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14 Feb 2006 : Column 1982W—continued

National Offender Management Service

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 12 October 2005, Official Report, columns 488–89W, on the National Offender Management Service, if he will publish the business case for the National Offender Management Service. [24328]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 3 November2005]: A response to this question was given on the 12 December 2005, Official Report, column 1713W.

National Youth and Community Service

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the setting up of the National Youth and Community Service; and when he expects the first young people to participate in this scheme. [36154]

Hazel Blears: The Government are committed to creating the new national framework for youth action and engagement set out in the March 2005 Russell Commission report. Progress in implementing the report's recommendations has been encouraging.

In response to the report's headline recommendation, an independent charitable company has been created to drive forward implementation. This will bring together
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young people, the voluntary and community sector, Government and the private sector in a shared purpose to make volunteering a valued part of young people's lives and to engage one million more young people in voluntary activities. Rod Aldridge, executive chairman of Capita Group has been recruited through an open process as the chair and the recruitment of the chief executive officer and board is in the final stages. A key part of creating the framework is securing private sector support and so far £3.5 million has been secured from seven founding partners, T- Mobile, BskyB, Tesco, ITV, MTV, the Hunter Foundation and KPMG.

We expect that the independent charitable company will be publicly launched in April 2006, with the first young people undertaking voluntary and community activities in that month.

Neighbourhood Policing

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what ways neighbourhood policing requires the engagement of non-police partners, with particular reference to (a) Government offices, (b) regional resilience fora, (c) local authorities, (d) health authorities, (e) fire services and (f) ambulance services. [49621]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 9 February 2006]: We are committed to ensuring that, by 2008, every area in England and Wales will benefit from dedicated, visible, accessible and responsive neighbourhood policing teams.

Neighbourhood policing cannot be delivered in isolation, and teams will work closely with a wide range of non-police partners to tackle shared community safety issues. How neighbourhood policing teams will engage with particular partners will vary form area to area, depending on local issues and priorities.

Neighbourhood Watch

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the leadership offered by the chairman of the National Neighbourhood Watch Association; and what representations he has received on this subject. [50213]

Hazel Blears: The association is an independent charity, which is not currently funded by the Home Office. The appointment of the trustees and office-holders of the NNWA is a matter for the association's membership. The Home Office has received a number of representations from activists within the neighbourhood watch movement concerning the governance of the association. These are matters for the NNWA's trustees to consider and resolve. I understand that the NNWA board of trustees have put in hand a consultation process with a view to reviewing and updating the association's governance arrangements later this year. No assessment has been made by the Home Office of the effectiveness of the chair of the National Neighbourhood Watch Association (NNWA).

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding the Department has allocated to the National Neighbourhood Watch Association in each of the last three years; and what assessment he has made of the use made of the funding. [50214]

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Hazel Blears: During the financial year 2003–04 the Home Office provided the National Neighbourhood Watch Association (NNWA) with emergency funding totalling £350,000—paid in two tranches of £150,000 and £200,000—to support the association during the period following the withdrawal of third-party commercial sponsorship. The funding covered the running costs of the association, including staff salaries, while the NNWA sought alternative commercial sponsorship. In 2004–05 the Home Office provided a further £25,000 to the NNWA to support the association pending the start of a new commercial sponsorship deal in April 2005. No further funding was offered to the NNWA during 2005–06.

Offending Crime and Justice Survey

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what definition of assault and other thefts is used in the Offending Crime and Justice Survey. [34146]

Fiona Mactaggart: The definitions of assault and other thefts used in the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey are as follows:

Assault includes assault with injury (had used force or violence on anyone on purpose for example, by scratching, hitting, kicking, or throwing things, which had injured the person in someway) and assault without injury (had used force or violence on anyone on purpose which did not injure them in anyway).

Other thefts include theft from place of work, from school, shoplifting, theft from the person and other thefts. This last category includes any other thefts they have not already mentioned.


Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average period has been in each of the last five years between police recruits applying to and starting training in (a) Staffordshire police force, (b) West Midlands police force, (c) Shropshire police force, (d) West Mercia police force and (e) Warwickshire police force, broken down by (i) sex and (ii) ethnic origin. [42101]

Hazel Blears: This information is not held centrally.

Staffordshire, West Midlands, West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces have informed me that neither the sex nor ethnic origin of candidates have any bearing on the length of time from application to appointment. The West Mercia constabulary includes Shropshire.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of training a new police officer was in the latest period for which figures are available. [47829]

Hazel Blears: There are no centrally collated data available for the cost of training a new police officer. The various stages of initial police training were, until recently, split between the officer's force and the Central Police Training and Development Authority (Centrex).
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The Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) moves the whole of initial police training into forces. The rollout of the IPLDP will coincide with the implementation offer training costing plans using the national training cost model (NTCM) which will enable forces to assess their training costs on a consistent basis.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on (a) the recruitment of police officers, (b) the recruitment of graduates to work as police officers and (c) the accelerated promotion scheme for graduate police officers. [49047]

Hazel Blears: Police officers are recruited through an assessment process which is based on nationally agreed competencies for the role and designed to select candidates who best match the requirements of the job.

Of the 5,801 applicants who were successful at the assessment centre between 1 November 2004 and 30 September 2005,1969 (34 per cent.) were graduates.

The accelerated promotion scheme for graduates was replaced by the police High Potential Development Scheme in 2002. The scheme is also open to non graduates. It provides development opportunities tailored to individual needs for those who successfully pass the selection process, to combine real work experience, practical training and academic study in order to move through the ranks to senior leadership positions in the police service.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of police officers have received training in basic interviewing skills. [49128]

Hazel Blears: All police officers in England and Wales currently receive training in relation to the interviewing of victims, witnesses and suspects as part of their initial training. Officers are educated to PEACE (planning and preparation, engage and explain, account, closure, evaluation) tier one. This is a training programme specifically designed to equip officers with the requisite skills to conduct well planned, professional interviews in an ethical and efficient manner. This has been implemented by all police forces in England and Wales, although certain elements of the course can be tailored to meet specific needs within an individual force. PEACE has now been incorporated as a core module of the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) under which new police officers' competence against national occupational standards is assessed.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on how police performance is assessed. [49130]

Hazel Blears: The performance of each police force in England and Wales is assessed in seven key areas: Reducing Crime, Investigating Crime, Promoting Safety, Providing Assistance, Citizen Focus, Resource Use and Local Policing.

Two assessments are made in each of these seven areas, based on a combination of data from Statutory Performance Indicators and judgement from Her
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Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (the latter including an assessment with respect to 'tackling level two criminality').

The first assessment is made, typically, by comparing the performance achieved by a force to that achieved by a group of its peers. The second assessment is made by comparing the performance achieved by a force in one year to that achieved by the same force in the previous year. Special rules are used which take account of national policing priorities and data quality.

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of fuel and energy price increases on police service budgets. [49576]

Hazel Blears: The Association of Police Authorities provided estimates of additional cost pressures for next year, including the impact of fuel and energy costs, to inform decisions on the police grant settlement 2006–07. The estimates were taken fully into account in reaching final decisions.

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers have been employed in the Vale of Glamorgan division in each of the last five years. [49808]

Hazel Blears: Information on police officer numbers in the Vale of Glamorgan basic command unit is only available from March 2002. The data is shown in the table. Deployment of officers to each of the Basic Command Units in South Wales Police is an operational matter for the Chief Constable (Barbara Wilding). We have been informed by the force that Vale of Glamorgan currently has 220 police officers—the same as in March 2005.
South Wales Police—Vale of Glamorgan Basic Command Unit

As at 31 March:Police numbersCommunity Support Officers (63)

(63) Community Support Officer BCD strength collected for first time and is the position on 30 June 2005.

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there are per head of population in (a) the Metropolitan Police Service and (b) the Thames Valley Police Force. [47639]

Hazel Blears: In March 2005 (the latest available figures) the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) had 433 police officers per 100,000 of the population. Thames Valley Police had 198 police officers per 100,000 of the population. The Metropolitan Police Service's unique capital city functions, such as anti-terrorist, security and protection work and the policing major national events, contribute to the MPS having a higher ratio than other forces.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the 50 fastest improving basic command units in the English police forces, based upon performance against key targets over the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [45594]

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Hazel Blears: The Home Office does not currently collect or track targets at Basic Command Unit level as this is an operational matter at the discretion of the local Chief Constable. It is not therefore possible to list the performance of the 50 fastest improving Basic Command Units against these targets.

The Home Office publishes an annual Police Performance Assessment at force level which shows the comparative performance and direction of travel across a number of areas. The publication and all underlying data are available at–2005/

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will ensure that each (a) county council and (b) unitary council will continue to be represented by a minimum of one councillor on any new police authority after the merging of forces and authorities; and if he will make a statement; [39599]

(2) how he intends to ensure that local authority representation on new police authorities after force mergers reflects the political composition of the relevant councils; and if he will make a statement. [39605]

Hazel Blears: In order to discharge their functions effectively I believe strategic authorities should in most cases have a maximum of 23 members (in line with that of the Metropolitan Police Authority). I accept, however, that in some parts of the country, police authorities will need to be larger in order to ensure that all upper tier local authorities are represented. This is particularly important given that police authorities will continue to set a policing precept.

Where there are more councillor seats on a strategic police authority than the number of upper tier local authorities, we would expect the additional councillor appointments to reflect, as far as practicable, the political balance of the relevant councils when taken as a whole.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the proposed restructuring of police forces in (a) Sussex, (b) Kent and (c) Surrey; and if he will make a statement. [36901]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 23 December 2005]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary received business cases relating to police restructuring from the Sussex, Kent and Surrey police forces and authorities by 23 December 2005. Each business case was submitted jointly by the relevant force and its authority.

In addition to these representations the Home Secretary has received correspondence relating to police restructuring in Sussex, Kent and Surrey from a wide range of stakeholders including MPs representing constituencies within those police force areas, members of the public, and local councillors.

We are now in the process of assessing the submissions for their operational robustness and financial viability. The Home Secretary will be in a position to make an announcement on the options that
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are operationally viable in February and following this we will work with areas to decide how best to move forward.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Police National Computer is compatible with the Scottish Police Computer. [49750]

Hazel Blears: The data on Police National Computer (PNC) and Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO) is compatible. Data is exchanged between the two systems to allow forces in England, Wales and Scotland to access relevant data for their business needs.

As part of current arrangements Scottish conviction records are uploaded automatically to the PNC in England and Wales through the Scottish Criminal History System run by SCRO. Scottish forces use PNC in the same way as English and Welsh forces as there is access to PNC in all Scottish forces.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment his Department has made of the financial impact on UK police forces of the new police pension scheme for future entrants; [32176]

(2) what the estimated cost to each police force is of the new pension arrangements for the police. [32177]

Hazel Blears: Two major changes are being made to police officer pensions from April 2006: a new pension scheme will apply to new entrants after that date; and the method of financing pension payments to former officers will be changed. The new Police Pension Scheme will still provide high-quality pensions for officers but at reduced cost for forces. The value of the pension benefits accruing to a typical member of the new scheme is estimated to be 7 per cent. of pay less than if they were a member of the old scheme.

Under the new pensions financing arrangements announced on 29 November 2005 forces will from April 2006 no longer pay the pensions of their retired officers out of their operating account but from a separate pensions account funded by employer and employee contributions and topped-up as necessary by central Government. The main pensions costs falling to forces' operating budgets will henceforth be in the form of new employer contributions to meet the cost of the accruing future pension liabilities of serving officers. Forces will pay employer contributions at a single national rate to cover the costs of pensions accruing to serving officers in both the current and the new Police Pension Schemes. The rate of employer contributions will be revised every three years following an actuarial assessment. As the proportion of officers who are members of the new scheme grows over the years, it is expected that the level of the employer contributions can be reduced.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the capital costs of a merger of the Cheshire and Merseyside police forces. [47794]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 2 February 2006]: No final decisions have been made about the future structure of policing in the North West.
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We are currently working to determine the viability of the options for reorganisation. This includes detailed analysis of the financial implications for set up costs and for future costs and benefits. We will use the results to assess the financial implications of mergers.

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