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25 Nov 2002 : Column 105Wcontinued
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. 
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.
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. 
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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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.
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.
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 199495 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.
|September 1995||March 1996||September 1996||March 1997||September 1997||March 1998||September 1998||March 1999||September 1999||March 2000||September 2000||March 2001||September 2001||March 2002|
|Avon and Somerset||676||688||662||759||629||621||584||547||482||459||416||400||391||364|
|Devon and Cornwall||1,079||1,102||1,133||1,148||1,079||1,024||916||918||908||870||836||796||780||689|
|City of London||81||77||90||86||84||76||69||64||66||56||46||43||34||36|
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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.
Figures supplied by Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
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. 
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 (1) what representations his Department has received concerning initiatives encouraging public sector employers to allow employees leave to serve in the special constabulary; 
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(4) what representations his Department has received concerning the success of advertising for recruitment within the special constabulary; 
(5) what representations his Department has received regarding the effectiveness of the special constabulary; 
(6) what representations his Department has received regarding the introduction of (a) pay and (b) benefits for the special constabulary; 
(7) what recent representations his Department has received regarding the number of special constables leaving the special constabulary. 
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 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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