HL Deb 21 January 2003 vol 643 cc85-7WA
Baroness Pitkeathley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they will allocate funding for crime reduction and tackling drugs misuse. [HL1193]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin)

My right honourable friend, the Home Secretary is making a total of £144 million available for crime reduction spending and combating drugs, in the light of local needs. In addition, we will be spending £46.2 million on expanding services to refer people into treatment through the criminal justice system.

We have allocated £94 million on local crime and drugs spend for 2003–04 on building safer communities. The co-ordination between the current funding streams (the Safer Communities Initiative, Communities Against Drugs and Partnership Development Fund, along with the Drug Action Team (DAT) Development Fund) will be enhanced, and we are consulting whether they should be merged into a single pot. This would help to devolve resources and responsibility to the local level; further, the Government's policy under the review of area-based initiatives of reducing the number of funding streams will enable local partnerships to focus on reducing crime rather than on paperwork. We hope to make a further announcement about this very shortly. These funds will include money specifically earmarked to strengthen partnerships' and drugs teams' capacity to deliver, through training and other support, to ensure those fighting crime and drugs are as well equipped as possible in their efforts. They recognise the integration of DATs and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) and the need to streamline their working practices.

Enhanced co-ordination will encourage partnerships to look at both aspects of the problem, and the misery it causes communities, as one issue to be tackled holistically. The money can be used in a huge variety of ways.

Partnerships are showing that they can use our programme funding to deliver a wide range of interventions. They are using it to reduce gun crime; to disrupt drugs markets through direct police work; running activities designed to divert children from getting involved in crime and drugs; paying for more close circuit television (CCTV) cameras or targeted campaigns on particular crimes or drugs hotspots, or for warden schemes. These are just examples and the views of the community are key for informing local decisions.

Partnerships can spend less time dealing with the paperwork, separate reports for each funding stream etc, and more on driving down crime and delivering safer communities.

The allocation also includes the details of what each basic command unit (BCU) will receive from the £50 million BCU fund, with shares ranging from £590,000 to £30,000. This annual fund is designed to help police to meet the individual crime reduction needs of their local area and tackle the priorities set out in the National Policing Plan—which includes combating gun crime. The fund can be spent on crime prevention work such as targeted police operations, youth diversionary schemes, or security advice campaigns for the public.

£73 million of the money is going direct to partnerships with a further £21.7 million available locally for capacity and training purposes for them and DATs. The £50 million BCU fund should be used to complement this expenditure to tackle the priorities set out in the National Policing Plan and in local crime reduction strategies.

We said we would be introducing a comprehensive end-to-end approach to refer people into treatment via the criminal justice system in the highest crime areas with the worst drug problems. These areas will be those containing the 30 basic command units with the highest rates of acquisitive crime. A total of £46.2 million will be spent in these areas to deliver a range of services we outlined previously.

A copy of the allocations and a note summarising the proposed interventions and a list of the 30 BCUs and the relevant DAT areas has been placed in the Library and my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing and Crime Reduction, Mr Denham, is writing to honourable Members with further information about the allocations.