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Car Crime

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the conviction rate was for car crime offences in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [48299]

Mr. Denham: The information requested, from the Home Office Court Proceedings Database, and relating to England and Wales, is shown in the table.

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Conviction rate(29) for persons proceeded against for certain motor vehicle offences(30), England and Wales, 1991 to 2000

Conviction rate

(29) Number of defendants convicted at all courts as a percentage of those proceeded against in magistrates courts.

(30) Theft of motor vehicle, unauthorised taking of motor vehicle (including being carried knowing vehicle to have been taken or driven away), aggravated vehicle taking and theft from motor vehicle.

Information on court proceedings for 2001 will be available in the autumn.

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what action he is taking to increase prosecutions of those committing car crime; and if he will make a statement; [48298]

Mr. Denham: The Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team (VCRAT) was set up in September 1998 to develop and oversee the implementation of initiatives to meet the Government's target to reduce vehicle crime by 30 per cent. over five years from 1998–99. They published their strategy for achieving the target on 22 September 1999.

The main lines of action in the VCRAT strategy include improved security on new and used cars; improved car park security; better policing and community responses which target prolific offenders and crime hotspots; and new procedures for the detection of stolen cars at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 took forward VCRAT recommendations for regulation of the motor salvage industry and controls on the supply of vehicle number plates, and we expect to implement these provisions between July 2002 and April 2003.

We expect these and other initiatives—such as the introduction of best value targets for forces in England and Wales; the introduction of a vehicle crime toolkit to enable forces to exchange good practice and the provision of better information to the police at the roadside—to impact on the number of apprehensions leading to an increase in the number of prosecutions for car crimes. The latest published figures show that recorded vehicle crime reduced by 10.1 per cent. in 2000–01 compared with 1998–99.


David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what proportion of West Mercia police officers in Telford are from a black minority ethnic background; [45133]

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Mr. Denham: I am told by the chief constable (Peter Heimpson) that West Mercia constabulary has seven officers who have classified themselves as black, which is 0.34 per cent. of force strength. Of this number three are deployed to the Telford division, which is 0.86 per cent. divisional strength.

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the future pension costs of English police authorities; if he will list the total costs for the three financial years up to 2000–01; what he estimates those costs to be in each of the three succeeding years; and what proportion of the total police authority budget in each authority was represented by pension costs in (a) 2000–01 and (b) is estimated for 2001–02. [40550]

Mr. Denham: Detailed estimates of police service costs are made annually by individual police authorities and forces. Each makes its own projection of pensions' costs. In formulating projections of grant, careful account is taken of advice from the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers on estimated increases in pensions costs.

Total net pensions' costs for English Police Authorities were £840.9 million in 1998–99, £897.7 million in 1999–00 and are estimated at £973.5 million in 2000–01 and £1,055.6 million in 2001–02 (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy Police statistics).

Police estimated spending on net pensions in England as a proportion of net expenditure in 2000–01 and 2001–02 is set out in the table.

Proportion of English police authorities net expenditure spent on net pensions costs

Police authority2000–012001–02
Avon and Somerset Police16.1616.65
Bedfordshire Police12.4812.84
Cambridgeshire Police12.9812.69
Cheshire Police11.2513.63
City of London15.3616.05
Cleveland Police15.1814.85
Cumbria Police15.3715.25
Derbyshire Police13.4112.37
Devon and Cornwall Police13.9614.81
Dorset Police14.0015.05
Durham Police12.0412.54
Essex Police11.3012.94
Gloucestershire Police14.2014.26
Greater Manchester Police15.2116.25
Hampshire Police10.8411.35
Hertfordshire Police9.809.51
Humberside Police14.1514.49
Kent Police12.5012.94
Lancashire Police13.5414.35
Leicestershire Police12.1112.63
Lincolnshire Police16.2516.86
Merseyside Police15.6516.43
Metropolitan Police (GLA)13.2512.87
Norfolk Police12.6412.55
North Yorkshire Police16.3117.19
Northamptonshire Police11.9110.83
Northumbria Police14.2714.41
Nottinghamshire Police13.6615.30
South Yorkshire Police10.5912.18
Staffordshire Police14.8417.03
Suffolk Police13.5414.34
Surrey Police9.329.48
Sussex Police15.9915.94
Thames Valley Police9.789.90
Warwickshire Police15.2516.51
West Mercia Police13.2613.65
West Midlands Police11.8912.45
West Yorkshire Police14.1814.98
Wiltshire Police11.1112.26


Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy Police statistics (Estimates)

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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the figures, by police force, of those individuals who successfully applied to join the constabulary from the ranks of the specials for each year since 1997. [47405]

Mr. Denham: Figures for recruits from the specials have not been collected consistently by forces. The figures that are available for the numbers of specials accepted to join the regular service have been collated by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and are set out in the table.

Avon and Somerset2228914
City of London4800
Devon and Cornwall28131022
Greater Manchester38162332
Metropolitan Police0190(31)
North Wales1913158
North Yorkshire14(31)0
South Wales1115710
South Yorkshire17913(31)
Thames Valley28161216
West Mercia12108
West Midlands22511(31)
West Yorkshire2531040
England and Wales521460373546

(31) Not known

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Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to issue guidance on policing of demonstrations; and if he will make a statement. [48534]

Mr. Denham: Guidance has been issued to police forces on this subject by the Association of Chief Police Officer. For operational reasons, this has not been made publicly available.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with (a) chief constables and (b) others concerning freemasonry in the police service. [46912]

Mr. Denham: I consulted the Association of Chief Police Officers earlier this year on ways to improve the level of registration of freemasonry membership by police officers. I will take their views into account before deciding what further measures might be necessary.

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many funded police officers there have been in each year in the Bury St. Edmunds parliamentary constituency since 1998. [50583]

Mr. Denham: The information has been provided by the Chief constable (Paul Scott-Lee) Queens Police Medal (QPM). I am informed that the Bury St. Edmunds rural sector has only existed since 1999. It is therefore only possible to provide strength information from 1999. Information for actual strength in the financial years 1999–2000 to 2001–02 in the Bury St. Edmunds rural sector is set out in the table.

Bury St. Edmunds rural sector

Year(32)Number of officers(33)

(32) As at 31 March of each financial year.

(33) Actual officer headcount.

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training is being given to police officers to improve autism awareness. [51203]

Mr. Denham: The basic training received by all recruits to the police service includes an element designed to raise awareness of mental disorder and to highlight the importance of communicating effectively and sensitively with people suffering from a mental disorder (including autism). Individual forces also provide further training for their officers on these issues. Details are not held centrally of such local provision.

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance police officers receive about interviewing witnesses who may have an autistic spectrum disorder. [51204]

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Mr. Denham: Training for police officers on interviewing witnesses takes place in forces, sometimes carried out jointly with local authorities.

Centrex will shortly publish an aide memoire for police officers, based on "Achieving Best Evidence", which includes guidance on best practice in interviewing witnesses who suffer from mental disorder or learning disability (including autistic spectrum disorder).

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he gives to police forces on the (a) detention and (b) destruction of police notes taken during murder investigations, with special reference to the time limit for retaining notes. [47442]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 April 2002]: Police forces in England and Wales act in accordance with the Code of Practice issued under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. This sets out the procedures for the retention and destruction of material obtained in a criminal investigation which may be relevant to the investigation. All material which may be relevant to the investigation must be retained until a decision is taken whether to institute proceedings against a person for an offence.

If a criminal investigation results in proceedings being instituted, all material which may be relevant must be retained at least until the accused is acquitted or convicted

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or the prosecutor decides not to proceed with the case. Where the accused is convicted, all material which may be relevant must be retained at least until:

If an appeal against conviction is in progress when the release or discharge occurs, or at the end of the period of six months specified above, all material which may be relevant must be retained until the appeal is determined.

It is for each police force to determine their policy in relation to retention of material for certain criminal offences. For example, the Metropolitan police service retain all material relevant to a murder investigation for 25 years following a conviction.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recorded crimes of (a) violence against persons, (b) sexual offences, (c) robbery, (d) burglary, (e) total theft and handling stolen goods, (f) theft of and from vehicles, (g) fraud and forgery, (h) criminal damage, (i) drug offences and (j) other notifiable offences there were in (i) St. Helens police area and (ii) Merseyside police area in the years to (A) March 1999, (B) March 2000 and (C) March 2001. [51618]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 April 2002]: The requested information for Merseyside, and the available information for the St. Helens police Basic Command Unit, are given in the tables.

Year ending
Offence GroupMarch 1999March 2000March 2001
Recorded crimes for Merseyside
Violence against the person12,20814,63915,855
Sexual offences1,019935982
Burglary in a dwelling14,17713,60612,514
Burglary in other building12,32112,03211,424
Theft and handling stolen goods including:59,04462,23057,844
Theft from vehicle15,03116,96014,220
Theft or unauthorised taking of motor vehicle15,30616,77516,157
Fraud and Forgery4,8844,7945,021
Criminal damage27,46530,82230,593
Drug Offences5,6204,8384,421
Other Offences1,6521,6131,748
Grand Total140,874148,172142,807
Recorded crimes for the St. Helens Basic Command Unit(34)
Violence against the personn/a1,6931,795
Sexual offencesn/a109153
Burglary in a dwellingn/a1,5501,669
Theft from vehiclen/a2,0001,923
Theft or unauthorised taking of motor vehiclen/a1,6801,725

(34) A subset of recorded crime has been collected since 1 April 1999.

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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers have been (a) sick and (b) on light duties for (i) two to eight weeks, (ii) eight to 26 weeks and (iii) 26 weeks to one year in the last year for which information is available. [47123]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not collected centrally. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), however, collect data on the number of officers on long term sick leave (i.e. more than 28 days), the working days lost due to long term sickness and the number of days spent by officers on recuperative or restricted duties. 2000–01 is the last full year for which data is available.

Not all forces have systems in place to provide the full information requested by HMIC on sick leave. The data for 2000–01 is therefore incomplete but shows that at 31 March 2001, 2,591 officers were on long term sick leave. In the 12 month period ending 31 March 2001, 760,533 police officer working days were lost due to long-term sickness. Additionally the number of days spent by officers on recuperative duties in 2000–01 was 241,159.

The way in which police forces record sick leave duties is currently under review. This work will establish common standards to make data more comparable between forces.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what number and percentage of police officers in England and Wales who are entitled to retire early on grounds of ill health (a) chose to stay on in the police service in another role and (b) were offered and accepted a desk job in the last year for which figures are available; [50681]

Mr. Denham: Figures are not centrally available for the number of police officers medically certified as permanently disabled, and therefore eligible to be considered for medical retirement, but who are retained in their force. The figures relating to the number of ill health retirements are given in the table.

Medical retirementsPercentage of police strength

An officer's pension entitlements on being compulsorily retired on ill health grounds depend on his or her length of pensionable service in the police pension scheme. An ill health pension, which is payable immediately on retirement, is calculated in a similar way to an ordinary pension but is subject to enhancement where an officer has at least five years' pensionable service. This is to compensate the officer at least in part for the lost opportunity of serving until normal retirement.

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An ill health pension is subject to the limit of 40/60ths of average pensionable pay (app), which is the maximum ordinary pension, and is also subject to the qualification that pensionable service may not be enhanced to exceed what the officer could have completed by the age of compulsory retirement. The scale of benefits applicable is shown in the table.

Pensionable servicePension
Less than 2 yearsAn ill health gratuity—no pension
2 to less than 5 yearsPension with no enhancement— 1/60 of app per year
5 to 10 years2/60 of app per year
More than 10 to 13 years20/60 of app
More than 13 years7/60 of app plus
1/60 for each year up to 20
2/60 for each year over 20

The Police Negotiating Board (PNB) are considering ways to deliver a fair and more consistent approach towards early retirement due to ill health. This should enable forces to reduce the level of ill-health retirement and match the performance of the best quartile of forces in 2000–01 by 2005. The measures under consideration include amendments to the Police Pensions Regulations and joint guidance being issued by the PNB to police authorities and senior management to ensure that wherever possible officers continue in employment where they are capable of performing sufficient duties to make their retention operationally justifiable.

In the White Paper on police reform the Government also announced that it will establish a national occupational health strategy for the police service, which should assist forces to manage cases of ill health more effectively at the outset.

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