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Crime Prevention

Volume 895: debated on Thursday 17 July 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider as a matter of urgency the introduction of measures designed to create a national criminal investigation department to tackle the incidence of serious crime and to set up such a scheme upon a regional basis but under his control; and if he will make a statement.

No, Sir. I do not believe that it would be right to separate the CID from the police as a whole.

In view of that rather slender answer, perhaps I may draw the Home Secretary a bit further. Is he aware that in 1974 there was a heavy increase in indictable crime, particularly among juveniles, a 19 per cent. increase in burglary, and a decrease in the manpower of the police force? However, bearing in mind the improvement in the efficiency of the force resulting from the co-ordination of the Flying Squad, the Robbery Squad and the Regional Crime Squad, will he now extend criminal investigation co-ordination on a national basis, in particular to this extent? Will he set up divisional crime squads on a regional basis, nation-wide, and will he introduce measures which would greatly assist recruitment throughout the country if young persons felt they could become detectives quickly in the battle against crime without having to spend a long time on the beat?

My original reply was not so much slender as direct, and it was direct because I almost wholly disagree with the hon. and learned Member on this point. A high degree of co-ordination is necessary, such as we have been constantly fostering, between the detective forces and the CID in different parts of the country. I profoundly believe, and a great deal of experience has shown—this view is shared by the most important and senior police officers—that to have a CID rigidly separated from the rest of the police force gives rise to grave disadvantages and dangers, and a great deal of the work which the present Commissioner has done has been directed to that very problem. I am not therefore prepared to move in the direction that the hon. and learned Member suggests.

Does the Home Secretary deny recent Press reports that he is considering a national force of detectives?

I have made it quite clear that I believe in the closest coordination for effective operations between the CID and the police forces in their other aspects so long as we have, as I believe we shall have for a long time, approximately 40 police forces under local control and one metropolitan police force. That system has considerable advantages. I believe there would be grave disadvantages in separating off the detective work and making detectives a completely separate corps from the rest of the police.