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12 Feb 2003 : Column 778W—continued

Police Special Branches

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many officers are employed in the Metropolitan Police Special Branch; [96563]

Mr. Denham: Information collected annually by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary shows that on 31 March 2002 there was a total of 3,463 officers in forces' Special Branches, including 619 ports unit officers. It is not our practice to disclose detail at force level in the interests of national security as to do so could compromise operations.

Police Standards Unit

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 27 January 2003, Official Report, column 715W, on Police Standards Unit, which initiatives have been aided by the work of the Police Standards Unit. [96191]

Mr. Denham: The Police Standards Unit is supporting a number of initiatives across police forces in England and Wales to improve police performance. The initiatives include sponsoring and sharing good practice to reduce repeat victimisation, vehicle crime, domestic burglary and drug crime; tackling persistent offenders and street crime; aiding the implementation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and helping forces make the best use of forensic opportunities.

Retail Industry Crime

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 14 January, Official Report, column 585W, on retail industry crime, when the consultation on the means of creating and maintaining effective partnerships to reduce opportunities for crime against business will report. [96763]

Mr. Denham: The consultation period ends on 28 February 2003. The responses will be collated and analysed over the following eight to 12 weeks and consideration given to the best means of taking business crime reduction partnerships forward. A report should be available by June, and I expect to announce any new arrangements which follow on from the consultation later in the summer.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 14 January 2003, Official Report, column 586W, on small retail businesses, whether the results of the new survey of crime affecting retail and manufacturing business will be (a) published online and (b) placed in the Library. [96766]

Mr. Denham: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in April last year a new survey of crime affecting retail and manufacturing business. This

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will give a range of information about the types of crime which most impact on these business sectors and provide insights into the most effective interventions to address them. Results of the survey should be available later this year and will be published both online and placed in the Library.

Splash Programmes

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what funding is available to Splash programmes for (a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005–06, broken down by region; what will be the amount of funding provided by each contributing agency; what will be the amount of funding necessary to run each Splash scheme; and if he will make a statement; [95931]

Mr. Denham: In summer 2002 around 370 Splash and Splash Extra schemes were run in high crime areas, enabling over 90,000 young people to take part in a wide range of activities. These schemes contributed to an overall reduction in local crime rates of 5.2 per cent., with reductions of up to 31 per cent. in street crime and robbery in some areas. A full report on the evaluation of the 2002 programme will be published in the spring.

Each Splash Scheme costs £15,000 for a five-week summer programme, including £5,000 from partner agencies, and £6,000 for a two-week Easter programme, including £2,000 from partners.

For 2003, the Government will be launching a new single programme of positive activities for young people to provide year round out of school activities for eight to 19-year-olds. The new programme will absorb Splash and Splash Extra, and will deliver activities to more young people, providing support for those most at risk. The new programme will mean less bureaucracy for local areas, allowing them to focus on delivering good quality programmes to young people at risk of crime and social exclusion. While it is not yet possible to provide a regional breakdown of the funding that will be available, we are planning on each region having an increase compared to last year, with an overall increase in the total budget.

We would hope to sustain this level of activity and funding in subsequent years, but we shall need to review the position in the light of our experience this year.

Surveillance Commissioner

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) authorisations, (b) prior authorisations and (c) renewals of surveillance have been denied by the Surveillance Commissioner (i) in total and (ii) in relation to the Metropolitan Police; and if he will ask the Surveillance Commissioner to report on these matters in future annual reports. [95558]

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Mr. Denham: As stated in paragraph 6.10 of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Annual Report only one authorisation for intrusive surveillance was quashed. This was not a Metropolitan Police case.

Sussex Police

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 27 January, Official Report, column 116W, on Sussex police, of the 34 officers transferred from Sussex police in the year to 31 March 2002, where they were transferred to. [96013]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not collected centrally. However I understand from Sussex police that the officers transferred to the forces shown in the table.

Police officers transferred from Sussex Police: 2001–02

To forceNumber transferred
Avon and Somerset Constabulary1
British Transport Police4
Cambridgeshire Constabulary2
Cumbria Constabulary1
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary3
Dorset Police2
Dyfed-Powys Police1
Greater Manchester Police1
Guernsey Police1
Hampshire Constabulary4
Humberside Police1
Kent County Constabulary4
Metropolitan Police6
Nottinghamshire Police1
West Mercia Constabulary1
Wiltshire Constabulary1
Total transfers out of Sussex34

West Yorkshire Police

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many uniformed police officers West Yorkshire Police employed in (a) 1997 and (b) 2002. [96623]

Mr. Denham: Information about the number of uniformed police officers is not collected centrally. Responsibility for determining police officer numbers in a force rests with the chief constable.

West Yorkshire Police had 5,209 police officers on 31 March 1997 and 4,889 officers on 31 March 2002. The decline in police officer strength in West Yorkshire after March 1997 was much more marked than the overall decline that occurred nationally, despite the force having done a little better than the national average in terms of resources. However, police officer strength in West Yorkshire has been rising since March 2001. In the 12 months to March 2002 force strength increased by 74 officers, I understand that the force expects further substantial growth by March 2003.

The number of civilian support staff in the force has increased since March 1997 by 130 to 2,364 in March 2002.

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Wildlife (Illegal Trade)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will include tougher sentences for illegal trade in wildlife in the Criminal Justice Bill; [94943]

Hilary Benn: The Government's consultation paper, "Review of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1991" which was issued on 15 January, recommends an increase in penalties for certain illegal wildlife trade offences. The deadline for responses is 4 April 2003. There are no current plans to include this in the Criminal Justice Bill, but the Government may consider the proposal in the light of amendments tabled.

Working Holiday Visa Scheme

Mr. Hawkins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will include within his current review of the Working Holidaymaker Visa Scheme an assessment of (a) the case for gap year assistant teachers continuing to receive small monetary payments from UK schools including state schools and (b) the benefits to schools of such visas covering more than one calendar year. [97376]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 11 February 2003]: Working Holidaymakers can enter the United Kingdom for a period of up to two years. They are entitled as workers to be paid the national minimum wage or more in the normal way. They may engage in full-time employment for up to 50 per cent. of their stay, and can work in all schools up to the level of junior supply teachers.

The objectives of the review of the Working Holidaymaker scheme are to make it more inclusive, remove unnecessary work restrictions and reduce abuse of the category. We have agreed that the review will include consideration of the particular interests of gap year entrants. An announcement of the outcome of the review will be made in due course.

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