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5 Apr 2005 : Column 1396W—continued

Mental Health Services (Trafford Police)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 24 February 2005, Official Report, column 777W, what decisions were reached between Trafford police division and the local primary health care trust at their meeting on 22 February; and what timetable was set for the provision of a place of safety as defined by the Mental Health Bill. [212391]

Ms Blears [holding answer 3 March 2005]: The question relates to operational issues for the Greater Manchester police, which are matters for the chief officer. Therefore, I have asked the chief officer to respond directly to the hon. Member. I have also asked the chief officer to forward a copy of the response to my Department and I will arrange for a copy of the correspondence to be placed in the Library.

National Offender Management Service

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when regional offender managers will (a) assume their roles on a full-time basis and (b) cease to operate in their current posts within the prison and probation services. [201715]

Paul Goggins: All 10 Regional Offender Managers are now in post. In addition, the Regional Offender Manager for the East of England will retain his current role in the Office of Contracted Prisons until April 2007.

Neighbourhood Watch

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to provide financial support to the National Neighbourhood Watch Association; and if he will make a statement on his Department's assessment of the association's work. [223743]

Ms Blears: The Home Office has not made a formal assessment of the National Neighbourhood Watch Association's (NNWA) work. The NNWA does, however, play a role as a voice for many volunteers within the Neighbourhood Watch movement. The NNWA is a registered charity which is independent of Government and as such is responsible for assessing its own capabilities and strategy.
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I understand that the NNWA has recently managed to secure core funding from a private sector sponsor which should secure the organisation's financial position. The Government did, however, grant the NNWA £25,000 during March 2005 to cover the organisation's essential running costs pending the start of this new sponsorship arrangement. We have no plans to provide further funding to the NNWA.

The main support to local Neighbourhood Watch schemes is in the form of partnership working from the police, Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, and the community safety departments of local authorities. We have asked police services to ensure these arrangements are robust. We have also provided a website to encourage the sharing of good practice, and we are in the process of setting up a telephone advice line. In addition the Government have made sure that public liability insurance cover is available for all Neighbourhood Watch groups in England and Wales, including those groups which are not affiliated to the NNWA.

Home Office support for local groups includes the printing and distribution of Neighbourhood Watch publications worth £100,000 pa. Additionally a new quarterly newsletter, called 'Community link' has been published to help spread good practice and new ideas among grassroots Neighbourhood Watch volunteers.

Organised Crime

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent research he has conducted to develop a model for assessing different forms of organised crime; and if he will make a statement. [223878]

Caroline Flint: Officials have been working on measures to estimate the economic and social harms caused by organised crime, and the turnover of organised crime groups. It is intended to publish this work this summer

Overseas Bribery

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions his Department has received representations from police forces about lack of resources available for investigations into overseas bribery. [219305]

Ms Blears: We have received no formal representation of this kind from police forces. However, we are aware from discussions with them that some police forces have expressed some concerns about the potential cost of investigations into overseas bribery.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police constabularies have a race and diversity policy or strategy. [221865]

Ms Blears: All police forces have a Race Equality Scheme under the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.
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Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Government are planning to change the discipline system for police officers who have acted in a discriminatory way. [221866]

Ms Blears: We are considering changes to the police disciplinary system rising from the review of the police disciplinary arrangements conducted by William Taylor, the report from the Commission for Racial Equality on the Police Service in England and Wales and the review conducted by Sir William Morris entitled The Case for Change: People in the Metropolitan Police Service". This consideration will address discriminatory behaviour and other misconduct issues.

Police (Child Abuse)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what disciplinary procedure a police officer who breached the Association of Chief Police Officers' guidance on anonymity until the point of charge for individuals accused of abuse would face. [219314]

Ms Blears: Police officers have a duty of confidentiality and information should only be divulged to third parties lawfully and in the proper course of their duties. A breach of anonymity may constitute a breach of the Police Conduct Regulations 2004 and the force concerned would be obliged to investigate the matter. Where a complaint was received from a member of the public, the complaint would normally be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who would determine how the complaint should be handled and the nature of any subsequent investigation.

It would also be for the Chief Officer or, in cases involving Chief Officers, the relevant Police Authority to determine whether the nature of any suspected breach of anonymity was sufficient to warrant an officer's suspension. Disciplinary proceedings would only be initiated at the conclusion of the investigation and the point of charge, where appropriate.

Police Constables (Probation)

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the average annual cost of (a) employing, (b) training and (c) developing a probationary police constable in the last year for which figures are available. [222670]

Ms Blears [holding answer 17 March 2005]: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary have estimated that the average salary, training and development costs of a probationary police constable up to independent patrol (which is normally 31 weeks after joining a force) in 2003–04 were £27,048. This figure includes salary costs of £13,993 per probationary police constable for that period and training and development costs of £13,055.

Information about the associated costs for recruitment, supervision, accommodation, information technology etc. is not collated centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
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Police Detection Rates

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on trends in police detection rates. [220161]

Ms Blears: The Home Office reviews the performance of police forces on the basis of their sanction detection rate. The sanction detection rate is the percentage of crimes for which someone is charged, summonsed, receives a caution or other formal sanction.

The trend in police performance in sanction detections is now improving. Trends have, however, varied over the last two decades.

Between 1988 and 1996, there was a gradual decline in the sanction detection rate from 27 per cent. to 17.35 per cent. The rate then rose between 1996 and 1999 reaching 22 per cent. Since then, the rate has been affected by two changes which make comparisons more difficult to make: more stringent counting rules in relation to detections have taken place and a new National Crime Recording Standard was introduced inflating the number of offences against which the rate was calculated. The sanction detection rate fell after 1999 but then stabilised at around 19 per cent. between 2001–02 and 2003–04.

The Government have made clear their desire to raise performance in this area. It has set a goal of achieving a sanction detection rate of 25 per cent. by 2007–08. To achieve that improvement, a major drive has been under way to both raise rates and also to address unacceptable variations in detections performance between forces. This includes ensuring that forces prioritise and maximise investigative outcomes and that officers and other police staff have the best training and the right skills to improve the proportion of offences brought to justice.

Provisional data for 2004–05 indicate that improvements are now being achieved and the sanction detection rate has improved in each of the last 10 months.

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