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The Minister for Criminal Justice, Sentencing and Law Reform (Mr. Keith Bradley): Under the crime reduction programme closed circuit television initiative, 149 town-centre schemes have been allocated funding to date, with a further eight still under consideration. Of these, 80 are extensions to existing CCTV schemes.
Mr. Burns: Is the Minister aware that the CCTV system in the centre of Chelmsford, which was funded by the previous Conservative Government and funded by the present Government, has had a dramatic impact in reducing crime levels in the area and increasing the number of people who have been apprehended while attempting to commit crime?
Does the Minister accept that there was grave disappointment earlier this year when the bid to extend the scheme to other problem areas in Chelmsford was refused funding by the Home Office? Will he explain why there was a refusal?
Mr. Bradley: I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman recognises the dramatic impact that CCTV has had on crime in Chelmsford, and that he welcomes the placing of schemes in various positions in his constituency. He should welcome the fact that these areas receive funding from the initiative. As he knows, the initiative is now closed, but there are other opportunities for funding under the communities against drugs and the small retailers in deprived areas initiatives. I am sure that Chelmsford will be considering these opportunities to ascertain whether it qualifies for the programmes.
Mr. Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow): Will my right hon. Friend seek to provide more resources so that CCTV can be extended to smaller shopping areas, including estate shops within our constituencies? The system is based predominantly on large town centres, and has been a force for good for both the prevention and detection of crime.
Mr. Bradley: As I have mentioned, there is the new small retailers in deprived areas initiative, which I am sure my hon. Friend's constituency may want to consider. We are evaluating the lessons from the CCTV scheme, and I hope that we will be able to bring forward new initiatives that will go round it in future.
Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk): Is the Minister aware that since CCTV was installed in King's Lynn it has had a very beneficial effect in reducing levels of crime? Is he also aware that the police are concerned that there has been a displacement of crime into surrounding rural areas and into some surrounding towns as well? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a strong case for the installation of CCTV in the neighbouring town of Hunstanton? What is the position of that bid for CCTV?
Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley): My right hon. Friend knows about the success of the town centre CCTV scheme in Chorley, but dispersal of crime is a problem that we all fear, and is in danger of catching up with us. Will my right hon. Friend make extra resources available for areas such as Pall Mall in Chorley?
Mr. Bradley: I am sure that my hon. Friend would not expect me to commit resources to his constituency from the Dispatch Box. Again, I welcome the fact that he appreciates the benefit of CCTV, which is part of the overall programme of crime reduction in the country. It must be viewed as part of a package of arrangements that we are introducing. I know that my hon. Friend will continue to press strongly for extra resources for his constituency.
Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield): Does the Minister agree that although any initiative on CCTV may be welcome, it has to be set against the evidence that the detection rate for crime is at an all-time low of 24 per cent.and 12 per cent. for burglary? There appears to be no overall strategy. Does he accept that, as matters stand, the criticism by Nick Ross that the Government's claim to be tough on crime is no more than meaningless garbage is valid?
Mr. Bradley: I do not remember that expression. The hon. Gentleman should welcome the overall reduction in crime in specific areas and the extra investment in police. The crime fighting fund has provided for 9,000 extra police officers on top of the planned development of police recruitment. The whole package will mean tackling crime more effectively in future.
Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone): The CCTV scheme in Barnsley town centre has been successful in reducing crime and making people feel safer on the streets. There is no doubt that that has allowed the
Mr. Bradley: I thank my hon. Friend for his welcome of CCTV in Barnsley. I assure him that the initiative is being evaluated, and that there is research on the effects of CCTV and its consequences in specific areas. We will present the findings as soon as possible to guide us with new initiatives that we may introduce in future.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Angela Eagle): Under the terms of the employment concession, adult asylum seekers can apply for permission to work if their application has been outstanding for longer than six months without a decision being made on it. There are no plans to alter the way in which the concession operates.
Dr. Cable: A study by the Mayor estimates that more than half of London's refugee population is economically inactive although most refugees want to work. Does the Minister accept that, economically, that is highly irrational at a time of chronic labour shortage in many service industries? Is it not even more absurd that the Government are scouring the world for qualified doctors and nurses when hundreds are sitting in this country, dependent on vouchers or in detention? Will she have a fresh look at the six-month rule and the single-applicant rule, which perpetuate an irrational and unreasonable policy?
Angela Eagle: The hon. Gentleman seems to be confusing asylum seekers with refugees. As he knows, refugees are entitled to work and we have many schemes for enabling, for example, those who have medical and nursing qualifications to work in the health service, where they are much needed.
However, the hon. Gentleman should agree that we must not allow our asylum and immigration rules to be breached so that people traffickers decide who comes into the country. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has talked about an economic migration policy, about which he will make a statement to the House soon.
Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham): Will my hon. Friend reconsider the policy? There are many thousands of asylum seekers in my constituency. I do not sneer at economic migrants, who have come to this country to try to make a contribution. Thousands of them have nothing to do. If that position is allowed to persist, they will enter the unofficial economy, as they undoubtedly already do. It is demeaning to individuals who want to work not to be able to do so. I therefore ask my hon. Friend to think about the policy again.
Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton): Can the Minister confirm that the Home Office has now abandoned proposals to introduce identity cards in this country, whether to deal with this or any other issue?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Beverley Hughes): We believe that the provision of facilities and activities for young people can help to reduce crime. That is why the Government have supported a number of programmes, such as the Youth Justice Board-managed youth inclusion and summer splash schemes. These provide structured activity programmes not only to occupy young people but to provide a vehicle for working with them to prevent them from drifting into crime or other antisocial activity.
Vernon Coaker: Notwithstanding the need to continue to crack down on those young people who cause problems in our communities, is it not the case that our young people far too often say that they simply have nothing to do, that they cannot find a place just to go and have a cup of coffee and that there is a lack of recreational facilities? Notwithstanding the answer that my hon. Friend the Minister has just given, will she have another look at the facilities available to our young people so that they can get more of those facilities to help them as they grow up?
Beverley Hughes: The evidence from the youth inclusion programmeparticularly the summer splash schemes, which have been independently evaluatedshows that these kinds of activities are not only useful but cost-effective. The splash schemes show a 36 per cent. reduction in domestic burglary, and an 18 per cent. reduction in youth crime, on the estates where they took place. They are also important because they enable the police and other workers in the youth justice system to work directly, in a non-confrontational way, with young people, to develop relationships that are important in deterring young people from committing crime. These schemes have been successful and we are going to continue them.
Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking): Given that a young man with plenty of purposeful activity and plenty of useful things to dobe they sporting, recreational or educationalis less likely to turn or return to crime, how does the Minister expect young men aged 18 to 21, released from the B wing of Feltham young offenders institution, to lead a good life when, for the past four years under the Labour Government they have been denied all
Beverley Hughes: I do not know how recently or how frequently the hon. Gentleman has visited Feltham. If he has visited it, he will know that the problems there started long before this Government came to office. The problems that we inherited at Feltham were the product of long-term neglect by the Tory Government. If the hon. Gentleman has been there recently, he will have seen that the regime is being transformed, initially for the under-18s, and now for the 18 to 21snot before time,I grant him, but it is this Government who have done it, not the Tory Government.
Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough): Will the Minister join me and the representatives of professional sports clubs whom I met on Friday in recognising that, while there is a need and a great desire to increase the level of participation in sport in this country, one of the problems the clubs have is the number of initiatives placed in front of them? Is it possible for the Home Office to work with others across government to ensure that, rather than professional and amateur sports clubs having to fill in a plethora of application forms to chase pockets of money, a more co-ordinated approach could be taken? Many professional sports clubs offer tens of thousands of opportunities across the east midlands already. They would like to offer more, but need assistance to deliver them.
Beverley Hughes: I take my hon. Friend's point. It is sometimes difficult for sporting and other voluntary organisations to navigate the procedures that we rightly require them to go through when they try to access public money. Through Sport England, we are working directly with an initiative called "positive futures", as well as other bodies, and I hope that that enables the sporting bodies in particular to access the information that they need to make successful bids more easily. That is certainly our intention.