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2 Dec 2002 : Column 594—continued


3. Mr. David Kidney (Stafford): What plans he has for funding further CCTV installations by local authorities. [82304]

The Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Community Safety (Mr. John Denham): Under the crime reduction programme closed circuit television initiative, a potential £170 million will be spent funding 684 CCTV schemes. Although bids for that initiative are now closed, other opportunities for funding CCTV schemes currently exist under the safer communities, communities against drugs, and the small retailers in deprived areas initiatives.

Mr. Kidney: Does my right hon. Friend agree that CCTV cameras are effective in deterring and detecting crime, especially when they are used in conjunction with other measures such as lighting? The people who live in Stafford town and Penkridge village are delighted with their cameras and would like more. How, as a result of my right hon. Friend's reply, will local authorities such as Stafford borough and south Staffordshire district obtain funding for more CCTV cameras?

Mr. Denham: I am delighted to hear of the success of the CCTV scheme in Penkridge village. That experience is shared in many parts of the country. Funds will continue to be available for crime reduction through

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crime reduction partnerships. In response to many requests from local councils, we are tending to move away from central ring-fenced budgets for specific purposes to enable decisions on priorities to be made locally. Funds will continue to be available for crime reduction in my hon. Friend's constituency and those of other hon. Members.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): What is the percentage difference in crime detection in town centres that have CCTV by comparison with those that do not?

Mr. Denham: The major evaluation of the 684 schemes that the Home Office and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are undertaking will give us the detailed information about impact that the hon. Gentleman seeks. As well as the increase in crime detection, crime in car parks decreases by more than 40 per cent. when CCTV is introduced. We are seeking a reduction in crime and the fear of crime, not simply an increase in detection.

Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton): Does my right hon. Friend know that CCTV cameras in metropolitan areas are concentrated in the larger towns and cities? What help does he offer the smaller urban authorities, such as former urban district councils, to obtain the services of CCTV? Is it possible to have mobile CCTV in some of our communities?

Mr. Denham: The money that we made available through the safer communities initiative and the communities against drugs funds can be used to finance CCTV schemes. They have been used in many different areas. I visited an extensive network in Surrey recently that was funded through such initiatives and other sources. Mobile or relocatable schemes can play a useful part when that is the most appropriate method of tackling the problem.

Drug Rehabilitation

4. Mr. Mark Hoban (Fareham): What recent assessment he has made of the benefits drug rehabilitation has for a community. [82306]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): Drug treatment, including rehabilitation, works. Research has shown that for every £1 spent on treatment, £3 is saved in criminal justice and victim costs of crime. The longer problematic drug users remain in treatment, the greater the savings ratio. Rehabilitation is only one aspect of treatment and is not always the most appropriate intervention.

Mr. Hoban : I have talked to those who work with the homeless in my constituency, and they are concerned that the wait of three to six months for treatment is too long, and that the treatment periods are too short to be effective. Given the benefits of rehabilitation that the Under-Secretary outlined in his answer, is it not time to spend more money on treatment and on increasing the

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number of rehabilitation places and their effectiveness, for the sake of our addicts and the communities where they live?

Mr. Ainsworth: I welcome—I really do—the Conservative party's conversion to providing treatment for drug addicts. It is a shame that it happened only a couple of months ago, before the party conference. We realised the benefits just after we took power in 1997, and we have increased the amount of treatment available by 8 per cent. every year since then. We plan to continue to do that. Although things are not currently adequate, waiting times are decreasing. We need to reduce them further.

Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West): Retailers in the shopping centre in Milton Keynes have become aware of the huge cost of shoplifting by a relatively small number of drug addicts, who do it to finance their drug habit. The retailers are considering making a financial contribution towards increasing the number of drug rehabilitation places that are available locally as a better way of dealing with the problem than simply locking people up. What is my hon. Friend's response to that proposal?

Mr. Ainsworth: My hon. Friend hits on an important point. Retail partnerships are increasing in our towns and cities. They have some knowledge of the problem. We need to plug such partnerships properly into all our crime reduction initiatives, including our ability to get drug addicts into treatment. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Community Safety recently held discussions along those lines with the Birmingham partnership. We are actively considering the matter to ascertain what can be done in conjunction with retail partnerships in towns such as Milton Keynes.

Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport): With an estimated 300 heroin addicts in Gosport alone, each needing something like £20,000 a year to feed their habit, is it not obvious that the 1,882 places available for treatment are woefully inadequate, and that platitudes and reassurances must be backed up by action?

Mr. Ainsworth: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is prepared to listen to any answer that is given to him in that regard. We have 118,000 people in treatment in this country. We need to double that figure, and we plan to do so. By the end of the drugs strategy period, we plan to have more than 200,000 problematic drug users in treatment. There is not enough treatment at the moment, but we need people of the right quality to remedy that, and those people need to be trained. We also need the input of GPs. This is not something that can happen overnight. We have been increasing the amount of treatment available consistently since 1998, and we plan to continue to do so. I might say that that is in marked contrast to what went on before.

Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset): When the Minister answered a recent written question by saying that 118,500 individuals were reported as being Xin contact with" treatment agencies, what did he mean? How many

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of those individuals are in fact being maintained on methadone? Is it true that almost half of them are in that condition?

Mr. Ainsworth: What I meant was that 118,000 people are receiving a whole range of treatment services—not merely rehabilitation—including specialist drugs advice and information, harm reduction advice, in-patient detoxification services, specialist prescribing services, GP drug prescribing services, and counselling services, as well as residential rehabilitation. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be putting across a very simplistic view of what treatment is or needs to be. Treatment needs to be tailored to particular needs, and I would suggest that what is needed in a particular locality does not need to be dictated at national level. Local people need to decide what is needed in their area.

Mr. Letwin: If such matters do not need to be dictated at national level—I have some sympathy with the Minister on that—is it also the case that there is no need for national targets? In 2000, the Home Secretary set targets to reduce the proportion of people under 25 using class A drugs by 25 per cent., and to reduce by 25 per cent. the level of repeat offending by people misusing drugs. Was it because the Home Secretary and the Minister did not believe that there was a need for a national strategy that they removed those targets in 2002? What is their proposal in relation to their new statement on drugs? Are we going to hear that targets are to disappear altogether?

Mr. Ainsworth: The right hon. Gentleman should be a little more patient. As I have said, he discovered the drug problem two months ago, just before his party conference. If he waits a short while, and if he is prepared to engage in an adult debate on this issue, he will see that there are better focused targets, which are measurable and achievable, in what we announce.

Mr. Speaker: Question 5, please.

National Treatment Agency

5. John Mann (Bassetlaw): What criteria are used to determine the performance of the National Treatment Agency. [82307]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): Sorry, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): So are we all.

Mr. Ainsworth: The National Treatment Agency is assessed by the Department of Health. The following criteria are used: access to treatment, in terms of progress on meeting the national drugs strategy target of doubling the people in treatment by 2008; capacity, in regard to the extent to which there is work force capacity to meet the target; efficiency, in terms of the reduction of

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waiting times; and effectiveness, in regard to the increase in the proportion of people successfully completing or appropriately sustaining treatment.

John Mann: I wish to follow up the fourth aspect—the quantification of what determines success. I have investigated that at length in my constituency, but nobody from the drug treatment services has been able to quantify success—for example, whether it means people coming off drugs, stabilising, reducing intake or eliminating criminal activity. Will my hon. Friend consider how that specific fourth target can be tightened to hold the National Treatment Agency accountable?

Mr. Ainsworth: My hon. Friend is right. All treatment has to be aimed at attempting to achieve abstinence, but maintaining people on treatment can in itself lead to significant reductions in crime. The treatments offered have therefore to be tailored to individuals, and keeping people in treatment, picking them up when they fail, and readmitting them to treatment all need to be looked at positively. However, we need adequate ways to measure exactly what is being achieved, locally as well as nationally.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): The Minister is right to refer to cost-effectiveness, and rehabilitation treatment is important in the criminal sphere, since between 50 and 60 per cent. of property crime is drugs related. A few weeks ago, I put to him the possibility of ring-fencing the proceeds of drug trading, millions of pounds of which are rightly confiscated each week in the Crown courts. Why do we not ring-fence that money to create more rehab places for that very important category of person? May I also remind him that there are only 38 rehabilitation beds in the whole of Wales? That does not deal with the problems in a single valley.

Mr. Ainsworth: The hon. Gentleman should not look to recovered assets—not at the moment, in any case—as the panacea for all those problems. We managed to recover about £20 million of criminal assets last year, and over half that was redistributed through the recovered asset fund. That money on its own will not make such a difference, and it will not deal with the treatment that is needed and already planned in the drugs strategy. I accept what he says—it can play an important part—but there needs to be a lot more input than just recovered criminal assets.

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