Policing (Peterborough and Cambridgeshire)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:44 pm on 20th February 2008.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction) 3:44 pm, 20th February 2008

I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Gale. I congratulate Mr. Jackson on securing the debate and thank him for his kind comments—I appreciate what he has said. However, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing does not read the comments made about him.

I start by making what I believe to be an extremely important point. Migration and its effect has been mentioned by a number of hon. Members, but no one did so in a derogatory sense. It was mentioned by Mr. Vara, but certainly not in a racist way. We have heard that migration has an adverse impact on crime; it may have an impact on types of crime, but it does not have an impact in that sense. The debate was very good tempered and well measured, and it important to reiterate the fact that no hon. Member here today spoke in a derogatory way.

I assure all hon. Members who have participated in the debate that the Government are aware of the issues with respect to Cambridgeshire. As hon. Members know, I do not necessarily deal with those issues myself, but my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing is aware of them. As has been said, the Home Secretary met the chief constable of Cambridgeshire and the chair of the police authority in November last year, and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing recently met others from Cambridgeshire. I join hon. Members in congratulating the police on their work in the county—I have not heard anyone denigrate their work. We often say such things in order to get our retaliation in first, but everyone has been most complimentary. I will take back all the points that have been made today to my right hon. Friend, and I hope that that will be useful.

I shall answer a couple of specific questions that I will not cover in my later remarks. The hon. Member for Peterborough has mentioned population figures, but he knows that police funding is not based purely on population and that the funding formula takes account of a range of other factors. I note that the ACPO lead on finance, the chief constable of Gloucestershire, has said that the funding assessment was a

"genuine attempt at finding a balance between competing priorities" and that it was

"broadly in line with anticipated rises in core costs".

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman and I can talk about that point after the debate, but I would be interested to know where he found a 24,000 discrepancy between the ONS figures and the anticipated population figures. The figures that I have for 2008-09 and 2009-10—I appreciate that after then we have only projected increases—show a difference of about 6,000. The ONS figure for 2008-09 was 767,325; Cambridgeshire police's estimated population was 773,084. As I have said, we can talk about that after the debate.

Mr. Djanogly has discussed 3 per cent. efficiency savings. Police forces are required to make efficiency savings of 3 per cent., but that money does not go back to the centre; it remains with forces, which can use it in whatever way they think appropriate.

The hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire has raised the issue of trafficking. He was kind enough to congratulate me on my work in that respect, and I know that he is involved, as are a number of other hon. Members here today. The hon. Gentleman will know that we are looking at what more we should do to support the work of police forces in tackling trafficking—Cambridgeshire will have issues in that respect. I know of the force's good practice, and others forces wish to learn from it. The hon. Gentleman will also know that Pentameter 2 is ongoing, and forces throughout the United Kingdom are involved in that work.

The hon. Member for North-East Bedfordshire made an extremely important point about cross-border collaboration, which is collaboration between Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire in the case of his area. I am not sure about the geography of the areas represented by other hon. Members, but this is an issue that affects everyone, and we have allocated £35 million over the next three years for cross-border collaboration and cross-border work. Either Bedfordshire or Cambridgeshire could bid for some of that money to help with their cross-border work. Again, I hope that is helpful to the hon. Member.

Tom Brake and James Brokenshire have both raised the issue of the British trust fund, which was announced today by the Home Secretary. Of course, it could well be that money raised from that fund, irrespective of the charges for it and how much they will be, is used by the police force in Cambridgeshire and by other forces across the country to pay for certain services.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington also mentioned the community infrastructure levy, which, as he knows, will replace section 106. The details of that levy are still being worked on. However, the levy is the type of new development that one would expect to contribute to public services in a particular area.