HC Deb 24 March 2003 vol 402 cc19-20
16. James Purnell (Stalybridge and Hyde)

If he will make a statement on changes in police numbers in the last three years. [104122]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Bob Ainsworth)

By 31 March 2002 there were 129,603 police officers in England and Wales—a record number and 3,507 more than in March 1999. There were also 58,909 civilian support staff in March 2002. That is also a record number and 5,878 more than in March 1999. In addition, at the last count there were 1,165 community support officers. We have set a target of 130,000 police officers by 31 March 2003 and 132,500 police officers by 2004.

James Purnell

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, for the fact that there are an extra 100 police officers in my area since 1997, and for the further 50 officers that we have been promised. However, will he look into the letter about overtime from David Crompton, my local chief superintendent, which I sent to the Department? He wants to meet the overtime target by reducing back-room staff overtime. However, he is being forced to cut overtime for front-line police staff as well, even though he wants to keep bobbies on the beat.

Mr. Ainsworth

I thank my hon. Friend for that contribution. I am aware of the correspondence that has taken place between himself and my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham). The question of the way in which overtime is counted is being looked into as we speak.