A cabinet row has broken out over whether the Government should pledge to recruit an extra 40,000 police officers to match a promise made by the Conservative Party.

In a government-wide spending review, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, is bidding for funds for a big expansion in police numbers to prevent Labour being outflanked on law and order at the next general election. But Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, does not believe increasing police numbers would reduce the number of offences or people's fear of crime.

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