HC Deb 23 April 2004 vol 420 cc712-6W
Mr. Nicholas Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Newcastle East and Wallsend constituency, the effects on Newcastle East and Wallsend of his Department's policies and actions since 1997. [166877]

Ms Blears

Most of the policies initiated by the Home Office since 1997 have had an impact on the Newcastle East and Wallsend constituency as on other parts of the country. However, it is not possible to gauge the impact of every policy and action the Home Office has initiated since 1997 on a constituency basis and statistical information relating to the constituency is not available for all Home Office policy areas. This answer sets out the information that is available for the constituency itself, or the relevant local authority and police areas for Newcastle East and Wallsend, it is not always possible to provide details back to 1997. The following are examples of initiatives or policies that have had an impact on the constituency, or an area of which the constituency is a part, together with the relevant statistics.

Community Safety

Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend forms part of the Northumbria police force area. On 31 March 1997 the Northumbria police force had 3,677 police officers this figure had risen to 4,048 by 31 December 2003, an increase of 371. In addition the Northumbria police force area has been allocated £330,398 to deliver 45 Community Support Officers in 2003–04.

£78,413 Basic Command Unit (BCU) funding was available to Newcastle East command in 2003–04 and used to fund police operations, publicity material and technical equipment targeting burglary to homes, vehicle crime and violent crime. Events were held on personal safety, asylum seekers and community crime awareness, and youth diversionary work was also undertaken.

In 1993, the total number of recorded crimes in the Northumbria police force area was 192,773. In 2002–03, the total number of recorded crimes was 165,496. This represents a reduction of 27,277 (a percentage decrease of 14 per cent.).

Recent change in levels of crime at BCU level are difficult to interpret because of the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002 which increased the consistency of crime recording across the country but also inflated the number of crimes recorded by police. Northumbria police estimated that the NCRS had an impact of approximately 25 per cent. on total recorded crime from April 2002.

Home Office policy and actions since 1997 that contributed to these figures include setting up the Community Safety Partnerships, which are responsible for improving community safety, including quality of life issues such as anti-social behaviour, graffiti and the fear of crime.

The Home Office provided £352,073 Building Safer Communities funding in 2003–04 rising to £360,875 in 2004–05 to Newcastle Community Safety Partnership and £204,876 to North Tyneside Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP). Although the majority of this funding is used to benefit the area as a whole, some of the funding was targeted at specific areas, including the East End, for example Byker Street Wardens received £50,000 to create eight warden posts, one supervisor and a manager. Over 1,000 patrols have been completed and 3,629 incidents have been reported. Running costs of £5,000 have been provided for a CCTV van operating in Newcastle East. Funding of £10,000 has resulted in increased monitoring of the Nexus CCTV system which serves Byker, Heaton and Wallsend.

In addition, £35,000 Small Retailers in Deprived Areas funding was used to improve the security and safety of 18 retail premises in the 10 per cent. most deprived wards in Newcastle during 2003–04, and similar funding of £20,000 was made available to North Tyneside.

Community Development

The Home Office has funded the Byker Advice and Information project to assist community development. This project covers the wards of Byker, Dene, Heaton, Monkchester, Sandyford, Walker and Walkergate and is entering its third (and final) year of funding. £25,009 was awarded in year 1,£26,486 in year 2 and £30,998 will be awarded this year. The project aims to assimilate a sustainable recruitment, training and development policy for local volunteers, which should increase their skill base, improve their career prospects and benefit the local community.

Drugs Strategy

Drugs information relates to the areas of the Newcastle and North Tyneside Drugs Action Teams (DAT) which between them serve the constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne and Wallsend. The DATs are responsible for local delivery of the National Drug Strategy to a combined population of over 450,000 and until 1999 they operated as a single partnership. They continue to work together closely, with many users North Tyneside being treated at services based in Newcastle, e.g. Plummer Court.

Central Government funding for drug strategy delivery has increased steadily in recent years. In 2004–05 Newcastle's and North Tyneside's combined budgets for adult treatment will increase by over 7 per cent. to over £3.2 million and expenditure on young people will exceed £40,000. This investment and other Home Office funded programmes, e.g. Communities Against Drugs has resulted in: A 64 per cent. increase in drug users having structured treatment in Newcastle between 2002–03 and 2003–04 (1,180 users). In 1999–2000 562 Newcastle based clients presented to drug services. Approximately 460 drug users resident in North Tyneside were in treatment as at November 2003. In 1999–2000 175 North Tyneside based clients presented to drug services. Average waiting times in Newcastle and North Tyneside reduced sharply to two weeks between 2002–03 and 2003–04 (compared to 2.3 weeks across the region). In the same period the waiting time for specialist prescribing in North Tyneside reduced from over three months to two weeks. In 1999–2000, the average waiting time in Newcastle and North Tyneside was about five weeks including 20 weeks for community prescribing in Newcastle. A planned 15 per cent. increase to over 2,500 in available drug treatment places in Newcastle and North Tyneside in 2004–05. Almost 1,400 drug possession offences were committed in Newcastle and North Tyneside in 2002–03. Of these, almost 820 related to Class A drugs. A number of high profile police operations in 2003–04 including Operation Trinity which resulted in 34 arrests in East Newcastle and Wallsend and Operation Bobbin in which 1.4 million of drugs was seized in Walker.

Both DATs will also receive considerable funding from April 2004 to March 2006 to deliver the Criminal Justice Interventions Programme (CJIP, a range of schemes aimed at moving drug misusing offenders into treatment and away from drug use and crime). Newcastle will receive additional CJIP funding, having been selected a site for "intensive" delivery. Implementation of this programme will place considerable pressure on criminal justice and treatment agencies in the City but the GO Drugs Team is encouraged by the DAT's planning for delivery. The forthcoming intensive CJIP activity in Newcastle is expected to impact upon crime in neighbouring wards in North Tyneside.

Asylum Seekers

Since 3 April 2000 the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has been responsible for administering the support provided to asylum seekers. Asylum seekers requiring accommodation will normally be housed in dispersal areas across the UK; Newcastle upon Tyne is a dispersal area. The total number of asylum seekers being supported by NASS in Newcastle East and Wallsend as at the end of December 2003 was 595, of these 585 were supported in NASS accommodation and 10 were in receipt of subsistence only support from NASS. These figures include dependants and are rounded to the nearest five. Corresponding data for earlier years is not available. Similar data for Newcastle upon Tyne local authority for earlier periods has been published in successive editions of the quarterly and annual asylum statistics published at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigrationl.html