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Police Funding

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 17 January 2007

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Home Office and the Welsh Assembly Government on police funding in Wales. (114705)

The Government continue to provide huge increases in resources for the police service. The recent announcement of more than £450 million in total funding for 2007-08 represents another good deal for Wales.

In response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mr. Crabb), the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety stated:

“We are committed to ensuring that Neighbourhood Policing will be introduced to every community in England and Wales by April 2007, and that every community will have a Neighbourhood Policing team by April 2008.”—[Official Report, 23 October 2006; Vol. 450, c. 1679W.]

Given that the police in Wales have said that that will not be possible under the current funding settlement, can the Minister still guarantee that it will be fully funded and fully implemented in Wales?

Of course we want to see neighbourhood policing rolled out right across Wales and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Indeed, under this Labour Government we have had 1,000 more police officers and 1,300 more police support officers in Wales, compared with the consistent cuts in police officers and police budgets under the Tory Government whom the hon. Gentleman supported.

There are more police officers in north Wales than ever before, and the introduction of community support officers has brought neighbourhood policing to streets in Wrexham and other parts of north Wales. Will my right hon. Friend have a quiet word with some of those who are bleating in north Wales to get them to enjoy the benefits of a rising budget rather than the contraction that would be brought about if we ever had a ragtag coalition of nationalists and Tories running Wales?

I could not have put it better myself. Neighbourhood policing in north Wales is indeed of a high standard. It would be put at risk, not only for the reasons that my hon. Friend gave, but if the Leader of the Opposition’s policy of £21 billion of cuts in Labour’s spending plans were implemented.

Does not the Secretary of State realise how hollow his words ring and how out of touch he is with what is happening on the ground? What does he say to people in places such as Abergele and Old Colwyn, who are losing dedicated community beat officers, or our chief constables in Wales, who have to take officers off the beat to fill civilian desk jobs? Where has all the money gone and why does Labour continue to fail to deliver proper policing for the people of Wales?

The truth is that there are 1,000 more police officers and 1,300 more police support officers under Labour, crime has decreased and people see neighbourhood policing that they never saw under the Tories. The clear choice for everybody in Wales at the Welsh Assembly elections in May is voting Labour and against the ragtag, Tory-led, Plaid Cymru coalition that opposes us.