VALE of York MP Anne McIntosh has questioned Home Secretary David Blunkett about local community funding for support police officers.

She said that the community ranger project, which pays for security firms to patrol villages, amounted to privatisation of the police.

Miss McIntosh said: "The police precept, charged through council taxes, has risen by 70 per cent in North Yorkshire this year and might even increase again next year. Parish councils in Skelton, Rawcliffe and Clifton Moor have paid £14,000 this year, rising to over £16,000 next year for the Community Ranger project. It is not a fair deal, but privatisation of the police through the back door."