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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 16:01 GMT
Downing Street enters police row
Chief Constable Steve Green
The chief constable said he had to "borrow" officers from other forces
Downing Street has defended the funding of Nottinghamshire police, amid claims the force is struggling to cope.

Chief Constable Steve Green said his force was "reeling" from dealing with 30 murders, dealt with excessive paperwork and had to "borrow" officers.

Tory leader Michael Howard said police officers were being "handcuffed by paperwork".

But Tony Blair's spokesman said the force had received "significant support" in terms of resources.

MPs from Nottingham are to meet Home Office chiefs to discuss the issue.

'Different views'

The prime minister's spokesman said: "Everyone recognises there are problems in Nottinghamshire but there are different views about the cause of these problems."

He said the force had seen a 4.8% increase in its grant - "well above the minimum granted to all police authorities". It had 200 more officers than in 1997, and 267 more civilian staff.

Do the residents feel safe out and about in Nottingham?

Mr Green told the Sunday Telegraph the force may have to "farm out" murder cases to other forces.

He said Nottingham had seen a sharp rise in high-profile category A murders from one every 12 to 18 months before 2001, to about 21 in the past four years.

The paper quotes Mr Green as saying: "We are reeling with the murders. We are in a long-standing crisis situation with major crime and it won't go away overnight."

But Labour MP Graham Allen, who represents Nottingham North, criticised Mr Green for turning to the press and questioned how officers were being deployed.

Mr Howard, a former home secretary, said: "The police now spend as much time behind their desks filling in forms as they do on our streets.

"It's little wonder that in many places decent law abiding people worry that the police have become powerless, remote and distant, unable to deal with the issues that concern their neighbourhoods the most."

HIGHEST GUN CRIME AREAS
1. London
2. Manchester
3. Liverpool
4. West Midlands
5. Nottingham

He said the Tories would scrap targets and cut back on paperwork to free up officers to tackle crime.

John Hammond, chairman of the Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said the force faced "unique demands" because it was funded as a rural force, but faced the demands of an urban one.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the root cause of problems in Nottingham, and other urban areas, was the "failure of the government's drink and drugs strategy".

And Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten MP said: "The police should be out on the streets deterring and detaining criminals, not stuck behind desks filling in endless mountains of paperwork."

Former home secretary David Blunkett admitted there was a national problem with organised crime and drugs, but said the proposed creation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency showed it was being addressed.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Nottingham Police face troubled times



SEE ALSO:
Living in 'Gun City'
13 Mar 05 |  UK
Gun crime fears 'hitting tourism'
31 Jan 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Community saddened and fearful
11 Oct 04 |  Nottinghamshire
City's recent history of murders
11 Oct 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Force asking for more officers
10 Oct 04 |  Nottinghamshire


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