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Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the questions tabled by the hon. Member for Milton Keynes South West relating to General Almog tabled for answer on (a) 11 October 2005, ref 17028 and (b) 19 October 2005, ref 19756. 
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to improve the quality of local policing in Hertfordshire; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to increase the accountability of the police to elected representatives; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: The White Paper 'Building Communities, Beating Crime' published in November 2004, set out proposals for strengthening the accountability of police forces, including through changes to the membership and role of police authorities. We will review these proposals in the light of the establishment of strategic police forces, but elected representatives will continue to form the majority of police authority members. In addition, we are exploring ways to improve accountability at basic command unit level.
Hazel Blears: The Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have worked together to develop national standards that set out the quality of service members of the public can expect whenever they have contact with the police.
The national Quality of Service Commitment is to be launched to the public in November 2006. This timescale has been agreed to give forces sufficient time to identify and implement change, to ensure they are compliant with the standards.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what residency qualifications are operated by the Hertfordshire Police when considering recruitment applications; what plans he has to review the qualifications; and if he will make a statement. 
Where recent time has been spent abroad, checks will need to be made through overseas police channels as part of the recruitment vetting process. Applicants who cannot be vetted cannot be appointed. This policy is reviewed regularly.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many fully trained police officers were allocated to the London borough of Wandsworth on 31 March in each year since 1997, broken down by rank; 
Hazel Blears [holding answer 15 November 2005]: Information on the number of police officers in basic command units has only been collected since March 2002 and is not collected by rank. The same information for community support officers is only available from June 2005. Police officer and community support officer numbers for the Wandsworth borough operational command unit are set out in the following table. The deployment of police service personnel to each London borough operational command unit and to other specialist units in the Metropolitan Police Service is a matter to be determined by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Sir Ian Blair).
|As at 31 March||Police officer numbers||Community support officer (CSO) numbers|
Hazel Blears: Attendance policy in respect of individual crime types is essentially an operational matter for chief officers and police authorities to determine. This information is not therefore collected centrally.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers use helmet-mounted video cameras; in which police forces such equipment is used; and what the cost thereof was for each constabulary in each of the last five years. 
[holding answer 21 November 2005]: The Home Office Scientific Development Branch has received no formal approach from ACPO to be involved in such development, so it has no knowledge of the current numbers of systems being developed piece-meal within Forces or being used by officers on the street.
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Hazel Blears: Sections 32 to 34 of the Police Act 1996 make provision for the alteration of police force areas in England and Wales (other than the City of London police area) by secondary legislation. Under these provisions the Secretary of State may make an order either if he has received a request to make alterations from the police authorities for each of the areas affected by them (in which case the negative resolution procedure applies), or if it appears to him that it is expedient to make the alterations in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness (in which case the affirmative procedure applies). By virtue of section 34 of the 1996 Act, an order may include supplementary and transitional provisions, including provision as to the membership of a police authority for the police force for the new force area.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the possible impact of merging police forces on the accountability of chief constables to local communities. 
Hazel Blears: Chief constables of strategic police forces will continue, as now, to be accountable to the communities they serve both directly and through their police authorities. As a consequence of restructuring, we are examining ways of strengthening the accountability arrangements both at force and Basic Command Unit level.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many abandoned vehicles have been removed by (a) community support officers and (b) police officers under paragraph 10 of schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002 in each of the last four years, broken down by police authority. 
However, the proportion of people who think that abandoned or burnt out cars in their area is big/fairly big problem has dropped from 14 per cent. in 200304 to 11 per cent. in 200405. (British Crime Survey figures).
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) on how many occasions in each of the last four years (a) drugs have been seized from people and (b) names and addresses of those suspected of being in possession of drugs have been taken by (i) community support officers and (ii) police officers under paragraphs 7B and 7C of schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002, broken down by police authority; 
(2) how many searches have been carried out on detained persons for dangerous items or items that could be used to assist escape by (a) community support officers and (b) police officers under paragraph 2A of schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002 in each of the last four years, broken down by police authority. 
This information is not collected centrally. These powers are not currently available to community support officers as they were introduced by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and have not yet been commenced.
22 Nov 2005 : Column 1933W
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many names and addresses of (a) drivers and (b) pedestrians have been taken by community support officers under paragraph 3A of Schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002 in each of the last four years, broken down by police authority. 
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cycles have been stopped by (a) community support officers and (b) police officers for the purpose of issuing a fixed penalty notice under paragraph 1(2)(b) of Schedule 4 to the Police Reform Act 2002 in each of the last four years, broken down by police authority. 
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what factors led to the decision to request chief constables to produce implementation plans for police force re-organisation in December. 
Hazel Blears: The 'Closing the Gap' report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary concluded that the existing 43 force structure was no longer fit for purpose. The report found that below a certain size there simply is not a sufficient critical mass to provide the necessary sustainable level of protective services that the 21st century increasingly demands. As a result, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has asked police authorities and chief constables to submit to him proposals for restructuring by 23 December 2005. There is a general recognition that, in order to minimise any disruption, restructuring should be implemented as quickly as possible once final decisions on its form have been made.
Hazel Blears: The police have defined their requirements for using wireless technology to combat crime. These requirements are being fed into a number of trials with different police forces. The trials are expected to be completed by mid 2006, at which time the results will be circulated to all forces.
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