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Special Constabulary

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the strength was of the special constabulary for each of the 43 police authorities in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [52058]

Mr. Denham: The number of serving special constables in each police force area from September 1997 to September 2001 are set out in the table.

Police force199719981999 20002001
Avon and Somerset629584482416391
Devon and Cornwall1,079916908836780
Greater Manchester657567498408355
London, City of8469664634
Metropolitan police1,5281,2141,173754753
North Yorkshire337302245189186
South Yorkshire295266236193189
Thames Valley694587514463377
West Mercia558499512443364
West Midlands949784697662604
West Yorkshire604590572452371
Dyfed Powys241237237193174
North Wales388336262233203
South Wales362360331254250


Figures provided by Research, Development and Statistics.

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The proposals in the White Paper "Policing a New Century: A Blueprint for Reform" set out a radical and ambitious programme of reform, with the overall aim of reducing crime and the fear of crime and tackling antisocial behaviour. The special constabulary has a key role to play in the fight against crime and the fear of crime. The Government are accordingly introducing a wide range of measures to improve the recruitment and retention of specials. These include improvements to the recruitment, training, conditions, management and deployment of specials—focusing their role on intelligence-led, high visibility patrolling and local crime reduction initiatives.

Golden Jubilee

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers serving in the Humberside police authority will be eligible for the Golden Jubilee Medal. [51820]

Mr. Denham: Detailed criteria for the award of the Golden Jubilee Medal are being developed and it will then be for the chief officer of each force to establish how many of their officers are eligible.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight dated 21 March concerning antisocial behaviour orders. [52098]

Mr. Denham: A reply to the hon. Member was despatched on Wednesday 24 April 2002.

Vehicle Speed Detection

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) to what extent the VASCAR vehicle speed detection device relies on human inputs. [52443]

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Mr. Denham: The VASCAR vehicle speed detection device relies in part on the operator accurately and consistently operating switches. These start and stop a clock and, where necessary, a distance measurement from the vehicle's odometer. The instrument can, alternatively, be pre-fed with the distance between two selected marker points.

Guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) requires operators to be trained and to pass a test as to their performance. They must demonstrate in a sequence of five measurements that none has an error greater than two miles per hour and that the average error across all five is less than 0.75 miles per hour. They are also trained on the selection, for pre-fed operation, of road marks, in order to minimise parallax errors.

VASCAR also relies on frequent distance calibration checks. ACPO guidance requires these to be carried out at the start and, where VASCAR has been used, at the end of shifts. There are minimum distances over which measurements are made. The clock in the device is crystal controlled and its errors are insignificant.

Where the operator is fully trained and the ACPO guidance followed, I am satisfied that the VASCAR device is accurate.

Police Discretion

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the police have discretion whether to record a reported crime; and whether a complainant may be requested to attend a police station if the crime is to be recorded. [52335]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 April 2002]: Under the National Crime Recording Standard, introduced in all forces in England and Wales from April 2002, all reports of incidents, whether from victims, witnesses or third parties, and whether crime-related or not, will result in the registration of an incident report by the police. Following the initial registration, an incident will be recorded as a crime (notifiable offence) if the circumstances as reported amount to a crime defined by law and if there is no credible evidence to the contrary.

Police officers will determine, on the balance of probabilities, whether an incident amounts to a crime, based on their knowledge of the law and of Home Office counting rules. In most cases, a belief by the victim (or person reasonably assumed to be acting on behalf of the victim) that a crime has occurred will be sufficient to justify its recording as a crime. Once recorded, a crime would remain recorded unless there was credible evidence to disprove that a crime had occurred. A complainant could be requested to attend a police station in the normal course of police inquiries, but this would not be a pre-condition of an incident being recorded as a crime.

In several forces "assault clinics" have been set up in order to improve the level of service provided to victims of minor assault and/or harassment. An initial report of an incident leads to a victim being given an appointment at the clinic, where the victim's statement is taken and the crime is recorded. A review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) of the system in one force found

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that in some cases the victim did not subsequently attend the assaults clinic, leading to the incident not being recorded as a crime. The force is now changing its processes to ensure that this no longer occurs, and other forces have been advised accordingly.

Merseyside Police

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) police standard spending assessment and (b) Home Office provision were for Merseyside police in (i) 1995–96, (ii) 1996–97, (iii) 1997–98, (iv) 1998–99, (v) 1999–2000, (vi) 2000–01 and (vii) 2001–02; and what the projected figures are for (A) 2002–03 and (B) 2003–04. [51617]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 April 2002]: The information is set out in the table. Figures for 2003–04 are not yet available.

£ million

YearPolice grantStandard spending assessmentTotal

(29) Grant figures include principal formula police grant and payments from the crime fighting fund (estimated for 2002–03).

(30) The figures for 2002–03 are not directly comparable with 2001–02 owing to the change in funding arrangement for the National Crime Squad/National Criminal Intelligence Service. On a like-for-like basis the comparable total figure for 2001–02 is £252.173 million.


Standard spending assessment (SSA) figures include capital financing SSAs.

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