Policing (London)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:26 am on 28th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr John Wheeler Mr John Wheeler , Westminster North 11:26 am, 28th June 1985

I have evidence, because I have seen some of the circulars which the officers responsible for those schemes have issued to the public, comparing figures to demonstrate that there has been a reduction. Whatever the hon. Gentleman may say about the scheme, it is the way forward. It has only just begun, and we must encourage and sustain its momentum and analyse it so that we can encourage it further.

I should tell my hon. Friend the Minister that if the police community consultative groups are to be successful—many dedicated people are involved in them who want to make them successful—they must have some modest funding to provide an infrastructure. If that is missing, the schemes will not succeed. I hope that my hon. Friend will give urgent consideration to this important point.

The police in London have another problem, which is perhaps as wounding and destructive as crime itself. I am thinking of the attacks upon the Metropolitan police by the GLC and by some, although only some, Labour-controlled councils.

Particularly damaging is a recent video entitled "Policing London", to which reference has been made, which was produced at a cost of £35,000 of ratepayers' money and which is already being shown to many schoolchildren in London. The video purports to argue the case for what is called the "democratic control" of the Metropolitan police. What it amounts to is an insidious and vicious attack on the police, hawked around London under the most flimsy of political excuses and deliberately shown to the most impressionable members of the community, our children.

In the film, the police are shown as guilty of every fault in the book. There is, of course, plenty of room for legitimate criticism, and nobody has been more ready to respond to it than Sir Kenneth Newman. He has recently issued a pamphlet entitled "Guidance for Professional Behaviour" to all his officers. It deals constructively with many of the criticisms raised in the report on the Metropolitan police.

I am particularly angry about the cowardice and bigotry that lies behind it all. Just when real efforts are being made to mobilise the whole community in the fight against London's crime, there are now many schools and clubs in London where the police are not even allowed in to meet young people and explain their work in fighting crime and providing protection for us all.

The film's slogan—"Communities must rebel" —is the final straw. If the GLC really wishes to sow problems for the police force in London for many generations to come, it could not do a better job. I only hope that the forces of sense, sanity and responsibility will prevail. It would help if, for once, the right hon. Member for Gorton said, "Having seen that clap trap, I am convinced that it does nothing to advance the wellbeing of the community in London, nor of the efforts of the police", and that he and his party would disown it.