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Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give guidance to police forces that they should give greater priority to penalising cyclists riding on pavements. [16273]

Mr. Denham: The enforcement of cycling offences is an operational matter for individual chief officers of police. They are best placed to assess the nature and cause of specific local problems and to determine how most effectively to address them.

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Cycling on the pavement was made a fixed-penalty offence from 1 August 1999. This gives the police a direct and simple way of dealing with cyclists who use the pavement without proper consideration for others. During the five months to 31 December 1999, the police in England and Wales issued 570 fixed-penalty notices for the offence, 18 in Merseyside.

The cycling infrastructure and environment are currently under improvement as a result of the Government's national cycling strategy. We expect this to reduce the perceived need on the part of some to cycle on the pavement through a fear of cycling on the road.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce proposals to increase the level of fines imposed on law-breaking cyclists. [16243]

Mr. Denham: I have no such plans. The current maximum penalty for dangerous cycling is a fine not exceeding £2,500. The maximum penalty for careless and inconsiderate cycling, and for cycling when unfit through drink or drugs, is a fine not exceeding £1,000. Unauthorised or irregular cycle racing or trials of speed on public ways is also an offence and carries a maximum penalty of £200. We believe that these penalties are sufficient and reflect the seriousness of the offences.

Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects work on C wing, Aylesbury young offenders institution to be completed. [16315]

Beverley Hughes: This work was unfortunately interrupted following the bankruptcy of the first contractor. Work restarted in August this year and is expected to be completed in May 2002.


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received with regard to applications for CCTV in locations where property crime and drug offences are closely connected with street prostitution. [13776]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 19 November 2001]: The information is not available in the format requested. However, under round 1 of the crime reduction programme closed circuit television (CCTV) initiative the Home Office has funded 120 CCTV schemes to combat property crime and/or drug offences. Crime reduction figures for these schemes, provided by crime and disorder reduction partnerships, estimate a reduction of 8,819 recorded burglaries and 1,914 recorded drugs offences over three years following their installation. It is not possible to say how many of these crimes might be linked with prostitution.

The communities against drugs and reducing prostitution initiatives also work to combat property crime, drugs and prostitution. Under these initiatives funding can be used to install CCTV systems as well as other crime reduction measures.

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Special Constabulary

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to reappraise the role of the Special Constabulary; and how many special constables there are in Cleveland; [16442]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 20 November 2001]: The number of serving special constables in Cleveland police as at 31 March 2001 was 93.

The Government are committed to increasing the special constabulary. While voluntary service to the community is a key element of the special constabulary, we are currently reviewing, as part of the police reform process, the allowances paid to special constables.

We are also considering a number of other options for achieving radical improvements in the conditions of service and the management of special constables, to ensure that specials are deployed effectively and provide an increased visible presence in our communities.

Warden Force

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to increase the powers conferred upon the warden force; and how these plans have changed since 11 September; [16438]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 20 November 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made it clear in his speech to the Superintendents' Association on 11 September that we are considering how to make better use of the extended police family (including neighbourhood and street wardens) in support of the police; and whether new powers would be needed.

We are developing proposals in the context of the police reform programme and details will be set out in the forthcoming White Paper.

Suspicious Activity Reports

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 19 October 2001, Official Report, column 1398W, on suspicious activity reports, how many of the reports from the gambling industry were from (a) spread betting organisations and (b) other gambling businesses; and if he will make a statement. [16711]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The data held by the National Criminal Intelligence Service do not differentiate between spread betting organisations and other bookmakers. In 2000, there were 16 suspicious activity reports from the bookmaking industry and 301 such reports from the gaming industry.

Police Complaints

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the pilot schemes for the new complaints system are expected to report their progress; and whether the four schemes are identical. [17125]

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Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 November 2001]: The Police Complaints Authority is co-ordinating four research projects that will provide useful information on aspects of the new police complaints system. They will look at independent investigations, the right of appeal against a refusal by the police to record a complaint, the duty of the chief officer to provide the complainant with the outcome of an investigation and the presentation of cases to misconduct hearings by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. These are not formal pilots as they must operate within the current legislation and therefore are not able completely to replicate the provision proposed for the new system. The evaluation reports of each will be produced at different times but initial feedback is expected next spring.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what role civilian investigators will have in the proposed independent police complaints system. [16879]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 November 2001]: As part of the new police complaints system, the Independent Police Complaints Commission will have a body of independent investigators at their disposal. These investigators will be made up of a mix of civilian investigators and seconded police officers. The commission will use these investigators in examining the most serious instances of alleged police misconduct.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in the creation of a independent police complaints system. [16878]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 November 2001]: The Government will bring forward provisions to establish a new police complaints system to replace the current system as part of the Police Bill which is due for introduction later in this parliamentary Session. The new system will create a new body, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which will replace the Police Complaints Authority.

Suspects (Mental Illness)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training is given for police officers to deal with suspects who suffer from mental illness. [16699]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 November 2001]: The basic training that all new recruits receive includes an element that raises awareness of mental illness and highlights the importance of communicating effectively and sensitively with people suffering from a mental disorder. Individual forces also provide further training for their officers on these issues. Details are not held centrally of all such local provision.

More needs to be done to ensure an appropriate and properly informed police response to mentally ill individuals across the whole range of circumstances in which they deal with them. There are currently several strands of work focused on improving police practice in relation to suspects who suffer from mental illness. The Home Office, the Department of Health and the Association of Chief Police Officers are considering the development of national protocols covering the interaction between the police and health services in dealing with the mentally ill. The current review of the police codes of practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

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is seeking to strengthen further protections for mentally ill detainees, particularly in terms of assessing their vulnerabilities and fitness for interview. In addition, the review of the Mental Health Act which is under way is looking to increase the emphasis on using hospitals rather than police stations as places of safety for assessing mental condition.

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