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Police (Height)

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will amend the regulations on the minimum height of policemen to bring them into line with that for policewomen at approximately 5 ft 4 ins.

No, Sir. I see no reason to change the present minimum height standards.

Does not the Minister accept that these types of regulations are a restriction on police recruitment and that height is irrelevant to the majority of police duties? Will he not agree that if a 5 ft. 4 in. woman is capable of patrolling the streets at night, it is absurd that, in our unisex police force, a man of 5 ft. 7 in. should be ineligible?

That is not the view of the police service as a whole. On the question of recruiting generally, we must take account of the fact that today, of the 43 forces in England and Wales, only six have deficiencies of more than 5 per cent. in their authorised establishment. Most have significantly reduced their deficiencies in the last 18 months. I do not think that any recruitment considerations would lead to a change.

In view of the well-publicised remarks of the chief constable of Manchester, that he is faced with the dilemma of either breaking the equal opportunities law or relentlessly filling up his police force with women police constables, will the Minister of State confirm the view that is obviously taken by other chief constables, that they are not faced with any such dilemma?

I have no doubt that the chief constable of Manchester is in a better position than I am to say whether he is faced with a dilemma of any kind. I am sure that he will observe the law.