During a debate on the grant from Central Government to Police Authorities in England, Sir George pressed Home Office Minister John Denham on the issue of the allowances which the police get to reflect the high costs of living in parts of the county.
"Police in parts of Hampshire get an extra £1000 pa, but this in no way compensates for the high cost of housing. As a result, many are moving either to parts of the country where housing costs less, such as the South West; or to London where the allowances are much higher."
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Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire): As the right hon. Gentleman has implied, he is not unfamiliar with the problems in Hampshire. The resources that he announced at the beginning of the debate are very welcome, but unless the issue of allowances is addressed, it will be impossible to spend those resources because of the retention and recruitment problem, to which reference has just been made. Will he use such influence as he has to review as soon as possible the £1,000 allowance, which is a real barrier to getting the quality police force that we all want to see?
Mr. Denham: I want to ensure that we identify the problems precisely and tackle them effectively. It is notable that some of the police forces surrounding London appear to have much greater problems with recruitment and retention than others, even though the apparent underlying conditions are very similar. For example, Surrey, which is as geographically close to London as one can get, has very high house prices, but the Surrey force has not suffered the same recruitment difficulty as the Hampshire and Hertfordshire forces. I am anxious to work with forces in the region to identify the precise nature of the recruitment and retention problems, and such work is already in train. I want to ensure that any action taken addresses real, rather than assumed, problems, which is the approach that I tend to take. I acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed, but I think that the approach that I have identified is the right and proper way for the Government to proceed.