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25 Jan 2005 : Column 286W—continued

Police Officers

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers, excluding support staff and community support officers, were employed in each police authority in England and Wales in each year since 1996–97. [207963]

Ms Blears: The information is set out in the table.
Police officer strength, England and Wales, as at 31 March (full-time equivalent)

199719981999200020012002200320042004 (31 August)
Avon and Somerset2,9892,9762,9992,9342,9943,0963,1493,4013,405
Devon and Cornwall2,8652,9622,8872,8412,9343,0533,2023,2833,319
Essex (9)2,9612,9282,8912,8062,8972,9462,9893,0983,106
Greater Manchester6,9226,9496,8106,7956,9097,2177,3438,0428,061
Hertfordshire (9)1,7591,7401,7241,7671,9221,8251,9572,0862,124
London, City of859825778732703764808853866
Metropolitan police (9)26,67726,09426,07325,48524,87826,22327,98429,73530,021
North Wales1,3691,3961,3911,4031,4441,5061,5391,6031,591
North Yorkshire1,3381,3671,3371,2831,3051,4171,4441,5291,535
South Wales2,9762,9862,9812,9263,1543,2223,2393,2793,264
South Yorkshire3,1593,1823,1683,1633,1973,1993,1833,2793,292
Surrey (9)1,6201,6081,6621,7852,0661,9921,9061,9131,912
Thames Valley3,6953,7763,7483,7403,7033,7623,8334,0344,139
West Mercia2,0402,0102,0251,8871,9512,0182,2562,3552,349
West Midlands7,1137,1567,3217,1947,4237,6817,7517,8878,039
West Yorkshire5,2095,1554,9824,8224,8154,8895,0295,2755,370
Total England and Wales (including secondments)127,158126,814126,096124,170125,682129,603133,366139,200139,728

(9) Boundary changes on 1 April 2000 between the Metropolitan police (MPS), Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey reduced the strength of the MPS in 2000–01.

25 Jan 2005 : Column 287W

Police Standards Unit

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the work that the Police Standards Unit has undertaken with Nottinghamshire police; and what estimate he has made of the cost of such work. [207341]

Ms Blears [holding answer 17 January 2005]: The Police Standards Unit (PSU) has been working with Nottinghamshire police since the spring of 2003. Developed in close liaison with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, there is now a mature and comprehensive programme of work in place aimed at supporting the force to reduce and better investigate crime through delivering performance improvements in operational and organisational areas.

The key areas of PSU work with the force are on improving capacity for forensics, intelligence-led policing (with a particular focus on drugs and major crime), performance management, and on tackling persistent offenders. PSU is also working with the force on management of serious crime, sanction detections, and tackling violent crime.

In addition to the investment of time from PSU staff, the total cost of PSU's work with Nottinghamshire police to date has been £2.4million. This funding has been divided between provision of staff (including extra Scenes of CrimeOfficers and a drugs manager), infrastructure (e.g. provision of hardware) and consultancy support (e.g. on the force's performance management framework).

Nottinghamshire police have achieved significant reductions in crime during the time that PSU have been working with them. For example, according to the latest figures from the force, over the last 12 months the number of domestic burglaries has fallen by 23 per cent., robberies by 26 pre cent. and vehicle crimes by 15 per cent., when compared to the previous 12 months.

Police/Prison Service

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes have occurred to the entry level fitness tests for the (a) Police Service and (b) Prison Service since 2000. [201857]

Paul Goggins: The Police Service introduced a national standard for Recruitment Fitness Testing in April 2002. Prior to this, different forces used different Fitness Tests and different standards applied. Officers are tested prior to recruitment and during probation.
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1 April 2002—test consisted of:

1 July 2003—following research conducted by the Prison Service (as set out) and a conclusion that the speed/agility element may not be justified, interim adjustments were made to the test pending further research. These were:

2 August 2004—following further research and a decision to base the fitness requirement on the level of fitness needed for Officer Safety Training—the test was adjusted by:

Currently, police recruits must demonstrate:

A working party set up by the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales is looking at the on-going health and fitness of serving officers and fitness levels for officers in specialist roles.

Prison Service

Her Majesty's Prison Service introduced a mandatory annual fitness test for all new Prison Officers joining the service after 2 April 2001. Prison Officers are required to pass this test annually for the rest of their discipline career in order to meet the Services health and safety requirements. Since its introduction there has been two changes to the test.

The reason for the multistage fitness test change was based on advice taken from Loughborough University who said that the minimum level of VO2m for a PrisonOfficer was 34.7, which equated to level 6.5 on a 20-metre bleep test.

The Prison Service work to a 15-metre bleep test andit was proven by Roehampton University that the 15-metre course is harder than the 20-metre one. The minimum level of 34.7 VO2m on a 15-metre course is achieved at level 5.4, hence the change.
25 Jan 2005 : Column 289W

Although the level of the bleep test was lowered it is still measuring the same level of VO2m which is the minimum fitness level required of a Prison Officer joining the Prison Service after 2 April 2001.

The grip test was reduced due to the Prison Service changing its testing equipment with the original dyno-meter being was much more user friendly and suited a smaller hand. The change to the dyno-meters was made due to the high cost of repair (they had to be sent to America) as they worked on a hydraulic system that continually leaked.

The new dyno-meter disadvantaged Prison Officers with a small hand and so the grip test was lowered to 25kgf to accommodate this.

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