Community Support Officers (Leeds)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31 January 2005.

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Photo of Colin Burgon Colin Burgon Labour, Elmet 2:30, 31 January 2005

What assessment he has made of the role of community support officers in community policing for the Leeds area.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary

West Yorkshire police commissioned the centre for criminal justice studies at the university of Leeds to produce a detailed evaluation of community support officers in Leeds and Bradford city centres. The final report, "Patrolling with a Purpose", was published in July 2004. It gave very positive indications about the impact of CSOs on crime and disorder and public confidence. The report showed that CSOs in Leeds spend a very high proportion of their time—77 per cent.—on high-visibility patrol. In the first year of their deployment, theft of vehicles fell by 49 per cent. and personal robbery declined by 47 per cent.

Photo of Colin Burgon Colin Burgon Labour, Elmet

I would like to confirm what my right hon. Friend said about the good work of community support officers, particularly those working in association with the Wetherby and Garforth police stations in my constituency. Along with their police colleagues, they are playing a vital and effective part in launching the new neighbourhood policing strategy. However, I have a piece of shocking news: the Liberal-Conservative alliance that runs Leeds is now trying to claim credit for extra CSOs, extra CCTV cameras and extra police officers. Does not that dramatically show how Labour is setting the agenda in our vital public services by talking about investment rather than cuts?

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary

I am indeed shocked, but not surprised, to hear that the council is claiming credit for this Government initiative. The fact is that it is the Government who provided substantial funding for community support officers, who pioneered the approach and who established the legal powers. I want seriously to stress that we want to carry it through in partnership with local authorities. I am prepared to give the council the credit that is due to it, but it should give us the credit that is due to us.