§ Mrs. Corbet
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is in a position to make A statement about recruitment to the police.
§ Mr. Ede
Yes, Sir. There has been no recruitment to the regular police since 1939. During the war, the strength of the police service has been maintained by the retention of men due to retire and by the enrolment of auxiliaries, but the time is approaching when these men must be permitted to retire or be released to return to their peacetime occupations, and the regular strength will then be seriously depleted, even taking into account the policemen in the Armed Forces who are returning, or will return, to the police. The Service Departments have been most helpful in releasing the regular policemen who have been serving with the Forces.
It is clearly essential, having regard to the paramount necessity of maintaining law and order, that the strength of police forces should be maintained at an efficient 717W level, and the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have made the following arrangements, in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Labour and National Service and the Service Ministers, with a view to filling the 16,000 or so vacancies which are likely to occur. Men serving in the Armed Forces will be enabled to apply for appointment as regular policemen, and a limited number of men who are accepted—not exceeding 5,000 by the end of June next—will be released from the Services under Class B terms, subject in each case to the exigencies of the service. Instructions are being issued by the three Service Departments to all theatres setting out the conditions of service and method of application; and a special recruiting Mission will be sent to interview candidates at present serving in the Far East who appear to be suitable. Releases under this scheme are likely to begin in January.
The majority of recruits to the regular police will be drawn from men who have been in the Services, and are released either under Class B in accordance with the arrangements to which I have referred, or in their age and service groups under Class A. In addition, however, a small number of recruits are being taken, by agreement with the Ministry of Labour and National Service, from among the men under 30 who have not servedin the Armed Forces and are liable to be called up under the National Service Acts. It is hoped to obtain up to 1,000 recruits from this source this year.
The police have had to carry a heavy burden during the war and are likely to be faced with new and difficult problems in the years of reconstruction. It will be necessary to maintain a high standard in the selection of recruits; but the Secretary of State for Scotland and I hope that under these arrangements it will be possible to obtain enough recruits of the right kind to enable the difficulties ahead to be successfully overcome.