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2 Dec 2002 : Column 585Wcontinued
Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) police officers and (b) civilian support staff were employed by Humberside Police in (i) 2000, (ii) 2001 and (iii) 2002. 
Mr. Denham: The information is set out in the table.
|Year (as at 31 March)||Number of police officers(22)||Number of civilian support staff(22),(23)|
(22) Full-time equivalent numbers
(23) Excludes traffic wardens
Humberside Police has been allocated 137 Crime Fighting Fund recruits over three years from April 2000 (47 in 200001, 41 in 200102 and 49 in 200203).
Mr. Horam: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average age of retirement of police officers was in the Metropolitan Police in each of the last five years; and what the cost to public funds of pensions for all retired staff was in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 27 November 2002]: I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that:
(a) the average age of retirement of police officers was in the Metropolitan Police:
(b) the net cost of pensions for police officers and civil staff and dependent pensions, death benefits and pension transfer (comprising pensions paid, lump sums, widows and widowers payments) of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was as follows.
|MPS net pensions total|
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Mr. Horam: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the detection rate was in the Metropolitan police area for each of the last three years; and what guidance he gives for estimating detection rates. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 27 November 2002]: The requested details are given in the table.
||Year ending March||Detection rate(24)
(24) Detection rates: the ratio of offences detected in a year to offences recorded in the year.
(25) There was a change in the guidance for counting detections on 1 April 1999 (See below). Detection rates after this date are therefore not directly comparable with previous years.
(26) On 1 April 2000, the Metropolitan police transferred parts of its area to three surrounding forces; Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey. This boundary change would have affected the number of offences recorded and detected by the Metropolitan police. The figure given here incorporates the effects of the boundary change.
The counting rules for detections introduced on 1 April 1999 provide more precise and rigorous criteria for recording a detection, with the underlying emphasis on the successful result of a police investigation. The most significant of these criteria is that there must be significant evidence to charge the suspect with a crime (whether or not a charge is actually imposed) so that, if given in court, it would be likely to result in a conviction. Detections obtained by the interview of a convicted prisoner are no longer included, and any detections where no further police action is taken generally have to be approved by a senior police officer or the Crown Prosecution Service. An offence is said to be cleared up/or detected in the following circumstances:
(b) a person has been cautioned.
(c) the court has taken the offence into consideration (TIC).
(d) where no further action is taken, the case is not proceeded with e.g. because the offender is under the age of criminal responsibility, the offender has died, because the victim or an essential witness is permanently unable to give evidence, or no useful purpose would be served by proceeding with the charge.
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The Home Office counting rules for recorded crime were again revised as from April 2002 in order to incorporate the new National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS), which aims to introduce a greater degree of consistency to the ways in which crime is recorded in different police forces and to take a more victim orientated approach to crime recording. The effect will be to increase significantly the number of crimes in the recorded crime count which in turn may affect detection rates. Some police forces introduced the new Standard in advance of national implementation, but figures given above for the Metropolitan police will not be affected as the force adopted the principles of the Standard in April 2002.
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 26 September from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Mohammad Tavs. 
Mr. Blunkett: A reply was sent to my right hon. Friend on 27 November 2002.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the National Probation Directorate charges each probation area for the maintenance of each computer terminal under the STEPS contract; and how much is paid to STERIA by the National Probation Directorate for the maintenance of each computer terminal as part of the STEPS Contract. 
Hilary Benn: The National Probation Directorate currently levies a £485 per desktop recharge on probation areas for the 2002/03 financial year. The recharge figure covers the provision of maintenance, support service charges including the provision.of the helpdesk during normal office hours, and support of the case management system.
Payments made to the company under the STEPS contract are covered by commercial confidentiality clauses that are normal in such contracts.
Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prepare a national strategy to promote awareness of and confidence in the work of the National Probation Service; what its terms of reference are; and when it will be published. 
Hilary Benn: The promotion of community sentences to the public and the wider work of the National Probation Service are part of the national strategy to increase confidence in the criminal justice system. As part of the Government's 2002 Spending Review the Home Office shares a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target with the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Attorney-General's Office to improve the level of public confidence in the criminal justice system.
Since, April 2001 the National Probation Service has been developing its communications in particular with sentencers in order to build up confidence in and awareness of, probation work, including new
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developments in community sentencers that help reduce reoffending. Activities include a video on the Probation Service 'What Works' programme, and plans for publications to disseminate information, and for probation participation at events organised for magistrates and judges.
This work is co-ordinated and funded by the National Probation Directorate, but much of the communication at local level occurs between local probation areas and local benches and Crown courts.
An action plan, bringing together the media strategy, internal communications and communications with sentencers, will be published in spring 2003. Future work will be informed by recently commissioned public perception research, due for publication in December, which the National Probation Service intends to repeat annually.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the procedures police officers have to undertake once they have arrested a suspect. 
Mr. Denham: The Home Office in partnership with the Cabinet Office has conducted a fundamental review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which examined the basic requirements of The Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act and the codes that underlie police procedures.
Based on the findings and recommendations of this report, the following changes are proposed in the Criminal Justice Bill:
The time-consuming requirement to list a detained person's property will be amended so that the custody officer would secure all possessions in a sealable property bag and only make a few supporting comments about the contents if necessary. This and any subsequent access would be done in the presence of the detained person. This has the potential to save resources without compromising protections.
We propose to extend the circumstances in which a review of detention could be done by telephone. It would no longer be obligatory for the reviewing officer to conduct them in person and would ultimately enable officers to overcome the time restrictions that hinder the process.
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could be done to tackle the administrative burdens and inefficient working practices which keep police officers off the streets.
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