asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present establishment of the Cheshire police force; and to what extent it is up to strength.
On 31st January the establishment was 1,770 and the strength was 1,596.
Is the Minister aware that my constituents and I are grateful for the tremendous work done by the Cheshire Constabulary in its fight against crime? Does she agree in principle that the most effective deterrent against crime, particularly in urban areas, is to have policemen walking around on the beat, rather than driving around?
Yes, I agree with the hon. Gentleman's remarks. It is up to local police forces to make their own arrangements in that respect.
I welcome the Minister's statement about the Cheshire police force, but we are not quite so sanguine in Sussex. Is the Minister aware that the police force in Sussex, although it is under strength, is doing a magnificent job in detecting crime? What plans has the Minister for ensuring that the Sussex police force is brought up to strength, for improving the conditions of employment, and for maintaining recruitment?
Every effort is being made to increase the strength of the police service. I am glad to say that recruitment over the last few months has been very encouraging, and there has been some reduction in wastage.