27 June 2002

Q2 Alison Halford:

 What discussions has the Minister had with the chief constable of North Wales Police concerning his decision to increase local taxes to pay for more police officers? (OAQ18517)


Edwina Hart:

 None. Decisions on the council tax precept are a matter for police authorities.

Alison Halford:

Thank you for that succinct reply. Will you comment on the chief constable’s decision to use taxpayers’ money to pay for security arrangements at Mostyn Dock, while all south Wales ports must make private security arrangements? Does the Minister consider that a suitable use of taxpayers’ money and, if so, is she prepared to increase the National Assembly grant to North Wales Police to cover that extra expenditure?Edwina Hart: That is a matter for North Wales Police and the police authority. However, in light of your concerns, I will write to clarify the position with the chief constable of North Wales Police. Although policing is not a devolved matter, it is of great interest to all Members. We are always supportive of the police and the measures that they want. I have made representations to the Home Office about the general levels of police funding in Wales, because Members and others have expressed concerns to me on that issue.

Janet Ryder:

I congratulate you on your recently added responsibilities for drugs and drug awareness, especially since it seems to answer our request, made in a debate in January 2002 on safer communities, for all aspects of community safety to be brought under the portfolio of one Minister. You only need responsibility for youth justice and domestic violence, Minister, and you will be responsible for the whole issue.
Edwina Hart: That matter was not raised in the Committee meeting yesterday. I have put in hand the necessary inquiries to establish the current position. As I indicated previously in Committee, I will then write to Members and advise them appropriately.

Peter Rogers:

 In a recent survey, people from north Wales were in favour of increasing local taxes to pay for extra police officers. Do you agree that this sends out the right message, that we, and our communities, are as responsible as the police and authorities for combating crime and other disturbances?

Edwina Hart:

 I know that a survey was undertaken, but I cannot comment on it or judge the statistical validity of its results. It is important that we recognise that there is strong public concern about law and order and drug issues. As politicians, we should be responsive in how we deal with these issues and how we manage our budgets. We should draw together the various strands to assist the police in every way.


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