HC Deb 09 March 1995 vol 256 cc447-8
6. Mr. Pawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about levels of funding for the Warwickshire police.

Mr. Maclean

Representations about the proposed level of funding for 1995-96 have been received from the acting chief constable and from the chairman of the police authority. My right hon. and learned Friend and I have also received letters on that subject from my hon. Friend and other hon. Members.

Mr. Pawsey

I thank my hon. Friend for that response. Is he aware of the growing concern in Warwickshire about levels of police funding? It is alleged that, because of inadequate funds, police numbers will remain the same with no further increase. I am also advised that there will be no additional training and that there is a distinct possibility that promotion within the force will be restricted.

Added to that are the difficulties created by funding the policing of demonstrations currently taking place at Coventry airport in connection with live animal exports. All that adds up to a pretty grim picture for Warwickshire. What hope can my hon. Friend give me and other Warwickshire Members about funding for Warwickshire?

Mr. Maclean

The biggest item of police expenditure—police pay—is due to increase by 2.5 per cent. next year, but Warwickshire's overall budget will increase by 5.3 per cent. Of course, we will not take back the 0.8 per cent. for common police services. Warwickshire police should have more than 6 per cent. in new resources available to them next year. In those circumstances, I hope that they will not experience the difficulties to which my hon. Friend alluded. I believe that that will enable a good but very small force such as Warwickshire to continue its excellent record.

As to the policing of demonstrations, I know that some concern was expressed that costs were running at £27,000 per day, but I can assure my hon. Friend that that is not so; that was the one-off cost for the day of the funeral at Coventry cathedral. The daily cost to Warwickshire is about £5,000, and the Warwickshire force is sharing the policing operation with the West Midlands police and splitting the cost in that way.

Mr. Olner

Will the Minister respond to the honest representations that have been made? Over a number of years, the police force in Warwickshire has reduced senior ranks so that more money can be spent on the constabulary for policing the beat. I wish that the Minister would announce a settlement for Warwickshire that is as generous as the aforementioned settlement for Sussex.

Mr. Maclean

I have listened carefully to representations that I have received from all over the country and we introduced a formula in an attempt to get a fairer distribution of resources. To put the situation into perspective, since 1979 spending on the Warwickshire police has increased by 125 per cent. in real terms. The national average is 92 per cent. The strength of the Warwickshire police force has increased by 23 per cent. and the national average increase is 14 per cent.

I pay tribute to Warwickshire for having civilianised 122 posts since 1985, which has released more bobbies for the beat. Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary suggests that a further 80 posts could be civilianised. Perhaps Warwickshire will spend some of the 6 per cent. extra resource allocation this year to continue its successful civilianisation programme.

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