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Police Grant

The Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Community Safety (Mr. John Denham): I have today placed in the Library a copy of the Home Secretary's proposals for allocation of police grant for England in 2003–2004. The Home Secretary and I intend to

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implement the proposals subject to consideration of any representations we receive about them, and to the approval of the House.

Funding the police service properly is a top priority for this Government. The settlement I am announcing today continues that commitment. The total provision for policing, to be supported by grant in 2003–04 is £9,243 million. This is a cash rise of £543 million or 6.2 per cent. over the provision for 2002–03. This includes principal formula police grant, direct Home Office spending, the standard spending on which revenue support grant is based.

We launched the first National Policing Plan last month. It outlined four policing priorities: tackling anti-social behaviour and disorder; reducing volume, street, drug-related and violent and gun crime; combating serious and organised crime; and, increasing the number of offences brought to justice. This settlement underpins delivery of those priorities and reinforces our commitment to police reform. There is funding to enable English forces to increase police strength and contribute towards the target of 132,500 police officers in 2004. This will be made available through continuation of the highly successful Crime Fighting Fund which we plan to fund for another three years. Better use will be made of those officers. They will

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benefit from a pay system that rewards the most experienced officers who can demonstrate a high level of professional competence and those in the most difficult and demanding posts. They will be supported by Community Support Officers (CSOs) and civilian custody staff and investigators, reducing bureaucracy and freeing police officers for operational duties. As part of this, resources will be available to recruit further CSOs across the next three years, allowing English forces to employ their share of the 4,000 we believe should be in place by 2005. Better use of technology will help police officers still further. We are investing in IT with further funding for authorities taking up the Airwave radio communication service and for the Metropolitan Police Authority's' Command Control and Communications Information (C3i) System. Funds will be available for roll-out of the custody and case preparation system which will enable data on those in custody to be collated by the police and used across the criminal justice system.

We are taking the opportunity to outline the wider provision for support for the police service in England. This includes police grant and revenue support grant, a range of specific grants to be paid directly to police authorities for particular initiatives, capital grants and borrowing approvals, and operational and central spending in support of policing provided directly by the Home Office.