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HOME DEPARTMENT

Metropolitan Police

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of whether the Metropolitan police are institutionally racist. [134999]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made clear his assessment of institutional racism in the Metropolitan police service as well as in other public institutions in his statement to the House on publication of the report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry on 24 February 1999, Official Report, columns 389-93. The action plan he published in March 1999 sets out a major programme of reform, the implementation of which is overseen and audited by the steering group set up for this purpose, which he chairs. The first annual report on progress in implementation of the action plan was published in February 2000.

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Nice Inter-Governmental Conference

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what issues within the remit of his Department are to be the subject of negotiation at the Nice Inter-Governmental Conference. [134785]

Mr. Straw: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has overall responsibility for Inter-Governmental Conference issues, which are expected to be concluded at the European Council in December in Nice.

The scope of the conference and the Government's position on the main issues was set out in the Government's White Paper--"IGC: Reform for Enlargement", in February 2000. The Home Office has a direct interest in several of the treaty changes which are being proposed, in particular some of those related to any extension of qualified majority voting.

Violent Crime

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will commission an independent study of the possible reasons for the increase of violent crime in 1999-2000 and publish its findings. [134782]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I have no plans to commission such a study.

Action to reduce violent crime, based on research by the Home Office as well as from other sources on the causes of and trends in violent crime and crime overall, is ongoing. Police forces are aware of the increase in violent crime and are carrying out proactive operations to tackle it.

EU Judicial System

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is his policy to support the principle of the establishment of an EU-wide system of jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on proposals under discussion thereon. [134797]

Mrs. Roche: We do not favour the establishment of a single European Union-wide jurisdiction, nor are there any current proposals to establish one. The United Kingdom fully supports the Tampere conclusion that mutual recognition should be the cornerstone of judicial co-operation in the European Union.

Police Recruitment

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers were recruited in the last 12 months, having previously served in forces outside Great Britain. [135822]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information requested is not collected centrally. However, inquiries made with the Northern Ireland Office have established that in the last 12 months three officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been recruited by forces in England and Wales.

"Voices"

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department spent on advertising space in the recent Government publication, "Voices". [135588]

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Mr. Straw [holding answer 30 October 2000]: The Home Office has spent £5,477.85 including VAT on advertising space in "Voices". This expenditure covered in 1999 an advertisement featuring information about the "Break the Chain" initiative on domestic violence and this year a police recruitment advertisement.

Merseyside Police

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much funding has been allocated to Merseyside police since May 1997 in annual budgetary settlement and in special programmes; and how much of that funding was additional to the formulae aid programmes in operation before that date. [135832]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The amount of funding allocated to Merseyside in annual budgetary settlement since 1997 is shown in the table.

£ million
YearGovernment funding(22)
1997-98207.5
1998-99213.2
1999-2000215.3
2000-01220.7

(22) Includes Home Office Police Grant, Revenue Support Grant and National Non-Domestic Rates grant.


Provision for 1996-97 was £203.4 million.

In addition the force has received:

£ million

YearCapital grant
1997-983.8
1998-992.3
1999-20002.0
2000-012.5

£

YearLoan charges grant
1997-98414,488
1998-99340,380
1999-2000351,136
2000-01(23)318,450

(23) Full year figure


Home Office accounts records show that the force has also received the following individual payments:







"Casework Information Needs within the

Criminal Justice System"

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a formal response to the report, "Casework Information Needs within the Criminal Justice System", undertaken jointly by the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, HM Inspectorate

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of Constabulary, HM Magistrates' Courts Service Inspectorate, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and the Social Services Inspectorate; and if he will make a statement. [135580]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government welcome the joint inspectorates' report, and the way the six separate inspectorates collaborated together in reporting jointly on casework information flows right across the criminal justice system (CJS). This joint approach fits in well with the Government's development of joint planning for the CJS as a whole and in particular with the CJS Integrating Business and Information Systems (IBIS) initiative. There are no plans to publish a formal response to the report but it will be a useful aid to CJS departments, services and agencies in improving the way they currently handle casework information and its findings are being taken forward in ongoing work by CJS departments, including the points raised about the IBIS model of information flow in the criminal justice system. The inspectorates have indicated that, in their future inspections, they will be seeking confirmation that the recommendations of this report are being addressed and will commission a review of the implementation of the recommendations in two years' time.

Dorset Police Authority

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the numbers of (a) operational police officers and (b) total staff employed by the Dorset Police Authority in (i) May 1997 and (ii) at the latest date for which figures are available. [135535]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Information on operational police numbers is collected in March of each year by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. Total staffing numbers are collected twice a year in March and September. The latest available information in both cases are those for March 2000.

The information is set out in the table.

Dorset Police

Year (as at 31 March)
19972000
Total number of operational police officers1,0811,223
Total police numbers1,2841,306
Total number of civilian staff(24)615686
Total number of staff employed1,8991,992

(24) excludes traffic wardens


Between March 1997 and March 2000 the number of operational police officers in the Dorset Police increased by 13 per cent. The total increase in police service personnel for the same period was nearly 5 per cent.

Ball-bearing Guns

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ban ball- bearing guns; and if he will make a statement. [135533]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There are no plans to ban ball-bearing (BB) guns. These weapons generally have muzzle energies much lower than that required to inflict an injury more serious than superficial bruising. Because of this they do not fit the definition of a firearm contained in the Firearms Act 1968 and do not come under the

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control of the Act. However, as the Home Affairs Committee (HAC) recognised in its recent report on "Controls Over Firearms", there is a danger of armed police being called out to deal with youngsters brandishing these weapons in the street.

In its response to the HAC, the Government accepted the recommendation that the sale of these weapons to young people by mail order, telephone and the internet be banned and extended to include sales through any outlet, including face to face. The Government are therefore now considering how the sale of these and other replica firearms to people under 18 years of age might be restricted.


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