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Crime Reduction

23. Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's strategy to reduce crime. [156044]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government are committed to reducing crime, tackling its causes, ensuring proper punishment of those who break the law and providing the

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resources necessary to tackle crime. As a result, the British Crime Survey showed that crime fell by 10 per cent. between 1997 and 1999. In addition, the number of police officers rose by 444 in the six months to September 2000.

Crime Statistics

26. Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the level of crime in England and Wales. [156047]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The British Crime Survey (BCS), published on 17 October, shows an overall fall of 10 per cent. in crimes measured by the BCS between 1997 and 1999. The most recently published recorded crime statistics show that in the 12 months to September 2000 there was a fall in recorded crime of 0.2 per cent. In the same period, domestic burglary fell by 10 per cent. and vehicle crime by 7 per cent.

Surrey Police Force

27. Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the funding of Surrey police force. [156048]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Under the police funding settlement for 2001-02 Surrey Police Authority will receive £111 million in central Government supported funding. It will also continue to benefit from the Crime Fighting Fund and Rural Policing Fund. Surrey will receive £2.3 million from the Crime Fighting Fund and £11,048 from the Rural Policing Fund. £220,000 has also been allocated to Surrey under the Targeted Policing Initiative.

The budget set by Surrey Police Authority for 2001-02 is £122.4 million, an increase of 2.1 per cent. (+£2.5 million) over the previous year.

In addition, commencing 1 April the Home Office has agreed to fund 75 per cent. of the cost of the new allowance of £2,000 per annum to be paid to officers serving in the Surrey Police who were appointed on or after 1 September 1994 and who are not in receipt of housing allowance.

Police Recruitment and Retention

28. Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to improve recruitment and retention of police officers. [156049]

Mr. Charles Clarke: We have established the Crime Fighting Fund (CFF) to enable forces to recruit 9,000 officers over and above the number they had previously planned in the three years 2000-01 to 2002-03. Forces report that about 2,800 CFF officers were recruited in 2000-01.

We have launched the first national police recruitment advertising campaign. There had been over 129,000 responses to the campaign by 25 March 2000 and over 27,000 expressions of interest had been passed to forces.

We are reviewing entry requirements for the Police Service to ensure consistency across forces and a good supply of quality candidates.

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In order to improve retention of police officers, we have been considering how we might be able to encourage more officers who have completed 30 years' service but not reached compulsory retirement age, to remain, where they have key skills and experience. Measures to address sickness rates and medical retirement are set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on 18 December 2000, Official Report, column 59W.

Measures to improve both retention and recruitment are:

Violence against Women

29. Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to combat violence against women. [156050]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government are determined to reduce all crimes of violence including violence against women. We set out our strategy for doing so in "fighting violent crime together: an action plan" which was published in January.

In support of the action plan, we announced on 23 March an extra £3.7 million to fund a further 24 projects addressing violence against women. This funding is on top of the £7 million announced last summer which provides funding for 34 projects as part of our Crime Reduction Programme. These projects are helping to identify what works best in tackling violence against women, including domestic violence.

In addition to the increased funding, our programme against domestic violence includes, within the last year, guidance to agencies dealing with domestic violence, along with specific guidance to health service professionals; a Home Office circular to the police to build on the progress made in addressing domestic violence and reducing repeat victimisation; inclusion of this issue within police Best Value performance indicators; £120 million additional capital funding for a new Safer Communities Supported Housing Fund for specified vulnerable groups, which includes the survivors of domestic violence; and increased funding for Victim Support.

We are also working with the Association of Chief Police Officers on a circular to the police on the effective use of provisions in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 with particular regard to domestic violence and violence against women; we are evaluating probation service domestic violence perpetrator programmes; developing a domestic violence toolkit as part of the

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programme of toolkits on the crime reduction website; and we shall be including a special module on domestic violence as part of the British Crime Survey 2001.

Prison Education Service

35. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the prison education service. [156056]

Mr. Boateng: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Ms Coffey) on 14 February 2001, Official Report, column 172W.

Local Elections

36. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the pilot schemes on alternative voting arrangements for the local elections. [156057]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: None at present. After only one round of pilots we believe that there is insufficient evidence on which to base an extension of any piloted arrangements. Notices of the local elections for 3 May have now been issued but we look forward to further pilot schemes taking place in the future.

Closed Circuit Television (Nottingham)

37. Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the benefits of CCTV in the suppression of crime in Nottingham. [156058]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Crime Concern have recently published a City-wide strategy for Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) for the Nottingham Community Safety and Youth Justice Partnership. This report is being used to assess the effectiveness of current CCTV systems installed in Nottingham and to decide future deployment.

More generally, police operational experience and general research studies show that CCTV has considerable crime reduction and detection potential, particularly when used as part of a wider strategy.

Schemes funded under the Crime Reduction Programme CCTV Initiative will be evaluated to build up the knowledge base of what works best in what context. Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships will also be evaluating schemes locally.

Police Suspensions

38. Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the (a) duration and (b) scale of police officers' suspensions, and the costs of suspensions and subsequent out-of-court settlements made in compensation. [156059]

Mr. Charles Clarke: This information is not held centrally and it could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Alcohol Misuse (Young People)

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the misuse of alcohol by young people. [156045]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are taking decisive action to minimise the impact of alcohol on young people's lives. In the Criminal Justice and Police Bill, we have sought to introduce provisions placing a positive duty on licensees not to sell alcohol to minors and by placing test purchasing of alcohol on a statutory footing for the first time.

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