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Sheehy Report

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 22 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions will take place with the police before any of the Sheehy recommendations are implemented.

I announced on 30 June that full consultation would take place on Sir Patrick Sheehy's report. As part of the process, written comments on the report have been invited by the end of September. Before reaching my decisions, I intend to take full account of the views of the police and of others with an interest in these matters.

I hear what the Secretary of State has to say, but he must be aware of the massive opposition to the Sheehy report among all ranks of the police force, based on experience that payment by results and short-term contracts are a recipe for disaster in the force. Does he therefore agree that the way forward is to shelve the Sheehy report and to concentrate on developing a community police force based on a partnership between local authorities and the police?

I am aware—it is a point of view that I have heard expressed by police officers up and down the country—that there is a widely recognised need for change. During the consultation period on Sir Patrick Sheehy's report, I propose to explore ways in which we can achieve lasting and beneficial change in the police service for the benefit of the police and of everyone who lives in this country.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that for every 100 recorded crimes only four alleged offenders are brought to court? Since it is the job of the police to bring offenders to court, surely it would be a dereliction of duty if the Government were not considering ways to make the police force more effective and efficient.

I entirely agree with my hon. and learned Friend, who has identified the reason behind the various proposals that we are considering. The police have been operating within an out-of-date framework and we must bring it up to date in a sensible way, after consulting and entering into constructive dialogue with them. That is exactly what I propose to do.