Police Forces (Wales)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th February 1997.

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Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend 12:00 am, 20th February 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the establishment of police forces in Wales; and which forces are employing police officers up to their establishment. [15285]

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

At the end of September 1996 there were 6,522 police officers in Wales, including 166 more constables than in 1992. It is for individual chief constables and police authorities to determine the number of officers in the force, having regard to the resources available to them.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

My information is slightly different from that of the Minister. Nevertheless, the increase that he says is correct amounts to only about 1 per cent. of the total in Wales. The number of police in the Gwent and South Wales forces, which serve more than two thirds of the Welsh population, has actually decreased. Will the Minister confirm that the police in Wales and in other parts of the United Kingdom have responsibility for the security of the slaughtered carcases and rendered remains of cattle as a result of the BSE crisis? If they are not responsible for that security, who is?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

I am glad that I can update the hon. Gentleman's information, because I am afraid that it is wrong as well as out of date. The Dyfed-Powys force, which has received extra resources over the years, is heading towards a record high number of officers. It is the same in Gwent—and not just because 200 officers have been transferred from South Wales. The North Wales force also has a record high number of officers—as would South Wales, but for the 200 transferred with the Rhymney valley.

All the police forces in Wales have received exceptionally generous funding from this Government. They have 424 more officers than in 1979, and 166 more since 1992. They are on course to have a further 300 officers as a result of the funding that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has promised.

Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Opposition Whip (Commons)

The Minister will be aware of the sex abuse inquiry taking place in north Wales. Is he aware that that will cost the police force there more than £1 million from its current budget? What assistance can he provide to that already cash-strapped police force?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

It is nonsense to say that the North Wales police force is cash strapped: it has received very generous funding. However, the hon. Gentleman should know that there is provision for a police force to apply to the Home Office in certain exceptional circumstances if events affect its budget. I am willing to hear representations at any time from the chief constable of the North Wales force about the matter, but he would need to satisfy the well established criteria for supplementary funding.