asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is (a) the current strength and (b) the total establishment of the Royal Ulster Constabulary; and if he will make a statement.
The full-time strength of the Royal Ulster Constabulary on 30 April 1985 was 10,802, and the authorised establishment on the same date was 11,000. This represents a significant increase in the size of the force in recent years, increasingly reflecting the police's primary responsibility for all aspects of law and order in Northern Ireland, aided where necessary by the armed forces. I should like to take this opportunity to pay the warmest possible tribute to the courage and professionalism of the officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and their growing success in controlling terrorism.
I also would like to congratulate the RUC and its Chief Constable on how they protect the people of Northern Ireland. Is my hon. Friend satisfied that there are enough police to protect the people of Northern Ireland and the police themselves? What is the RUC's present policy on overtime, which seems to be needed quite a lot?
As I said in my original answer, the size of the RUC has been increasing steadily. More operational hours are being worked now than at any time except during the hunger strikes; more operational hours were worked in the past 12 months than in the previous 12 months. That reflects the primary role of the police. I and the Chief Constable are anxious that overtime should be at a level which helps the working of the RUC. Too much overtime can cause damage. By increasing the numbers, we can decrease the amount of overtime worked by officers.
Has there been some success in increasing the recruitment of members of the minority community into the RUC?
The Chief Constable's report for last year shows a small but significant improvement. The RUC and the Chief Constable are determined to do their best to secure a continued improvement.