HC Deb 30 November 1995 vol 267 cc1320-1
4. Mr. Rendel

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to improve community policing in the Thames valley. [1355]

Mr. Maclean

The Government fully support community policing and I want to congratulate the chief constable of Thames valley on setting objectives in the Newbury area to prevent vehicle crime, to prevent burglary, and to prevent misuse of drugs by an active programme of partnership and community intervention.

Mr. Rendel

I am delighted that the Minister congratulates the Newbury police force on its partnership with Newbury district council, which, as he knows, is Liberal Democrat-led. Given the fact that the violent crime record in the Thames valley is currently the second worst in the country and given the amount of money for new policing in the Budget for the next financial year, just how many of the much-trumpeted 5,000 extra police officers are going to be in place by the end of the next financial year?

Mr. Maclean

The hon. Gentleman will have to wait. I am not going to announce at this moment the settlement on police funding. He will have to wait at least an hour for that. The chief constable of Thames valley has been very successful in tackling crime. In the past two years, burglary has come down 20 per cent. total crime 13 per cent. 25,000 fewer crimes have been committed in the Thames valley; and theft is down 17 per cent. Where a chief constable finds that any particular sort of crime is rising, I am sure that he will use the increased resources that we have made available to target that crime. If there is an increase in robbery or violence, chief constables will use the resources to get those crimes down just as they have tackled other crime.

Mr. Simon Coombs

Speaking from the head-waters of the River Thames, may I say how warmly welcomed in my constituency was the Chancellor's confirmation of the recruitment of an additional 5,000 police officers across the country over the next three years, following as it did the news of the 5 per cent. fall in crime in the county of Wiltshire in the previous year? Will my right hon. Friend bear it in mind that the ability of the chief constable of Wiltshire to deliver good community policing depends to a large extent on his ability to fulfil other responsibilities such as security in the county?

Mr. Maclean

I appreciate what my hon. Friend says. When he studies the settlement that we have made available, not only for Wiltshire but for all the other forces in England and Wales for which my right hon. and learned Friend has financial responsibility, I hope that he will conclude that Wiltshire has been well satisfied and has had not only its ordinary policing needs met but those for its special security responsibilities.

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