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30 Jan 2003 : Column 1037W—continued

Overstayers

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications under the Regulation of Overstayers scheme have been (a) received and (b) approved in each year since its inception; and for migrants from which countries. [93088]

Beverley Hughes: (a) 15,315 applications were received by the closing date (revised figure following a full review).

(b) 255 (April 2001); 1,079 (April 2002) and 2,173 (as at September 2002—latest figures available).

Information about countries of origin is not available.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are taken to verify (a) the identity and (b) criminal record of applicants under the Regulation of Overstayers scheme. [93089]

Beverley Hughes: Documentary evidence of identity is required on all applications under this scheme. Those applicants who previously applied for asylum will have been through a rigorous screening process. Specially trained caseworkers assess all cases carefully to identify any indication of criminal activity. All such cases are referred to a senior caseworker. Cases where an extant Deportation Order may be evoked or other specifically identified categories will always involve a criminal record check and require clearance by a Senior Officer.

Additionally, applicants with potential security interest are security checked before being granted leave.

Police Authorities

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the membership and responsibilities of police authorities. [92689]

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Mr. Denham: There are no plans to change the membership or responsibilities of police authorities.

Police Call-centres

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police forces in the United Kingdom rely on call-centres for handling telephone calls from the public; and if he will make a statement. [92686]

Mr. Denham: Detailed information is not available on this subject as differing systems are in place throughout the UK, using call-centres, switchboards and direct lines.

The recent National Policing Plan sets out the Government's commitment to improving the quality and efficiency of contact between the police and the public and call handling is an important aspect of this. We are working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Association of Police Authorities (APA) to improve standards.

Police Command Units

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the 30 basic command units are; and which 30 police stations dealt with the highest levels of (a) acquisitive crime and (b) crime by drug addicts in the last year for which figures are available. [91132]

Mr. Denham : I refer my hon. Friend to the written statement my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department gave the House on 21 January 2003 about the additional funding being allocated to the 30 basic command units with the highest levels of acquisitive crime. Supporting information on the selection criteria has been placed in the Library.

National recorded crime statistics can be analysed to allow a ranking order at regional (basic command unit) level but no lower.

Police Funding

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many police officers in North Yorkshire he estimates are paid out of police grants, with particular reference to rural funding for police officers; [92823]

Mr. Denham: General grant is not paid on the basis of supporting a particular number of police officers, but on an overall assessment of relative authority needs and resources.

Specific grant from the Crime Fighting Fund is supporting the recruitment of officers over and above forces previous plans for the three years to March 2003.

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Under the Crime Fighting Fund (CFF) recruitment initiative North Yorkshire Police have been allocated an additional 68 recruits.

In 2000–01, the first year of the scheme, the force appointed 64 new recruits, of whom four were funded by the CFF. In 2001–02 the force appointed 100 new recruits, including 37 CFF funded recruits. North Yorkshire will be able to take on 27 CFF funded recruits this financial year.

For 2003–04 the Rural Policing Fund will allocate £30 million in additional funding between the 31 forces that have the most widespread population. North Yorkshire will receive £2,018,029 through the Rural Policing Fund in 2003–04.

It is for the Chief Officer to decide how best to spend this additional money to enhance policing in rural areas.

No decisions about the Rural Policing Fund have been taken for 2004–05 and 2005–06.

Police Helicopter Sorties

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police helicopter sorties were made in each of the last five years, broken down by police force; and what the annual cost was to each police force. [93306]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not held centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. 39 police forces in England and Wales currently operate an Air Support Unit and the Home Office allocates grant of £4 million a year between forces as a contribution towards the capital cost of this facility. The remaining capital and operating costs are met by the police forces themselves.

Police Numbers

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the numbers of police officers in North Yorkshire in (a) 2001–02, (b) 2002–03 and (c) 2003–04; [92824]

Mr. Denham: North Yorkshire Police had 1,417 officers on 31 March 2002. This was 112 more than March 2001 and was a record number of officers. Information on strength for 31 March 2003 will not be published until the summer.

Under the Crime Fighting Fund (CFF) recruitment initiative North Yorkshire Police have been allocated an additional 68 recruits over and above the force's previous recruitment plans for the three years to March 2003. Funding for these officers will continue in 2003–04. The CFF will continue in 2003–04 and we will fund 75 per cent. of the cost of new recruits through CFF rather than 100 per cent. as in the past three years. North Yorkshire Police Authority has been allocated £20,000 which on the basis of 75 per cent. funding should be sufficient for the force to recruit a further four police officers through this fund.

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Apart from ring-fenced provision for a particular purpose, such as the Crime Fighting Fund, decisions about the police budget and the allocation of resources, including numbers of officers, are matters for the North Yorkshire Police Authority and the Chief Constable (Ms Della Cannings). It is therefore not possible to provide estimates of North Yorkshires police strength in future years.

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers (a) are in service and (b) were in service in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2001 in Devon. [93379]

Mr. Denham: Devon is part of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary and information is not collected on a regular basis about the number of officers deployed to Basic Command Units within force areas. I would however refer the hon. Member to my reply of 2 December 2002, Official Report, column 589W to the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) setting out police strength for each Basic Command Unit for each force in England and Wales as at 31 March 2002.

The deployment of resources between the four territorial divisions and other specialist operational and support units of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary is an operational matter for the Chief Constable (Mrs. Maria Wallis QPM).

Police Officer Numbers

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance his Department issues to police forces on the supply of information on officer numbers, with particular reference to the inclusion of individuals (a) recruited but not yet receiving pay and (b) undergoing basic training. [93307]

Mr. Denham: Published Home Office statistics on police officer numbers include probationer officers who have joined the service and are being paid. The statistics do not include individuals who are recruited but not yet receiving pay. The figures include officers undergoing initial basic training, which is included within the two year probationary period.


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