HC Deb 10 December 2003 vol 415 cc1041-2
1. Mrs. Betty Williams (Conwy) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the change in the number of police officers in Wales since 1997. [142069]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales(Mr. Don Touhig)

On 31 August, there were 7,354 police officers in Wales, an increase of more than 12 per cent. since 1997. In addition, Welsh police forces have received funding for 113 community support officers.

Mrs. Williams

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging answer, and should like to declare that my eldest son is now part of those statistics.

Does my hon. Friend agree that such an increase in the number of police officers will assist individuals such as my constituent, Mr. Noel Kennerley of Dwygyfylchi, in tackling his neighbour from hell, Richard Lloyd, as the antisocial behaviour route took such a long time? Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating PC Mike Clements for his co-operation in dealing with that case?

Mr. Touhig

I am aware of the case of Mr. Kennerley and I pay tribute to him for his bravery and for his commitment to tackling the scourge of antisocial behaviour. I also pay tribute to the police officer involved.

The Government are determined to introduce measures that will overcome the problems of antisocial behaviour faced by many of our communities. Increased funding for the police service is part of that, and I am delighted that we have put so much extra funding into police numbers and that we have a record number of officers on the beat in Wales.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con)

Morriston hospital in Swansea has already made it clear that some of the extra police officers will be used to police its accident and emergency unit during Christmas to deal with any drunks who turn up. Will the Minister make it absolutely clear that if anybody—especially someone who is drunk—turns up at an accident and emergency unit over Christmas and attacks a nurse or a doctor, they will receive a hangover that lasts well into 2004?

Mr. Touhig

I endorse the hon. Gentleman's point, especially given the efforts to provide care and attention in our hospitals, particularly in accident and emergency departments. I have witnessed situations in London where staff have had to take considerable abuse from people who were much the worse for drink, so I endorse his remarks. If anybody is involved in an incident that brings harm to doctors or nurses caring for the public, I hope that they are punished with every severity.

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