Policing (London)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:18 pm on 28th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey 2:18 pm, 28th June 1985

The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) will allow me at least to comment on the fact that a Government who have increased resources for the police from £1·1 billion to £2·8 billion, and have increased the number of police officers by 12,500 in four years, have made a sufficient demonstration of a commitment to law and order.

The crime figures have increased continuously and alarmingly for many years, as the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) correctly pointed out, but there can be no suggestion of anyone being complacent about significant increases in crime. It is in no sense a comfort, but the increase in crime in England and Wales between 1979 and 1984 was about 37 per cent. whereas in the Metropolitan police area it was 29 per cent. Crime in London has not increased as alarmingly as elsewhere.

That is the magnitude of the task that faces the Metropolitan police and the Commissioner. That is why every effort is being bent towards seeing that London policing is redesigned to make it more effective in the continuing fight against crime.

Many hon. Members raised different matters in the debate. One of the most significant was in connection with reorganisation. The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) referred to the areas. I make it clear that the decision on the eight areas is final, but that the decision on the divisions and how that works is a matter for which consultation is still in order. That is the backbone of the reorganisation.

Let us be clear about why this reorganisation is taking place. As the Commissioner says on page 17 of his report, when he considers the rationale behind that major reorganisation: the rationale for change lay in:badly defined roles which resulted in large parts of the organisation working towards their own ends rather than toward a shared purpose;too much energy and effort being wasted in keeping the organisation going instead of serving the mainline job of policing:the size and power of headquarters strangling the Force, taking up valuable manpower and placing unnecessary demands on the remainder; andthe tendency for the organisation to try to cope with problems through superficial changes in the bureaucratic system, rather than looking for real solutions. With such importance attached to it, that a major structural change is subject to the Commissioner's operational decision, in consultation with the police authority. That is the decision that has been made The consequence of that major change in structure will be to provide substantially more resources and, above all, substantially more focus on the boroughs, such as the one that the hon. Member for Newham, South represents—