Police

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1994.

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Photo of Mr John McWilliam Mr John McWilliam , Blaydon 12:00 am, 24th November 1994

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average cost of employing a police officer.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The present average cost of employing a police officer is £4,200 a year.

Photo of Mr John McWilliam Mr John McWilliam , Blaydon

Given the high level of crime and individual risk to which police officers are now subjected, does the Home Secretary agree that that is a small price to pay?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I do indeed agree with the hon. Gentleman. I have always maintained that police officers deserve to be rewarded properly for the very considerable risks that they run on our behalf and for the difficult and dangerous job that they do.

Photo of Mr Donald Thompson Mr Donald Thompson , Calder Valley

What will police officers think about the boy in my constituency who committed 130 crimes, who was arrested 88 times, who was a burglar, a shoplifter and a vandal yet who finished up doing 24 hours' community service?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I think that most police officers will react to those reports in much the same way as my hon. Friend and I react to them. The courts have powers to commit young offenders who are clearly out of control to the care of local authorities, which can ensure that they are detained in secure accommodation. The powers of the courts to deal with such young offenders will be much increased when the operative provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 are in force.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

Given the considerable cost of employing police officers, does the Home Secretary agree that it is very important to ensure that they are employed on police duties and not on minding remand or convicted prisoners in police cells? Given the many occasions on which his predecessors have condemned the practice of holding prisoners in police cells from that Dispatch Box, can the Home Secretary tell us when the practice will stop, at least in Greater Manchester?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I very much hope that it will stop as soon as possible. We have provided a great deal of additional prison accommodation. I do not like the practice of detaining prisoners in police cells any more than the hon. Gentleman and I hope that we will be able to stop it quite soon. It occurs much less now than in the past.