asked the PostmasterGeneral what was the value of the registered mail stolen from a Post Office van in Brixton last month; and how many postal workers were in the van at the time.
My right hon. Friend does not know the precise value but it was upwards of £6,500. One man, the driver, was in the van.
Will the hon. Lady agree that it would be an additional safety precaution if, when valuable mail is being conveyed, there were at least two people on the van? Is she aware that in the particular case I refer to, with six men attacking one man at 6 o'clock in the morning, the solitary driver did not stand a chance?
The difficulty is that in practice it has not been found that the presence of two men has necessarily been an additional security measure. In the last five years, there have been thirteen incidents involving mail vans in the London area. In seven of these incidents there were two men in the van and in one of them there was one man in the van. We feel that it may well be that the best security measure is to fit the devices we are now fitting on our Post Office vans. My right hon. Friend is keeping the matter under review the whole time and is anxious to achieve the highest measure of security possible.
In view of the growing concern felt by the public generally and especially by the Post Office workers who are involved in the collection and delivery of mails about these recurring criminal attacks on the staff, will the hon. Lady say whether her right hon. Friend is in consultation with the union primarily concerned in this matter to see whether, at any rate in certain circumstances, it might be desirable to have more than one man on vans carrying these important mails?
Yes, my right hon. Friend is in consultation with the union and he is, in fact, to meet it on 8th July.