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Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office has used external PR companies to help deliver messages and advice to the public in press and magazinesas part of integrated communication campaigns often with a local focus.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what resources the Metropolitan police has allocated to the detection and investigation of staff corruption in each of the last five years; how those resources have been deployed; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of such deployment; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: The deployment of resources within the Metropolitan police service is an operational matter for which the commissioner has sole responsibility. I will ensure that the commissioner receives a copy of the question and that he replies to the hon. Member directly. Copies of his reply will be placed in the House Libraries.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what safeguards are in place to ensure that National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
29 Nov 2005 : Column 453W
to Children staff and social workers do not instigate discussions regarding compensation in interviews with witnesses in historical sex abuse cases. 
Hazel Blears: It is a matter for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to decide what guidance they give to their staff with regard to the matters they discuss with their clients.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) males and (b) females have been (i) charged with and (ii) convicted of offences under section 51 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement on the operation of the Act. 
Paul Goggins: Statistics on the number of persons charged with a crime are not centrally collected. Data collected on the Home Office court proceedings database for offences under section 51 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 form part of a miscellaneous group, which cannot be separately identified.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are in place to carry out a public consultation after police authorities have submitted their proposals in response to the O'Connor report. 
Hazel Blears: Police authorities are already consulting with their local communities and will take their views into account when submitting their proposals for restructuring in December. Where there is local agreement to establish a strategic force my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would want to move forward with implementation as soon as possible. Where there is no such agreement and the Home Secretary decides that force mergers would be in the interests of the efficiency and effectiveness of policing, the Police Act 1996 (sections 32 to 34) provides for a four month consultation period before any amalgamation order is made.
Operation Crackdown was a concerted campaign by 33 police forces in England and Wales to close drug dens, disrupt local drug markets, seize illegal firearms and bring dealers to justice.
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During the campaign the police reported that 170 crack houses" were closed, 123kg of cocaine, 3.4kg of crack cocaine, 119.8kg of heroin and 86,059 ecstasy tablets were taken off the streets, police arrested 3,419 people for the supply of class A drugs; during operations to tackle class A drugs, 483 firearms (real and replica) were seized, and £3,242,932 of cash assets were seized.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will answer the parliamentary questions tabled by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland on 19 October, ref (a) 21134 and (b) 21135. 
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the rights of (a) metropolitan police officers and (b) Serious Fraud Squad officers to give advance notice of operations to be carried out by their forces to (i) elected local representatives and (ii) members of police authorities, their advisors or employees. 
Hazel Blears: This is an operational matter for the Metropolitan Police Service (MRS) and is not one on which central guidance has been issued. I understand from the MRS that each case is considered on its merits with the borough commander or officer in charge of an operation balancing the release of information against officer safety and the risk of compromising the operation.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what restrictions there are on the use of relevant information obtained by (a) elected local representatives and (b) police authority members, their advisors or employees in advance of operations carried out by the police. 
Hazel Blears: This is an operational matter for chief constables. I understand that in the case of the Metropolitan Police the officer in charge or borough commander will, alongside the chair of the group that carries out a Community Impact Assessment decide what information can be released about an operation and they can specify restrictions on the use of that information by third parties.
David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the evidential basis was for the assumption that a minimum force size of 4,000 officers or 6,000 personnel in total is required for police constabulary efficiency. 
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's report, Closing the Gap", found that forces with over 4,000 officers or 6,000 staff tended to meet the standard for protective services in that they demonstrated good reactive capability with a clear measure of proactive capacity. Protective services were
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assessed against national standards identified and agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers on intelligence (what is known about an issue), prevention (what is being done to stop this) and enforcement/resolution (what ability is there to intervene effectively).
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representation he has had from the West Yorkshire police force concerning the proposed merger of police forces in the area. 
Hazel Blears: Separate submissions from West Yorkshire police and West Yorkshire police authority outlining a range of possible options for change were sent to the Home Office at the end of October 2005. The various options for change in the submission were carefully assessed by the Home Office, which are;
A detailed feedback letter on these options was sent to West Yorkshire police force and police authority on nine November. I wrote to all MPs on nine November providing an update on restructuring work. A written ministerial statement was also made to Parliament on 11 November, which fully outlined emerging options for all regions in England and Wales including Yorkshire and the Humber.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what disciplinary action has been taken against police officers for failure to comply with the associated Codes of Practice of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 in historical sex abuse cases in the last three years. 
Hazel Blears: Chief constables of newly amalgamated forces will be appointed in line with the provisions in section 11 (1) of the Police Act 1996, i.e. by the new strategic police authorities, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State and regulations under Section 50.
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
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expedient to make the alterations in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness (in which case the affirmative procedure applies).
Hazel Blears: Information on police officer strength for North Kent basic command unit (BCU) is collected annually. The data reflect the position at the end of March and are only available from 2002. BCU strength between March 2002 and March 2005 is set out in the table. The deployment of police officers to North Kent is an operational matter for the chief constable.
|Year (as at 31 March)||Number of officers|
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policing considerations underlay his Department's instruction to police authorities that under their restructuring proposals any new force areas should not cross Government office regional boundaries. 
Hazel Blears: The Home Secretary has stated to police forces and authorities that proposals for police force restructuring should not cross government office regional boundaries unless there is a compelling case to do so.
The planning for effective and sustainable provision of protective services by the police requires the engagement of non-police partners including Government Offices, Regional Resilience Forums, local authorities, health authorities, and fire and ambulance services. A move away from coterminosity with these agencies could threaten the effectiveness of strategic partnership working, and hence has the potential to weaken the provision of protective services.
The consultation process is still ongoing and is being driven locally by police forces and authorities, who are currently working in partnership with their key stakeholders to refine the business cases of their leading options, with their preferred option to be submitted to the Home Secretary by 23 December 2005.
The holding of prisoners in police custody is avoided wherever possible. In the last 12 months, three prisoners aged 15 to 17 who were committed to prison custody had to be held overnight in police accommodation.
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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people died as a result of a collision with a police car in the Essex police force area in each of the last five years. 
Paul Goggins: Figures for the number of fatalities in Essex police force area including both police personnel and members of the public, in road traffic collisions on public roads during immediate/emergency response and police pursuits since 2001 are given in the table.
|As at 31 March each year||Members of the public||Police personnel|
Hazel Blears: The information is not readily available in the form requested but it is estimated that the total liability in the police pension scheme in England and Wales as at 31 March 2004, reported under the accounting standard FRS17 (as it applies to the public sector), was £44 billion.
Hazel Blears: No. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has asked police authorities and chief officers to submit to him proposals for restructuring by 23 December. As part of this process police authorities and forces are consulting extensively with their local communities, and local government and criminal justice partners. Thereafter, there is wide recognition that restructuring should be implemented as quickly as possible to minimise disruption to the police service; a royal commission would preclude this.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 11 November 2005, Official Report, column 852W, on police helicopters, how many deployments of Metropolitan police helicopters there have been in each year since 2000. 
|Flying hours||Number of flights|
|2005 (to end October)||2,436.04||3,422|
Hazel Blears: National contracts for the purchase of some items by police forces, for example vehicles, have been in place for many years. Nonetheless, the scope for the police service to deliver efficiency gains through better procurement is recognised in the tri-partite police efficiency strategy. My Department, the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers for England and Wales, with support from the Office of Government Commerce, have jointly established the centre for procurement excellence in the police service (PEPS) to help forces develop and use national contracts, strengthen procurement practice and skills, and standardise requirements to achieve discounts through increased purchase volumes.
Not all procurement is best done centrally, however. Part of the service's approach aims to identify and distinguish activity that is best undertaken collaboratively and that which is best undertaken more locally.
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he will take to ensure that newly formed police authorities for amalgamated police forces are democratically accountable. 
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the request from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to the permanent secretary at the Home Office on 22 July that section 17 of the Police Reform Act 2002 should be amended. 
Having received information and other materials under section 17 of the Police Reform Act 2002 from a police authority or a chief officer, the Independent Police Complaints Commission then has a duty of care not to disclose information that has potential to cause harm. This is known as the sensitivity test and it applies equally to a police authority or a chief officer.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations have closed in each of the last five years, broken down by police authority area; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten) on 4 July 2005, Official Report, column 138W and hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Carswell) on 12 September 2005, Official Report, column 2587W.
A number of forces have devised innovative ways of increasing their accessibility to members of the public. In addition to police stations, forces also use kiosks, police boxes, agreements within council offices and libraries, One stop shops and mobile police stations as part of their engagement with the community.
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