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Nationality Cases

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many decisions on nationality cases were made in the first six months of 2000-01; how many he estimates there will be in the second half of 2000-01; and if he will make a statement. [142774]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of decisions taken in nationality cases in the period April-September 2000 was 45,714. At the end of November 2000 this had risen to 62,170. The estimated number of decisions to be made in the period October 2000-March 2001 is 45,306.

Equal Opportunities

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to promote equality between (a) older people, (b) disabled people, (c) ethnic minorities, (d) religious minorities, (e) women and (f) gay and lesbian people, and the rest of the population in each case, with respect to the services and employment overseen by his Department. [142516]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The purpose of the Home Department is to "build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public are maintained".

The Home Department has seven main aims of which Aim Five--"Helping to build, under a modernised constitution, a fair and prosperous society in which everyone has a stake, and in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced"--specifically deals with the promotion of equality between all people. In respect of the services that this Department provides, we also aim to ensure that all our policies, programmes and services are taken forward in line with the joint-departmental guidelines, "Policy Appraisal for Equal Treatment", issued in 1998.

A range of initiatives are set out in "Race Equality and Public Services", published in March 2000. This will help reduce the sometimes differential and adverse impact of public services on minority ethnic communities.

As an equal opportunities employer the Home Department is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all staff, regardless of ethnic origin, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other irrelevant factor.

As an employer we aim to develop into an organisation that values the diversity of its staff and enables all to realise their potential by valuing the contribution of all and recognising the positive benefits that difference can bring. The Home Department and its Executive Agencies have prepared a joint Diversity Action Plan with the aim of working towards diversity including incorporating diversity awareness and actions in all the management processes. As part of this all middle managers will receive mandatory diversity awareness training by the end of 2001. Our plans for diversity cover the specific areas identified here and other where these emerge as concerns from annual staff surveys, formal or informal other avenues of communication.

In the specific areas identified we have taken the following steps:

(a) older people: we all work within the Department for Education and Employment's Code and Practice. With regards to internal progression arrangements we do not ask applicants to state their age, and individuals are assessed on their merits. We do not require age to be stated on our recruitment application forms.

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(b) disabled people: a Disability Support Network Group is being set up to cater for the needs of those in the organisation and aim to ensure that staff with disabilities are employed in all areas. This follows a survey of all staff earlier this year. The Home Office Management Board has had a detailed session on next steps for those with disabilities and plans further work in 2001.

(c) ethnic minorities: work with, and the needs of, ethnic minorities has been a priority issue within the Home Department. The Home Department has therefore recognised the need for a full-time senior Race Adviser to the Permanent Secretary.

Steps have been taken to improve relations between ethnic minority staff and all other staff, and to promote equality awareness. In November 1999 a Network for Ethnic Minority staff was set up to encourage ethnic minority staff to share views and experiences within the Home Department. The Department race action plan and local action plans set out key developments and targets.

Public appointments: the Home Department has reached its target of recruiting the figure of 9 per cent. ethnic minority representation in public appointments.

Prison Service: the Prison Service has taken steps to promote equality of ethnic minority staff, by devising its Respond Programme, which aims to achieve racial equality for staff and prisoners. An outreach recruitment programme has helped to attract ethnic minority groups, and a network for ethnic minority staff is to be established encompassing the three local groups already formed.

The Prison Service aims to have a representation of 3.8 per cent. of the workforce as ethnic minorities by March 2001.

Fire Service: the Fire Service is currently aiming to increase its representation of ethnic minority staff to reflect the communities that it serves.

Passport Agency: the United Kingdom Passport Agency is currently taking steps to promote equality of ethnic minority staff by devising a system of Harassment Contact Officers.

(d) religious minorities: equality awareness of religious minorities is being promoted within the Home Department. A faith forum was set up in November 2000 to discuss and advise on matters relating to religious discrimination and of facilities required by individual faiths such as Muslim prayer rooms.

(e) women: equality awareness of women is being promoted within the Home Department. Steps are currently being taken within the Fire Service department of the Home Department where efforts are being made to increase the representation of women in the workforce. The Home Department and the Fire Service have targets to improve the representation of women at more senior levels. A range of policies such as flexible working arrangements, child care provisions, special needs and career breaks are available to enable staff, particularly those with caring responsibilities to balance their work and home responsibilities.

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(f) gay and lesbian people: a group of Home Department staff have suggested setting up a network to challenge prejudice against gay and lesbian people within the Home Department and the feasibility of doing this is being considered.

The Promotion of Diversity in a General Context

Equality advisers: there are 60 trained Equality Advisers who advise and assist individual Home Department Directorates on Equality Issues and provide an input into the Department's race policies.

Training: all senior managers attended a programme of race equality workshops for senior managers in 2000.

Race equality targets: targets have been set for the recruitment, retention and progression of ethnic minority staff and a first report on progress in reaching the targets was published in October 2000.

Recruitment and promotion: the Home Department is currently devising a direct recruitment campaign with the aim of promoting greater equality and attracting a wider range of staff. This will be monitored through the ratio of those successful in the process. Assessment centres are also under development where steps will be taken to ensure it caters for all, with an awareness of diversity issues and the promotion of equality, including training for all assessors.

Harassment contact officers: new harassment and discrimination procedures were established in June 1999 where a pilot Harassment Contact Officer Scheme was set up. This advises and offers support to individual members of staff.

Closed Circuit Television

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice he has issued to local authorities regarding CCTV cameras, with special reference to (a) who has access to the film, (b) for what purposes and in what circumstances the film may be used, (c) the monitoring procedure to ensure film is not mis-used and (d) introducing a complaints procedure for the mis-use of CCTV footage. [142311]

Mr. Charles Clarke: We are advising crime and disorder reduction partnerships to adhere closely to the Data Protection Commissioner's code of practice for users of public space closed circuit television (CCTV) systems. The code outlines legally enforceable standards and makes good practice recommendations on compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. It includes advice on subject access, disclosure of images, information security, monitoring procedures, and the requirement for a complaints procedure. A copy is available on the Commissioner's website: www.dataprotection.gov.uk.

All schemes funded under the Crime Reduction Programme, CCTV Initiative are required to operate under codes of practice designed to ensure their fair and lawful use. Before schemes are approved, individual codes of practice are assessed to ensure they take due account of the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Police Manpower (Sussex)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) police officers and (b) police

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constables there were in Sussex in (i) 1979, (ii) 1992, (iii) 1997 and (iv) the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available. [142766]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information is set out in the table.

YearTotal number of police officersNumber of constables
1979 (December)2,7772,059
1992 (March)2,9842,261
1997 (March)3,0852,374
2000 (30 September)2,8122,119


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