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Sex Education

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will take steps to ensure that impartial information on abortion and early motherhood is made available to pupils in schools as a part of their sex education. [144188]

Jacqui Smith: In July 2000 we issued new sex and relationship education guidance for schools. The guidance explains that secondary schools should teach, among other things, about the responsibilities and the consequences of becoming a young parent and the arguments for delaying sexual activity. It also emphasises that there are strongly held views and religious beliefs about abortion and that the religious convictions of pupils and their parents should be respected.

The guidance also makes it clear that teaching throughout this area of the curriculum should be impartial and should not be influenced by teachers' own beliefs and attitudes.


Crime and Disorder Act

12. Mr. Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the ways in which police forces and local authorities in

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England and Wales have used provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, with special reference to curfew and antisocial behaviour orders. [142655]

Mr. Charles Clarke: To date over 140 anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) have been granted in England and Wales since the provision came into force and many more applications are in the pipeline. ASBOs have been taken out in a variety of cases and with considerable success. In accordance with the commitment given by my right hon. Friend when he was at the Home Office, we will be starting a review of the operation of ASBOs in the new year and its findings and recommendations will be published.

No applications have been received from local authorities to establish child curfew schemes under section 14 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Following consultation with local authorities and the police we propose to extend the upper age limit to 15 and are considering what other improvements might be made.

Police Numbers

13. Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of total natural wastage of police officer numbers in (a) the current year and (b) next year. [142656]

Mr. Straw: In their bids for a share of the recruitment scheme of the crime fighting fund, forces provided information on their projected wastage. Those projections were for total wastage, excluding transfers, of 5,366 officers in 2000-01 and 5,425 officers in 2001-02. Overall wastage has declined in the last three years from 5.2 per cent. to 4.7 per cent., and it is about half the level of the civil service.

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in (a) Wales and (b) England at the latest date for which figures are available. [144063]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The latest information on police numbers is that for 30 September 2000 and is set out in the table.

Total number of police officers
Seconded officers(28)2,384
Total for England and Wales124,614

(28) Seconded officers are those attached to the National Crime Squad, National Criminal Intelligence Service and to central services, such as National Police Training

Police Administration

14. Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to reduce administration costs of the police. [142657]

Mrs. Roche: We are implementing proposals from the recent report "Making a Difference: Reducing Police Paperwork", and on 28 November we issued police forces in England and Wales with a revised "Manual of Guidance for the Preparation, Processing and Submission

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of Files". This will reduce considerably the number of forms officers have to complete when they pass cases to the Crown Prosecution Service.

We are also investing in new communications technology to minimise the paperwork that officers are required to process.

33. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he will take to improve the computer systems used by law enforcement agencies in order to ease administrative burdens on police. [142676]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government are providing £46 million to police forces to automate key administration of justice tasks. The electronic handling of information by the police and within the criminal justice system will substantially reduce the administrative burden on those organisations.

We are providing £37 million to implement a modern management information system across the police service. This will improve management of performance in forces while reducing the burden of providing statistics and information on performance.

The Home Office is also providing £500 million for the introduction of a modern, secure radio system for the police, Airwave. That system will meet officers' needs for voice communications as well as the provision and receipt of data from any location. Considerable police time will be saved from that more efficient electronic method of working.

Electoral Reform

15. Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on electoral reform. [142658]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have long made it clear that no change will be made to the system by which hon. Members are elected without the approval of this House and the consent of the people of this country in a referendum. We are, however, keen to modernise voting procedures where necessary, which is why the Representation of the People Act 2000 enables local authorities to experiment with different ways of voting at local elections.

Crime Levels

16. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the level of crime in (a) 1997 and (b) 1999. [142659]

Mrs. Roche: The British Crime Survey published last October shows that there was an overall fall of 10 per cent. in crime levels in 1997 and 1999. It showed that there had been a 4 per cent. reduction in violent crime, a 15 per cent. reduction in vehicle related thefts and a 21 per cent. reduction in domestic burglary.

38. Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the latest published statistics for crime for England and Wales. [142681]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The latest published statistics are those contained in the annual command paper "Criminal statistics, England and Wales 1999" published

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on 12 December 2000, copies of which are available in the Library and on the internet. Among other statistics, these confirm the recorded crime figures published on 18 July 2000, which showed that in the 12 months to March 2000 vehicle crime was down by three per cent. and domestic burglary was down by six per cent.

The next set of data to be published will be the recorded crime statistics covering the 12 months to September 2000. These are scheduled to be published on the 16 January 2001.

Neighbourhood Warden Schemes

17. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many neighbourhood warden schemes have been set up in the past 12 months. [142660]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government announced the first round of 50 successful bids for the neighbourhood wardens' grant on 18 September. These schemes are in the process of being set up and are expected to become operational in the new year. A further 42 schemes were deferred for development. Redefined proposals had to be submitted by 15 December. We will announce the outcome of these bids as soon as we can.

Anti-social Behaviour

18. Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to reduce anti-social behaviour. [142661]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) today at column 689.

24. Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to enable the police to share information about anti-social tenants with social landlords other than local authorities. [142667]

Mr. Charles Clarke: We encourage the police service to share information on anti-social behaviour with other agencies, including social landlords, provided only that the disclosure is legal and likely to be beneficial. The Performance and Innovation Unit is examining the law and policy on data sharing and confidentiality, and we will consider the case for further action in the light of its findings.

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