Straw outlines plans for crime fighting cash

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The Independent Online

Home Secretary Jack Straw has set out details of how additional money announced in last week's Budget will be spent in the fight against crime. Chancellor Gordon Brown announced last Tuesday a cash injection of £285 million in order to help tackle crime and the causes of crime.

The funding will be directed in four key areas.

It will help speed up the recruitment of officers, create more opportunities for local partnerships to tackle crime and disorder, increase the effectiveness of scientific and technological support and modernise the Criminal Justice System.

The £285 million comprises £185 million for a Capital Modernisation Fund and £100 million for modernising policing.

A large part of the money will be put into the Government's Crime Fighting Fund.

Under this initiative police forces have been allocated their share of a promised 5,000 additional recruits over the next three years.

The programme is now to be brought forward with the aim of delivering all 5,000 within two years.

A further significant proportion will be used to assist the Metropolitan Police and other forces which are having particular difficulties with recruitment and retention, including the development of a national police recruiting campaign.

But Mr Straw admitted that police numbers had fallen by more than 1,000 since Labour came to power and said the shortfall may not be made up before the next general election.

"Police numbers fell between 1993 and 1998 under the budget set by the previous administration by 1,400.

"They have fallen since by a similar amount. It is my duty to get those numbers up," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Asked whether the numbers would be back up by the general election, he said: "I'm not certain they will get back to that level. They may not."

He added: "I hope they will go back, and the purpose of some of this money is to advance recruitment as fast as possible in terms of the capacity of the training estate."

The new cash injection will also be used to strengthen and support local police community partnerships for tackling crime.

Mr Straw said he wants to increase the resources which deal with local problems of anti-social behaviour and improve the development and implementation of local crime reduction strategies.

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