British Transport Police

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest 12:00 am, 14th March 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the work of the British Transport police in protecting persons and property on the London Underground.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

The British Transport police are co-operating with London Underground Limited in the implementation of the recommendations of my Department's report of November 1986 on "Crime on the London Underground".

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

While new measures will be welcomed by my constituents, whether passengers or staff, is it not the case that threatening and drunken behaviour, mugging and other violence—not to mention illegal graffiti and litter—are rife, and would it not be a good idea if the British Transport police, like other constabulary forces, had a special constabulary to supplement their regular personnel?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

There has been a 25 per cent. reduction in muggings where new methods of policing have been employed on the southern end of the Victoria line. I shall be meeting the chief constable of BTP and the chairman of London Underground Limited before the end of the month to review progress. Projects at Oxford Circus and eastern stations on the Central line to test improved equipment and practices will be inaugurated later this month. I shall discuss with the chief constable when I meet him the point that my hon. Friend raised about specials.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

Is my hon. Friend aware of the growing anxiety among most people who travel on the London Underground at the long, deserted stretches of platform and stairways with no police in sight? Is it not about time that the Metropolitan police took over the responsibilities of the British Transport police? Most of us think that they are pretty ineffective.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. I believe that there is a degree of specialisation in transport police work, and I do not think that it would be right to make the change that he suggests.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

Does the Minister recall the recent reply that he gave me: The complement of the Underground division of the British Transport police has increased to 350 officers; the number so far in post is 314."? — [Official Report, 25 February 1988; Vol. 128, c. 309.] Will he say what steps are being taken to bring the number in post up to the full complement? Will he accept that moving to one-person-operated trains on the Underground system will only encourage further violence and vandalism? Why will the Minister not accept the concern that is being expressed in London that travelling on the Underground system must have proper protection, which requires more police and more staff? That is the answer.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

As the hon. Gentleman rightly says, recruitment is up from 280 and 314. It is planned to increase that figure to 350 by October this year, and we expect that that target will be reached. The other items that the hon. Gentleman mentioned are matters in which, frequently, new methods will be more effective.

Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar

Given the difficulty that has sometimes arisen in recruiting transport policemen for British Rail because of the financial limitations placed on it, will my hon. Friend confirm that no such considerations will stand in the way of reaching the target of 350 officers, to which he has referred?