HC Deb 21 January 2003 vol 398 cc9-10WS
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett)

I am making a total of £144 million available for crime reduction spending and combating drugs, in the light of local needs. In addition, following my statement on 3 December on the updated drug strategy, we will be spending £46.2 million on expanding services to refer people into treatment through the criminal justice system.

I am announcing the allocation of £94 million on local crime and drugs spend for 03–04 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 I am consulting whether they should be merged into a single pot. This would help 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, to enable local partnerships to focus on reducing crime rather than on paperwork. I 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 DAT's 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 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.

Today's announcement also includes the details of what each basic command unit (BCD) will receive from the £50 million BCD Fund, with shares ranging from £590,000 to £30,000. This annual fund is designed to help police 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.

Seventy three million pounds of the money is going direct to Partnerships with a further £21.7 million available locally for capacity and training purposes for them and drug action teams. The £50 million BCD 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.

I said on 3 December that 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 I outlined in my previous statement.

I have placed a copy of the allocations and a note summarising the proposed interventions and a list of the 30 BCUs and the relevant DAT areas in the Library and the Minister for Policing and Crime Reduction is writing to hon. Members with further information about the allocations.