Jobcentre Plus

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We remain committed to ensuring that we provide the best possible service for all our customers over Christmas.

Our main Jobcentre Plus offices and telephone services will open as follows:

Scotland

24 December

Open

25 and 26 December

Closed

27, 28 and 31 December

Open

1 and 2 January 2008

Closed

3 December 2008

Open

England and Wales

24 to 26 December

Closed

27, 28 and 31 December

Open

1 January 2008

Closed

2 January 2008

Open

Crisis loan services will be operating throughout this period. Our opening times are designed to allow all telephone claims to be processed so that customers
 
17 Dec 2007 : Column WA104
 
can collect payment from the post office before it closes for Christmas. Customers who need a crisis loan after the telephone service has closed will be referred to their local Jobcentre which will take the customer through the application and decision-making process.

Our crisis loan telephone service operating times will be as follows:

Scotland

Up to 1 pm 24 December

Open

From 1 pm on 24 December to 27 December

Closed

28 December and up to 1 pm on 31 December

Open

1 to 2 January 2008

Closed

3 January 2008

Open

England and Wales

Up to 1 pm 21 December

Open

From 1 pm on 21 December to 27 December

Closed

28 December and 31 December

Open

1 January 2008

Closed

2 January 2008

Open

Marine Environment: Lyme Bay

Lord Teverson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As of 11 December 2007, Defra has received 2,724 responses from participants in the Wildlife Trusts' pro-forma online e-petition, and 91 other responses. It is too early to have carried out any analysis on the subject matter of these responses.

Passports: Interviews

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): As at 10 December 2007, 41 interview offices dealing with first-time passport customers are in live operations—the table below lists all 41 offices. We anticipate that 62 offices will be fully operational by end December 2007, with a further six opening by end February 2008.


 
17 Dec 2007 : Column WA105
 

As at 10 December 2007, IPS has conducted 15,800 completed interviews and 94.1 per cent of these interviews have resulted in a passport being issued within three days of completion of appointment; 2.8per cent have not been completed and 3.1 per cent have required further examination.

Newport

Peterborough

Newcastle

Glasgow

Belfast

Manchester

Birmingham

London

Dover

Leeds

Plymouth

Portsmouth

Liverpool

Middlesbrough

Stoke-on- Trent

Lincoln

Swansea

Cheltenham

Sheffield

Yeovil

Newport IOW

Northampton

Carlisle

Coleraine

Crawley

Armagh

Bournemouth

Ipswich

Shrewsbury

Wrexham

Scarborough

Stirling

York

Aberystwyth

Derby

Edinburgh

Aberdeen

Chelmsford

Luton

Maidstone

Omagh

Police: Community Support Officers

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Police community support officers—PCSOs—are an invaluable addition to policing and have a primary focus on engaging with their local community, providing high visibility reassurance policing and dealing with low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. Their responsibilities are primarily determined locally by chief constables to suit local policing priorities.

From 1 December 2007, the Government have introduced a list of standard powers for PCSOs to ensure that all staff designated in this important role will have achieved a minimum standard of training and attained the appropriate level of competency. This will provide consistency of approach throughout England and Wales and provide clarity on the role of and expectations on PCSOs.

On 23 November, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced a project aimed at the greater standardisation of equipment, uniforms, training and career development. The Association of Chief Police Officers has commissioned the National Policing Improvement Agency—NPIA—to lead this project, which will report shortly. The project will work to ensure that the PCSO role is clear and understood and it will allow forces to learn lessons and enshrine good practice across the country. Since effective community engagement is a challenging and demanding task, requiring both mature and highly capable individuals, the Home Office will also now introduce a code of practice setting out that PCSOs should be at least 18 years old.

My right honourable friend informed Parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement of 6 December 2007 (Official Report, col. WS224), of her proposals for allocation of police grant for England and Wales from 2008-09 to 2010-11. A total of £324 million will
 
17 Dec 2007 : Column WA106
 
be made available in 2008-09, ring-fenced for neighbourhood policing including for police community support officers. The proposals include an increase of 2.7 per cent in each of the CSR years.

Police: Ethnic Minority Officers

Baroness Falkner of Margravine asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The available data relate to the 2006-07 financial year, when 16 ethnic minority police officers with less than two years’ service resigned from the Metropolitan Police Service. Additionally, there were no such officers who left the force via transfer, retirement, dismissal or death.