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22 Oct 2002 : Column 225W—continued

Roadside Checks

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many roadside checks undertaken by the Vehicle Inspectorate have had to be cancelled over the last 12 months owing to lack of police resources, broken down by police force. [73431]

Mr. Denham: The table gives details for each force area in England and Wales of the number of roadside checks undertaken, total Vehicle Inspectorate (VI) staff hours worked, hours lost by the VI owing to the lack of a police officer, and total police hours worked. Hours lost by the VI cover circumstances such as where police officers were called away at the time of the check to deal with local emergencies or where officers did not attend as arranged. Numbers of roadside checks where the police gave more than 24 hours' notice of cancellation or where a force could

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not cover the desired number of checks because a senior police officer decided that the resources needed to go elsewhere are not recorded centrally.

Much of the increasing demand on the police is generated by the current provision that only an officer in uniform can stop vehicles for such purposes as roadworthiness and emissions tests. The police are not always in a position to supply officers to assist the VI in this way, and the Government recognise that police involvement in VI roadside checks may not be seen as the most effective use of police resources. Provisions in the Police Reform Act 2002 enable Community Support Officers and accredited persons to be given the power to stop and direct vehicles for specific purposes. These include for tests by the VI of vehicles' roadworthiness and compliance with construction and use regulations. The Act also removes the present restriction on traffic wardens' powers to stop, so that they can also undertake such functions. These measures will benefit the VI by enabling them to have a higher level of guaranteed service.

AreaPolice forceNo.of checksTotal VI staff hrsVI lost hrsTotal police hrs
5Greater Manchester181469824.51075.5
6Mersey Tunnel43716.510.5199.5
6North Wales541430.57.5358
7West Mercia101401324.25
7West Mids19267.50112.75
8West Mercia721575111151
8West Mids73138922.51141
9South Wales84715.257.75607.5
10Avon & Somerset141226981260
11Devon & Cornwall1683656160.51812
11Avon & Somerset36833.2517.5509.75
11British Transport0000
12Thames Valley44742.7557.5440.25
15British Transport4556020
15Royal Parks0000
15City of London14155070
18Thames Valley361177.75131.5223.25
20S Yorks1072552.512846.5
20W Yorks0000
22N Yorks721080.516.83458.75
22W Yorks681431.535745
23N Yorks7317722444

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Street Crime

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the level of street crime changed in (a) Harrow and (b) London between January and the end of August. [74580]

Mr. Denham: The Home Office does not routinely publish monthly crime figures. Statistics collected by the Home Office and published on 14 October as part of the Street Crime Initiative show that street crime offences in the Metropolitan Police Area fell from 6,774 offences in the four weeks ending 30 January to 4,576 offences in the four weeks ending 28 August. This represents a reduction of 32 per cent. The definition of street crime is all robbery offences (commercial and personal) and snatch thefts.

The information on street crime figures at borough level is not published by the Home Office.

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Illegal Parking

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has given, and what legislation is in place, regarding illegal parking. [73834]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Parking offences are contained in a number of Acts including the Highways Act 1980, the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. Guidance about illegal parking is given in the Highway Code.

Enforcement of criminal parking offences is an operational matter for the police. The Road Traffic Act 1991 provided for the decriminalisation of most non-endorsable on-street parking offences and their enforcement by local authorities. Normally, where there is an infringement a local authority parking attendant would issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to the transgressor. It is a matter for the local authority to

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ensure parking attendants are doing their jobs properly. Motorists can appeal to an independent parking adjudicator if they wish to dispute the issue of a PCN.


Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the co-ordination between organisations in response to any terrorist attack. [73849]

Mr. Blunkett: Since the attacks of 11 September, the Government has conducted a wide ranging review of the United Kingdom counter terrorist procedures and infrastructure, including physical and legislative measures to disrupt, deter and prevent terrorist activity. The Civil Contingencies Committee, which I chair, has led the review working systematically through all government departments, the emergency services, local authorities and the Devolved Administrations. In this way we are in a position to get advice on issues that require central leadership or facilitation. The arrangements are revised and tested through exercises to encourage continual improvement of our response arrangements.

The Government's progress report ''The United Kingdom and the Campaign against International Terrorism'' published on 9 September, and placed in the Library, provides a summary of action taken to strengthen counter-terrorism measures within the United Kingdom.

An external assessment by the House of Commons Defence Committee, detailed in their sixth report of session 2001–02 ''Defence and Security in the United Kingdom'', made further recommendations to which the Government are responding and which will help guide further work.

To further enhance the capacity at the centre of Government to co-ordinate security, intelligence and consequence management matters and deal with risks and major emergencies should they arise, Sir David Omand KCB was appointed as Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office in June this year.

Further information on the preparedness of the United Kingdom to respond to a major terrorist attack can be found on the website maintained by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) at: http://www.ukresilience.infor/home.htm.


Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received regarding capacity in prisons; and what plans he has to increase prison capacity. [73768]

Hilary Benn: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State receives representations on a regular basis regarding capacity in prisons. These come from a wide variety of individuals and organisations.

Her Majesty's Prison Service has already started an emergency building programme to increase capacity by 2,320 places by March 2003. The programme includes building modular temporary units and ready to use units at existing prisons and the deferment of some wing

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refurbishment schemes. The first of these schemes is already in operation. The Home Secretary also announced on 14 October that an additional #60 million would be provided to the Prison Service in 2003–04 to build further places to open next year. Further additional accommodation will be delivered during 2002 and 2004 as part of the expansion programmes at Her Majesty's Prison Hull and Birmingham.

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