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20 Oct 2006 : Column 1461W—continued


Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police community support officers were employed by each police authority in Wales in each of the last four years for which figures are available. [93954]


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Mr. McNulty: The available data is given in the following table.

Police community support officers in Welsh police forces (FTE)( 1) as at 31 March 2003 to 31 March 2006
31 March Dyfed Powys Gwent North Wales South Wales

2003

0

30

0

0

2004

5

45

0

59

2005

25

77

59

107

2006

26

76

58

111

(1) Full-time equivalent. This figure includes those on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.

Crime (Milton Keynes)

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to reduce the number of cases of violence against the person in Milton Keynes. [91663]

Mr. McNulty: Violent crime of all types is addressed in the Milton Keynes Community Safety Partnership’s (CSP) overall strategy for crime reduction, which is supported by a detailed Basic Command Unit Crime Reduction Plan. The CSP continues to target violent crime through enforcement, prevention, intelligence and communication.

The CSP and police have put considerable resources into dealing with violent crime.

The CSP runs an effective Joint Tasking and Co-ordinating Group that ensures a multi-agency approach to tackling a range of crime problems. It has a delivery group charged specifically with reducing violence, and has secured funding to reduce racial harassment. The local Racial Equality Council is delivering this work on the CSP’s behalf.

The police have a dedicated Public Protection Unit dealing with domestic violence, predatory offenders and serious child abuse. With probation and other partners, they also participate in a multi-agency public protection arrangement to monitor the most dangerous offenders. The most serious violent crimes are investigated by the CID in the Basic Command Unit, and a detective will attend and deal with any robbery offence reported.

Milton Keynes has a vibrant night-time economy, with large numbers of people attracted to the city by its entertainment and leisure facilities. There are a number of initiatives designed to make the city centre a safer place.

The police’s Operation Debus ensures that resources are deployed to provide a visible presence in hotspot areas and at the times when offences are most likely to occur. The police use Fixed Penalty Notices to intervene at an early stage and prevent escalation of violence. The police issued 378 Fixed Penalty Notices for Public Order Act offences between April 2006 and September 2006.

Operation Hangover brings together the resources of Milton Keynes’s Licensing and Trading Standards departments and the police to tackle the antisocial behaviour associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
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To support this both the council and the Thames Valley police have put a lot of effort into communication with license holders about their new responsibilities under the Licensing Act 2003.

At a national level, the Home Office introduced the Respect Action Plan in January 2006 to reduce antisocial behaviour. The Violent Crime Bill is currently before Parliament. It contains measures to tackle binge-drinking and tackle the harm caused by weapons. Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, a new range of tougher sentences became available for offences committed after 5 April 2005: special ‘public protection’

sentences are available for those convicted of violent offences and assessed as dangerous.

Departmental Legal Advisers

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policies and procedures are applicable to his Department's legal advisers (a) to ensure that work which is outside their expertise and experience is not undertaken by them and (b) for monitoring and assessing the performance of their work. [94421]

Mr. McNulty: Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch advises the Home Office on legal issues arising in all aspects of its work. The Branch consists of some 50 lawyers organised into teams of varying sizes, each specialising in different areas of law and policy. In the course of their career in the Home Office, lawyers will usually work in several teams and gain experience in areas of law relevant to the Home Office's work (as well as experience of other areas of public law if they move on temporary secondment or loan to other Government Departments).

Each team in the Legal Adviser's Branch is headed by a senior lawyer, part of whose task is to guide and supervise the work of more junior members of his or her team. From time to time, where appropriate having regard to the sensitivity, complexity or novelty of an issue, specialist legal advice is obtained from members of the bar (who are selected from a panel appointed by the Attorney-General), from solicitors in private practice (drawn from a list of firms approved by the Treasury Solicitor) or from lawyers in other Government Departments.

All lawyers employed in the Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch hold current professional legal qualifications, and must continue to satisfy the post-qualifying and continuing legal education requirements of their branch of the legal profession. Training courses are available to them through the Government Legal Service as well as through commercial training providers. The Legal Adviser's Branch also runs a series of in- house seminars and training events on matters of current interest.

In addition, as civil servants, members of Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch receive regular reports and assessments on their professional competence and development, in accordance with Cabinet Office and Home Office guidance. Formal reports take place annually and semi- annually, and less formal mentoring and training takes place on a continuing basis.


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The Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch is part of the Government Legal Service. The arrangements described above reflect those in place in other major departments in Whitehall.

Firearms (Amendment) Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will bring forward legislation to exempt from the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 those Olympic participants in pistol shooting events to enable them to practise for the events in the UK; what recent representations he has received (a) supporting and (b) opposing amending the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 for this purpose; and if he will make a statement. [95123]

Mr. McNulty: We have received representations from various shooting organisations in favour of allowing British target pistol shooters to practise in this country in the build-up to the London Olympics and a small amount of correspondence both for and against such a move. Our view is that pistol shooting events can take place at the Olympics without the need to change the legislation, using the Home Secretary's existing powers under section five of the Firearms Act 1968. These powers can also be used to allow a small number of potential medal winners to practise ahead of the Games and we have agreed in principle to explore how this might be achieved without endangering public safety. I have no current intention of amending the legislation.

Illegal Immigration

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost to public funds of establishing 24-hour security at UK ports to tackle illegal immigration. [18755]

Mr. Byrne: There are 35 air, sea and rail points of entry in the UK and in juxtaposed locations, which, by virtue of the nature and frequency of traffic and the numbers of passengers requiring leave to enter, have an immigration official presence 24 hours a day or during operating hours. All other ports of entry are attended to cover scheduled services, or on a risk assessed basis, or in response to specific intelligence.

Initial indicative costings for the staffing of all UK ports, including small ports, 24 hours a day suggest that the additional cost could be in excess of £104 million.

Islam Roadshow

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who the participants have been in the roadshow on Islam established after the 7 July bombings; what costs have been incurred by the roadshow; how many visits it has carried out; and what locations it has visited. [94359]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.


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The list of participants and locations of the roadshows, that were established as a result of the “Preventing Extremism Together” working groups after the attacks of 7 July, is available on the roadshow website at: www.radicalmiddleway.co.uk The roadshow has incurred total costs of £350,000.

Parliament Square Demonstration

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of people who attended the demonstration in Parliament square on 9 October 2006; how many police officers were present; how many (a) women and (b) men were arrested; whether permission was granted beforehand for the demonstration to take place in Parliament square; what the cost was of policing the demonstration; and if he will make a statement. [95124]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not yet available. I will write to the hon. Gentleman when it has been collated by the Metropolitan police.

Police

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total cost was of the recent opinion poll undertaken by Market Research UK and commissioned by Humberside police; how many other forces have commissioned similar opinion polls; and how much has been spent by the police in England and Wales on such polling in the last 12 months. [94365]

Mr. McNulty: This is a matter for Humberside police force and the Humberside police authority.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department has had with Cambridgeshire Police Authority on refunding from central budgets costs associated with the aborted merger proposals between Cambridgeshire Constabulary with (a) Norfolk and (b) Suffolk Constabulary in (i) 2005-06 and (ii) 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. [95385]

Mr. McNulty: On 24 July the Home Office invited Cambridgeshire constabulary and Cambridgeshire police authority, along with all the other police forces and authorities in England and Wales, to submit claims for assistance with the additional costs they had incurred on the preparations for mergers. Neither the terms of this invitation nor the detailed claim which Cambridgeshire constabulary and police authority submitted on 31 August distinguish between specific merger options or the year in which particular costs were incurred. We expect to make an announcement shortly on how much of the claims will be reimbursed.

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many full-time equivalent civilian employees of North Wales police there were on the last day of each of the last five financial years. [93655]

Mr. McNulty: The available data is given in the following table.


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Police staff( 1) strength for North Wales police force (FTE)( 2) as at 31 March 2002 to 31 March 2006
Year ending 31 March: Number

2002

645

2003

703

2004

849

2005

867

2006

882

(1) Police staff exclude police community support officers and traffic wardens. (2) Full-time equivalent. This figure includes those on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria Thames Valley police uses for the setting of the total resource allocation formula. [91451]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for the chief constable of Thames Valley police.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations in (a) Welwyn Hatfield constituency and (b) the Eastern region closed in the latest period for which figures are available. [91473]

Mr. McNulty: The management of the police estate and allocation of resources are matters for each police authority and the chief officer, who are responsible for assessing local needs.

Police stations opened and closed in the Welwyn Hatfield constituency and ACPO Eastern region between March 2005 and March 2006
Number
Opened Closed Total

(a) Welwyn Hatfield Constituency

0

0

2

(b) Eastern Region

3

7

182

Note: Eastern region includes: Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire Essex Hertfordshire Norfolk Suffolk.

Probation Officers

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many current trainee probation officers will be offered full-time contracts in 2006-07. [89881]

Mr. McNulty: Of the 713 trainees who have or are about to qualify this year, all who are eligible have been already offered employment with areas. There are three in North Wales where firm offers of employment remain under discussion.

Rape

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research his Department has undertaken into the reasons for the levels of conviction rates in rape cases. [90117]

Mr. McNulty: The Home Office commissioned a research study which aimed to explore the factors associated with attrition in rape cases. The findings from the research have been published and a copy of
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the report can be found online on the Home Office Science, Research and Statistics publication website. The report is called: Gap or Chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases (2005). Kelly, L., Lovett, J. and Regan, L. Home Office Research Study 293.

The Home Office has also undertaken a research project which aims to gain a deeper insight into police investigative practices and levels of detection in relation to sexual violence. This research is planned to be published in early 2007.


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