|Building Safer Communities
Mr. Evans: To what does the hon. Gentleman attribute the increase in violent crime in Wales today?
Mr. Ruane: The increase in violent crime has many sources and I shall speak about them in a moment.
The £4.7 million was greeted with pleasure at the fact that the Government had kept their word and the comment was that it was very favourable. The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy said that the money was a one-off payment to pay for 40 extra police officers. It is to fund an extra 104 police officers over three years.
Mr. Llwyd: It is not sustainable.
Mr. Ruane: It is absolutely sustainable. I am particularly pleased that the extra funding has been ring-fenced for bobbies on the beat. That is what my constituents want: communities policed effectively by officers walking their own patch.
The 11.2 per cent. drop in crime in Wales is welcome. It has not happened by chance. Crime has fallen because of the Labour Government's deliberate policies: co-operation and a collegiate approach involving local councils and voluntary groups; social and economic policies such as the new deal, the working families tax credit and the minimum wage; and extra funding for the police. All those are threatened by the Opposition. They would certainly be threatened if the Conservatives ever got into power. They can try to shake this fact off, but they are committed to spending cuts of £16 billion. That corresponds to £24 million in my constituency. How would those cuts affect the special projects in my constituency?
Mr. Walter: I am intrigued by the hon. Gentleman's arithmetic. How has he arrived at the figure of £24 million for his constituency?
Mr. Ruane: The £24 million derives from the £16 billion that was announced in a Conservative central office press release in July. I urge the hon. Gentleman to dig it out so that he will be better informed.
Mr. Walter: On Clwyd, West.
Mr. Ruane: No, the hon. Gentleman has the wrong constituency.
Mr. Walter: Well, whatever.
Mr. Ruane: That is typical of the concern about north Wales shown by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Walter). It is a long way from Dorset.
How would the £24 million cuts that I mentioned affect special projects in my constituency, such as STARS, an excellent local initiative that should be copied nationally? I shall leave a copy of the relevant document for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Another project in my constituency, the Cars project, redirects the energies of disaffected youth into more positive activities. Those projects are under threat from the Conservatives. My county, too, is under threat from them. How will it be able to afford the officers' time needed to forge links with the police and the local voluntary sector if annual cuts can be expected, as happened under the previous Conservative Government?How would a £24 million cut affect the 104 extra bobbies that we are putting on the beat in the next three years? Would they be sacked? I will be putting those questions to my constituents in the next few months.
Antisocial behaviour has been mentioned by many hon. Members. My secretary in the House of Commons, Janet Burgess, who has been here for 37 years, is an Islington councillor. In Islington, antisocial behaviour contracts have been piloted at one twentieth of the cost of antisocial behaviour orders. They are voluntary. They were developed under a Labour administration, before the Liberal Democrats came to power. It does not matter who introduced them. They are effective and should be spread. I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to obtain copies of the relevant material and use his good offices to spread that best practice around Wales. In Islington, 27 of the contracts have been used and only one has been broken in the past two or three years. That excellent record should be replicated in all our communities.
Adjourned till this day at Four o'clock.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared 13 February 2001|