HC Deb 14 February 2000 vol 344 cc598-9
11. Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton)

What criteria he has set for the funding of portable CCTV; and if he will make a statement. [108245]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mike O'Brien)

Under the crime reduction programme, portable closed circuit television systems should be directed at specific crime problems with targets for reductions. They should also integrate well with the local crime reduction strategy and include measures to preserve privacy. The general criteria that must be met by all bids will be explained in the prospectus for the second round of the CCTV initiative, which is due to be issued shortly.

Mr. Bill O'Brien

I thank my hon. Friend for that response, and I congratulate him on the Government's campaign to reduce crime. However, some areas in my constituency require special attention, as crime is causing fear among many of the people living in those areas. Portable CCTV would be an economical and impressive way of reducing crime and the sources of crime in those areas. I therefore hope that Ministers will give serious consideration to an application that has been submitted for portable CCTV in the West Yorkshire area, which would service my constituency.

Mr. Mike O'Brien

I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall indeed give very serious consideration to all applications for portable CCTV. To date, seven proposals solely for mobile systems have received awards totalling £627,000, and 16 others proposals—to the value of £2.3 million—are being deferred for further consideration of bid details. I very much hope that my hon. Friend's application will be considered as part of that initiative.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

When considering both portable CCTV and fixed systems, will the Minister consider very carefully the affordability of those systems to local authorities and to police? We have just been granted CCTV in Dorset, but we are trying to ensure the availability of match funding. Weymouth and Portland borough council—which is a Labour council—has received no additional grant from the Government in the past two years, so it will have to find funding from somewhere. Furthermore, although council tax is being increased by about 10 per cent., our police are being forced to cut back on everything, including uniforms, just so that they can ensure that there are bobbies on the beat. It is most important that we receive match funding.

Mr. O'Brien

I urge the hon. Gentleman—if he is pressing us to spend more money—to ensure that the Conservative party is also advocating the expenditure of more money. Currently, Conservative Members seem to be describing all extra expenditure as reckless. Nevertheless, this Government have the biggest ever investment programme in CCTV, totalling £170 million, to add to the £250 million in the crime reduction programme. In their four years in office, the last Government spent a total of £38 million on CCTV, which is less than a fifth of what we are spending on it. This Government are showing that we are the Government who are tough on fighting crime. The previous Government totally failed in that.