Six hundred and seventy-one CCTV schemes have been funded at a cost of about £170 million under the crime reduction programme. Opportunities for funding CCTV schemes exist under the communities against drugs and the small retailers in deprived areas initiatives.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. Will he find extra funding for the successful schemes in Chorley in the town's fight against crime? Will he also ensure that grants will be available for community wardens in the Chorley scheme?
I am well aware of my hon. Friend's strong support for crime reduction measures in Chorley. Funds are available—including communities against drugs money—that could be used on a variety of means to tackle crime and disorder. We shall announce further arrangements for funding crime reduction in the near future.
The death of a fine young man, Tim Robinson, in a stabbing incident while he was parking his car in London has caused great grief in the village of Beaulieu in my constituency, where he was brought up and where his parents still live. It seems likely that CCTV will play a vital role in the apprehension of his killers, but does the Minister agree that, were it not for the stop and search restrictions that have resulted from the constant accusations of racism against the police, it would be possible to deter a considerable number of would-be criminals from casually carrying knives when they go about their evil work?
All hon. Members will agree that the crime to which the hon. Gentleman referred was appalling and that it is essential that we take the firmest possible action to stamp out such crime. The House will be aware of the moves announced by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, which, from today, will lead to about 475 extra officers being deployed in London to tackle street robbery. It is essential that that be done.
However, I do not agree that restrictions have been placed on stop and search. Powers to stop and to search are an essential part of effective policing and we are determined to ensure that that can continue, but in ways that maintain the confidence of all the communities that are being policed.
A few years ago in my constituency, a taxi driver died as a result of a fracas in a private-hire taxi. Bolton is the first local authority to install miniature CCTV cameras on the windscreens of black cabs and private-hire vehicles. That successful experiment has been made permanent. The scheme is self-financing in that taxi drivers have to lease the cameras, but the cost is offset by their reduced insurance premiums. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that brave experiment should be spread throughout the country?
I am fascinated to learn of that initiative in Bolton, of which I was not aware. Much extraordinarily good innovative work is going on throughout the country to reduce and fight crime, and we are working as hard as we can to spread best practice. If my hon. Friend will give me further details, I shall make sure that they are posted on the Home Office website, so that people in all parts of the country can study them and learn from that success.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Wherever I have been, the police welcome CCTV as a tool to help them in the fight against crime, but of course we need more police officers. That is why, this spring, we shall have a record number of police officers in England and Wales, and in spring 2003 there will be more than 130,000. It is not only a matter of having more officers, but of making the best use of their time. That is why we set up a taskforce, headed by the former chief inspector of police, Sir David O'Dowd, to find ways of cutting red tape and bureaucracy and freeing up police officer time so that officers can be out in the community where the public want to see them.