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Crackdown on crime leaves police in red.


RACE riots,murders, the death of a man in custody plus an unstable computer system have left North Wales police with a pounds 800,000 bill.

And the force's success in solving crime has left it with a further pounds 1m black hole.

Now they will have to dig deep into their reserves,plus claw back cash from other areas, to balance the books.

The unprecedented spate of major incidents during the past year has caused the problem, the Police Authority will be told on Friday.

It had earmarked pounds 500,000 towards major incidents in its present budget, but treasurer Nigel Thomas says an extra pounds 800,000 has been spent sofar.

``This was a result of three murder investigations, two of which are ongoing, the death in custody in the Western Division, the riots in Caia Park, Wrexham,and additional staffing in the control rooms,''he says.

It is understood the extra control room staff were needed when problems were experienced with the force's new computer system earlier this year.

The two murders still under investigation are those of Mold postman Paul Savage and Michael Sheridan of Holyhead.

Hywel Llewelyn Hughes, 32,collapsed at Caernarfon police station after being arrested in a Bangor nightclub late on Friday,May 2. He was taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd but died on the following day.

Mr Thomas says much of the overspend has been met from other budget areas, which are underspent such as leasing. But it is expected a contribution of pounds 300,000 will be needed from general reserves before next April.

Mr Thomas says pounds 1m will be transferred from reserves because of increased overtime, transport costs, upgrading equipment and health and safety issues.

``This is due to increases in demand and positive initiatives which have resulted in a 26pc increase in arrests compared to the same period last year,'' says the report.

With the Authority having been warned the precept will have to raise by about 25pc unless services are cut, a series of consultation meetings is being held across North Wales with councils, MPs,AMs and other groups. Last year the authority and the force commissioned a telephone survey of 3,000 people. According to the clerk to the authority,Kelvin Dent, the survey yielded interesting information,particularly relating to people's willingness to pay an increased precept for more police officers.

Operation Lifeboat,designed to tackle the problem of cars being driven in an anti-social manner, is to be extended across North Wales. Originally launched in Wrexham, it enables officers to warn drivers about their driving and if they repeat their behaviour within 12 months their vehicle can be confiscated. They must then pay pounds 117 to have it returned.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 2, 2003
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