asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Metropolitan policemen are now engaged on regular foot patrols compared with the number a year previously.
The Commissioner fully shares my wish to see more officers on the beat. In the last year there has been an increase of over 1,600 in the strength of uniformed constables and most of them have been deployed on foot patrols. A more precise figure could be given only at disproportionate cost.
May I tell the Home Secretary how much I welcome in my borough the increase in the number of policemen on the beat? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the trend to place policemen on the beat will continue and that, if that means an increase in the strength of the Metropolitan Police because of manpower demands, he will not stand in the way of that increase?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. I compliment him on the consistent support that he gives to the police in his borough. I wish that everyone else in that borough would give similar support. I am prepared to consider the question of the future strength of the Metropolitan Police.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the risk to policemen on the beat from hardened criminals carrying guns, which has vastly increased recently, would be reduced if capital punishment were reintroduced?
That matter will be debated. If I were to give an answer to my hon. Friend, I should be expressing personal views that are not acceptable to many people. I shall not do that until we have the debate.