HC Deb 23 February 2004 vol 418 cc14-5
12. Gareth Thomas (Clwyd, West) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the effect of community policing on the reduction of crime. [155755]

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety(Ms Hazel Blears)

There is a growing body of evidence that community policing can have a positive effect on crime levels. Community policing, however, is not just about crime reduction, but is fundamental to the future direction of the police service.

Gareth Thomas

I thank my hon. Friend for her reply. Does she agree that CCTV has a role in improving the effectiveness of community policing? Will she agree to meet me and representatives of North Wales police and Denbighshire county council to assess proposals for a CCTV scheme for rural communities within the Vale of Clwyd?

Ms Blears

I am more than happy to accede to my hon. Friend's request and I am delighted to be able to highlight the excellent work of North Wales police on community policing. They have recently introduced a system of community beat managers under which police officers give a three-year commitment to being the local police officers in their community. They get to know the local people and report back to them, which is having significant results. I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to see how we can do even better in north Wales.

Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley) (Lab)

Does my hon. Friend agree that community policing and working with neighbourhood wardens is reassuring many people that a minority will not be allowed to destroy the lives of the majority? Will she give an assurance that we will continue to see further development of both community policing and neighbourhood warden schemes?

Ms Blears

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point and he knows that we now have record numbers of police officers—more than ever before in this country—out on our streets. There are also about 3,000 community support officers now patrolling, and increasing numbers of neighbourhood wardens, some of them funded not only by local authorities but by housing associations, so we are beginning to see a real partnership of people who can reassure communities and tackle the problems of antisocial behaviour. They are on the side of the decent law-abiding majority in this country, helping to ensure that antisocial behaviour is properly tackled wherever it arises.