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Police

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding his Department has allocated to the special constables' scheme in each year it has been running in (a) West Lancashire and (b) Lancashire. [58585]

Hazel Blears: Home Office specific grants to police forces under the Special Constabulary Capacity Building Scheme began in January 2004.

Payments are made to the Police Authority and are not broken down by district. Payments made to Lancashire are shown as follows:
£
200452,000
200570,000
2006–0721,952

For 2006–07 the scheme covers 15 months from 1 January 2006 to 31 March 2007 to bring payments into line with financial years. The figure shown for 2006–07 is for grants made for the period 1 January to 31 March 2006. A second instalment of £65,500 has been provisionally allocated for the period 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.
 
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Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the budgetary implications of amalgamating police forces with different levels of liability for police injury pensions; and what arrangements he plans to put in place to ensure consistent transitional arrangements for the payment of police injury pensions during the process of police force amalgamation. [59702]

Hazel Blears: Police injury pensions are paid out of the operating account of the Police Authority for the force from which the officer retired. When forces are amalgamated the new Police Authority that is created will take on the liability for the payment of all police injury awards. In the transitional period between the setting up the new strategic police authority and the establishment of the new strategic force, each existing authority will continue to pay such pensions until the precursor police authorities are abolished on 1 April in the year of amalgamation.

As a consequence of the Police Negotiating Board Agreement of May 2002 guidance was issued to forces in March 2003 to ensure greater consistency on the management of ill health retirement and injury awards. This was supplemented by detailed guidance on how to assess claims for injury awards, which was made available to forces in January 2004 as part of the briefing for the newly set-up Police Medical Appeal Boards.

The Home Office will work with forces and authorities in planning and implementing amalgamations. Each new force will have dedicated business change support to ensure that mergers are managed effectively.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether police pensions are (a) revenue grant funded and (b) paid from funded schemes; what proportion of the annual revenue allocation for police operations for 2005–06 went towards the payment of pensions; what the change has been in that proportion over the last 10 years; what the revenue grant for the pension commitment was in (i) cash and (ii) real terms in each year; and if he will make a statement. [59704]

Hazel Blears: Police pensions are currently funded on a pay as you go basis whereby all pensions are paid from the Police Authority's operating account and therefore directly funded by the revenue grant.

In 2005–06 15 per cent. of the annual revenue allocation for police operations was spent on police pensions 1 .

The revenue grant is unhypothecated, it is a general grant provided to enable police authorities to meet their costs. As such it is not possible to say what was provided for pensions as it is for Police Authorities to determine how their grant is spent.

From 1 April 2006 a new system will be used to finance the Police Pension Scheme. The cost of pensions in payment will be met from a new pensions account. Authorities will pay officer and employer contributions
 
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into this new account and the Government will top up it up with a grant if there is a shortfall or will recoup any surplus.

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what additional funding will be made available to each of the police forces in the West Midlands to help with the costs of their merger into a new West Midlands force; and if he will make a statement. [57880]

Hazel Blears: We have set aside £50 million next year and £75 million in 2007–08 across England and Wales to address prospective force amalgamations. The Government is currently looking carefully at the funding requirements of the costs of merger within the West Midlands.

David Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision was made for the transport costs of community police officers in rural areas in (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06. [59646]

Hazel Blears: This information is not held centrally. Expenditure on policing supported by Government grant or spent centrally on services for the police increased by 39 per cent. (over £3 billion) between 2000–01 and 2005–06. Leicestershire received its fair share of available funding. Allocation of resources and appropriate budget management are matters for the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary and the Police Authority.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what routine background checks are made on (a) serving police officers, (b) police recruits and (c) community support officers; and if he will make a statement. [59067]

Hazel Blears: Enhanced vetting checks are carried out on officers working in sensitive posts.

Before appointing anyone as a police officer, criminal record checks are carried out on applicants and their families. Employment and education history are checked and references obtained. Local intelligence checks, financial vetting and security vetting are also carried out.

All Police Community Support Officers are subject to criminal records and local intelligence checks.

Prisoners

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the potential for the rehabilitation of offenders through the companionship of animals, with particular reference to animal-assisted therapy programmes in prisons. [49429]

Fiona Mactaggart: There has been no research commissioned by the Home Office to evaluate the potential of animal-assisted therapy in the rehabilitation of offenders in prison. The Home Office does have a programme of research evaluating the impact of interventions aimed at targeting the criminogenic needs of offenders.
 
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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of segregation units in prisons; what facilities each prison's segregation unit contains; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure appropriate use of segregation facilities. [59198]

Fiona Mactaggart: The policy on design and use of segregation units is contained within Prison Service Order 1700. As a minimum segregation units provide accommodation to the same standard as that on normal location. Under the Prison and Young Offender Institution (YOI) Rules prisoners may be placed in segregation for Good Order or Discipline (GOOD), own protection, awaiting adjudication, or cellular confinement. Prisoners on dirty protest" may also be moved to special accommodation in a segregation unit. The PSO sets out the required management checks that take place in segregation units on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Additionally members of the IMB visit twice a week.

Prisons

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken by his Department to improve co-ordination between the mental health establishment and the Prison Service in the provision of services to the prison population. [55526]

Fiona Mactaggart: Since 2005, most national health service primary care trusts have been responsible for commissioning healthcare services in the publicly run prisons in England and Wales. From April 2006, all PCTs will have this responsibility. Prison healthcare was previously the responsibility of the Prison Service. These new arrangements have resulted in an alignment of prison health services, including mental health services, with the mainstream NHS.

In addition, the Department of Health is investing nearly £20 million a year in NHS mental health in-reach services for prisoners. These are community mental health teams working within prisons and therefore help
 
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to provide continuing care as prisoners move between prison and the community. By the spring, every prison in England and Wales will have access to these services.

The Government is working to create still greater co-ordination of the agencies involved in providing mental health services in prisons. The Home Office and the Department of Health recently produced joint guidance to help staff delivering mental health services in prisons work more effectively with their NHS colleagues, to facilitate quicker transfers to hospital for people whose mental health difficulties mean they are too ill to remain in prison. This guidance, The transfer of prisoners to and from hospital under sections 47 and 48 of the Mental Health Act (1983), Prison Service Instruction 03/2006 is available on the Prison Service's website at http://www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/resourcecentre/psispsos/listpsis/


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