Under the crime reduction programme closed circuit television initiative, 149 town-centre schemes have been allocated funding to date, with a further eight still under consideration. Of these, 80 are extensions to existing CCTV schemes.
To date 636 schemes have been approved under the CCTV initiative, and 47 are still under consideration.
Is the Minister aware that the CCTV system in the centre of Chelmsford, which was funded by the previous Conservative Government and funded by the present Government, has had a dramatic impact in reducing crime levels in the area and increasing the number of people who have been apprehended while attempting to commit crime?
Does the Minister accept that there was grave disappointment earlier this year when the bid to extend the scheme to other problem areas in Chelmsford was refused funding by the Home Office? Will he explain why there was a refusal?
I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman recognises the dramatic impact that CCTV has had on crime in Chelmsford, and that he welcomes the placing of schemes in various positions in his constituency. He should welcome the fact that these areas receive funding from the initiative. As he knows, the initiative is now closed, but there are other opportunities for funding under the communities against drugs and the small retailers in deprived areas initiatives. I am sure that Chelmsford will be considering these opportunities to ascertain whether it qualifies for the programmes.
Will my right hon. Friend seek to provide more resources so that CCTV can be extended to smaller shopping areas, including estate shops within our constituencies? The system is based predominantly on large town centres, and has been a force for good for both the prevention and detection of crime. Surely we should extend the advantage that the system brings to smaller shopkeepers and not confine it to multinational companies.
As I have mentioned, there is the new small retailers in deprived areas initiative, which I am sure my hon. Friend's constituency may want to consider. We are evaluating the lessons from the CCTV scheme, and I hope that we will be able to bring forward new initiatives that will go round it in future.
Is the Minister aware that since CCTV was installed in King's Lynn it has had a very beneficial effect in reducing levels of crime? Is he also aware that the police are concerned that there has been a displacement of crime into surrounding rural areas and into some surrounding towns as well? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a strong case for the installation of CCTV in the neighbouring town of Hunstanton? What is the position of that bid for CCTV?
I am not aware whether the bid to which the hon. Gentleman is referring is one of the schemes that is still under consideration. I shall look into that and write to him with the answer.
I am sure that my hon. Friend would not expect me to commit resources to his constituency from the Dispatch Box. Again, I welcome the fact that he appreciates the benefit of CCTV, which is part of the overall programme of crime reduction in the country. It must be viewed as part of a package of arrangements that we are introducing. I know that my hon. Friend will continue to press strongly for extra resources for his constituency.
Does the Minister agree that although any initiative on CCTV may be welcome, it has to be set against the evidence that the detection rate for crime is at an all-time low of 24 per cent.—and 12 per cent. for burglary? There appears to be no overall strategy. Does he accept that, as matters stand, the criticism by Nick Ross that the Government's claim to be tough on crime is no more than meaningless garbage is valid?
I do not remember that expression. The hon. Gentleman should welcome the overall reduction in crime in specific areas and the extra investment in police. The crime fighting fund has provided for 9,000 extra police officers on top of the planned development of police recruitment. The whole package will mean tackling crime more effectively in future.
The CCTV scheme in Barnsley town centre has been successful in reducing crime and making people feel safer on the streets. There is no doubt that that has allowed the crime prevention partnership to target burglary and set the goal of a 6 per cent. reduction each year, and a 10 per cent. reduction in areas where the highest incidence occurs. However, my right hon. Friend knows that CCTV involves a displacement factor. Will he consider financing research which could be used to give guidance to local authorities when they extend CCTV projects?
I thank my hon. Friend for his welcome of CCTV in Barnsley. I assure him that the initiative is being evaluated, and that there is research on the effects of CCTV and its consequences in specific areas. We will present the findings as soon as possible to guide us with new initiatives that we may introduce in future.