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31 Jan 2005 : Column 698W—continued

Police National Computer

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions the police national computer was accessed unlawfully in each of the last five years; and in how many cases those responsible were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted. [210163]

Ms Blears: The Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), who are responsible for maintaining the police national computer (PNC), at Hendon, are unaware of any unlawful access to the PNC by its staff or members of the general public during the time period stated or before.

Statistics recording the number of occasions a police officer has accessed the police national computer unlawfully and then been prosecuted and convicted for this offence in each of the last five years are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Police Retirement

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers have retired in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) rank and (b) police force area. [210018]

Ms Blears: Figures on the number of police officer retirements in England and Wales between 1996–97 and 2003–04 are given in the table.

These figures are for retirements with either an ordinary or ill-health pension and are broken down by (a) rank and (b) police force area respectively.
Police officer retirements by rank in England and Wales 1996–97 to 2003–04

Chief constableAssistant chief constableACPOChief superintendentSuperintendent

Chief inspectorInspectorSergeantConstableTotal

(54)Data is not available for all forces for 2002–03
(55)No data provided by one force for second quarter
Following changes to police personnel data collection, data on retirements by rank have been collected quarterly since 1 April 2002.

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Police officer retirements by police force area

Avon and Somerset1321248010410912111165
City of London2138272926322226
Devon and Cornwall114111961121089610087
Dyfed Powys2625203130213525
Greater Manchester319329282235239176198140
Metropolitan Police9109831,065815686717651579
North Wales594662496051526
North Yorkshire5038295155533641
South Wales119136139105131101103108
South Yorkshire6792100100104133106101
Thames Valley1251239210991104128108
West Mercia83697179114807559
West Midlands247294203184158216196156
West Yorkshire160163142153158223177140

(56)Data for 2002–03 not available

Police Stations

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) rural police stations and (b) beat houses have closed in each year since 1997. [210670]

Ms Blears: This information is not held centrally.

Prison Service

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what grounds of (a) cost and (b) anticipated benefit the decision was made to extend the programme of performance testing in the Prison Service to establishments that are not designated as failing. [209454]

Paul Goggins: The Prison Service has no plans to extend performance testing to establishments that are not failing. Performance testing has proved to be an extremely successful mechanism for driving improvement in poor performing establishments. Although the National Offender Management Service has announced that the formal programme of performance testing will cease with the return of market testing, the Prison Service will retain performance testing as part of an internal performance improvement
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programme designed to help the Service compete effectively in the more contestable environment. Any poor performing establishment that fails to recognise the need for change and therefore presents a poor prospect at any future market test may be performance tested.

Sentencing (Costs)

Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the average cost per annum of supervising an individual on a community punishment order in England and Wales was in the latest period for which figures are available; [207068]

(2) what the average cost per annum of supervising an individual on a community rehabilitation order in England and Wales was in the latest period for which figures are available; [207070]

(3) what the average cost per annum of supervising an individual on community rehabilitation and community punishment order in England and Wales was in the latest period for which figures are available. [207071]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 10 January 2004]: The average budgeted cost per annum of supervising an individual on the following orders is as follows.
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Community Punishment Order1,890
Community Rehabilitation Order2,830
Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Order2,750

These figures cover all local Probation Boards' costs including the cost of probation officer training. These figures are derived from a costing exercise undertaken for the first time in 2003–04 by the 42 local boards.

Sex Abuse (Historical Cases)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether the Senior Investigation Officers' Manual has been amended to specify that any initial approach by the police to former residents of care homes should be no more than a general invitation to provide information to the investigation team; [207459]

(2) what guidance was available to police forces involved in historical sex abuse operations prior to the introduction of the Senior Investigations Officers' handbook in 2002. [207332]

Ms Blears: The Senior Investigations Handbook served to bring together existing guidance on investigations generally and for investigating child abuse, including where allegations are made about historical incidents. This included the Working Together Guidance which has a chapter dedicated to historical allegations and the Manual for Senior Investigation Officers managing Major Incidents—Major Incident Rooms: the Standardisation of Administrative Procedures for the Management of Serious and Series Crime.

The Government's Response to the Home Affairs Committee's Report published in April 2003 indicated that the Senior Investigations Handbook already included guidance that the SIO in any case must always record, as a matter of routine, justification for using the dip sampling or investigation method for making initial approaches to former residents of care homes.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has established a multi-agency working group to review the SIO Handbook which was produced in 2002. That review group has cognisance of all recommendations made by the Committee and in particular on-going concerns raised by my hon. Friend and will ensure amendments in line with police investigative policy. This will include adding further safeguards to the initial
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approach for evidence as considered by the group. I understood that the chair of that group has now invited my hon. Friend to present her concerns to the group in person.

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