20 DECEMBER 1940, Page 5

The question of the control of public air-raid shelters is

becoming serious, and may soon become more so. Where there are considerable aggregations of people there will always be some turbulent individuals, particularly in this time of strain, and in a large shelter a small disturbance may easily become a big one. There are, of course, shelter-marshals, who are doing most admirable work, but their actual legal powers, it appears, have up to very recently been nil, and in many areas are nil still. In the latter case it is doubtful whether in shelters where the ticket system prevails marshals can confiscate the tickets of habitual nuisance-makers, or take other steps to exclude them. All they can do is to call in the police from outside when a disturbance has actually broken out. It is doubtful again whether they can exclude, or turn out, an obvious case of infectious disease. This ought all to be remedied without delay. One way might be to swear in a number of regular shelterers as special constables and rely on them to see order kept ; and of course the shelter-marshals themselves might be made special constables. The Ministry of Home Security has fortunately taken the matter up, and Regional Commissioners are now authorised to confer considerable powers on shelter-marshals under a recent Defence regulation. But there is no clear evidence that most Commissioners have taken action yet.

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