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Neighbourhood Policing

Oral Answers to Questions — Home – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 13th February 2006.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary

I am glad that it is warming up, Mr. Speaker.

We will ensure that, by 2008, every part of the country will have a dedicated, visible, accessible and responsive neighbourhood policing team. There will be a neighbourhood policing team in every area, covering, typically, one or two council wards, in which every resident will know the name of their local police officer, see them on the street and have their phone number and e-mail address.

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies PPS (Rt Hon Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

I apologise to the House for my slightly hoarse voice, the result of cheering on the Welsh team in a fantastic match at the weekend. Even though the Scottish team was one man down, it was a brilliant match. On the subject of being one man down, does my right hon. Friend acknowledge that one of the greatest disadvantages to community policing is when police are pulled away from their duties in the community and that neighbourhood policing models will ensure that those police are embedded much more firmly in the communities that they serve?

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary

My hon. Friend is correct, except perhaps in the rugby team that he supports. It is critical to deal with so-called abstractions from neighbourhood police teams, whether for operations, as he describes, or for some training functions, and one reason why we are reorganising the strategic level of policing is to strengthen neighbourhood policing.

Photo of Derek Conway Derek Conway Conservative, Old Bexley and Sidcup

Will the Home Secretary accept that these schemes in the borough of Bexley are so far working well, although we would like them in Blackfen and Lamorbey as well? Will he take on board the fact that there is a serious problem with the existing teams when the officers are taken away for other duties? When the scheme was introduced, we were assured that that would not happen, but certainly in the Metropolitan police area it is happening.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support for the policy and glad to pay tribute to the Metropolitan police, who have led the development of the policy throughout the country, with its ambition of securing neighbourhood policing in every part of London by spring next year. I am sure that the House will understand that, over the past months, there have been serious public order issues in London that have led to what the hon. Gentleman described, but the Metropolitan police are trying to address those issues.