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Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 13 July 2005, Official Report, column 1094W, on overseas prisoners, whether the UK has a bilateral prisoner transfer agreement with the United States; whether not keeping records of transit applications are a standard of such agreements; whether transit applications are recorded electronically at any stage in the process; and by what means records of transit applications are disposed of once the transit has been completed. 
Fiona Mactaggart: The United Kingdom and the United States are both parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The Convention provides for the transfer of sentenced persons to continue serving their sentences in their country of nationality or one with which the sentenced person has close links. Transfer under the Convention requires the consent of both states involved and the prisoner concerned.
Article 16 of the Convention enables contracting parties to transit through UK airports to another contracting party, or to a third party, where transfer of the prisoner has been agreed in accordance with the relevant international agreement. The Convention does not require that records of transit requests be kept. For the purposes of the transfer of sentence prisoners transit only takes place in the United Kingdom through Gatwick and Heathrow and it is the normal practice of states wishing to transit through Heathrow or Gatwick airports to fax a request to the National Offender Management Service. The request would normally
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contain details of the individual concerned, including sentence and offence details, the agreement under which transfer has been agreed, and flight details. The National Offender Management Service then makes the relevant arrangements for transit. Once transit has been completed the request is destroyed either by shredding or disposal in confidential waste. Secure disposal is used because requests contain personal information about the prisoner. Transit requests are not electronically recorded.
Hazel Blears: During the Protective Services Review of summer 2005, the extent to which police forces had a dedicated Major Incident Team (MIT) was assessed. The vast majority of police forces do have some dedicated staff to major crime investigation; however, generally this takes the form of a small, core office team, with the additional investigative staff being drawn from basic command unit's (BCUs), ordinarily the CID. It is believed that, at the time of the assessment, only 13 of the 43 forces of England and Wales had sufficient staff dedicated to MITs to prevent any abstractions from BCU.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether police authorities will receive Government grant to cover (a) the full and (b) part of the cost of the proposals for police force restructuring; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears [holding answer 7 December 2005]: We will be considering grant arrangements for police authorities in the light of changes to police authority boundaries and of the way the new larger authorities might operate.
Both Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Association of Police Authorities (APA) have been invited to participate fully in a Restructuring Finance Working Group, which has been established to consider the financial aspects of reorganisation.
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I announced details of the provisional police funding settlement for 200607 and 200708 on 5 December and capital grant allocations on 13 January. I have set aside £50 million capital grant for 200607 and £75 million for 200708 to address prospective force amalgamations.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of (a) police officers and (b) the population of England and Wales is from ethnic minorities; and what the equivalent figures are for West Yorkshire. 
Hazel Blears: The data requested for (a) police officers from ethnic minorities for each police force area in England and Wales are available from the 'Police Service Strength publication as at 31st March 2005'. This report was published on 25 July 2005 and is available in the Library and on:
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the manpower allocation of (a) police officers and (b) civilian police staff was in each London borough in each year since 200304; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 2 November 2005 to the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), Official Report, column 111720W which sets out the published information on police officer numbers for each London borough. Information on the number of police staff each in London borough operational command unit in the Metropolitan Police Service has not been published as it cannot be disaggregated from other police support staff groups. In 2004 the Metropolitan Police Service had 12,144 police staff, in March 2005 this was 13,127 and in September 2005 it was 13,437.
Hazel Blears: As at 30 September 2005, there were 1,734 full-time equivalent police staff (excludes designated officers, police community support officers and traffic wardens) and 3,602 full-time equivalent police officers in Lancashire.
Hazel Blears: During 200304 Caerphilly was merged with Blaenau Gwent. As at 31 March 2004, the new Basic Command Unit (BCU) had 456 police officers and as at 31 March 2005, Blaenau Gwent had 465 officers.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers from black or other ethnic minority backgrounds who resigned in each of the last three years stated discrimination from their colleagues as the reason for their resignation. 
The total number of police officers from minority ethnic backgrounds who voluntarily resigned from the 43 forces in England and Wales was 123 as at March 2003, 163 as at March 2004 and 125 as at March 2005.
Hazel Blears: The objective of the restructuring police forces is to enhance the capability and capacity of forces to deal with crime at all levels from cross border, serious and organised crime to local volume crime and disorder. Strategic forces should have sufficient critical mass to maintain neighbourhood policing teams without having to abstract officers from communities to deal with major incidents or investigations elsewhere.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on amending police regulations to enable serving officers to participate in the selection process for parliamentary candidates; and if he will make a statement. 
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether police regulations allow serving officers to participate in the activities of political parties; and if he will make a statement. 
A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in polities".
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