HC Deb 24 March 2004 vol 419 cc871-2
6. Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab)

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of police community support officers in Wales. [162547]

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

CSOs have been warmly welcomed by the communities they serve and the police officers with whom they work. The Government are carrying out an ongoing programme of research into the effectiveness of CSOs throughout England and Wales, and a summary assessment will be published shortly.

Mr. David

CSOs are doing a great job throughout Wales and a tremendous job in my constituency, and they undoubtedly contribute hugely to cracking down on antisocial behaviour. Has the Minister received representations on what would happen to the police budget in Wales and CSOs if certain plans, which were mentioned earlier, came about?

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman is talking about the policies of Her Majesty's Opposition, it is not for the Minister to reply.

Mr. Win Griffiths(Lab) (Bridgend)

In my constituency, CSOs have been a resounding success. There are plans under which communities can make a 50:50 contribution with the police towards CSOs. Will the Minister explore the extension and improvement of that idea so that we get more CSOs, which would be welcome in my village of Cefn Cribwr?

Mr. Touhig

CSOs provide public reassurance through visible patrols and free up police officers to do the job that they are trained for, and there are currently 126 of them in Wales. It is important to extend the CSO scheme, which was piloted in my local police division, Caerphilly, where it was hugely successful. I will certainly explore my hon. Friend's point. The Government are determined to defend and invest in the police service, and will not allow it to be subjected to the cuts proposed by the Conservative party.