Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    New evidence shows crisis in policing across Hertfordshire

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, this week pointed to newly published government figures showing the number of special police constables across Hertfordshire has fallen by 35 per cent since 1997. The figures were obtained by Conservatives in Parliament.

    Peter Lilley said: “No wonder that seeing police on the beat is such a rarity. New government figures reveal that the number of special police constables has fallen by 35% since 1997 across Hertfordshire, and by 44 per cent across England and Wales in the same period.

    “Special constables play a vital role in neighbourhood policing. They have played an important part in the recent welcome exercise in displaying a police presence in Harpenden on consecutive weekend evenings. But specials, like full-time officers, are being overwhelmed by bureaucracy and paperwork. Morale across the police has been undermined. Disenchantment and frustration have led to a huge retention and recruitment crisis as these figures show.

    “I want to see police back on the beat on the streets of Hitchin and Harpenden and will continue to campaign for at least one named police officer assigned to each of the 18 wards in my constituency. I also strongly support my party‘s plans to give local communities a greater say on local policing by creating elected police boards. “

    Notes to Editors

    Special constables are unpaid, voluntary uniformed police officers and assist regular police officers in frontline policing duties.

    Number of special constables by police force area

    The figures were published in response to a written Parliamentary Question asked by Shadow Home Secretary, Rt Hon David Davis MP (HC Debs, col. 1187W, 20 November 2003).

    Police force March 1997 March 2002 March 2003 Change from 1997 to 2003
    Hertfordshire 297 206 193 -35%

    England & Wales 19,874 11,598 11,037 -44%


    Conservative plans for additional full-time police officers

    The table below shows the build-up in additional full-time police officers for each force in England & Wales under Conservative proposals.

    Police Force Police Strength (Sept 2002) Additional police planned
    Hertfordshire 1,902 588
    England & Wales 129493 40000