HC Deb 20 January 2003 vol 398 cc12-3
7. Martin Linton (Battersea)

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of street wardens.[91428]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Michael Wills)

As my hon. Friend is aware, there are three centrally funded warden schemes. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister retains overall responsibility for them, although many of the issues surrounding them fall to the Home Office as the lead Department. All the schemes are relatively new, so robust evaluations are not yet available. However, the preliminary work that has been done suggests that such schemes can contribute significantly to bringing down levels of crime, reducing antisocial behaviour and reducing fear of crime.

Martin Linton

Is the Minister aware that a Government-funded street warden scheme has already had a dramatic effect on reducing crime in Clapham junction—reducing crime overall by 13 per cent., compared with 4 per cent. borough-wide; reducing street crime by 32 per cent., compared with 20 per cent. borough-wide; reducing car crime by 40 per cent., compared with 7 per cent. borough-wide; and reducing the fear of crime by 60 per cent., according to a Wandsworth council survey, compared with the target given to the scheme of reducing fear of crime by 10 per cent? Given the success of these initial schemes, will the Minister do all he can to increase the number of community support schemes in areas like the London borough of Wandsworth?

Mr. Wills

Yes, I am well aware of the success of the scheme in my hon. Friend's constituency. I am also aware of how hard he has campaigned and lobbied to make sure not only that the scheme is implemented, but that it is adequately funded. As a result, even Wandsworth borough council, which is no political friend of the Government, as the House is aware, recognises how successful the scheme has been. I can assure my hon. Friend that we will do everything we can to make sure that those successes are replicated throughout the country.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

Can the Minister make sure that such schemes are extended much more widely in the outer London boroughs, which have a serious problem with vandalism and unruly behaviour on the part of young people? Has he received any report yet from the Metropolitan Commissioner about the success of police community support officers in the central zone?

Mr. Wills

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we will be replicating the schemes. Their success is evident and we will make sure that both they and the community support officers to whom he refers do the job that they are intended to do—to reduce crime, to reduce fear of crime and to reduce antisocial behaviour.