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5 Jun 2003 : Column 556W—continued

Asylum Claims

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a summary of the discussion he has had with his counterparts in (a) Albania and (b) elsewhere on deciding asylum claims offshore. [115215]

Beverley Hughes: UK officials have regular, ongoing dialogue with a number of European countries on improving the management of asylum and migration flows into the EU. Our new ideas around zones of protection have been part of this dialogue. But these are sensitive, exploratory discussions and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this early stage. Our goal continues to be the strengthening of the international protection regime by tackling the problems of abusive asylum claims.

Community Support Officers

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many community support officers are (a) operating and (b) centrally funded in each (i) Government office region and (ii) police force area; and how the number of centrally-funded officers was determined. [115548]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The figures requested are given in annex 1. There have been two rounds of central funding for Community Support Officers (CSOs). The first round, which took place in August last year, funded 1,222 CSOs. The second round, which was announced on 2 May, will fund 1,233 CSOs. Continuation funding from both rounds will last until the end of financial year 2005–06.

The second funding round was heavily over-subscribed. Bids were received from 36 forces. To determine the allocation of the available funding among the bids, I took account of the need to support forces bidding for the first time. I looked closely at the need for CSOs, which was based primarily on the numbers of CSOs already funded and the size of the force making the application. I also considered value for money, which meant looking at the role the CSOs would perform and the impact they were likely to have on crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. Other factors were innovative deployment of CSOs and the security of the excellent local partnership funding arranged by many forces and authorities.

Unfortunately, it has been necessary to fund many forces for only a proportion of their bid, but all of them have been successful in obtaining a share of the funding.

Correspondence

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter dated 7 April from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Tahir Ahmed. [114673]

Mr. Blunkett: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 12 May 2003.

Policing

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrestees in (a) Haltemprice and Howden, (b) the East Riding of Yorkshire and (c) the Humberside police authority area tested positive for category A and B drugs in each of the last two quarters for which figures are available. [116773]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are currently no powers to test arrestees for class A or B drugs. Drug testing of persons in police detention (after charge) is planned to start in Kingston-upon-Hull in the Humberside police force area in the summer of 2003 as part of the initiative to introduce drug testing across the 30 Basic Command Unit (BCD) areas with the highest levels of acquisitive crime. Data analysis will be available thereafter. The police will test under powers introduced by the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, for the presence of specified Class A drugs only i.e. heroin and crack/cocaine, those most closely associated with acquisitive crime.

Mrs Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers per head of population were in post in Merseyside in each year since 1995. [116475]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The table sets out the ratio of police officers to the population.

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Year(6)Number of population to one police officer
March 1995306
March 1996322
March 1997337
March 1998337
March 1999336
March 2000345
March 2001344
March 2002340
September 2002331

(6) Calculations are based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) population statistics


Merseyside police has one of the lowest ratios of population to police officers. In September 2002 only the Metropolitan police and West Midlands police had lower ratios. The average ratio of population per police officer for England and Wales in 1995 was 413 and in September 2002 it was 402.

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers and civilian support staff additional to the complement on 1 May 1997 have been appointed to Humberside police in each year since that date. [116594]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is set out in the table. Police strength details are not collected in May.

Year (at 31 March)Police strengthIncrease in strengthCivilian Support staff strengthIncrease in Civilian strength
19972,045718
19982,021-2478971
19991,974-4784051
20001,932-42840
20011,917-15808-32
20022,0581418168
2002 (30 September)2,11456Not available

Humberside police has a record number of police officers. The net increase in force strength since March 1997 is 69 officers, or 3.4 per cent. which is in line with the average increase for England and Wales over the same period.

Domestic Violence

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the group dealing with domestic violence perpetrators within the police force has met; and if he will make a statement. [110661]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The group dealing with domestic violence perpetrators within the police force will meet for the first time on 25 June 2003. The Association of Chief Police Officers hope to publish guidance relating to police perpetrators later in the summer.

I welcome the work being led by the ACPO in relation to domestic violence perpetrators in the police force and other domestic violence matters. There has been a real and positive shift in police responses to domestic violence incidents over the past few years and making further improvements in the police handling on domestic violence cases will be an important element in

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our strategy to reduce domestic violence and protect victims. We will publish a consultation paper on that strategy shortly.

Euro

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he received the Treasury documents relating to the five economic tests and the 18 background studies; what discussions he has held with ministerial colleagues on the tests since receipt of the documents; when he expects to complete his analysis of the documents; and what representations (a) he and (b) departmental officials will make to other Departments before a decision is reached on the economic tests. [115387]

Mr. Blunkett: The Treasury's 18 supporting studies on economic and monetary union (EMU) were sent to Cabinet Ministers on 16 May. My rt hon Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are holding meetings with Cabinet Members. There was an initial discussion at Cabinet on 22 May that will be followed by a special Cabinet meeting on 5 June. The Chancellor will make a statement to the House of Commons on 9 June.

Illegal Street Traders

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on (a) the police resources which have been made available and (b) the strategy being implemented for reducing the number of illegal street traders. [94562]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 30 January 2003]: No resources have been made specifically available to reduce the number of unlicensed street traders. Most central grant to police authorities is provided to support their policing plans overall.

Any strategy for reducing the number of unlicensed street traders locally is a matter for individual police authorities and forces.

KPMG Contracts

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many contracts his Department has awarded to KPMG since 1997. [113686]

Mr. Blunkett: The number of contracts awarded to KPMG since 1997 is as follows:

Financial YearNumber of contracts with KPMB
1997–982
1998–993
1999–20001
2000–010
2001–021
2002–032
2003–04(7)0

(7) To date


Nadhmi Auchi

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his Answer of 12 May 2003, Official Report, column 645W, on Nadhmi Auchi,

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for what reasons he did not issue his authority to proceed in the extradition case of Mr. Auchi until 18 March. [116236]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 3 June 2003]: As indicated in the earlier reply on 19 May 2003, Official Report, column 645W, to which the hon. Member refers, receipt of the request for Mr. Auchi's extradition was followed by various exchanges with French authorities. An authority to proceed was issued as soon as papers supporting the French request were judged to be in satisfactory order for that purpose.


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