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Volume 480: debated on Thursday 9 November 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the increase in crime in the first six months of this year, he proposes taking any positive steps to increase the Metropolitan Police Force; and whether he will ensure that the requisite number of police are engaged upon the prevention of crime, as a priority over other less vital police duties.

There has, in fact, been no overall increase in crime in the Metropolitan Police district in the first six months of this year. Every effort is being made by all appropriate means to meet the manpower deficiencies of the force. I have no reason to doubt that in the disposition of the available manpower a proper balance is maintained between the various duties the members of the force have to discharge.

Is the right hon. Gentle, man not aware that many law-abiding citizens and policemen have a good deal of their time wasted by police intervention in minor matters of much less importance to the prevention of crime? Would he not consider whether the A.A., and other similar organisations, could not be employed more in dealing with parking and traffic problems, thus releasing the police for other more important duties?

I am quite ready to consider anything that can be done to lessen the duties of that kind falling on the police, but it is their duty to enforce the law, and to suggest that the A.A. should be given very strong powers in this matter would not meet with general approbation.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when we discussed the matter in the last Parliament there was general agreement in all parts of the House that one of the difficulties of getting an increase in the Metropolitan Police was the lack of housing accommodation for married constables? Would he take an early opportunity of laying a paper in the Library, or some other part of the House, informing us of the position today?

Yes, I think it would be a good thing if I took an early opportunity of making a statement about housing facilities for the police. I have received considerable assistance from the police authorities in the way of housing schemes, but I still think that some of the local housing authorities could help both the Metropolitan Police and provincial forces rather more than they do at the moment.

Did my right hon. Friend report that there has been no overall increase in crime in the Metropolitan area? If so, is that true for the rest of the country?

Oh, no, it is not. But, after all, I am the police authority for the Metropolitan area.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what he means by "overall increase" of crime? Does he mean an increase in the total number of offences of all kinds, or does he mean something different?

I think the expression means the total number of offences of all kinds committed.