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Fiona Mactaggart: Evidence suggests that employment is a key factor in reducing re-offending. The 'Reducing Re-offending Through Skills and Employment' Green Paper made clear our intention to test the scope for introducing a new employability contract to motivate offenders. This new 'rights and responsibilities' package would offer offenders a menu of options for training and skills support leading to a specific employment goal. In return, offenders would be expected to engage positively with the offer and meet clear performance criteria. Offender managers would select individuals who appeared likely to benefit from an intensive programme focused on employability, making an initial assessment of the range of an individual's needs, priorities, and barriers to learning. Wherever possible, this would be conducted before sentencing, so that the outline sentence plan could be put before the court, discussed with the offender, and then reflected, where appropriate, in conditions attached to the sentence.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications have been made for demonstrations in Parliament Square since 1 August 2005; and how many such applications were successful. 
Paul Goggins: The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police tells me that 141 applications have been made for demonstrations in Parliament Square and Whitehall between 1 August 2005 and 28 February 2006. Authorisation was given for all applications. Under Section 134 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, the Commissioner must give authorisation for a demonstration for which written notice has been given.
Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will provide a substantive answer to question 17761, tabled by the hon. Member for Newport, East on 11 October 2005. 
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether financial advantages will be made available to a police force whose police authority agrees to an amalgamation proposal by 23 December. 
Hazel Blears: In order to support all police forces and authorities across England and Wales involved in amalgamation, the Government will pay 100 per cent. of net set up costs i.e. the reasonable resources/revenue and capital costs of restructuring, net of reasonable savings. The exact level of these costs is a matter for negotiation and these discussions are currently taking place.
Hazel Blears: The estimated cost of the proposed reorganisation of North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside is £39 million. Long term savings made possible by the merger are currently estimated at around £18 million a year.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the costs of redundancies in each of the four police authorities in Wales as a consequence of the creation of a Welsh police force. 
Hazel Blears [holding answer 13 February 2006]: It is our current assessment that any reductions in staff numbers can be achieved mainly through a combination of redeployment and natural wastage. Estimates of the cost of amalgamating Dyfed-Powys, Gwent, North Wales and South Wales include a small provision for redundancy (£0.7 million).
Hazel Blears: After careful consideration of this option, the Home Secretary decided that a merger between North Wales and Cheshire police forces could not progress. This was on the basis that the proposed merged force would not provide sufficient critical mass in all seven protective services to its populations; would cut across Government office boundaries, reducing co-terminosity; and there were more operationally viable options, including a single strategic force for Wales.
Hazel Blears: There is no fixed retirement age for police officers under the current police pension scheme under which officers can build up a maximum pension after 30 years service. Officers with at least 25 years service may retire with an immediate pension from age 50.
The age threshold does not apply, however, to officers with 30 years service. This means that an officer who joined at age 18½the earliest age at which it is possible to start as a police officeris entitled to retire at age 48½ with a full pension.
Otherwise officers become eligible to retire with an immediate pension between the ages of 55 and 60 depending on the compulsory retirement age for their rank and force. Officers with less than 25 years service who leave the police with deferred benefits will receive their pension at age 60. The Government are
18 Apr 2006 : Column 323W
introducing a new pension scheme for new entrant police officers from 6 April 2006. The scheme provides a maximum pension after 35 years and a minimum pension age of 55 which is common to all ranks. Officers who leave the police before age 55 with deferred benefits will receive their pensions at age 65. Those employees of the police service who have access to the local government pension scheme, are members of a scheme which has a retirement age of 65, but allows individuals to voluntarily retire from age 60, and facility to retire with employer consent from age 50.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much funding was provided to Staffordshire police in relation to the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003; and what period this covered. 
Hazel Blears: No money has been provided to police authorities specifically in relation to the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003. The third national Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC 3) took place between 14 November 2005 and the beginning of 2006. The Police Standards Unit provided forces with extra funding to implement a range of tactics with the aim of tackling irresponsible drinkers and retailers of alcohol. Staffordshire Police was allocated £33,000 for the campaign. Staffordshire will receive its fair share of resources next year, including £116 million in general grants and £16 million in specific grants and capital support. The allocation and use of resources are matters for the Staffordshire police authority and the chief constable of Staffordshire police.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to meet local representatives from North Yorkshire county council and district councils in North Yorkshire to discuss his proposals on police restructuring. 
Hazel Blears: On 21 March 2006, the Home Secretary made a statement setting out that the most effective viable option for the Yorkshire and Humber area was a single strategic force. Senior Home Office officials are currently meeting with representatives from all forces and authorities including those for North Yorkshire to take forward work on restructuring.
Hazel Blears: The currently estimated cost of the proposed restructuring of the five East Midlands police forces is £77 million. Long term savings made possible by the merger are currently estimated at around £16 million per annum after 5 years.
The Home Office in December received business cases for change from all police forces and police authorities including North Yorkshire. These included a number of options for merging North Yorkshire with other forces in the area. Since then the Home Office has received a variety of correspondence concerning North Yorkshire.
18 Apr 2006 : Column 324W
Hazel Blears [holding answer 23 March 2006]: The estimated set up cost of a strategic police force for Wales is £35 million. Long term savings made possible by the merger are currently estimated at around £16 million a year.
Brentford and Isleworth is part of the Borough of Hounslow Operational Command Unit (OCU), part of the Metropolitan Police Service. Figures for Operational Command Units have only been centrally collected since March 2002.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the estimated (a) initial and (b) annual costs are of merging the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire police forces. 
Hazel Blears: Current projections of set-up costs and annual ongoing savings from restructuring is set out in the table. No ongoing costs from amalgamation are expected. Negotiations continue with the police authorities on refining the costs and savings.
|Year||Set-up costs for amalgamation||Annual savings from reorganisation, net of ongoing costs|
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new structures will be put in place through the merging of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire police forces. 
Hazel Blears: It would be premature to state the precise structure of the merged strategic force in the East Midlands, as this will be an operational decision for the new Chief Officer. It is clear that the strategic force will provide a more comprehensive level of protective services cover to the people of the region than before.
Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is his intention to review the decision not to merge Hampshire police force with other forces at a future date. 
Hazel Blears: The case for Hampshire to stand alone as a strategic force has been rigorously assessed as capable of providing the required standard of protective services to tackle crime in the 21st century. It is therefore unlikely that this decision will be reviewed in the near future. However, legislation provides for the Home Secretary to alter force areas on the grounds of efficiency and effectiveness at any time.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received from the people in Yorkshire regarding the proposed reorganisation of the four Yorkshire police forces; how many of these were (a) in support of and (b) opposed to the reorganisation; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: The Home Office received various representations on the merger of forces in Yorkshire and the Humber, including from all police forces and authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber and local authorities, which were taken into account in developing the case for amalgamation in Yorkshire and the Humber. The case for amalgamation involving forces and authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber has already been placed in the House of Commons Library and is available on the Home Office website at www.policereform.gov.uk.
Hazel Blears: The estimated cost of merging the police forces in the West Midlands is £57 million. The current projection of long-term savings from restructuring is £26 million a year. These potential savings will ultimately dwarf the initial set up cost.
Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many former police officers (a) above and (b) below the age of 65 have had their injury on duty pension reviewed since the implementation of Annex C of Home Office Circular 46/2004; and how many in each category have subsequently had their entitlement withdrawn. 
The information requested is not held centrally since it is for each police authority to decide when to review an injury pension. An injury pension which is reviewed may be increased or decreased in the light of changing circumstances. However, it can be withdrawn only where the former officer's disability has ceased and he or she is not also in receipt of an ordinary, ill-health or short service pension.
18 Apr 2006 : Column 326W
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to merge the City of London police with the Metropolitan Police Service; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: There are currently two ongoing reviews which will affect the future of the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London police. The first is a national review of fraud by the Attorney-General and the second of the role of the British Transport police, commissioned by the Department for Transport. As both reviews potentially have some impact on London, it is widely accepted that decisions affecting the London area will be made once the outcome of these two reviews is known later in the year.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in each London borough on 31 March (a) 2003 and (b) 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
|Basic Command Unit||31 March 2003||31 March 2004|
|Barking and Dagenham||360||384|
|City of Westminster||1,565||1,637|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||513||516|
|Kensington and Chelsea||528||575|
|Kingston upon Thames||272||275|
|Richmond upon Thames||284||285|
Hazel Blears: The proposals for police force amalgamation are designed to make the police force structures in England and Wales fit for purpose" to meet the policing challenges of the 21st century. The BCU structure within strategic forces will be a matter for the new Chief Officers.
Hazel Blears: The estimated cost of the proposed reorganisation of the four Yorkshire police forces is £39 million. Long-term savings made possible by the merger are currently estimated at around £18 million a year.
Hazel Blears: We will pay 100 per cent. of reasonable net set up revenue and capital costs of restructuring, net of reasonable savings. The precise projected level of these costs and savings is a matter for negotiation, which is currently taking place.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimates he has made of (a) the set up costs, (b) the recurring annual costs and (c) the recurring savings of setting up a single police force in Wales. 
|Year||Set-up costs for amalgamation||Annual savings from reorganisation, net of ongoing costs|
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what costs of police force reorganisation have been identified by (a) his Department and (b) consultants employed by his Department. 
Hazel Blears: Assessments of costs for change undertaken by consultants has fed into and informed the Home Office's indicative projected costs of establishing strategic forces. This information has been published in the following cases for amalgamation:
Nick Herbert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the estimates of the cost of police force amalgamations he has received from each police authority in England and Wales in the business cases which he requested by 23 December 2005. 
These were worked on subsequently by finance professionals and revised estimates were produced. For those forces where the Home Secretary has made statements, those estimates could be found on the police reform website in the cases for amalgamation (http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/police-reform/Force-restructuring).
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what meetings Ministers and officials plan to have in Yorkshire to discuss the proposed merger of police authorities in the county. 
Hazel Blears: The Home Secretary met with chief constables and chairs of police authorities on 21 March to discuss the way forward for the Yorkshire and Humber region. Home Office officials are currently meeting with representatives from the region to discuss further the way forward, in light of the Home Secretary's decision that a single strategic force in Yorkshire and the Humber was the most viable option.
Hazel Blears: The Home Secretary has made it clear that neighbourhood policing will be supported and strengthened by police force restructuring. The development of strategic forces will ensure there is a lesser need to abstract resources from a local level in order to deal with major incidents or investigations elsewhere.
Hazel Blears: The Home Secretary has stated that the development of strategic forces with the required capacity, capability and resilience to deal with protective services will strengthen local policing and create a police service that is able to deal with the challenges of crime in the 21st century.
Hazel Blears: The currently projected cost of proposed amalgamations of English and Welsh forces announced so far is around £391 million. Long term, savings made possible by mergers are currently estimated at around £145 million a year.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the net change in numbers of jobs consequent on combining police forces in England and Wales. 
Hazel Blears: Restructuring aims to make more resources available for the front line and in particular protective services. Other than in the most senior ranks, there is no expectation that police officer numbers will fall as a result of restructuring. It will be for the new strategic forces to consider their requirements for administrative staff following mergers.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the cost of theproposed police restructuring in Wales will be met by (a) his Department and (b) existing police authorities. 
Hazel Blears [holding answer 21 March 2006]: The estimated set up cost of a strategic police force for Wales is £35 million. Long-term savings made possible by the merger are currently estimated at £16 million a year.
We will pay 100 per cent. of the reasonable net set up revenue and capital costs, net of reasonable savings. The precise level of these costs is a matter for negotiation, currently taking place.
18 Apr 2006 : Column 330W
Hazel Blears: Under the statutory charging programme, the charging of suspects is now predominantly undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Although most summary cases continue to be charged by police without referral to the CPS, the decision to charge in indictable and 'either-way' cases passes to a crown prosecutor. Both police and CPS use the evidential and public interests test set out in the code for Crown Prosecutors to arrive at a charging decision.
In cases where a police officer is responsible for charging, this will fall to a police custody officer. All such officers in England and Wales receive a considerable amount of training in relation to the charging of suspects. The Central Police Training and Development Authority (Centrex) have developed a custody officer training package that is updated annually and made available to all forces. Building upon this information, individual courses are then designed and delivered locally by each force.
Guidance has been issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions to enable custody officers to decide how a suspect should be dealt with and crown prosecutors are deployed as duty prosecutors to provide guidance and make charging decisions. There is also a centrally managed out of hours duty prosecutor arrangement to ensure provision of a 24-hour service.
It is also important that the arresting officer has sufficient knowledge of the law and this is reflected in the content of the initial police learning and development programme (IPLDP), the training for newly recruited police officers, which contains a number of core modules that are designed to provide trainee officers with a sound understanding of legislation.
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