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25 Jan 2005 : Column 278W—continued

Mr. B. Mayo

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ask the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate the reasons for the delay in resolving the caseof Mr. B. Mayo. [209174]

Ms Blears: Under the provisions of the Police Reform Act 2002, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) can investigate a case only if it has been recorded by a police force and referred formally to the IPCC. The Secretary of State has no powers to intervene in that process.
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However, it is a statutory function of the IPCC to determine if there are any lessons to be learned following an investigation and, if so, to make recommendations or give advice to the police service concerned or police services in general.

I understand that Mr. Nick Hardwick, Chair of the IPCC, will be providing a substantive response to the hon. Member's letter of 13 January 2005 to the IPCC, in which he sought his assistance in resolving this case.

National Offender Management Service

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reasons are for the introduction of the concept of contestability within the National Offender Management Service. [201033]

Paul Goggins: Contestability is the principle that best quality and best value for money in the supervision, punishment and care of offenders will be achieved through ensuring that all appropriate services are opened up to competition with other providers. We want the most effective and efficient services for offenders both in prison and in the community whether these are provided by the public, private, voluntary or not for profit" sectors. The concept of contestability is being introduced within National Offender Management Service (NOMS) following its successful application within the Prison Service.

Offender Assessment

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in rolling out the OASys offender assessment tool in (a) prisons and (b) probation; how many prisons have access to the system; when roll-out will be complete; and if he will make a statement. [201383]

Paul Goggins: OASys was rolled out, on schedule, to all prison establishments by early January 2005 and is already in use by all probation areas. Only those public sector establishments that hold juveniles do not have OASys; a separate assessment tool is used for prisoners under 18. We expect to complete the connection of the OASys IT systems between all probation areas and prisons by the autumn of 2005.

Penalty Enforcement Reform

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for reform of the (a) enforcement and (b) administration of (i) criminal penalties and (ii) fixed penalty notices. [209484]

Paul Goggins: Custodial penalties are enforced and administered within the private and public sector prisons system. Community penalties are enforced and administered largely under arrangements made by local probation boards and with electronic monitoring contractors. Provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 will introduce tougher requirements for the courts when dealing with breaches of community orders. The Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill, currently before Parliament, includes provisions further to develop offender management within the National Offender Management Service. Measures include extended powers to direct the contracting out of
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probation services and the preparation of sentence plans for all offenders receiving custodial or community penalties.

Financial penalties are enforced by the magistrates courts. The Department for Constitutional Affairs' Enforcement Programme is delivering a wide programme of change aimed at improving the enforcement and administration of financial penalties. These include improving intelligence; a new legislative framework for enforcement provided by the Courts Act 2003; and taking the opportunity offered by the launch of Her Majesty's Courts Service to introduce more effective and efficient ways of working.

Most fixed penalty notices are enforced by prosecution or by the registration of a fine against a recipient who fails to pay the penalty or request a court hearing within the specified time. Registered fines are then enforced by the magistrates court in the same way as any other fine. For road traffic offences, consideration for prosecution follows when the endorsement of the statutory penalty points would result in disqualification. There are no plans to change this process.

Fixed penalty notices for road traffic offences and disorder are administered through a computer system which operates in both police forces and magistrates courts. There are no plans to change this arrangement, although the computer systems will need upgrading in the medium term. Certain changes to the fixed penalty system are proposed in the Road Safety Bill currently before Parliament. These are designed essentially to enable road traffic fixed penalty notices to be given to those who do not hold a GB driving licence and counterpart and to enable more effective enforcement against those who cannot prove an address in the UK.


Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to support measures to improve the performance of Northamptonshire Police; and if he will make a statement. [203765]

Ms Blears: The Police Standards Unit (PSU) has been working with Northamptonshire Police since the spring of 2004. This work has included a diagnostic phase which reviewed how the force manages burglary, vehicle and drug related crime. The review has also looked specifically at the use of forensic science and the custody processes in operation. The results of the diagnostic phase were a series of recommendations to enhance performance in each of the above areas, and these have been put to the force to consider for implementation.

In addition to this work, the force has completed a review of its structure and policing style and as a result of this has put into place the Northamptonshire Policing Model (NPM). This model restructures the force around different policing units to enable the force to deal more effectively with incident management and with community issues, crime investigations, and prisoner handling. The PSU is part-funding consultants who are working with the force to ensure that the NPM is implemented with minimum disruption, and that the focus on performance is vigorously maintained.
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We are confident that the joint efforts of the PSU, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and Northamptonshire Police will result in substantial improvements in performance.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of numbers of police officers in Wales are (a) community support officers, (b) reserve officers and (c) part-time officers. [208840]

Ms Blears: Community support officers (CSOs) are not police officers, but police staff for whom the chief officer of the force may designate certain limited powers.

The police service in England and Wales does not have a category of reserve police officers.

The total number of police officers in England in Wales is usually expressed in terms of full-time equivalent posts for which part-time posts are aggregated and not pure headcount (which, consequently, is always a higher figure). The full-time equivalent figure is used when announcing overall police officer numbers.

The full-time equivalent strength for 31 August 2004 for the four forces in Wales was 7,414. The most recent data available on part-time police officers is 31 March 2004, when the full-time equivalent strength was also 7,414 and the headcount figure was 7,545. There were 188 part-time police officers in post at that date; this is 2.5 per cent. of the 7,545 headcount figure.

In addition, there were 629 special constables on that date. At the end of September 2004, there were 130 CSOs in post in Wales. On 24 November I announced that funding was available for an additional 125 community support officers for the four Welsh police forces.

Police Authority Funding

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what additional funding is available to police authorities from central funds to implement (a) the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and (b) the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [199526]

Ms Blears [holding answer 29 November 2004]: The Home Office, not police authorities, is responsible for implementation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Police authorities fund operations undertaken within the terms of the Act, as part of force activity within the force budget. Operational decisions are a matter for each Chief Constable.

For local and police authorities in England and Wales increases in Revenue Support Grant will cover the new burdens of meeting costs of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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