§ Mr. Mather
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if cuts have been made in the number of police patrol boats on the lower reach of the Thames; what has been the effect on the operational capability of the police; how many boats can now operate at any one time and over how many miles of river; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
The Thames Division of the Metropolitan Police is responsible for policing some 54 miles of river and currently has 30 boats of which up to 11 may be on the river at any one time. To ensure the most effective deployment of his resources throughout the whole of the Metropolitan Police District and taking account of the changed pattern of traffic on the river, the Commissioner has decided that there should be a reduction in the number of police officers, patrol boats and police stations in the Thames Division. In order to maintain the effectiveness of the division, the changes will coincide with the introduction of new and faster boats in the tidal section of the river. The introduction of new boats of a different model in the upper reaches is being considered. Phased changes within the division were due to commence on 1st July and are expected to be completed by 1st September 1979.