HC Deb 29 October 2003 vol 412 cc276-7W
Mr. Drew

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his powers to recommend the capping of police authorities. [133611]

Ms Blears

The Home Secretary has no power to recommend the capping of police authorities.

Powers to cap local authority budgets rest with my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Prescott).

Vera Baird

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the daily average proportion of police officers' time spent out on patrol following the introduction of community support officers and other civilian support staff. [134251]

Ms Blears

[holding answer 27 October 2003]: An analysis of diaries kept by 378 officers in seven forces prior to the introduction of Community Support Officers (CSOs) found that 17 per cent. of regular officers' time was spent on patrol. The Police Reform Act 2002 powers, which allowed the designation of CSOs and other support staff, were commenced on 2 December 2003. We have not yet repeated the exercise.

However, a programme of research into the nature, frequency and effectiveness of beat patrolling by police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) is under way. Results will be reported as soon as available.

We know that there is significant variation between forces in the amount of time officers spend on front line duties, including patrol. We are, as part of the Police Performance Assessment Framework, collecting data from forces so that we can publish a baseline estimate of front line policing for all forces next year. We will then use this data to drive time spent on front line policing up, concentrating on those areas where time spent is lowest.

Most forces currently spend around 60 per cent. of their time on front line policing and I would like to increase that figure.