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Parliamentary Debates: July 29th, 1889


Monday, 29th July, 1889.



MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central): I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been directed to that passage in the Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, just presented to Parliament, in whcih he says:--

   "Crime during the year has shown a decided tendency to increase. This fact may be accounted for to a certain extent by circumstances which affected the administration of the force in a peculiar manner at different periods of the year. The agitation which centred in Trafalgar Square, and the murders in Whitechapel, necessitated the concentration, in particular localities, of large bodies of police, and such an increase of force in one quarter of the Metropolis, it must be remembered, is only procurable by diminishing the number of men ordinarily employed in other divisions. In the present state of the force, increase of protection in the East End means diminished numbers of police in other quarters, and so long as the available force is hardly sufficient, as it is just now, for the performance of the ordinary and every day duties of the police, any additional drain on its resources leads to diminished protection atgainst, and consequent increase of, crime;"

and, if, in view of this state of affairs, he will re-consider the suggestion recently made for the formation of a strong reserve, to reinforce when necessary the police of a particular district, without putting an excessive strain on the officers and men of the force or denuding other districts of that reasonable protection for persons and for property to which every locality is entitled at all times to expect; or, failing this, what other steps he proposes to take to deal with what the Commissioner describes as--

   "The fact that the force is overworked, and, under such circumstances, crime cannot be met or coped with in a satisfactory and efficient manner?"

  THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Matthews, Birmingham, E.): The suggestion of a reserve to reinforce the police of a particular district is one which I dealt with in answering a question of my hon. Friend's on June 25 last, and I have nothing to add to the answer then given. I have for some time endeavoured to increase the efficiency of the existing police force by a better distribution of it, by augmenting the number of superior officers, by improved means of telegraphic communication, and by arrangements which enable portions of the force to be rapidly moved to any point required. I regret that the available fund does not admit of any very considerable increase in the numbers of the force; but I am endeavouring, in consultation with the Commissioner, to devise means of satisfying the immediate necessities of the Metropolis.

   MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.): Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate any increase in the charge to ratepayers of London?

   MR. MATTHEWS: No present increase in the charge to the ratepayers.