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

I shall not give way.

I now refer to other points made by other hon. Members. My hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler), in an excellent contribution, made crime prevention his major theme. Although the hon. Member for Hammersmith does not appear to believe in the neighbourhood watch scheme and does not want to see it encouraged, it is a fact that it is one of the most important developments that the Commissioner has undertaken. About 1,200 neighbourhood watch schemes are now established in the metropolis and about 515 more are planned. That is an important part of the proceedings.

It is a vital part of the Commissioner's proposals that consultation be established throughout the metropolis in the areas in which the new police arrangements will be set. Consultation groups of the kind that the Commissioner has asked to be established under his new guidance will be the vital vehicle, the forum within which all those matters and issues can be discussed. It is important to note that funding will be available under the Metropolitan police budget to ensure that those groups are capable of supporting themselves administratively.

The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) referred to the Police Complaints Authority, which was also mentioned by several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen). The Police Complaints Authority, in its new guise, with its independent authority chaired by a former parliamentary ombudsman, provides infinitely greater independence in the handling of complaints, both in the supervision and direct handling of the more serious complaints. That arrangement has been widely welcomed, as it is regarded as a major change of quality and quantity in how complaints will be handled. I do not agree that the Police Complaints Authority should be tarred with the brush that it is not independent. It is substantially independent.

The right hon. Member for Gorton mentioned women recruits to the Metropolitan police. The force is making a considerable effort to improve its recruitment of women officers and to ensure that they are treated fairly. The Commissioner has set up a working party, assisted by a representative of the Equal Opportunities Commission, to undertake an overall review of the recruitment and employment of women in the force. All women who are interviewed for selection are interviewed by a panel which includes at least one senior woman police officer. In view of that, I hope that recruitment will improve. The right hon. Gentleman might wish to know that a woman was recently promoted to the rank of commander. She is the second to be promoted to that rank in the Metropolitan police.

The hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) made a thoughtful speech and mentioned ethnic recruits. At the last count, there were 270 ethnic minority officers in the Metropolitan police, 228 male and 42 female, 20 of whom were in the CID. I hope that that answers his question about whether any detectives are drawn from minority groups.