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Young Offenders (Avon and Somerset)

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the number of young offenders within the Avon and Somerset area who have committed (a) five offences or more, (b) 10 offences of more, (c) 20 offences or more and (d) 50 offences or more; and if he will make a statement. [107844]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The exact information requested is not held centrally. However, information is available on the number of recordable offences for which a 1998 sample of persistent young offenders had been convicted.

This indicates that a total of 173 individual persistent young offenders were sentenced on one or more occasions during 1998 following apprehension by the Avon and Somerset police. Of these 33 had been sentenced for a total of between five and nine recordable offences, 64 had been sentenced for between 10 and 19 recordable offences, 65 had been sentenced for between 20 and

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49 recordable offences, and 10 had been sentenced for 50 or more recordable offences. The remaining individual had been sentenced for four recordable offences.

We define persistent young offenders as having at least three previous convictions and being apprehended for a further offence within three years of their most recent previous sentence.

Avon and Somerset Police

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers in the Avon and Somerset force are (a) allocated to policing within the Bristol area and (b) on standby for policing within the Bristol area; and if he will make a statement. [107843]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I understand from the Chief Constable that three territorial divisions police the Bristol area. At the end of January, there were 831 police officers in these divisions.

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Police officers are not held on standby for policing a particular division. Avon and Somerset Constabulary's resources are managed to provide flexibility of response to major incidents, whether planned or spontaneous. A number of specialist units are also available to provide specialised operational policing capabilities on a forcewide basis.

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) civilians and (b) special constables have been employed by the Avon and Somerset Police for each of the last five years. [107845]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The strength of the civilians and special constables employed by Avon and Somerset Constabulary for each of the last five years is recorded in the table:

Year (13)Civilians (14)Special Constables

(13) As at 31 March

(14) The civilian figures are full time equivalents, and do not include traffic wardens


Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office

Police Calls

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the number of (a) calls and (b) completed call cards for each English police force for the latest available year; and if he will give the ratio of police officers to calls and call cards for each force. [107798]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Data are not collected in the form requested. Information held by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for the year 1998-99 in respect of all calls to the police for services requiring further action by the police is given in the table:

ForcesPolice strength (15)Total calls for service (16)Calls for service per 100 police officers
Avon and Somerset2,999403,57913,456
City of London79838,1344,778
Devon and Cornwall2,924488,43216,704
Greater Manchester6,7541,186,69617,569
Metropolitan Police24,4473,336,17313,646
North Wales1,415161,87911,440
North Yorkshire1,352225,12516,653
South Wales2,981544,02618,247
South Yorkshire3,168423,14513,357
Thames Valley3,649479,06513,127
West Mercia2,005373,20618,614
West Midlands7,182840,53911,704
West Yorkshire5,022693,66113,813
Provincial Total97,57014,505,51414,867
England and Wales Total122,01817,841,68714,622

(15) Figures as 31 March 1999 are used for performance indicator purposes. This is total strength excluding operational officers on secondment and assigned to protection duties.

(16) Defined as any request for assistance that requires any further action, not necessarily immediately.

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Police Overtime

Mr. Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the number of hours of (a) paid and (b) unpaid overtime by police officers for each of the last five years, broken down by each English police force. [107797]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Information is not held centrally on the number of hours of paid and unpaid overtime worked by police officers, and cannot be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.

Exotic Animals

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to introduce tighter controls to limit the sale of exotic animals; and if he will make a statement; [108179]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Our policy is to ensure that law is in place to safeguard the welfare of animals offered for sale as pets. This applies as much to reptiles in do-it-yourself stores, as it does to animals sold through other outlets. We intend that the law should be effectively enforced.

We believe that the Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended), together with the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (as amended), meet that objective. Although there is

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no plan to introduce tighter controls at present, we will keep the situation under review to ensure the law is able to address the issues.

Under the 1951 Act, persons in the business of selling pet animals must be licensed by local authorities. The licence conditions have to cover the suitability and cleanliness of the animals' accommodation, feeding arrangements, and protection from disease and fire. The local authority may inspect licensed premises at all reasonable times, and a breach of licence conditions may result in a fine of £500 and/or three months imprisonment for the offender, as well as his or her disqualification from keeping a pet shop in future.

Under the 1911 Act, it is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment, to cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal, and this includes animals kept as stock by persons trading in pets, both before and after their sale.

In addition, some species of reptile may be lawfully kept, after purchase from a pet supplier, only by someone suitably licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Others may be threatened species controlled under the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), under which welfare requirements must be satisfied before the animals concerned are allowed to enter the country. There is control over their subsequent movements.

Burns Inquiry

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons he rejected the proposal to appoint (a) AJF Webster, (b) Piran White, (c) Donald Broom, (d) Stephen Harris and (e) Baroness Young to the Burns Inquiry into hunting; and if he will make a statement. [108181]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: It would be invidious to give details of the merits of any person not appointed to the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he made of the personal views of the members appointed to serve on the Burns Inquiry; and if he will make a statement. [108227]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I set out any association which each member of the Inquiry Team has had with hunting in the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson) on 1 February 2000, Official Report, columns 504-06W.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is satisfied that any personal and private views, one way or the other, will not prevent any of them from providing an informative view on the issues before the Committee.

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