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The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. Tony McNulty): I have today placed in the Library a copy of the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for allocation of specific grant to police authorities in England and Wales for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and the neighbourhood policing Fund in 2007-08.
In summary, this settlement provides for an increase of 41 per cent. in funding for Police and Community Support Officers and neighbourhood policing in 2007-08 and indicates our willingness to consider additional flexibility on the Crime Fighting Fund for all forces in 2007-08. We are making these changes in response to requests from the police service itself for
greater flexibilities and freedoms in order to decide locally the best way of delivering visible, responsive, and accessible policing.
The Government announced last year provisional funding totals for both 2006-07 and 2007-08. The introduction of multi-year settlements for the first time was widely welcomed by police authorities as a means of providing greater certainty and improving medium term planning. In addition to the settlement which provided £88 million through the neighbourhood policing Fund in 2006-07, the Chancellor added a further £91 million in the Budget in April 2006 to accelerate the introduction of neighbourhood policing to every community by April 2007. The target is to achieve 16,000 PCSOs in place across England and Wales by the end of April 2007.
Accelerating the timetable for introducing neighbourhood policing during 2006-07 has provided the opportunity to reassess the position in 2007-08 and to review requirements for the continued rollout of neighbourhood policing. We have listened carefully to requests from the police service for greater flexibilities and freedoms in order to decide locally the best way of delivering visible, responsive, and accessible policing. I am confident that the police service is making excellent progress towards the introduction of neighbourhood policing in every community in England and Wales by April 2007. Overall, as at the end of August 2006, delivery has already extended to approximately 6,700 neighbourhoods which have dedicated neighbourhood policing. This equates to about 2,600 teams in total as some teams cover more than one neighbourhood. The proportion of sergeants, constables and PCSOs dedicated to neighbourhood policing averages 18 per cent. across England and Wales. The next priority will therefore be to complete the full rollout of neighbourhood policing teams by March 2008 in a sustainable manner that takes account of local needs and circumstances. The Home Secretary and I accept the argument put forward by the police service itself that the delivery of neighbourhood policing does not necessarily need 24,000 PCSOs. This settlement therefore provides continuing support towards 16,000 PCSOs in 2007-08 and we will not expect forces to increase the number of PCSOs beyond that number. They may choose to do so according to local circumstances and need as with police officers and other staff. We will make available the sum of £315 million in 2007-08 to fund PCSOs and the introduction of neighbourhood policing. That sum includes £235 million to be allocated through the neighbourhood policing fund, £45 million towards the costs of those PCSOs recruited in 2002-2004 and an additional sum of £35 million to help forces manage the wider costs of delivering neighbourhood policing. This represents an overall increase of 41 per table (table 1). This will support the continued rollout of neighbourhood policing to have a dedicated team embedded into every area in England and Wales by 2008. We expect forces to continue rolling out neighbourhood policing during 2007-08 and have provided the means for it to be delivered.
In addition, we announced in January an extra £52 million for the police for counter-terrorism in 2007-08.
We have also indicated our willingness to consider additional flexibility on the Crime Fighting Fund for all forces in 2007-08. The nature and scale of this flexibility is the subject of discussions between the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities and the Home Office, and agreement on this is expected by the end of the year. We are clear that any flexibility that is granted will not have a direct impact on the front line deployment of officers or any reduction in operational capacity.
|Table 1: Specific grant allocations in 2007-08 compared with 2006-07|
|2006-07 (£ million)||2007-08 (£ million)||2007-08 year on year increases (percentage)|
|Table 2: Specific grant (Police Community Support Officers) allocations by English and Welsh police authority 2007-08|
Rounded to the nearest £100,000.