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Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the report of the review of road traffic offences undertaken by John Holliday will be published; and what factors determine the timing of its publication. 
[holding answer 29 November 2004]: The review has largely been completed, but there are a number of very difficult issues under consideration
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which require careful scrutiny before a consultation paper can be published. We intend to publish the consultation paper shortly.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to (a) increase the penalties for carrying knives in public and (b) bring forward proposals for revising the sentencing guidelines to magistrates and judges in such cases; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: We are currently considering what more need be done to tackle knife-related crime. This includes reviewing the current legislation and penalties to deal with knives and other offensive weapons.
Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Metropolitan Police officers have been investigated since June 2001 for improper use of travel allowances; how many officers have been disciplined since June 2001 for improper use of travel allowances; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 2 December 2004]: The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police informs me that, since June 2001, two officers have been investigated for improper use of travel allowances. These two investigations did not result in formal disciplinary action being taken against the officers.
|As at 31 March:||Number of police officers|
|2004 (31 August)||2,523|
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many dedicated traffic police officers there have been in each year since 200102, broken down by region; and what percentage of the total number of police officers these figures represent, broken down by region. 
Ms Blears: Published information on police strength by police force area is available for rank, gender, ethnicity but not function. Published information on police strength by region is available for total strength. Figures on police strength for March 2004 were published in Home Office Statistical Bulletin 13/04, copies of which are available in the Library or on the internet site: http://www.homeoffice.gov:uk/rds/hosbpubs1.html.
Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to ensure consistency between advice given to the Police by (a) the National Centre for Policing Excellence, (b) the National Policing Improvement Agency, (c) the Police Science and Technology Unit, (d) Police Powers and Leadership Unit and (e) Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. 
Ms Blears: The various bodies concerned with delivering improved policing outcomes work together to ensure that consistent advice is provided to the police. The Police Leadership and Powers Unit (PLPU) works closely with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. Consistency with the National Centre for Policing Excellence (NCPE) is ensured by PLPU's role as the sponsor unit for CENTREX, the national police-training provider, of which the NCPE is a directorate.
The 'Improving Performance through Applied Knowledge' (IPAK) programme of work, led by the Police Standards Unit, is aimed at improving the development and dissemination of good practice in the policing community. This includes working approaches to avoid overlaps or gaps between the work of stakeholder organisations, including the NCPE, HMIC, and PLPU. In the field of science and technology, a consistent approach is co-ordinated through the Police Science and Technology Strategy Group, which is chaired by the Director of Policing Policy in the Home Office. This group includes the director of the NCPE, the heads of the Science Policy and the Information Communications Units, and a senior representative from HMIC. The Group will also include an appropriate representative from the National Policing Improvement Agency when the detailed composition and scope of the Agency has been agreed.
Finally, an important driver behind the Improvement Agency will be to rationalise the number of bodies that provide advice and assistance to the police service, thereby further ensuring consistency. The details of this are still being considered.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research his Department has
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commissioned on whether the efficiency targets for police authorities of 3 per cent. from next year, including cashable savings of 1.5 per cent. are attainable. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 29 November 2004]: The efficiency target for the police service was set in the Spending Review 2004 taking account of the Efficiency Review carried out by Sir Peter Gershon. It takes into account the police service's very good record of achievement of average efficiency gains of 2.6 per cent. per year from 19992000 to 200304.
The Home Office, the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers have worked together to develop an efficiency strategy for the service. They are committed to work in partnership to deliver cumulative year-on-year improvements in the value for money obtained from expenditure on the police service in pursuit of the very challenging targets set in SR 04.
An efficiency strategy implementation group is leading work to determine priorities for making efficiency gains, including in corporate service functions, such as human resource management and finance. A working group led by the Association of Police Authorities has already identified opportunities for substantial gains to be achieved through better procurement of goods and services.
A key element of the strategy is to increase the proportion of time which police officers spend on front-line policing. In 200304 the average proportion of officer time spent on front-line duties for all forces was 63.6 per cent.; the range between forces was from 53.8 per cent. to 70.2 per cent. Increasing the average to around 72.5 per cent. would deliver nearly half of the efficiency target.
Bureaucracy reduction, exploiting new technology, more effective deployment of officers and more effective use of support staff will all help to increase the amount of front-line policing. A recent report, commissioned by the Home Office from Accenture, indicates the potential to improve the efficiency with which officers are rostered for duty.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance his Department has issued on the police exercise of stop and account not resulting in a search; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 29 November 2004]: The Home Office issued the 'Recording of stops Implementation guide' to forces in March 2004. In July 2004, the Stop and Search Action Team (SSAT) issued interim guidance, as well as two further reports'The views of the public on the phased implementation of recording police stops' and 'An evaluation of the phased implementation of the recording of police stops'. A guidance table on recording responsibilities was issued via the police reform bulletin on in November 2004.
Forces have been encouraged to feed back on this guidance to fully inform SSAT's work. A stop and search manual containing all available information from the SSAT workstreams will be issued to forces in 2005.
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