of establishment and, I think, 5 women. That is not a large number, but the chief constable told me that if the restriction, which I understand is going to be taken off, were to be taken off straight away, he could not recruit that number of men quickly. It would take perhaps two years to do it, because, as we know, it is not only a question of getting the right type of men—we must have the highest type of men, and men of very high class are coming forward from the training schools —but of housing them. We have to build either police quarters for single men or married quarters for the married men. The Chief Constable also told me that it is vital to get a new police force headquarters built at the earliest possible date, because he has quite inadequate training arrangements now that the three forces are amalgamated. They would like an additional divisional headquarters for the old area of East Suffolk, which is growing rapidly. It is the area in which is situated the port of Felixstowe, which is growing particularly rapidly.
All this brings me to the vital problem of finance, with which I am not unfamiliar, having spent nine years on the West Suffolk County Council. Somehow or other the Government must find the extra finance which will be involved. They must try to get their priorities right. I know they have done a lot, and I give them praise for it, but a great deal more must be done. I have been looking at the public expenditure shown in the White Paper which was issued in December for 1968–69 to 1973–74. On page 47, in the expenditure under the heading of "Law and Order" and which covers England, Scotland and Wales, the current expenditure on police is estimated to rise from £274.2 million to £289.3 million— a rise of £15.1 million. The capital expenditure is estimated to rise from £25.7 million to £28.1 million, a rise of £2.4 million. The two increases added together amount to £17.5 million, a sum which I think is quite inadequate to meet our modern needs, with a greatly increased crime wave, especially in crimes of 1249 violence, nearly always involving arms, which we are so worried about in this House.
May I end by quoting a short paragraph from the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Reid, who has kindly given me permission to quote him. On the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, which we debated in this House on Thursday, December 18, 1969, the noble Lord said:There is always pressure to increase expenditure on the social services—on the other social services—but very little pressure to increase expenditure on the fundamental social service of protecting the public from violence." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18/12/69, col. 1290.]I profoundly agree with that important observation of the noble and learned Lord, and I only hope that Her Majesty's Government will give earnest consideration to finding more money for this vital need at the present time.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I make no hesitation in saying that I, like the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, will refer to Scotland; and Scotland is of course included in the terms of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. I have good reason to join with other noble Lords in expressing my admiration for the police, for their skill, for their patience, for their physical fitness and their sense of civic duty, as I find it. The particular points I want to make concern the importance of the morale of the police, which is the very first section of Lord Brooke's Motion. I believe from my experience that, depressed as they may be over their conditions, and worrying in the present troublous times, with doubt about their future housing, remuneration and the like, the true morale, in terms of their willingness to serve and the civic sense to which I have already referred, is as high as ever.
I speak as coming from a country area where the policemen are more able, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, to be neighbourhood friends rather than only law enforcement officers. The other day I was listening to the noble Lord, Lord Willis, on the wireless, and I am only sorry that he is not here to-day, because I expected him to urge what he said on the wireless, which was an appeal for a programme of mass co-operation by the public with the police. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said much 1250 the same thing. He concluded his speech, I think I remember rightly, by emphasising the importance of the support and backing of public opinion in this country in order to maintain the morale of the force. There are one or two factors which to my mind are worthy of attention to that end, and I would respond to the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, who said that he would take note of suggestions made in the course of this debate.
One important point, to my mind, is the severe disadvantage to individual members of the public if they volunteer or are expected to give evidence in a court. This results in a consequent reluctance to support the police by offering to give evidence or even appear to be witnesses of an incident. I should like to cite, purely as an illustration, an incident I have in mind. An investigator of a fatal road accident approached a witness who had seen the crash, without being involved in it. The witness described what had taken place, and when asked his name and address immediately asked whether the inquirers were likely to give the information to the police. Being official people, they said that it was more than possible. Immediately, he withdrew what he had said and refused to give his name, saying that he could not afford to be subpoenaed as a witness. He was a self-employed market gardener from, let us say, Wiltshire, who was driving his own produce to Covent Garden, a trip which he did daily during his harvest, and he knew that by having to attend court, for instance in Slough, he would receive compensation quite derisory as compared with the financial loss to him. That is my first point. Can anything be done to improve conditions of compensation?
That leads me to another point. One of my contacts described to me how he had to go to court as a witness, and after waiting through a number of cases the accused pleaded guilty. My contact was not even called. He received the bus fare to and from his place and the usual small sum, but the day's absence put him to very considerable loss. That brings me to make this suggestion. Could the law be altered so that such evidence, admittedly in trivial or minor incidents, could be given on a tape recording on the spot? There would have to be suitable safeguards, of course, as to the 1251 subsequent certification of the transcription, and perhaps on oath, but it could be done at or near the witnesses' place of residence or work. This would avoid the necessity for the loss of time for the witnesses involved. I suggest that this might apply to witnesses of all sorts of incidents; I do not mean necessarily traffic accidents. I appreciate that the legal implications of such a suggestion, as to the acceptance of such evidence by the courts, may be complex.
I would go all the way with the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, in his demand for stiffer penalties for insulting or injuring the police.
I turn to another point arising out of recent violent demonstrations. I was deeply interested, as other noble Lords were, in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, and I am only sorry that he did not go further on a point which I have raised before in your Lordships' House and perhaps will raise again; namely, where in law we stand in regard to incitement to violence; whether, if a demonstration is obviously going to lead to violence, anybody who promotes such a demonstration is in fact inciting violence. I take the view, as do others, that this is the case. To many people, and presumably to the police, it is incomprehensible that steps have not been taken under the common law to clip the wings of those who invite people to take part in demonstrations which they know are going to be violent.
I would go even further. If the Common Law and, shall we say, in the case of the Springboks demonstration, the Race Relations Act, do not provide that right, is it not time, in the light of what has been said by my noble friend and others about the basic threat to our whole way of life of this violent demonstration trend, that such powers should be taken quickly? I cite, for instance, the Public Order Act which was passed at high speed through both Houses of Parliament at the time when the Fascist troubles became serious in about 1936.
One other small point before I leave the question of demonstrations. I shall never forget the scene at Murrayfield when 700 policemen, out of a force which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, described as being only some 10,000, drawn from all over central Scotland, were required for a really 1252 miserable task; and they were put to such trouble and difficulty that one cannot blame their wives for complaining at the hours, in terms of sacrifice, that demonstrations mean to them.
On a separate point, how can the public be encouraged to help further in tracking down "fences" and receivers? I believe that if the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, for full support from the public is implemented, this is one way in which the public can help.
The subject of modern sophisticated equipment has been referred to by more than one noble Lord to-day. I have personal knowledge of the difficulties which face the police in obtaining skilled personnel to handle "walkie-talkie" wireless, computers and the like. This is a very complex matter, involving the high rate of pay which a skilled technician can obtain in the open market compared with what he may get as a policeman. It also involves the professional insistence that the men engaged in this work should also be trained policemen. This is a matter of great difficulty, which I cite only as an example of my sympathy with the powers-that-be in the problem of staffing the police with the money available when such technical work commands such high salaries.
Finally, coming as I do from Scotland, I should like briefly to refer to the problem of the abolition of capital punishment. I will only say that I am convinced that the threat of the ultimate sentence is a deterrent. Perhaps this is the moment at which to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, on his maiden speech, and also the other noble Lords who have spoken for the first time. Particularly do I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, upon using his right as an Irishman to declare his disapproval of capital punishment, yet to recommend it for the murder of a policeman. This is something for which I have contended in your Lordships' House not just once or twice, but on many occasions. I think that far too much is made of experience in other places, whether it be in Denmark or in Detroit. We are legislating here for Great Britain. I am chiefly concerned with Scotland and the Scottish character. I reject the tendency to treat experience in other countries as applying necessarily 1253 to the United Kingdom, or to Scotland, or particularly to the character of the Scots. This is not Chauvinism on my part. It is simply facing the fact that there are a number of traits, bad as well as good, in the Scottish character which, in their amalgam, are unique. I have no doubt that in Scotland the death penalty is a deterrent.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but there was a period when we had the death penalty for special categories of murder. Would he agree that this did not indicate that it was in fact a deterrent?
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I think there is evidence to that effect. But it is a long story, as the noble Lord and, I am certain, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will realise, in view of the way the capital sentence was applied in Scotland, which was quite different from that in England and Wales. I take the view—I may be wrong—that it is a deterrent, and I have yet to meet anybody in Scotland with whom I have consulted who does not agree with me.
Here I lead up to the question of murders of police officers. I have no doubt that for such murders the death penalty is a deterrent. Certainly its existence would cause the malefactor, who knows his own weaknesses as well as anybody else, not to carry arms. I believe that this is an additional and important factor in the existence of the death penalty for a murder of a policeman. As noble Lords will appreciate, the recent murders in Glasgow have caused in Scotland an upsurge of indignation at the situation, which in the past few days, unfortunately, has been so tragically repeated at Pudsey.
I have said in your Lordships' House before, and I say again that, although I was opposed to the abolition of the death penalty, I am prepared to give in to the wiseacres, or call them what you like, who wanted it abolished. But, like the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, I feel that to retain it for the murder of a policeman or of a warder acting in the execution of his duty, or for the murder of a member of the public going to the help of such an officer in the execution of his duty, would be worth while in terms of sustaining the morale of the police.
1254 This brings me full circle to what I was saying about the importance of the public's supporting a programme of good will towards the police and their work. I do not mind saying that if it ever fell to my lot to "have a go", as we were recommended to do, and still are, my willingness to do so, to go to the help of the police, would be reinforced if such a penalty existed on the Statute Book. My Lords, that brings me back to where I began, that everything possible should be done to associate the public with the police as urged by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, in his broadcast, and by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, in his opening speech to-day.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
My Lords, the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has been very welcome to me, and I am sure other noble Lords, as a new crime wave seems to be setting in, and our policemen are being shot and killed in this country, and hundreds of policemen are being used to track down the killers. Some of these policemen are armed and some are not, as your Lordships are all well aware. The ones that are not armed have dogs. My Lords, I think they should all be armed, whether they have a dog or not.
I also should like to congratulate the very eminent and noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, on his maiden speech, as well as the noble Lords, Lord Roberthall and Lord Gray, and to support the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, in his remarks about National Service.
The Government have done a good deal to improve the standards and efficiency of our Police Force. The increase in crime rates has not been halted, but it has been retarded, largely as a result of measures introduced by Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Callaghan. The main measures have been the amalgamation of police forces that were too small to be efficient; the centralisation of criminal records; the introduction of personal radios, and the organisation of the neighbourhood beat system under which officers in cars can patrol their areas as and when they think it best and not according to a timetable.
These measures, mainly proposed by the Royal Commission on the Police, have made the increase in the crime rate 1255 smaller than it would otherwise have been. I think I am right in saying (though I stand to be corrected) that 1968 was the first year in which virtually all policemen in towns were using the new equipment and the new beat system, and in that year the overall crime rate (though not the rate for crimes of violence) showed a 1 per cent. decline. Crimes of violence in Britain numbered 5,689 in 1955, 14,549 in 1963, and 21,046 in 1968. From 1958 to 1968 the strength of the police in Britain and the establishment figure both increased annually, but a shortfall of 8 per cent. in 1958, when the strength was, I believe, 71,300 men, had become a shortfall of 17 per cent. by 1968, when the strength was 89,881 men.
My Lords, our Police Force is the best in the world, and it must be kept up to full strength, be well paid, and have all the necessary equipment at its disposal in order to combat crime in all its ugly forms. This is not a Party issue, for I am sure that all political Parties are equally concerned to suppress crime. The Government cannot afford to relax their efforts to build up a larger and more efficient Police Force. The morale of the police is tending to become lower, according to reports by several chief constables; and if this is so it is a bad state of affairs, since it could, and to my mind inevitably would, lead to trouble.
I should like to say a few words about the Port of London Authority Police, the second oldest police force in the country. It operates in an area that is used every day by some 50,000 to 80,000 members of the public, both to work in and, in many cases, to live in. Experience has shown—and it has been proved by history —that it is necessary and essential that an area as vast as the Port of London should be efficiently and adequately policed, and to the same high standards as any other area in the United Kingdom. The duties of dock police, as your Lordships well know, at the present time include enforcing the law for such varying offences as those under the Dangerous Drugs Acts, the Road Safety Act, the Road Traffic Acts, the Diseases of Animals Act, aliens, smuggling, the minor and serious assaults and breaches of the peace, and so on.
Before I sit down I should like to remind the House that the responsibilities 1256 of the police, their constitutional position, and the role of the constable were examined by the Royal Commission on the Police in 1962. An Interim Report was published in 1960, and it was stated categorically in paragraph 11:The maintenance of law and order ranks with national defence as a primary task of Government. It is an essential condition of a nation's survival and happiness.My Lords, it is the duty of this Government, or any other Government, to uphold law and order, and to make the policeman's lot a better one, for the people and the country as a whole.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ LORD DONALDSON OF KINGS-BRIDGE
My Lords, I have stayed here so long to-night listening to this most interesting debate in order to affirm one point: that I am openly and unashamedly concerned with the efforts of many of my colleagues to organise and provide help of various kinds to men who have been in prison. The point I wish to make —and I cannot make it too strongly— is that we who take an interest in this sort of work are not soft so far as the police are concerned. I think we believe as one man that the speed and certainty of detection and arrest are the only deterrent worth anything; that a strong, mobile and well-equipped Police Force, with a good morale, and working in close co-operation with a willing public, is the only way to enforce the law. I have stayed all this time to make this point, so perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if I make one or two others which have crossed my mind in the course of the debate.
One of the rather endearing characteristics of this House is that whenever we have a debate on youth everybody says how marvellous youth is, and whenever we have a debate on the police everybody says how marvellous they are. And indeed they are marvellous—but not, I think, always in exactly the way that some of your Lordships may think. I believe that we are a nation at war. I do not know how big organised crime is in this country. Perhaps 10 per cent. of the 50,000 discharges a year are of professionals, and I suppose that there are twice as many outside who do not get caught, though I do not know the actual figure. However, these men are dangerous, ruthless, well backed by 1257 capital, by science, and by everything else. The police are our frontline troops and if, as such, they sometimes behave in a way reminiscent of commandos during the war, it is "all right with me". If you are dealing with very ruthless people, I think you have to deal with them in a pretty ruthless way.
There are complaints about the police, and it is absurd to pretend that there are not. Most of the complaints I get talking to prisoners are of this order, which I ignore: they are not true. If they are true, of course, they are fully justified. But the fact is that 90 per cent. of crime is committed by inadequate and inefficient people, who cannot even commit crime without being captured, and who go round and round on the steady prison roundabout and are no good at all. I do not hear complaints from these people, particularly complaints about the police being brutal. In fact, more often than not they say, "The 'copper' gave me a cup of tea in the police station", and that sort of thing. I think we must face the fact that we cannot have frontline troops fighting a relentless enemy with kid gloves. The police are not winged cherubs—personally, I do not want them to be.
May I apologise at this stage to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, for missing his opening speech? I shall read it with my usual pleasure and inevitable edification in the morning. I should like to congratulate the three distinguished maiden speakers. Only one is left here, so only to him need I say that I blushed to the roots of my hair when he raised the point about driving as fast as you can on the amber light. It was a familiar experience for which I am deeply ashamed.
I imagine most of us would agree with the desire expressed by most speakers, and perhaps expressed most eloquently by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, that the police should have better terms of service, higher pay and all the rest of it. Of course we want that. But let us not kid ourselves. It is opening up the main economic problem of the day: how to keep the conditions of nonproductive citizens in line with the conditions of productive ones. Probation officers, the Armed Forces 1258 musicians, doctors, nurses, teachers—they are all in the same category as the police. Their results cannot be measured by productivity, and so they have no hope in competition with industrial workers. It is the business of places like this to keep steady pressure on any Government to see that they get—surely too late, but not too much too late— what they ought to have.
My noble friend Lord Stonham asked us to stick to the facts, and one fact which he could begin with is that the crime statistics are in no sense a measure of police efficiency. In so far as there is a correlation, it is a reverse correlation. Clearly, the more efficient the police are, the more crimes reach the statistics; and the more people are ready to co-operate with the police and report to them, the more crimes there are on the list. Also, of course, the police do many other jobs besides detecting and arresting criminals.
I must say one word to the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, and the noble Viscount, Lord Mersey, neither of whom are here to listen. Of course they are right in being worried at the absence of a fierce deterrent for murder. Nobody is satisfied with long imprisonment. However, I should like noble Lords to pay a little attention to the meaning of words. A noble Lord on the other side said that nine years is not very long. But I was away from home for 4½ years during the war, and I assure your Lordships that it was an eternity. I had a friend who came out of Dartmoor after a second term of five or six years, and he said that there is no point in sentencing people to more than two years, because nobody can visualise what it means. Nobody ever suggests letting out somebody who has committed a heinous crime, unless people of good intelligence and scientific background say that there has been a change —and sometimes there is. So I think that long sentences are very unsatisfactory, and are already a good deal longer than they need be to have the maximum effect.
Before we consider the whole question of capital punishment, which this is not the time to discuss, may I suggest that we pay more attention to prevention? I should like to see any criminal caught with a firearm on him having a mandatory addition to his sentence of something like three years. I should also like 1259 to see any citizen found with a firearm on his premises and without a licence— certainly on a second offence—subject to a fine of £1,000. I would make it simply impossible for anybody but a determined criminal to carry a gun.
Deterrents have to be applied when reason is working and not in passion. One has a far better chance of stopping a thug from murdering a policeman if that thug does not have a gun in the first place or does not take it with him. If he takes it in case a situation arises, he will certainly use it. I feel that that is something on which universal agreement could be obtained. My figures may be wrong, but something of that kind could be done at once. If that completely fails and we get an enormous increase in this kind of savage killing, then we shall all have to think again.
In conclusion, I would ask those who are interested to read what I think is a very remarkable book. It is called The Frying Pan and it is written by a man called Tony Parker, who is a journalist specialising in studying delinquency. It is about the inmates of a prison which I know very well, and I can recognise a number of them. It gives a kind of spread between the man whose only idea was to get in and hit first, and the other, absolutely different, people at the other end for whom the sanctions were obviously ineffective. It gives the whole spread of criminality and I think noble Lords will be interested to read it. I was very much encouraged by the list of achievements, not of this Government but of all Governments—I do not regard this as a Party matter at all. We have gone a long way in the last twenty years in better equipping our police, and so on. Finally, I should like to thank 'the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, once again for giving us the opportunity for this discussion.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I always find it difficult to know how to wind up for the Opposition. After all, it is not my job to answer the debate; that is the job of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. I deem it my duty, therefore, to stress certain points that have been raised and, if possible, to bring forward one or two others that have not been raised—which is usually unlikely. However, I believe I have one or two which I 1260 consider rather successful. I intend first to do something that has already been done by many noble Lords, and that is to congratulate the noble Lords, Lord O'Neill, Lord Roberthall and Lord Gray on their maiden speeches. I have been quite a long time in this House, some twenty years or more, and although one would think one would get bored with maiden speeches, I find that as time goes on they get better and better. I find that very refreshing and I congratulate the noble Lords on their contributions today. We shall be very disappointed if they do not come and speak quite often.
I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, started by making an election speech, followed by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, explained why he did it, but I think it is a pity that it should be done in your Lordships' House. There are other places where one can do it. There is one indictment against the Government, perhaps of a comparatively minor kind, which I shall deal with later. The noble Lord was careful not to answer the point made by my noble friend Lord Brooke. I shall repeat it so that the noble Lord gets another opportunity of answering it., although he will not be able to do so.
I think all noble Lords have agreed that it is essential to get better pay for the police. Several speakers mentioned something that used to be of tremendous importance in getting recruits for the police, and that was the differential in their scale of pensions compared with the ordinary corresponding pension for a person in other walks of life. In the Welfare State that differential has virtually disappeared, and I do not think it should. If we want recruits it is a great pity that it should have virtually disappeared, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will be able to say whether this question is being considered as seriously as the question of pay.
Another matter that has been raised quite widely is the question of wastage. That is becoming even more important than recruiting. It is particularly bad, because experienced officers are leaving. In certain circumstances a policeman can earn better pay as—shall we say?—a dustman. A dustman has regular hours, he knows what is; his time off, his wife sees him when she wants to see him, he has enough work to keep him out of the 1261 house when she does not want him there and so on—quite unlike a policeman's life. I am certain that a lot of the wastage arises when wives can really stand their husband's work no longer. When I was at the Home Office and went round police forces and met some of the wives I was amazed at what extraordinarily fine women they nearly all are, how they support their husbands and the amount they have to put up with. It is quite astonishing; and many women would not put up with it.
There is one point that has not been mentioned. We have had mentioned the difficult hours and the wife not knowing, when the children are at home at the weekend, if she was going to see her husband although he was supposed to have that weekend off—and that is increasingly happening with demonstrations and other maters. We have heard all about those difficulties, and they are all perfectly true and are very hard on the wives. But I wonder whether the general public realises that the wives themselves are under discipline. That does not happen to wives in most other walks of life. I wonder whether your Lordships realise that if there is a tiresome next-door neighbour—it may even be the policeman's wife who is tiresome; it does not matter—and they have a row, or if the policeman's dog rushes out and bites the dog of the next-door neighbour, and if the next-door neighbour goes to the senior police officer (the superintendent, or who-ever it may be) and complains, the whole rigmarole of a police inquiry has to start, because if the wife is unsuitable it may affect her husband's career. That is the sort of matter which you and I, or our wives, may take in our stride as one of the ordinary things of life, but we would not have an official inquiry about it, though if it went too far there might be a civil action. I wonder whether that is necessary in the case of these policemen's wives. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, can say something about it, though I doubt if he can do so without notice. But I am sure that this sort of pinprick on the wives, who are themselves under discipline to some extent, could be modified.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt. Surely this is a matter for the 1262 police themselves. They do not have to have this kind of inquiry; it is not imposed upon them by law. They can remedy this at any time they like.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I am told that it is almost imposed, because anything that affects or might affect the husband's career has to be looked into officially when there is a complaint. I am told that in fact it is compulsory, and that it is not really left to the senior officer. He has to do it, because the wife may be unsuitable and this may affect her husband's career—perhaps he ought to be moved and so on. But there must be an inquiry. So whatever the law may state, this is in fact what has to be done. That is what I am advised, and I think I am right. That is the only additional matter I wanted to bring up about wives, although we have all heard to-day of the other difficulties they have; and I am sure they are responsible for a lot of wastage.
My Lords, outside pay and the ordinary conditions of service, what are the sort of things which rile police officers themselves and persuade them to leave? There are various points that have been put to me, and I think they are unfortunate. The first one concerns complaints against a police officer. The vast majority of complaints have no substance in them— and, of course, it is now common form for any thug who is caught (he may not be a thug, but any criminal who is caught) to say at once that he has been beaten up, that he has been offered a bribe, and so forth. It is absolutely common form now. If that was said against any one of us and then disproved, if we were wise we would bring an action for civil libel. I am advised that except in the most gross circumstances police officers are not allowed to bring these actions. It is all very fine, but it appears in the local paper that he has been accused of asking for money. He is found not guilty; the local paper may or may not publish that fact; the neighbours whisper, and he has no redress. If I am wrong I hope to be told, but that is what I am advised. I believe that in very serious cases the police can bring an action, but it is very difficult for them to do so. In ordinary cases they are not supposed to do so, and I believe they find it very difficult.
1263 The only other irksome thing I want to talk about is the question of expenses. I am advised that the ordinary lodging and food allowances are perfectly adequate, and if in the course of duty the allowances have to be overspent there never seems to be any difficulty in getting the additional amount. I am talking now about lodging and food allowances. But where this causes a great deal of distress, in some cases, and where there is a great temptation to cheat—and it is extraordinary how seldom that temptation is given way to—is in the case of detective officers. They may have to sit in a pub for hours, keeping observation. They cannot sit with just a glass of soda; they have to drink something. They may even have to go into a cafe to keep observation on a house opposite. They have to have a coffee, anyhow, or something like that. In some police forces the chief constable looks on these things with a generous eye. In other police forces it is almost impossible (perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but it is very difficult) to get these unexpected expenses; the chief constable does not allow it. The detective officers are frequently very much out of pocket, and that is where the temptation comes in.
My Lords, things have now reached an absurd situation, because since the creation of the Regional Crime Squad detective officers from different forces have come together and one gets—not may get, but gets—two officers from different forces working together on the same case, going to the same pub to listen to conversation, one of whom gets his extra expenses allowed while the other does not. Really, something must be done about this. I do not know quite what the Government, as a Government, can do, but I put the point seriously to the noble Lord. This is causing a lot of annoyance, and there have been cases of detective officers leaving the force because they think that they have been badly done by whereas the fellow next door has been fairly treated. That is a point which I hope the noble Lord will take notice of.
My Lords, there is one other matter, more or less under that heading, to which I want to refer. It was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Brooke; and it is the question of status. I am quite certain that no longer should the police 1264 officer be classed as an hourly-paid worker, with overtime, with boot allowances and all that sort of nonsense. He should have an annual salary. His should in fact be a profession. I will not go into details—and the details are fairly complicated, I agree—but he should be treated much the same as a doctor, who is on 24-hour call but has his time off except in an emergency. If the police officer is paid by the year, his status will at once be raised. He will become professional. I believe that if we want the right type of police officer, that is what we have to do. With hourly-paid workers, there are so many potty restrictions; they do not know what they are going to get until the end of the day, and all that sort of thing. I think that is unsuitable for a modem police force.
I want to say one word about the murder of police officers. I say quite frankly that I was in favour, and still am in favour, of keeping capital punishment for the murder of a police officer or somebody who goes to his help, but at the moment it is not practical politics. But the fact remains that for a criminal who has had many offences and several long sentences there is nothing whatsoever left to deter him from shooting a police officer if, by that means, he is going to get away with a crime.
I have a suggestion to make which may not be practicable. I like it rather less than that made by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. Involved in the matter of crime is—especially to-day—the question of firearms. I do not know whether your Lordships realise the sort of figures: four times in every three days, on average, in London a firearm is used to murder, to attempt to murder, to rob or to assault. I think those are the right figures. It is really a terrible situation, and particularly so as regards armed assaults on the police.
As all suggestions are going to be considered, may I put forward another which, again, may not be as good as that of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge? Would it not be possible in this particular crime, the murder of a police officer or of somebody going to his assistance, to do away in the first place with the life sentence and to leave it to the Judge to give a fixed sentence, and—I repeat in this particular form of 1265 crime only—to provide that once a sentence has been given (subject to the Appeal Courts, of course) nobody, neither the Home Secretary nor the Parole Board, could interfere with it? The prisoner should serve the full sentence less the usual remission for good conduct. I think that that should be possible. There is not the slightest doubt that it would be deterrent. I know that it will be argued against it that it will affect the prisoner mentally; but I think that a man who shoots a police officer is already affected mentally—although perhaps not sufficiently to plead insanity. But I feel certain that some special deterrent must be devised against the use of firearms.
There is one other small point. My noble friend Lord Brooke pleaded: For Heavens sake, do not mess the police about again! They are only just getting the amalgamation going. If Redcliffe-Maud, with its alterations of boundaries, came into effect in a year or two— although I strongly suspect that it will not—it would mess up the police again. It is quite unnecessary and I think it would be disastrous to coincide the boundaries. I know that that would be tidier from the Whitehall point of view, but the existing police committees could continue to function with representatives of two different local authorities on the committees. I beg the Government not to mess up the police again with a new reorganisation.
I mentioned that there was still one indictment against the Government. I think that at one moment they got their priority wrong—and not for the first time. I think it was disastrous to curtail recruitment at the moment when it was going well. That, I think, was a mistake. I know that it is being rectified now; but if those extra men that were not recruited were now available, life would be much easier for the police force. I would strengthen that indictment—although it is not a very great one; for we all make mistakes—by saying that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has told the House repeatedly, and rightly, that the greatest deterrent is the chance of being caught. I agree with that entirely. But in spite of increasing numbers—and numbers are the essence of this matter; whatever equipment you give to the police it is 1266 useless without the numbers—the Police Service to-day is suffering more overstrain than it was five or six years ago.
The criminal to-day stands more chance—more, not less—of getting away with his crime than he did five or six years ago. The ordinary citizen and his property are more in danger now than was the case five or six years ago. In my view, and I see no reason to alter it in spite of what I think the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, is going to say, this overstretch would not have been as bad if the Government had had their priorities right and had considered that law and order came before other things—came first, in fact—and had not restricted recruiting. Nobody has ever suggested that they stopped it. The word is "restricted", which is the word they used.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I vowed to be brief, but I fear that it will be a vow taken in vain if I am going to answer all the questions that have been put to me. May I first join in the welcome extended to our triumvirate of maiden speakers. They have already been very warmly and sincerely congratulated and I add my congratulations to those already made. It occurred to me that while we welcome these new Members of your Lordships' House because of their personalities, there was a delightful flavour about the names which they bring with them: Lord O'Neill of the Maine; Lord Roberthall of Silverspur in the State of Queensland and Trenance in the County of Cornwall. I could not wish for a better title to bring to your Lordships' House.
To the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, I say this. We have followed in this country and in this House, with sympathy and anxiety, the events in his country and the part he has played in them, and we listened intently to the personal account which he himself has given. We look forward to the wisdom of what he will say later on. The noble Lord, Lord Roberthall, claimed to be speaking as an ordinary member of the public. Looking at his record—and I am not using the word in its police sense—I should have thought that the last thing that he could claim was to be an ordinary member of the public. I thought that what the noble Lord, Lord Gray, said 1267 was practical, moderate and sensible, and I greatly appreciated what he had to say on this particular subject.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, who had to go, made what I thought was an especially valuable speech. Coming after some of the things that were said about the efforts of my right honourable friend, I particularly welcomed his balanced approach. He made one point which I thought ought to be corrected; namely, that the widows of policemen, in the event of the death of their husbands in service, were dependent on nonpublic funds for their pensions That is not true. Policemen's widows get a pension however their husband's die, and if they were killed on duty the pension is, in fact, an enhanced one.
My Lords, another of our noble friends who has had to go, for reasons we understand, is my noble friend Lord Stonham. 1 should like to say how pleased I am sure we all were that he should have spoken to-day on a subject about which he knows so much and with which he is so closely identified. My noble friend had an interesting exchange with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, about establishment. I was particularly interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, was moved to say; namely, that he when in office had not the time to change the establishment of the police force. That I can understand, and he gave me good reasons for it. But because the increase in the establishment had to be made later when others came along, I thought it unfair of the noble Lord to say that the gap between the strength and the establishment had been increased in the time of the Labour Government. The fact is—
§ LORD BROOKE of CUMNOR
My Lords, if I gave any impression of that sort I certainly did not intend to. Neither did 1 say that I did not have time to revise the establishment. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, quoted me as saying that, but what I said was that there was not time, among the many duties of the qualified people who could have revised the establishment, for them to undertake that when there were at the moment more urgent tasks.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, it is customary, of course, that the Minister 1268 in charge of a Department accepts the credit and the responsibility for what is done or is not done in the Department for which he is responsible. But the point I am really getting at is the unfairness of the criticism of the gap between the strength and the establishment. It did increase, certainly, but it increased principally because the establishment had been put on to a more realistic level.
My noble friend Lord Stonham, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, spoke about the importance of pension considerations and so, I think, did the noble Lord, Lord Derwent. The review of the police pension scheme is a somewhat complicated business:, but the Home Department and the Working Party set up by the Local Authority Associations have put to the Staff Side as a basis for discussions their proposals for the main features of a revised pension scheme. A meeting of the Police Council Working Party has been arranged for March 6 to give preliminary consideration to these proposals; and the general aim of that review will be to ensure that the new scheme will mean that broadly the same amount of the total pension provision, including the State element, will be available after the changes take place. Assurances have already been given to the Police Council to this effect.
A number of points were made by my noble friend Lord Snonham, and by others, about certain anomalies in the rank structure of the police. In 1969 the Secretaries of State of the Home Departments, in consultation with the Local Authority Associations and Police Associations, set up another Working Party to review the rank structure of the Police Service from constable to chief constable. When this Working Party's Report has been accepted by the Secretaries of State, in consultation with their police advisory boards, there will be discussions about a new pay structure; and then, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, the question of pay differentials between ranks will be one of the more important issues in the review of the pay structure.
My noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell referred to that interesting case reported in The Times about the"Mini"which was towed away and the Rolls-Royce which was not. There was, in fact— although probably my noble friend did 1269 not notice it—another letter in a later issue of The Times which gave a possible reason, but I will check on the matter and see whether I can give him any other information. My noble friend also asked that there should be some new system of investigating complaints made about members of the police force. I hesitate to keep mentioning these Working Parties, but at the end of last year a Working Party of the Police Advisory Boards, comprised of representatives of the Local Authority Associations and of the organisations representing the various ranks of the Police Service, was set up to examine the working of the present procedure and to advise whether any changes should be made. The Working Party has had three meetings but has not yet reported. The Home Secretary has also sought advice from other bodies, including critics of the present system. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend and others will be assured that this matter is being looked into.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, emphasised, as did other speakers, the importance of the social regard and the social image of the policeman. I agree with him, and I agree, too, with what he said about the T.V. exploitation of personal grief. The noble Lord, Lord Balerno, asked how many police constables are going through the universities. I did give the number; at present there are 60 taking degrees. I am not sure of the ranks from which they come, but they go to the university with the rank of inspector. He asked, as did a number of other noble Lords, about the possibility of stiffer penalties. The position here is that the penalties, which we in this House and another place lay down in legislation, are stiff enough but the difficulty arises when the possible penalty is not passed by the court concerned. In this connection, I was interested to read the advice given by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor at a recent meeting of the Magistrates' Association, in which he emphasised the importance of adequate sentencing. I am sure that most of us with any experience of this will welcome what he said and hope that magistrates will take heed of it.
The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, made a number of specific suggestions, which must be considered. He dealt with the possibility of taking tape recordings of 1270 evidence. I understand that the Criminal Justice Act 1967 makes provision for documentary evidence to be used, except when one of the parties objects to this.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, this is something which must go through the machine and must be considered.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, my object is simply to cut down the paper work, which many noble Lords have said is such a burden to the police.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the noble Lord understands that I cannot give him an assurance on that matter, except to say that it is something which ought to be borne in mind. The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, made an extremely interesting speech. I was particularly interested in what he said about the experience with T.V. programmes on the Continent. Possibly he was overlooking for the moment the fact that the B.B.C. regularly broadcast information direct from Scotland Yard and that provincial forces are being encouraged to use provincial radio stations similarly. I believe that this way of giving out information about crime and inviting the co-operation of the public has proved useful. The noble Lord, like other noble Lords, quoted what was said by the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire. I am not going to comment particularly on that, except to say that never in my experience have I known a commanding officer to complain about the morale of the troops under his command. Commonly the officer in charge has something to do with the state of morale of those under him.
The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, also asked about police cadets. I am glad to say that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has informed police authorities that he is ready to allow them to recruit as many cadets as they wish, regardless of the establishment figures. I hope that that satisfies the noble Lord on that point.
On the question of the death penalty, I would only say to the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, whose admirable and entirely non-controversial speech 1271 touched on a subject which I assure him has created a certain amount of discussion in your Lordships' House, that this is not a matter into which at this time of night I can be expected to go in any great detail. In fact we came freely to a decision on the abolition of the death penalty, with no Party Whips on, in both Houses. As the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, said, it just is not sound practical politics to try to reverse what we have so recently decided. I would add this one observation. I doubt whether many of us want to go back to the time when we had a tariff for hanging, even if any amendment were made. In any case, when we look at the recent killings of policemen, we find that since 1957 three have been determined to be manslaughter, two to be Common Law manslaughter, one to be diminished-responsibility manslaughter; and quite conceivably one, at least, of the recent cases will turn out to be manslaughter with diminished responsibility. So that hanging clearly is not a deciding factor in these cases. In the recent tragedy in Yorkshire, once that man had killed the watchman, even if he stood to hang there would have been no further deterrent to his shooting a policeman who sought to catch him.
I come now to the question of manpower, but first 1 should like to say to my noble friend Lord Donaldson how grateful I was for what he had to say, especially as his observations sprang from such great experience. He made one or two suggestions, particularly about firearms, which I shall read again with great care. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, said something about my speech. I have a little difficulty in understanding why, if I set the record straight, it is an Election speech, but if the noble Lord criticises the Labour Government it is a reasonable indictment.
§ LORD DERWENT
My noble friend Lord Brooke had pleaded that we should try to keep the debate non-Party, which he in fact did. I merely said that I thought the noble Lord was not doing so.
§ LORD BESWICK
I am sure that the noble Lord and his noble friend have great capacity for assuring themselves on this point, but I think an objective observer would take a somewhat different 1272 viewpoint. In any case, I was not replying, in the main, to what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said. I think he made a speech suitable to this House, and one which we should have expected in this House. But it was a speech far removed from those of some of his political friends outside, and I took this opportunity to say what I thought about what his Party managers were doing and saying.
Having said that, let me refer to what the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, had to say. He asked me about the position of the wives of policemen. I am afraid that I cannot give him an answer to his question tonight, but I will write to him on the matter. He then asked about the possibility of policemen bringing an action when they have been wronged, or when it is alleged they have been wronged. My advice is that they are in exactly the same position as any other citizen, and they can bring an action if they so choose.
The noble Lord said in his peroration that there was more chance of the criminal getting away with a crime now than there was before. That just is not true. I gave the figures of the crimes cleared up, and the fact is that in recent years the proportion of crimes cleared up has increased. So the noble Lord is just repeating, out of habit, something that is not borne out by the facts. Several noble Lords quoted snippets from newspapers which again arc contrary to the facts. The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, said that there was a net decrease in manpower of 0.4 per cent, in 1968. There was, in fact, a net increase of 142 in that year.
§ LORD MOWBRAY and STOURTON
With respect, I said a net decrease of 0.4 per cent, of the official establishment strength, not of the actual manpower.
§ LORD BESWICK
That is so involved that I shall have to read it in Hansard tomorrow; but I feel that, even so, I can probably find some figure to controvert the noble Lord. There was also a figure used by my noble friend Lord Maelor, who spoke about a manpower reduction in 1969. In fact, during the calendar year there was a net increase of 980. I feel that noble Lords who wish to follow these issues with care ought to be absolutely certain about the facts they garner.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
If the noble Lord looks at Hansard (col. 1434) of the other place for February 12 he will see the figure. There is a figure of 4.8 per cent, increase in the recruitment of establishment strength and a 5.2 per cent, decrease—wastage. That was made up by the increase of the establishment, plus wastage; it did not equal the increase of manpower.
§ LORD BESWICK
If I have given the noble Lord information which is not accurate 1 will apologise to him. My advice is that in that year there was a net increase. Whatever was the juggling with the establishment, what really matters is how many bodies we have in the Police Force. I am told that there were more bodies at the end of the year than there were at the beginning. That is what I am trying to hammer home.
The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, asked about allowances, especially to detectives, and I have sympathy with what he said. The Home Secretary makes regulations about allowances, but only after consulting the Police Council, which exists among other things so that grievances can be discussed and be put right. The Police Federation has the means to bring to the notice of the Home Secretary any cases of injustice which they want to raise. So, while I do not deny there may be cases where complaints can be made, there is a machinery now which I hope will work satisfactorily.
In answer to the noble Lords, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, Lord Redesdale, Lord Grenfell, Lord Wolverton, Lord Maelor, Lord Brooke and Lord Derwent, who referred to the matter of wastage, I would say that of course this is something which needs to be looked into. The Government have carried out a scientific examination on the problems of wastage. They have had it looked at, not on a Party political basis but by skilled, experienced and scientific minds. To the extent that pay is a factor, noble Lords have already been made aware that the Police Council have decided in principle to recommend an interim increase in pay. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will deal without delay with the recommendations of the Police Council when they make their detailed recommendations.
1274 The Government entirely agree that the strength of the police needs to be substantially increased, and they are giving every encouragement to this end. We have increased the level of expenditure on the national recruiting campaign to the highest figure ever, and the Home Secretary is now discussing with the local authority associations what the expenditure should be in the next financial year. The amount spent this financial year in publicity on recruiting campaigns is £390,000, and if necessary the amount will be more next year. The Home Secretary has invited police authorities and chief constables to review their own arrangements for recruiting so as to make sure that strengths are built up as quickly as possible. I have already made it clear that the Home Secretary informed the police authorities that he has authorised in full the increases in manpower which they had included in their estimates for next year.
I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, for what he said in his opening speech about the Special Police, and I am sorry that I made no reference to it in what I said when I followed him. We have the special constables who, without pay and in their spare time, reinforce the police and sometimes enable them to take a well-deserved Saturday or Sunday off. The splendid work of the special constables is appreciated, and the Home Secretary and chief constables would be glad if many more men and women would come forward to serve the community in this way.
I said at the beginning that I was not purporting to deal with social causes of crime. Several noble Lords have since referred to that—the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, for example, and the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Coventry, in particular. My own view is not that material poverty is the cause of crime— as once it was—but that spiritual more than material poverty is at the bottom of a lot of our trouble. Affluence, rather than deprivation, has nurtured some forms of modern crime. A social purpose is more essential in an affluent society than in any other, and a stronger sense of social purpose would no doubt do much to squeeze out and eliminate criminal activities. At the same time, I am bound to say to the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, that when he talks about strong 1275 religious convictions being needed, sometimes I wonder, when I read of accounts in Northern Ireland—
§ LORD O'NEILL OF THE MAINE
My Lords, may I just come in there? I drew attention to the fact that there is a great decline in religious convictions. I was not saying that this was a bad thing. What I was saying was that there was a great decline, and I thought that notice should be taken of it and that we should consider how we could introduce some new morality. I am only too conscious of what the noble Lord has just said so far as Northern Ireland is concerned.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I am not quite sure that I now understand what the noble Lord is saying. I was going on to say that in the same way as strong religious convictions do not appear always to damp down conflict in some parts of our country, similarly the strong social purpose I have been talking about sometimes leads to difficulties in some parts of England and Wales and Scotland.
Despite the fascinating speech, if 1 may say so, of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford. I am not proposing this evening to go into the question of demonstrations. We had, I thought, a most interesting and a most useful debate on that problem. I still feel, with respect 1o the noble Lord, that he, no more than the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, when I asked him, has not come forward with any solution as to the point at which we prevent people, who are about to embark upon a lawful demonstration, before they go over the borderline and become a lawbreaking demonstration. We had that debate and I thought the message that went out on that occasion was that we were all in favour of demonstrations provided they did not resort to violence.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord and of course I do not want a further reply I might, speaking from memory, mention one point of criticism of him on that last occasion. His only criticism of the people who misused the demonstration was that what they did was counterproductive. I think that was true, but it is equally important, and even more important, that it was illegal.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, what I said on that occasion was that others too had their rights—which is what the noble Lord said in much better words. I believe a man has a perfect right to run from one end of a football field to another, even if the ball is not a round one. That is a right and we ought not to stop it, and if somebody else tries to stop it I think they are breaking the law. I absolutely agree with the noble Lord on that point.
I make just one other observation on this question of the social climate in which crime has developed, and I make it because my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has sometimes been criticised on these issues. It is relevant to note that the Home Secretary has done much to deal with some of these factors in the social climate that have given rise to trouble. We have had two pieces of legislation dealing with firearms. And I might say, too, that when at least one of those measures was going through this House there were criticisms from the other side of the House that we were restricting personal freedom, when we were trying to enforce the control of firearms. What my right honourable friend has done, and is proposing to do, about drugs, what he has done with the gambling establishments to prevent them from moving into the area in which criminal elements are encouraged, also is greatly to his credit.
My Lords, this has been a useful debate. I should like two things to emerge from it. One is that if we get the national crime picture in perspective, alarm and complacency are equally out. But as for the Police Force, I hope we shall recognise that there are some grievances which should be put right, and I know that my right honourable friend hopes to put some of them right. But let us stress also that the police have a share of our national resources, technical and scientific resources, behind them, greater now than at any time. And I repeat again what I said earlier and what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said: that there is now in the police forces a greater opportunity for men and women to serve than ever there was and there are better career prospects than ever; and if that fact can be emphasised I am sure that this debate will have served a particularly valuable purpose.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, this has been the most serious, interesting and valuable Parliamentary debate on the police to which I have ever listened. I want to express my warm and sincere thanks to every noble Lord who has spoken and has helped to make it so. Particularly I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to what has been described as the"triumvirate"of maiden speakers—the triumphant triumvirate I would call them—my noble friends Lord O'Neill of the Maine and Lord Gray, and the noble Lord, Lord Roberthall, who has been a respected friend of mine ever since, 15 years ago, he was senior economic adviser to the Government and I was a junior Minister at the Treasury.
I greatly hope that what has been said in the debate will permeate afar and will be read not only in the Home Office, as I am sure it will, but also within the Police Service. If it is, it will give considerable reassurance in police quarters, and that was one of my hopes in introducing the debate. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.