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25 Nov 2002 : Column 105W—continued

Police Transfers

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Chief Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis concerning the current advertising campaign by the Metropolitan police to encourage police officers of Thames Valley to leave their employment and work in the Metropolitan police; and if he will make a statement. [82380]

Mr. Denham: I am aware of the concern about the recent advertisements issued by the Metropolitan police.

It is healthy to have a degree of interchange of experience between police forces, to allow officers to pursue their personal and career development. But we have made clear that it is essential that recruitment exercises should be conducted in a responsible manner that does not cause operational difficulties for colleagues in other forces.

Retail Workers (Assaults)

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the trends in assaults on workers in the retail sector; and what action he has taken in the light of such assessments. [80541]

Mr. Denham: Statistics are not collected on a regular basis about assaults on shop staff. However, we have launched the first independent crime victimisation study of the retail and manufacturing sectors for 10 years. This will gather valuable information about the types of crime businesses suffer and help in developing the best ways to tackle these. In May 2002 we issued XDon't Discount Crime", a new user-friendly crime reduction guide for retailers. This is of particular relevance to small retailers and includes basic guidance on what steps to take to reduce crime as well as what to do in crime situations. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also published "Work- related violence: managing the risk in

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smaller businesses" on 9 July 2002. The publication includes 10 case studies on reducing risk of violence to staff.

Security Alert Rating

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the security alert rating was for the country in each year since 1997. [81005]

Mr. Blunkett: There is no single national alert system. Different systems apply in various public sectors, and there is a range of alert systems for critical industries, aviation and maritime interests, dependent on the circumstances of each. These are based upon assessments provided centrally.

Shotgun Licences

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent guidelines he has published for issuing shotgun licences; and if he will make a statement. [82130]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Chapter 11 of the Home Office publication, XFirearms Law: Guidance to the Police", provides an overview of the shotgun certificate procedure. The guidance was published in March this year, but has been available on the Home Office website since December 2001.

It is for the police to determine in individual cases whether or not to issue, refuse or to revoke a certificate.

Special Constables

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables were employed by each police service in each year since 1992. [81003]

Mr. Denham: For 1992 and 1993 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) collected data on the number of special constables in England and Wales at the end of the calendar year. In December 1992 there were 19,035 special constables. The figure for December 1993 was 20,573. The HMIC data was collected for the financial year 1994–95 when there were 20,026 special constables.

Since 1995, data on special constabulary strength has been collected by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate for end of March and September each year. This is shown in the table.

Special constable total strength, September 1995 to March 2002

September 1995March 1996September 1996March 1997September 1997March 1998September 1998March 1999September 1999March 2000September 2000March 2001September 2001March 2002
Avon and Somerset676688662759629621584547482459416400391364
Devon and Cornwall1,0791,1021,1331,1481,0791,024916918908870836796780689
Greater Manchester749746710685657598567523498457408367355338
City of London8177908684766964665646433436
Metropolitan police1,6571,8501,7971,7141,5281,2821,2141,1381,173758754774753680
North Yorkshire359360368362337358302276245217189182186185
South Yorkshire423381330308295281266246236205193188189206
Thames Valley764744731656694609587569514472463418377356
West Mercia587613564582558512499515512476443399364339
West Midlands849897913945949889784731697680662617604598
West Yorkshire783709664690604589590559572484452415371349
Dyfed Powys304314309283241254237237237202193191174157
North Wales323332324341388358336400262247233207203125
South Wales469461383361362366360338331267254254250277

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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many serving special constables there are; and how many there were in each year since 1997. [81909]

Mr. Denham: Data on the strength of the special constabulary in England and Wales are collected by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate for the end of March and September each year. The numbers of special constables from March 1997 to March 2002 are given in the table.

Special constabulary strength 1997–2002

March 199719,874
September 199719,163
March 199818,256
September 199817,296
March 199916,484
September 199915,727
March 200014,347
September 200013,487
March 200112,722
September 200112,054
March 200211,598


Figures supplied by Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on measures taken to recruit special constables. [81910]

Mr. Denham: We are supporting forces in the recruitment of special constables through advertising and promotional material. In the last year, the Home Office has run a police specials recruitment campaign in the national press. Advertisements appeared under the police XCould You?" campaign branding and sought to demonstrate the kind of situations that a special constable could face.

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Information is not available on the direct effect on recruitment, but expressions of interest on the hotline number and website rose from 247 in December 2001 to 1,681 in January 2002 when the ads were first run.

We have also produced new recruitment literature, which will be sent to all new inquirers interested in becoming a special constable. A new information pack is also being produced for employers to promote the potential benefits business can derive from supporting staff who are interested in joining the special constabulary.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what charges per officer are imposed by the police force for providing special constables to cover events where necessary. [81915]

Mr. Denham: This information is not collected centrally. The decision whether to charge for the provision of special police services under section 25 of the Police Act 1996 is a matter for police authorities and chief constables.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will break down the cost, per officer, of training and equipping specials within the special constabulary. [81916]

Mr. Denham: This information is not held centrally.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what representations his Department has received concerning initiatives encouraging public sector employers to allow employees leave to serve in the special constabulary; [81919]

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Mr. Denham: We consult regularly with representatives of the special constabulary and other stakeholders on the future development of the special constabulary and on conditions of service issues.

We believe that the special constabulary has a vital role to play in combating crime and providing reassurance to the public.

We are working with stakeholders on a package of measures which are designed to increase the size of the special constabulary. We intend to amend the Special Constabulary Regulations to provide greater flexibility for police authorities to a limited number of trial schemes for making small payments to specials. These trial schemes will require the approval of the Secretary of State. A new headline role for specials has been agreed and a national Xfoundation" training package developed. We are working on joint Home Office/Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) good practice guidance covering all aspects of the recruitment, management and deployment of specials.

We have identified a number of Xspecial champions" projects to take forward initiatives to support the good practice guidance and have allocated £300,000 this year for this work.

We fully recognise the contribution employers can make to supporting the work of specials. We are looking at how we can develop closer links with employers to increase awareness of the range of skills specials acquire through their training and operational experience and to encourage engagement with the special constabulary.

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