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Police (Funding)

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

5. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on allocations of funding to police forces in Wales. (285610)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular meetings with Home Office Ministers and, as a member of the National Policing Board and the National Crime Reduction Board, I am involved in discussions on a range of policing issues, including funding. The funding settlement that we have provided for the next three years clearly reflects the Government’s continuing commitment to improving policing and further reducing crime.

South Wales police is facing possibly the worst financial crisis of any force, due to systematic underfunding under the police funding formula and the lack of extra funding for capital city policing. It is already closing four police stations in central Cardiff and now the new head of the Association of Chief Police Officers has warned that police officer cuts are likely. Will the Minister make urgent representations to his Home Office colleagues to ensure that South Wales police finally receives extra funding for policing the Welsh capital city?

It is important to put the hon. Lady’s question in context and recognise that the number of police officers in Wales has increased by almost 1,000 in the past few years—a significant improvement. Throughout the length and breadth of Wales, including south Wales, people will testify to the fact that they want more proactive local and neighbourhood policing and that it is being delivered. I recognise the hon. Lady’s points about the situation in south Wales, but let us also be clear that her Liberal party colleagues on the local authority in Cardiff have been reluctant to make the necessary increase in precept, which would allow proper funding. I am meeting the chief constable of South Wales in the near future to discuss her concerns and I am sure that she will mention the need to discuss the possibility of designating Cardiff as a capital city.

In these days when finances are so important to the police, we must praise their work at community level. That key role is recognised in the Building Britain’s Future document. In my constituency of Swansea, East there are several community organisations, such as J.R. GroundForce in Blaenymaes and Portmead, which do a brilliant job. During the summer recess, will the Minister visit that excellent community project, which works hand in hand with the police in my constituency?

Yes, I am aware of the excellent work that is being done in Swansea by the police, my hon. Friend and local authorities working together to create a strong community partnership to ensure safer communities. I am well aware of the Blaenymaes and Portmead community endeavours. I would be more than happy to visit her constituency and perhaps some of those projects in the summer recess.