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2 Dec 2002 : Column 573W—continued



Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit Gibraltar. [84747]

The Prime Minister: I have no immediate plans to do so.

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Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister when he last met the Prime Minister of Sweden. [85150]

The Prime Minister: I met the Prime Minister of Sweden at the Party of European Socialists meeting on 15 November in Warsaw.

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25. Mr. Illsley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to encourage local police forces to improve response times. [82327]

Mr. Denham: A key message of the National Policing Plan, published on 20 November, is the Government's determination to remove the barriers which prevent the police from providing the public with the best possible service.

The police are well aware of the importance of providing a rapid response to an emergency call. Also, public satisfaction on response times for emergency calls is one of the Best Value Performance Indicators for police authorities. Authorities set targets on the indicator and are required to publish their force's performance in annual Best Value performance plans.

27. Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to (a) recruit part-time police officers and (b) allow full-time officers to change to part-time if they wish to (i) before and (ii) after they have completed 30 years' service. [82329]

Mr. Denham: All new recruits may apply to work part-time, as may established police officers of all ranks, regardless of whether officers have completed 30 years' service or not. Managers must give full consideration to all requests to change to part-time working, taking into account operational needs.

As part of the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) Agreement of 9 May, part-time working will be made easier for officers in all ranks, regardless of whether they have completed 30 years service or not. We plan to remove the 16 hour a week minimum requirement for part-time working by 1 April 2003; together with the requirement for job sharing in respect of middle and senior ranks. The position of part-time probationers will be given further consideration in PNB.

30. Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of Lancashire Constabulary's large-scale arrest of drug dealers. [82332]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We have been kept fully informed of the Lancashire constabulary's activity against drug dealers, most notably Operation Nimrod. This has so far resulted in over 100 people being arrested and dealt with by the courts. Seizures of class A drugs have risen considerably in comparison to last year. The constabulary has commissioned both an internal evaluation of Operation Nimrod as well as an external evaluation by Lancaster university on its impact within the community. These reports are due at the beginning of March.

35. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next expects to meet Chief Police Officers to discuss rural policing. [82337]

Mr. Denham: I meet regularly with Chief Police Officers and discuss a wide range of issues with them.

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39. Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to enable police officers to spend more time on the beat during their working day. [82341]

Mr. Denham: We are committed to tackling the administrative burdens and inefficient working practices that keep officers off the streets. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary established a taskforce, under the chairmanship of Sir David O'Dowd, to identify ways in which forces can free up the time of front line officers. The taskforce's report was published on 17 September this year and contained 52 recommendations to increase the presence of police in communities. We have now set up a steering group, co-chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office, to take forward these recommendations.

Two recommendations of the taskforce have already been introduced in the Criminal Justice and Sentencing Bill to allow police officers to grant 'street bail':

We are also consulting with the judiciary on a provision to be included in the Bill, which will allow officers to obtain search warrants by video, by telephone and by fax. We are reviewing each and every Code of Practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to cut unnecessary bureaucracy. A new code A is to commence in April 2003, and new codes B-E are likely to commence by May 2003.


19. Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evaluation he has made of the effectiveness of CCTV in reducing crime levels. [82321]

Mr. Denham: Under the Crime Reduction Programme CCTV Initiative, a potential of £170 million will be spent funding 684 public area CCTV schemes, including £60,000 for cameras in Wetherby.

As a condition of funding, each scheme is required to undertake an independent evaluation of its effectiveness as a tool to assist the police and reduce crime and the fear of crime. These evaluations will cover implementation, impact and cost effectiveness. In addition, to help ensure maximum impact and sustainability of CCTV, a £1.5 million Home Office funded national evaluation programme is being carried out by the Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, on 17 approved CCTV Initiative schemes.

Police operational experience and various other research studies show that CCTV has considerable crime reduction and detection potential, particularly when used as part of a wider strategy.

22. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce portable CCTV systems to small towns; and if he will make a statement. [82324]

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Mr. Denham: The Department provides a variety of funding which may be used to establish and run Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) schemes in both large and small urban areas, residential or rural locations. For example, under the Crime Reduction Programme CCTV Initiative a potential £170 million is being invested in 684 CCTV schemes of which 41 are mobile. Decisions on whether to invest in static or mobile CCTV and precise deployment within specific areas are matters for determination by the relevant local crime reduction partners.

Antisocial Behaviour

20. Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to tackle anti-social behaviour which does not constitute a criminal offence. [82322]

Mr. Denham: We are committed to combating anti-social behaviour in whatever form it occurs. We have already introduced measures to increase effectiveness of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, created community support officers and strengthened powers to issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour. We are working closely across government to build on these and to identify what else we need to do, including new legislation where appropriate.

Child Protection

21. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase the protection of children from (a) vicious attacks and (b) sexual assault. [82323]

Hilary Benn: The XProtecting the Public" sets out proposals to tighten the requirements of the sex offenders' register, improve monitoring of offenders and build in new safeguards against evasion. It also outlines a range of new offences to better protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation including an offence to catch adults who groom children over the internet, with the intention of meeting them and engaging in sexual activity. This offence is designed to protect children from predatory activity, whatever form it takes.


23. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to implement new extradition procedures. [82325]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Extradition Bill, which will modernise our extradition laws, was published on 14 November.

28. Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on whether the European Arrest Warrant should allow a UK citizen to face trial in another country where there would be a presumption of guilt. [82330]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All countries to which the European arrest warrant will be extended operate a presumption of innocence. There will be a hearing before a British Judge and a right of appeal where

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concerns about any breach of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights can be revised, prior to any extradition request being carried out.

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