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Metropolitan Police

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much specialised training in man days was provided to Metropolitan Police officers of each rank in respect of (a) murder inquiries and (b) racial incidents in the last year for which figures are available. [50664]

Mr. Michael: Training in the Metropolitan Police Service is an operational matter for the Commissioner. The Commissioner tells me that the Metropolitan Police Service does provide training to officers in respect of murder inquiries. This training is provided at a number of levels and through different courses. The most significant of these is the Management of Serious Crimes Course and the Detective Constables Course (the latter was introduced on 31 March 1998).

The total number of officers on these courses between 1 July 1997 and 30 June 1998 were:

Constables: 108
Sergeants: 15
Inspectors: 81
Chief Inspectors: 11.

Elements of Community and Race Relations and Equal Opportunities Training are included in the majority of all training delivered to officers at all levels.

The Commissioner has recently appointed Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve to head the next phase of reform of police racial awareness training and police investigation of racial and violent crime.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the projected change in funding per Metropolitan Police officer consequent on the proposed boundary changes if current arrangements for central Government funding and precepting remain unchanged; [50662]

Mr. Michael: The proposed changes to the boundaries of the Metropolitan Police will lead to some re-distribution of existing resources, including police officers, but it is too early to give precise estimates.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the projected change in the number of Metropolitan Police officers in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2005 on present trends of recruitment and wastage. [50660]

Mr. Michael: It is for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to determine what number of officers will be required to police the capital.

In making this assessment, the Commissioner will consider all the demands on the finances available to him in order to provide an efficient and effective service, while ensuring best value is achieved.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government propose to assist the Metropolitan Police in its recruitment. [50659]

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Mr. Michael: It is a matter for the Commissioner to determine what proportion of the funding of the Metropolitan Police Service is used in the recruitment of its officers.

The Commissioner informs me that, in common with other employers in the South East, the police are having to work hard to attract suitable staff, but that two national recruitment campaigns are being run this year.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the quarterly totals for the last three years of the number of (a) officers leaving the Metropolitan Police service or retiring, (b) people applying to join the Metropolitan Police and (c) people accepted as recruits into the Metropolitan Police. [50661]

Mr. Michael: The Commissioner has provided the following information:

(a) Officers leaving the Metropolitan Police service or retiring

YearFirst quarterSecond quarterThird quarterFourth quarterTotal

(b) Those applying to join the Metropolitan Police:


(c) Those accepted as recruits into the Metropolitan Police:


The Commissioner tells me that, as applications and subsequent acceptances may take place in different quarters, a breakdown by quarters is not possible.

Child Protection

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further plans he has to tackle the issue of preventing unsuitable people from working with children and to protect young people from abuse by those in positions of trust following the debate on lowering the age of consent from 18 to 16 years on 22 June; and if he will make a statement. [51727]

Mr. Michael: During the debate on 22 June 1998, Official Report, columns 709-811, I referred to the interdepartmental working group set up to look as a matter of priority at further safeguards needed to prevent those unsuitable from working with children and to protect young people from abuse by those in positions of trust. The group is due to meet on 30 July.

The need to protect vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds from abuse of trust was discussed at length in the debate on 22 June. The working group will look carefully at the concerns expressed. Issues to be considered will include:

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the definition of a position of trust; the scope of occupations to be covered; the definition of those to be protected; the kind of behaviour to be prohibited; existing safeguards and possible new mechanisms for prohibiting such behaviour, including a possible new criminal offence. Any proposals will relate to the need to protect both boys and girls and will take account of issues such as avoiding the criminalisation of the younger partner in a relationship based on abuse of trust.

On the issue of preventing those unsuitable from working with children, the working group's programme of work will include: how working with children can be defined; how to define those unsuitable to work with children; existing and potential safeguards to prevent unsuitable people working with children; a possible new offence to support the safeguards; and the possible establishment of a central register of those unsuitable to work with children, including questions of quality assurance, access, scope and cost.

The working group will also take into account the report of Sir William Utting's review of safeguards for children living away from home and the Government's response to this review which is expected to be published by the Ministerial Task Force later this year. In particular, consideration will be given to those recommendations dealing with choosing the right staff.

The working group, which will be led by the Home Office, will hold regular meetings during the autumn and is tasked to make recommendations by the end of December. Other Departments involved include: the Department for Education and Employment; the Department of Health; the Welsh Office; the Charity Commission; the Crown Prosecution Service; and the Lord Chancellor's Department. This group will also look at how best to involve outside organisations in the work. The group's recommendations will relate to England and Wales, but representatives from the Scottish and Northern Ireland Offices will also be involved.

Telephone Interceptions

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) of 9 July 1998, Official Report, column 588, what factors underlie the trends in the numbers of warrants approved; and if he will make a statement. [50932]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to the Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 1996 (Cm 3678) in which, at paragraph 10, he gives an explanation for the increase in the number of interception warrants issued. The Commissioner's report for 1997 will be published shortly.

Police Recruits

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he proposes to increase the number of police officer recruits. [51042]

Mr. Michael: Ministers have no direct control over police numbers. Under legislation passed by the previous Government in 1994, it is for individual chief constables to determine the number of police officers in their force within the total resources available to them.

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Under the Government's spending plans, which were announced on 14 July 1998, Official Report, columns 187-211, up to £1.24 billion in additional funds over 1998-99 levels will be available to police forces in England and Wales over the next three years. This settlement, along with savings from the 2 per cent. year-on-year efficiency improvements which police forces will be asked to achieve, will ensure that more resources are focused on the front-line against crime.

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