At Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday (4th July 2001), Michael Fabricant told the Prime Minister how dependent Lichfield is on the work of Special Constables at weekends. 7,500 Specials have left the police service since Labour came to power and Michael asked Tony Blair how he intends to recruit more constables to bring their levels back up to strength. "The Prime Minister praised the work of the Special Constabulary, but platitudes are not enough; he didn’t seem to have any idea at all as to what strategy the Government might adopt to replace those who have already left", says Michael Fabricant. "Without the Special Constables on duty at the weekends, there would be virtually no police presence in Lichfield or Burntwood. With 240 fewer patrol officers in Staffordshire since 1997, we cannot afford to loses any more specials".
The text from yesterday’s exchange in the House of Commons now follows (taken from Hansard):-
Michael Fabricant: Will the Prime Minister praise the work of the special constabulary? He will he aware that there are 7,500 fewer special constables than there were four years ago. In Lichfield, which is typical of many cities, we have only two or three regular police officers on duty on Friday and Saturday nights. What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to restore the balance and recruit more special constables? I am referring not to the regular police but to the special constabulary.
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman is entirely right: we do need to recruit more special constables. As he knows, changes to the health and safety regulations impacted on the number of special constables, but we are taking measures to increase their number. The hon. Gentleman is also right to suggest that those increases run alongside the increase in numbers of the regular police. We need both to police the country properly.