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Police Recruitment (Graduate Scheme)

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the ethnic balance of successful candidates in the police accelerated scheme for graduates. [101600]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Graduate Liaison Office of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary makes strenuous efforts to attract applications to the Accelerated Promotion Scheme for Graduates (APS(G)) from high calibre graduates, irrespective of background. However, there is still some way to go to improve the numbers and quality of ethnic minority candidates and their subsequent success at the various stages of the selection process.

The ethnic balance of the APS(G) was examined in the context of an ongoing review of the Scheme. A number of recommendations are under consideration including the way in which the Scheme is marketed, the possible appointment of a Graduate Liaison Officer with a specific responsibility for ethnic minority candidates, and the setting of targets for ethnic minority recruitment.

The Assessment and Consultancy Unit (ACU), which designs and monitors the final assessment centre selection for the scheme, has already let a contract for an Equal Opportunities audit of this part of the process. ACU is also committed to conducting follow-up research on candidates who do join the scheme, with a view to validating the selection process and informing the qualities which should be sought in good applicants from any background.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that cultural questions facing Police Accelerated Scheme for Graduates candidates are not discriminatory. [101601]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Selection for the APS(G) involves several stages, with preliminary selection taking place in police forces. The Home Office issues guidance to all forces on the conduct of their Force Boards, with specific reference to ensuring fairness to all applicants.

The final assessment centre (known as the Extended Interview) involves a wide range of tests and exercises, designed to give every candidate maximum opportunity to demonstrate his or her competencies and also to promote maximum objectivity in assessment. All assessors receive training from the Assessment and Consultancy Unit for

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this task, and the Director and Co-Directors of Police Extended Interviews monitor the process to ensure consistent standards and fairness. Every effort is made to ensure that the questions and tests used are not unfair to any group of candidates. Before being used at assessment centres, new exercises are trialled with typical samples of the candidate population, including ethnic minority candidates.

A contract for an equal opportunities audit of the extended interview process has recently been let in order to obtain an independent assessment of the fairness of the process and to identify areas for further improvement.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letters to him dated 9 August, 16 September and 14 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Briken Qinami. [101806]

Mrs. Roche: I am very sorry my right hon. Friend has not received a reply to his letters. I will be writing to him shortly.

National Black Police Association

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what message he sent to the inaugural meeting of the National Black Police Association. [101598]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I sent two messages of support to the inaugural meeting of the National Black Police Association. One was a written message that was printed in the conference programme. The other was a short video message, which was shown at the conference.

In both messages, I set out the Government's continued commitment to tackling racism and promoting equality of opportunity, as well as my support for the work and aims of the National Black Police Association.

I thanked the police service as a whole for the way in which they have responded quickly, not only to the message of the Lawrence report, but to the recommendations. I also sent my congratulations to the National Black Police Association for all they have achieved during the past 12 months. I made it clear that, if we are to achieve our shared vision; not only of a police service that is representative of the community it serves, but also one that positively celebrates within its ranks and attitudes the diversity of society, then we must all work together.

Road Accidents

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the contribution that modern technology can make to speedier on-the-scene accident analysis to reduce congestion after road collisions. [101683]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Work in this field, particularly on the use of precision photographic techniques from which precise accident measurements can be derived, is being taken forward by the police service.

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Criminal Justice (Mentally Disordered People)

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship's reports "Picking up the Pieces: Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System" and "The National Diversion/Liaison Scheme Register"; and if he will implement the recommendation that mental health awareness skills should be part of a minimum training package for all police officers. [100808]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government welcome the publication of these reports, which discuss important aspects of managing the response to mentally disordered people who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Effective local inter-agency arrangements around the country are essential if their needs are to be addressed properly. The Home Office and Department of Health are working together to encourage local agencies and services to develop the most suitable arrangements in the light of local circumstances. I understand that police officers in both the Metropolitan Police and other forces in England and Wales receive formal training on mental illness as part of their probationer training. It is open to chief officers to provide additional training on this subject if there is a particular need for it.

City Status

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects an announcement on which towns have been granted city status. [101967]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Her Majesty the Queen has said that she intends to mark the Millennium by a grant of city status and a competition was announced in May of this year with a closing date of 1 September. No date has yet been set for the announcement of the result.

Asylum Seekers

Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the Scottish local authorities which have responded to his Department's request, for the purposes of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1999, to identify accommodation that they regard as suitable for asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement. [101707]

Mrs. Roche: Discussions are ongoing with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, with regard to identifying accommodation for asylum seekers in connection with the new arrangements for support under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Responses from individual local authorities are being treated as confidential at this stage.

Police Disciplinary Notices

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many senior police officers in Cleveland have been served with Regulation 6 disciplinary notices in connection with Operation Dollar; and if he will make a statement. [102090]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 6 December 1999, Official Report, column 392W.

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Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the football matches which are in category A under Part IV of the Broadcasting Act 1996 as amended. [102096]

Janet Anderson: All matches in the finals tournament of the FIFA World Cup and the European Football Championships, the FA Cup Final and the Scottish FA Cup Final (in Scotland) were included as Group A events in the list of events maintained under Part IV of the Broadcasting Act 1996 which was announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 25 June 1998, Official Report, column 601W. The revised list had effect from that day.

Lottery Terminals

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what discussions he had with the National Lottery Commission prior to the announcement that existing lottery terminals will be required to be replaced in the event of a new operator being appointed to run the national lottery; [102142]

Mr. Chris Smith: The decision to require the successful applicant for the new National Lottery licence to install new terminals was taken by the National Lottery Commission. I had a meeting with the National Lottery Commissioners on 29 November 1999 at which they briefed me on the contents of the announcement made the following day. The Commission is independent of Government and neither I, nor any other Minister, had any say in this decision.

The National Lottery Commission has a statutory responsibility to ensure that the National Lottery is run with all due propriety, to protect the interests of players, and subject to satisfying those two criteria, to maximise the amount the Lottery raises for good causes. The Commission took the view that a competition is the best way to ensure that the amount raised for good causes is maximised, and therefore insisted on new technology for National Lottery terminals to remove an obstacle to competition.

I have made no estimate of the cost of replacing the existing National Lottery terminals.

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