HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc581-2
3. Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)

If he will make a statement on police resources in Greater Manchester. [57046]

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett)

It is good to be back, Mr. Speaker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where have you been?"] To the Palace and the Mall. The increase in the policing grant for Greater Manchester is £9.5 million higher this year, and a further £5 million has been allocated for the security and policing of the Commonwealth games. There has been an increase of £2.7 million in available capital spending for equipment and technology—an increase of more than 40 per cent. on the previous year. Following the Budget, I am today announcing an increase of £2.4 million for policing and security in Greater Manchester, as part of a wider announcement nationally. Taken together with the crime fighting fund, the overall increase for this year is 6.9 per cent.

Mr. Brady

It would be wrong for me to take too much credit for the announcement that the Home Secretary has just made. However, he will be aware that the additional cost of policing next month's Commonwealth games in Manchester will be in excess of £8 million. The £5 million that has already been announced accounts for less than two thirds of the cost, and even if we take into account the £2.4 million that he kindly announced in advance of my question, we are still some way adrift of the additional cost. Which other budgets does he expect Greater Manchester police to cut as a result of his refusal to fund in full the policing of the games?

Mr. Blunkett

It is certainly true that the estimate provided by Greater Manchester police is higher than the 63 per cent. of the cost that we envisage finding, but that figure is £1 million higher than the formula that we inherited in 1997. On the hon. Gentleman's specific question about which budget will be cut, we expect Greater Manchester police to find the additional £3 million from the £7 million that it has in reserve.

Mr. Tony Lloyd (Manchester, Central)

I refer my right hon. Friend to the situation in my constituency and in other inner-city constituencies. We have a combination of low-level but extremely aggravating crime that destroys the quality of life in those communities, and—as he knows—a serious problem with murder. In considering future funding, will he take into account the fact that each murder costs about £1 million to investigate, and that peculiar circumstances apply in Greater Manchester? Perhaps he can also say whether he will ensure that we get value for money from Greater Manchester police and the chief constable, so that we can be certain that Greater Manchester gets the policing that it deserves.

Mr. Blunkett

I have been interested in the initiative taken in Greater Manchester and in the display of public disquiet and the commitment by the people of Manchester—particularly in the south of Manchester—to joining the police in tackling this serious issue. I was pleased to discuss with my hon. Friend how best to invest in, first, preventing and then overcoming the difficulties faced. We need to take into account the size of the challenge faced in Greater Manchester. On a slightly lighter note, I am sure that my hon. Friend would not wish us to allocate funds according to the number of homicides committed. I shall have to consider how best to balance those two factors.

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