HC Deb 06 May 1993 vol 224 cc179-80W
Mr. Hendry

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what support his Department gives to assist neighbourhood watch schemes.

Mr. Jack

The Government are committed to encouraging the development of neighbourhood watch schemes. The number of schemes has grown rapidly in recent years and there are now nearly 115,000 schemes in operation in England and Wales covering more than 5 million households.

We set up Crime Concern in 1988 to stimulate growth of schemes and develop a national structure for the neighbourhood watch movement. We have provided considerable financial backing to enable Crime Concern to carry forward this work.

We have recently given funding towards the cost of producing a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator's handbook which is shortly to be published. A number of national conferences for scheme co-ordinators have been arranged by Crime Concern. Last year's conference took place at the national exhibition centre in Birmingham and was addressed by the Home Secretary.

With financial support from the Home Office, Crime Concern is also undertaking a two year pilot project. the "neighbourhood safety project", to introduce a neighbourhood watch-type scheme into two high crime residential areas in West Yorkshire.

We are including a special neighbourhood watch insert in the Home Office magazine "Crime Prevention News" which is sent to all police crime prevention officers for distribution to neighbourhood watch co-ordinators.

We encourage the police to support neighbourhood watch schemes, although it is ultimately a matter for each chief constable to decide how much of his resources he can allocate to these activities. I addressed the Derby neighbourhood watch co-ordinators' conference on 30 April and I was delighted to learn about the considerable support which Derbyshire police are providing to schemes throughout the force area.