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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. 
Mr. McNulty: I wrote to my hon. Friend on 21 November 2005.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to Question number 18971, tabled on 12 October and due for answer on 14 October. 
Mr. McNulty: I replied to the hon. Member on 14 November 2005, Official Report, column 987W.
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. 
Hazel Blears: The Government are committed to a major programme of police reform, to help build safer and stronger communities. This will help to drive performance in every force and includes:
reshaping the national policing landscape to ensure effective policing at district, force and national level
This is building on the significant progress that has already been made:
overall crime is down by 35 per cent. since 1997 and the chance of being a victim of crime is at a 20-year low
police numbers are at an all time high. We now have over 141,000 police officers, 71,000 police staff and 6,300 community support officers
We have also sought to instil a strong performance culture. This is taking hold delivering real and sustainable improvements.
In terms of Hertfordshire police's performance and how this is enhanced, as for any force this is principally a matter for the Chief Officer team and the Police Authority.
The Home Office has recently published assessments for every force in the country. Hertfordshire police received the following assessments from the Police Performance Assessments 200405.
The force received a generally strong assessment, with five good gradings and three improved grades.
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.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason the National Framework of Guaranteed Police Service Standards is not to be published until November 2006. 
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. 
Hertfordshire Constabulary follow Home Office guidelines which are set out in Home Office Circular 54/2003, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.
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Candidates who are not citizens of the United Kingdom or a member of the European Economic Community must have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
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; 
(2) how many community support officers were allocated to the London borough of Wandsworth in each year since 1997. 
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|
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police forces have a policy of attending every reported crime. 
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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Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers he has to merge police authorities. 
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. 
Hazel Blears: These data are not collected centrally.
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. 
Hazel Blears: We do not hold this information centrally.
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. 
Paul Goggins: We do not hold this information centrally.
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.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to draw conclusions on the pilot scheme into hand held computers for police officers on the beat. 
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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