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Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 July 2001]: The Government are committed to having immigration rules which are clear, firm and fair. We have no immediate plans for legislation but will keep the possible need for further change under review. We want to ensure that those who come and work here continue to make a major contribution to our economic and social life. We have transferred responsibility for the work permit system to the Home Office and will be looking further at the legal entry routes for people seeking to work in Britain. Officials are currently reviewing the Immigration Rules with the aim of producing a consolidated version which incorporates all changes made since HC395, the last main Statement of Changes. These revised Rules are likely to include a number of additions and amendments.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what updates to Immigration and Nationality Directorate country assessments have been made in the last six months; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 July 2001]: Updates to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's (IND) country assessments were made by IND's Country Information and Policy Unit in April 2001. These have been placed on the Home Office website. Country assessments are revised every six months. An assessment on Zimbabwe has been included on the website for the first time, as asylum applications from Zimbabwe have increased significantly during the past year.
9 Jul 2001 : Column: 424W
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has published a country assessment of Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 July 2001]: A country assessment for Zimbabwe was issued in April 2001 and has been published with other country assessments for the top 35 asylum producing countries issued in April 2001. The country assessments may be accessed on the Home Office website.
Mr. Denham: In addition to the commitment of large numbers of volunteers, Neighbourhood Watch in Lancashire is actively supported by 11 police crime prevention and community safety officers. Because these officers do not devote all their time to neighbourhood watch it is not possible to estimate the cost of supporting neighbourhood watch schemes in Lancashire.
Mr. Denham: The details of Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators are held by police. The police may only disclose information to the extent that they have the common-law or statutory power to do so and do not thereby breach any other relevant law, such as the common law duty of confidence. Any disclosures must also then comply with the good practice laid down in the Data Protection Act 1998, except to the extent that any relevant exemption applies.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average number of police officers per 10,000 population was in (a) England and (b) Essex on (i) 1 May 1997 and (ii) the latest date for which figures are available. 
|31 March 1997(21)||31 March 2001|
|Number of police officers per 10,000 population||19.5||17.8|
|Number of police officers per 10,000 population||24.1||23.4|
(21) Police numbers are collected twice a year (March and September) therefore March figures have been used for 1997.
The Crime Fighting Fund is improving the position in Essex. The force increased its number by 81 between March 2000 and March 2001 to 2,887 and should have more officers by March 2002 than the 2,961 it had in March 1997.
9 Jul 2001 : Column: 425W
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) funded and (b) actual police officers there were in the Essex constabulary on (i) 1 May 1997 and (ii) the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Denham: The information requested is set out in the table. The funded police numbers have been provided by the chief constable of the Essex police. With our approval Essex police deferred their Crime Fighting Fund allocation of 70 recruits for 200001 to 200102. The Crime Fighting Fund will pay for up to 132 recruits in 200102 and 65 in 200203.
|Year||Number of funded police posts(22)||Actual number of police officers(22)|
|31 March 1997||2,944||2,961|
|31 March 2001||2,955||2,887|
(22) Full-time equivalent
The funded officer posts reflect officers funded from the budget approved by the Police Authority.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what instructions his Department has given to police forces in the past four years concerning approaches to doctors licensed to prescribe heroin. 
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the percentage of the population who have used (a) cannabis, (b) cocaine, (c) amphetamines, (d) ecstasy and (e) heroin broken down by (i) lifetime use, (ii) last year use and (iii) last month use. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The British Crime Survey provides data on the levels of self-reported drug use among a representative sample of the general population in England and Wales. The data in the table have been extracted from the 1998 report which is available on the Home Office website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/ pdfs/hors197.pdf
|Lifetime||Last year||Last month|
(23) Less than 0.5 per cent.
Drug Misuse Declared in 1998: results from the British Crime Survey, Home Office Research Study 197
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Mr. Denham: There are no plans to abolish the criteria of fitness for operational duty for applicants to the police service. Police officers need to be physically fit for the range of duties they are expected to perform.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will implement Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary's recommendation to combine the recruitment and retention functions of the Metropolitan police force. 
Mr. Denham: In his report in October 2000, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary provided a suggested action checklist which identified a need for a single, integrated and cohesive recruitment strategy incorporating short, medium and long-term targets for the recruitment and retention of staff.
Targets covering recruitment and retention have been set in conjunction with the Metropolitan police authority (MPA). The MPS works closely with the MPA on all recruitment and retention issues, and a joint retention workshop is to be held on 26 July.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to promote redeployment into civilian roles within the police force, for those no longer fit for operational duty. 
Mr. Denham: I will be considering a range of issues relating to police pension arrangementsincluding the provisions applying to officers no longer fit for the full range of operational dutiesin the coming months.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people retired from the police force in 2000 (a) in total, (b) on medical grounds and (c) on medical grounds with an injury award. 
Mr. Denham: Statistics collected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for 19992000 show a total of 3,964 retirements from the police service in England and Wales 1 . Of those retirements 1,232 (31 per cent.) were on medical grounds. Statistics showing the number of retirements on medical grounds attracting an injury award are not available.
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Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to tighten the criteria for injury awards for those taking early retirement from the police force on medical grounds. 
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police forces apply the criterion that recruits may not have more than a three millimetre gap between their front teeth; and what plans he has to change this. 
Mr. Denham: The Home Office issues no specific guidance on periodontal conditions. Home Office medical guidelines include a section that recommends forces should carefully consider candidates where there is "evidence of poor dental hygiene". The current guidelines are being reviewed as part of a project to develop national job-related standards for police recruitment.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the practice of senior policemen being suspended on full pay pending investigation for misdemeanour. 
Mr. Denham: The Secretary of State has no plans to review the arrangements. They are set out in the Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999 for officers up to Superintendent and in the Police (Conduct) (Senior Officers) Regulations 1999 for Assistant Chief Constables and upwards.
The decision to suspend an officer rests with the Chief Constable for officers up to Superintendent and with the Policy Authority for Assistant Chief Constables and above and the Secretary of State accepts that they are best placed to decide when it is appropriate to suspend an officer.
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