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Departmental Policies

Home Department written question – answered on 2nd March 2005.

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Photo of Ms Lorna Fitzsimons Ms Lorna Fitzsimons Labour, Rochdale

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to Rochdale constituency, the effects on Rochdale of his Department's policies and actions since 1997.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The Government have put in place policies in the areas of crime reduction, antisocial behaviour, policing and active communities that are yielding considerable benefits for the Rochdale constituency, as well as for all parts of the UK.

For example, between March 1997 and March 2004, the number of police officers in the Greater Manchester Police Force increased by 1,189 from 6,922 to 8,111. The Government's introduction of Community Support Officers (CSOs) in 2002 has put 229 CSOs on Greater Manchester's streets to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. Between 1997 and 2003–04, the Greater Manchester Police Force area has seen a reduction in recorded domestic burglary crimes of 16 per cent. and in recorded vehicle crimes of 29 per cent.

Greater Manchester Police Force will be receiving £412.5 million in general grants for 2005–06, an increase of 4.89 per cent. (£19.3 million) over 2004–05. Greater Manchester also gains around £0.8 million from the Amending Report for 2003–04, bringing the overall increase to 5.1 per cent. General grants funding to Greater Manchester Police has increased by 30 per cent. between 1997–98 and 2005–06. In addition to general grants, Greater Manchester will also receive around £39 million in specific grants funding for targeted initiatives and capital provision in 2005–06. The distribution of resources locally is a matter for the Police Authority and the Chief Constable.

As crime prevention requires action across communities, every area has had a local Crime and Disorder reduction Partnership (CDRP) since 1998 which brings together the police, health services, drugs agencies and council and community representatives to decide how to prevent and deter crime and antisocial behaviour.

The Crime Reduction Programme (CRP) was a pioneering government intervention programme which ran for three years from April 1999 in England and Wales and took an evidence-based approach to crime reduction. Grants of over £340 million were allocated to over 1,470 projects, including CCTV, under 20 initiatives that formed part of the programme. Two CCTV projects in the Rochdale CDRP area received a total of £209,536 from the CRP.

Since 2001, successive initiatives have provided direct funding to each of the 376 Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in England and Wales. These initiatives include Communities Against Drugs, the Safer Communities Initiative, the Small Retailers in Deprived Areas scheme and the Building Safer Communities Fund. Since 2001, a total of £1.6 million has been allocated to Rochdale CDRP under these initiatives. A further £1.8 million has been provided over the two years 2003–04 and 2004–05 to the Home Office Regional Director in the North West for CDRP capacity building across the region.

It is estimated that out of a million active offenders, 100,000 have three or more convictions and are responsible for half of all crime. There is a Prolific and other Priority Offenders (PPO) scheme in Rochdale set up to target those offenders who cause a disproportionate amount of crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour in the community.

The Government's Crime Reduction Website provides further information on the work being done to reduce crime across the country, including information about action and results in local areas. It is available at http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk.

New legislation has given local agencies a raft of powers, from antisocial behaviour orders to local dispersal orders and crack house closure powers, to work with local people to tackle antisocial behaviour and nuisance. In Rochdale a total of 54 antisocial behaviour orders have been issued as of 17 February 2005. Local contacts for tackling antisocial behaviour can be found on http://www.together.gov.uk/authority.asp.

Tackling Drug Misuse is a priority of this Government and their policy is set out in the 10 year National Drug Strategy launched in 1998 and updated in December 2002. (A copy of the Updated Drug Strategy 2002 is held in the Library). Under this, the Government have invested substantially in measures to reduce the harms caused by illegal drugs, focussing on the four strands of:

reducing the supply of illegal drugs; preventing young people from becoming problematic drug users; providing effective treatment to all who need it; and reducing drug-related crime.

Direct annual funding nationally to tackle drug misuse amounted to £1,244 million in 2003–04, rising to £1,344 million in 2004–05. Rochdale has seen a significant increase in direct funding for tackling drugs, in particular for drug treatment services and the throughcare and aftercare elements of the Drug Intervention Programme. In 2003–04 the allocation for Rochdale Drug Action Team amounted to £2.04 million, rising to £2.31 million in 2004–05. Details of action taken to tackle drugs in the Rochdale constituency can be obtained from the Rochdale Drug Action Team, for contact details see http://www.drugs.gov.uk/Links/DrugActionTeams.

The Government are working to ensure that citizens, communities and the voluntary sector are more fully engaged in tackling social problems, and there is more equality of opportunity and respect for people of all races and religions. Active community participation in England has increased by 1.5 million people between 2001 and 2003. Charities have been supported more effectively, and £125 million is being invested across the country through the 'futurebuilders' fund in voluntary and community organisations that help provide valuable public services. Advice on ways to engage local people in helping their communities is available on the Active Citizenship Centre website http://www.active-citizen.org.uk.

Rochdale was one of the founder members of the Home Office's Civic Pioneers network which now includes 14 local authorities in England. As a 'Civic Pioneer', a local authority shows its commitment to involving and engaging local people in decision making processes and in the design and delivery of local services, so that their involvement in local decision-making can be more diverse, constructive, sustained and rewarding. Rochdale has pioneered devolution to Area Forums and has been innovative in devising ways to engage and motivate young people at risk of offending, through schemes like Junior Wardens and projects to improve the local environment.

To support strong and active communities in which people of all races and backgrounds are valued, the Home Office funded a Community Cohesion Pathfinder in Rochdale over 18 months from April 2003. This invested £150,000 via the local authority and £90,000 via voluntary and community sector partners. The Rochdale Community Cohesion Pathfinder focused on the complexity, diversity and distinctiveness of the local communities and put community partnership at the centre of the programme. Activities engaged a broad cross of people in the borough and included cultural and sports projects, local voluntary and community activity and activities developed by young people themselves. Examples of activity are the Sports United project which targeted territorialism and tension among local young people through the medium of sport and the Multi-faith partnership which promoted dialogue, learning and understanding between different faiths. Rochdale local authority achieved Beacon status for community cohesion.

This year, 2005, is the year of the Volunteer which is being delivered by the Home Office in partnership with Community Service Volunteers and Volunteering England. This will include a whole range of events in local communities across the country that aim to celebrate the contribution which volunteers make to the quality of people's lives, and encourage more people to volunteer. We are particularly keen to encourage young people, black and minority ethnic groups, those with no qualifications and disabled people to get involved. More details can be found at www.yearofthevolunteer.org .

Detailed information on the impact of Home Office policies across the full range of responsibilities is set out in the Home Office Annual Report and in the Strategic Plan for 2004–08, available on the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk.

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