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Police Numbers

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there have been in the (a) Avon and Somerset force and (b) the East

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Somerset force in each reporting period since 1980–81; and how many are planned for each reporting period to 2004–05. [56231]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 21 May 2002]: Information on police numbers for Avon and Somerset constabulary is set out at Table A. Details of strength for the East Somerset Division have been provided by the Chief Constable (Mr. S C Pilkington QPM) and are set out in Table B.

Mr. Pilkington has informed me that figures for the East Somerset division prior to 1996 have been archived and are not readily available.

He has further informed me that the planned strength for 2002–03 is 3,187 for the whole force, but that there is no separate figure for East Somerset. There are no predicted figures for years beyond 2003.

Police force performance does not depend solely upon the number of officers available. 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 to tackle anti-social behaviour. The test of success will be whether the measures being put in place will make a real difference to the quality of life of individuals and communities up and down the country.

Table A
Avon and Somerset—Police strength 1980–81 to 2000–02

As at 31 MarchPolice numbers
2001 (30 September)3,040

Table B
East Somerset division—police strength 1996–97 to 1999–2000

As at 31 MarchPolice numbers
2001 (30 September)249

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Committee Mandates

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the mandate of the Committee on the system for comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention (Eurodac) is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [58453]

Beverley Hughes: The Committee established by Article 23 of the EURODAC Regulation assists the Commission in accordance with Articles 5 and 7 of the Council Decision laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission (199/468/EC).

Article 22 of the EURODAC Regulation specifies that the EURODAC Central Unit may be charged with carrying out statistical tasks on the basis of data processed at the Central Unit, other than those already specified in Article 3(3) of the Regulation. In these circumstances the additional statistical measures are to be adopted in accordance with the procedure of the Committee. All the important implementing powers were reserved to the Council, such as agreement on the EURODAC Implementing Rules, which were adopted by Council on 28 February 2002.

The EURODAC system is not yet operational. There are no immediate plans for the Committee to meet, but if it does the United Kingdom will be represented by a Home Office official and an official from the United Kingdom Permanent Representation in Brussels. The work of the Committee is funded by the European Community budget and travel costs to attend Committee meetings are met by the European Commission. The Home Office pays a subsistence allowance to cover attendance at a Committee meeting.

The Commission is required to prepare annual reports on the implementation work of the Committee, which are submitted to the Council and European Parliament. The reports are also published on the EUROPA internet website. I do not see a need for further measures to increase the Committee's accountability and transparency.

Data Protection

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that police force computers contain a complete copy of the electoral roll on their local force computers; and if he will make a statement. [59260]

Mr. Denham: The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR's) Electoral Legislation and Administration Branch, Democracy and Local Leadership Division have published, for consultation, draft Regulations under section 9 of the Representation of the People Act 2000 in relation to access to, and supply and sale of, electoral registers held and maintained by Electoral Registration Officers (EROs).

Under these regulations the police forces in Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad

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and the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO)) will be able to request, free of charge, copies of the full electoral roll. The information contained may be used for the purpose of the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the criminal law.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether individuals who consent to the police taking their (a) fingerprints and (b) DNA samples are informed that if consent is withdrawn then the fingerprints or samples might not be destroyed; and if he will make a statement. [59268]

Mr. Denham: The police have the power to take fingerprints and non-intimate DNA samples, with or without consent, from people in police custody who are charged with, informed they will be reported for, or convicted of a recordable offence. In these cases individuals are informed as part of the custody process that their DNA and fingerprints will be subject to speculative database searches and may be retained indefinitely.

DNA samples given voluntarily for the purposes of elimination are only retained if the volunteer has given written consent. In such cases, the volunteer signs a statement giving their consent. The statement also informs them that consent cannot later be withdrawn. Fingerprints taken for elimination purposes may also be retained if the volunteer has given written consent. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (as amended) retained fingerprints and DNA samples can only be used for the purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence or the conduct of a prosecution.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) vehicle, (b) criminal record and (c) combined vehicle/criminal checks were undertaken on the Police National Computer in the last year; and how many checks in other categories were undertaken. [59267]

Mr. Denham: From April 2001 to March 2002 a total of 26,546,892 vehicle inquiries were undertaken on the Police National Computer (PNC). A further 136,966 Vehicle Online Descriptive Searches (VODS) were also made. VODS are searches based on partial information.

Over the same period, 32,337,776 inquiries on names were made, with a further 67,631 inquiries on names descriptive searches using QUEST, a PNC application that identifies criminal records from partial descriptive details.

The PNC database does not have the facility to carry out combined vehicle/criminal record checks.

Checks in other categories include stolen property inquiries (99,256 checks) and property descriptive searches (2,572 checks).

CCTV, Arthurs Hill

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when funding approval was given for a CCTV scheme in Arthurs Hill, Newcastle; and how much funding has been drawn down for it. [59195]

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Mr. Denham: We announced funding approval for a project in the Arthurs Hill area of Newcastle under the second round of the Reducing Burglary Initiative in May 2000. The project, between the Northumbria police and Newcastle city council, received a grant of £137,000 to cover the costs of a range of interventions, including Close Circuit Television (CCTV) schemes and other target hardening measures. Out of the grant, a total of £133,493 has been claimed. The project has been highly successful, having achieved a 20 per cent. reduction in burglaries in the Arthurs Hill area and a 50 per cent. reduction in Richardson Road.

Street Crime

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidences of street crime were reported (a) to the police in Lancashire and (b) in each police authority area in Wales in each year since 1997. [58836]

Mr. Denham: Recorded offences of robbery between April 1997 to March 2001 for Lancashire and each police authority area in Wales are set out in the table.

Recorded offences of robbery 1997 to 2001 (April to March)

Financial year April to March
Police force1998199920002001
Dyfed Powys33422823
North Wales118127146163
South Wales475511519460


New Home Office counting rules were introduced in April 1998. This change to recording practices is estimated to have added an additional one per cent. to the level of recorded robbery in England and Wales.

The Home Office routinely publishes statistics on recorded crime on a yearly basis including the offence of robbery (both against the person and against commercial premises). The latest publicly available recorded crime statistics cover the period April 2000 to March 2001.

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