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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 March 2007, 12:11 GMT
Lib Dems in extra police promise
community support officers

Liberal Democrats have pledged to fund up to 500 extra police community support officers if they win power in the Welsh assembly elections.

AM Eleanor Burnham told delegates in Swansea that funding would be made available over the next assembly term.

She called for power over the police and prisons to be transferred to the assembly, provided sufficient funding accompanied the move.

Ms Burnham was speaking to the Lib Dem Welsh spring conference in Swansea.

The north Wales assembly member described the aborted attempts to merge police forces as a demonstration that Wales was better able to decide what kind of policing it needed.

She told delegates that after all its tough talking Labour had failed on crime.

Highest proportion

She said: "Violent crime, for instance, has doubled in the last eight years.

"More than three in every five prisoners are convicted of another crime within two years of release, the highest proportion since records began.

"Less than one in every 100 crimes leads to a court conviction."

In a speech entitled "A Safer Wales", Eleanor Burnham promised more action to curb excessive drinking.

Acceptable behaviour contracts, she said, had been pioneered by Liberal Democrat councils and would be promoted if the party was successful in Wales in May.

Ms Burnham said the Conservative and Labour Parties had a history of competing with each other to talk tough on crime but both had failed.

She said her party offered a new, honest and common sense approach.

Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell
Proportional representation is a key policy for Sir Menzies

On Saturday assembly Liberal Democrat leader Mike German told the conference they needed to target younger voters for the poll.

Mr German said tactics would include campaigning for the vote for 16-year-olds and targeting big university constituencies.

But with the turnout amongst younger voters notoriously low, he acknowledged it would be tough.

Mr German also warned his party not to be distracted from their mission of creating a fairer, greener future for Wales, and said they still had a lot to gain before the May election.

Later, MP Lembit Opik's message to the conference was these are the most important six weeks in the life of the party.

He said Wales was like a "living, breathing dragon that was suffocating under a directionless Labour administration".

Mr Opik also refused the chance to talk about a possible assembly coalition, saying he would do so only after the election.

On Friday, in his speech to the party leader Sir Menzies Campbell stressed his "absolute" commitment to proportional representation in a speech to Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Sir Menzies told activists they should be in "no doubt" about his commitment to PR for "every election".

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