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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to consult the freight transport industry over the recent amendments to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill imposing fines on lorry operators. 
Beverley Hughes: Due to the tight legislative timescale, a formal consultation process in respect of amendments to the penalty regime has not been possible on this occasion. There was widespread consultation prior to the introduction in April 2000 of the regime, the provisions for which are contained in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. There was further consultation when the regime was extended first to rail freight trains and then to freight shuttle trains. Industry representatives and other interested parties have been informed about the proposed changes to the legislation and have been sent copies of the draft code of practice for determining the level of penalty. We would welcome their comments
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during the remainder of the parliamentary process, and meetings are being arranged between officials and representatives.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of (a) the aggregate liability for pensions and (b) the increase in liability for pensioners in the most recent year for which information is available for (i) the police, (ii) the Prison Service and (iii) the Immigration and Nationality Service. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 24 June 2002]: Police authorities are in the process of estimating, for the first time, their accrued liabilities for pensions in preparing their accounts for the year ended 31 March 2002. The Government Actuary's Department estimated as at 31 March 2001, that the liability in Great Britain for the police pension scheme was around £25 billion.
Those employed in the Prison Service and in the Immigration and Nationality Service participate in the principal civil service pension scheme, which is managed by the Cabinet Office. Cabinet Office civil superannuation resource accounts 200001 (HC554) give a capitalised value of the liabilities of the scheme as at 1 April 2000 of £58.6 billion. A breakdown of this amount between different parts of the civil service is not available.
There is no baseline against which to measure a change from one year to the next, so no figure for the increase in liabilities is available.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for how long the Criminal Records Office retains information sent to it in respect of those for whom criminal records checks in connection with work with children are sought, in the case of data subjects (a) with and (b) without criminal records. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 24 June 2002]: Information that is received by the Criminal Records Bureau from individuals who are applying for criminal records checks in connection with working with children is retained on the database for a period of six months, after which it is archived for a period of 10 years. There is no distinction made by the Criminal Records Bureau in the retention of such data between those individuals who have criminal records and those who do not.
The Criminal Records Bureau has and is continuing to work in close association with the information commissioner to ensure that it adheres to data protection legislation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals have their DNA samples held by the police. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2002]: DNA samples and the profiles derived from them are held on behalf of the police by the national DNA database
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custodian at the Forensic Science Service. As of 19 June 2002, the national DNA database holds 1,662,827 samples taken from individuals in England and Wales.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether an individual who has been required to provide a DNA sample by the police has the right to have that sample destroyed in the event of an acquittal for the charge which prompted the sample being taken. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2002]: An individual does not have the right for their DNA sample to be destroyed in the event of an acquittal. Under section 82 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, amending section 64 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, a chief constable may decide to retain DNA samples in all cases, including following acquittal or a decision to drop a prosecution, except where the sample was taken as part of a mass screening process and the individual does not consent to the retention of the sample. Samples can only be used for purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence or the conduct of a prosecution.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is central access to DNA samples held by different police forces. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2002]: DNA samples are retained in England and Wales by the laboratories authorised to analyse them. They are the Forensic Science Service, the Laboratory of the Government Chemist and Cellmark. The laboratories submit the DNA profiles from these samples to the Forensic Science Service which acts as custodian of the national DNA database.
As the custodian, the Forensic Science Service inputs, updates and manages the information on the national DNA database and searches it for intelligence data at the request of the police.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if Clause 25 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill will ensure that adequate provision is made for asylum seekers with special medical needs. 
Beverley Hughes: Asylum seekers have access to national health service care in the same way as people who are settled here. Clause 26 (previously clause 25) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill contains a power to enable the Secretary of State to provide accommodation centre residents with facilities relating to health. Using this power, we intend to provide on-site primary health care to asylum seekers in accommodation centres.
Asylum seekers with special health needs will only be housed in accommodation centres if the on-site health care provider is equipped to deal with their needs or if it is possible make other arrangements that would still enable them to live at the centre. Each case will be considered on its merits.
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Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discretion is given to individual police services in recruiting police officers that do not match the prescribed eyesight criteria set by his Department; 
Mr. Denham: The Home Office provides guidance to forces on eyesight standards. The present guidance for eyesight is that candidates' unaided vision must be 624 or better in either eye and aided vision must be 612 or better in either eye and 66 binocularly.
All forces are expected to follow the guidance, but responsibility for the appointment of constables rests with the Chief Officer of each force.
A Home Office project is under way to establish national recruitment standards (NRS) for the police service. It is reviewing all current entry requirements, to ensure they are job related, evidence based and non discriminatory. The eyesight guidelines are currently under review as part of the NRS project.
When the new standards are in place, forces will be required to follow them.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in Nottinghamshire on 31 March of each year since 1981; and how many there are expected to be on 31 March 2003. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2002]: The table sets out police numbers for each year since 1981. I am told by the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire (Mr. Stephen Green QPM) the force has a target strength of 2,434 officers for 31 March 2002.
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.
The public have a right to expect the same high standards of service wherever they live and the Government propose to put a framework in place to ensure that all police forces come up to the standard of the best.
|Year (as at 31 March)||Police officer numbers|
(63) 31 January
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanism exists to prevent duplication of activity between (a) HMIC, (b) the Police Standards Unit, (c) the Audit Commission and (d) Home Office-based teams in respect of the police. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2002]: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the Police Standards Unit, the Audit Commission and the Home Office have separate but complementary roles which together seek to ensure that the police service in England and Wales is efficient and effective.
A steering group chaired by myself, due to my responsibility for policing, oversees implementation of the police reform programme and ensures a cohesive and prioritised approach to police activity. Senior Home Office officials, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Police Standards Director attend these meetings.
There are close working relationships between HMIC and the Police Standards Unit. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Police Standards Director meet regularly. Their respective roles are clearly defined. HMIC has an independent inspection and monitoring role as distinct from the police standards unit's policy implementation and support role.
There are well developed mechanisms for co-ordination of HMIC and the audit commission's work which in turn ensure that both those organisations' work is properly integrated with that of the police standards unit. There are regular meetings between Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Audit Commission Controller. There are formal agreements in place where duplication is possible, for example on the integration of audit and inspection of best value performance plans.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what targets have been set within the police for the recruitment and retention of officers from ethnic minorities; and what the latest outturns are in respect of these targets. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 24 June 2002]: The latest recruitment figures available are as at 30 September 2001. The following table shows, by police force, the minority ethnic (ME) officer strength target for 2009, ME officer strength and percentage as at 30 September 2001.
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|Police force||2009 target (percentage)||Number of ME officers September 2001||Percentage of ME officers September 2001|
|Avon and Somerset||2.0||39||1.3|
|City of London||7.3||18||2.6|
|Devon and Cornwall||1.0||15||0.5|
Note: Figures have been set to 1 per cent. for areas below 1 per cent.
The targets for retention are that the percentage of minority ethnic officers leaving the service through resignation or dismissal each year should equal the percentage of white officers leaving each year under similar circumstances within three years in each of the following bands:
two years to under five years service
five years to under 10 years service
with demonstrable, significant progress made each year to reduce the overall figure.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in England and Wales on (a) 9 September 1999 and (b) 31 May 2002. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 24 June 2002]: Information for the specified dates has not been collected centrally. However, on 30 September 1999 there were 125,394 officers and on 31 January 2002 (the latest date for which figures are available) there were 128,748 officers in England and Wales. This was a record number.
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The increase in police strength reflects the impact of the crime fighting fund (CFF), which is enabling forces in England and Wales to recruit 9,000 officers over and above previous recruitment plans in the three years to March 2003.
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