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Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the time it takes an asylum applicant to secure conditions to receive (a) an initial decision on an asylum application and (b) to complete all appeals if the initial application is refused; 
Mrs. Roche: Current information on persons detained who have claimed asylum and the time taken for an applicant in detention to receive an initial decision or complete all appeals is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
The most recent information relates to the number of persons detained under the Immigration Act 1971 as at 31 January 2001. At that date a total of 1,334 persons, including those who had claimed asylum, were recorded as detained.
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|Yarl's Wood Detention Centre (Bedford)||900|
|Harmondsworth Detention Centre (Heathrow)||440|
|Dungavel Detention Centre (Scotland)||150|
|Aldington Detention Centre (Kent)||300|
Mrs. Roche: Secure detention facilities are routinely provided on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's detention estate, supplemented by places in Prison Service accommodation. Police services also provide some detention on a limited, ad hoc basis. Information specifically on the cost of asylum detainees is not separately available. Assuming full occupancy, the average annual cost of a place for an immigration detainee is shown in the table:
|Year||Average Annual Cost(20)|
(20) These figures are weighted averages of the cost of Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) detention and Prison Service facilities, taking into account an assessment of the usage of detention in the two types of accommodation. The figures cover the running costs of IND detention facilities but exclude expenditure on capital works and major maintenance. The figures for Prison Service detention are based on the average cost per prisoner place. The figures do not include the cost of temporary police accommodation.
(21) The figures for 2000-01 are based on estimates of the full-year IND costs and the target cost per prisoner place for Prison Service detention.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the cost to public funds of his proposed exemption for volunteers from fees for criminal record checks. 
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vulnerable, will be issued free of charge to volunteers. We have also made clear that it remains our intention that the Criminal Records Bureau should be self-financing by means of the fees that it charges. Work is continuing on the fee levels, but we expect to make a further announcement shortly.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the ability of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to generate additional income under Best Value legislation. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is defined as a Best Value authority under the Local Government Act 1999. Under the duty of Best Value, authorities are required to secure continuous improvement in the way in which they exercise their functions, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
Section 16 of the Local Government Act 1999 allows the Secretary of State to exclude Best Value authorities from the application of existing legislation which prevents them from achieving Best Value or to amend the application of such legislation. It also allows for new powers to be conferred to facilitate the achievement of Best Value.
The Government expect to publish this month a consultation paper on the use of powers in section 16 to provide new and amended powers for partnership working. This will include proposals for Best Value authorities to provide a wider range of goods and services to partners, both in the public and private sectors. Draft orders will be laid before Parliament following the conclusion of the consultation exercise.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government have no plans to allow overseas observers inside election polling stations. Current legislation restricts who is allowed to be present in polling stations to prevent possible intimidation of voters and preserve the secrecy of the ballot. The hon. Member recently wrote to my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary about this matter and I shall shortly be replying to him in detail.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Police Inspectorate last reported to him on equal opportunities, community and race relations challenges, policy and training of the Royal Parks Police. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: There is no statutory requirement for the Royal Parks Constabulary, which is a non-Home Office police force, to be inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. A review of the Constabulary was undertaken during July and August 2000 by Mr. Anthony Speed, a former Assistant Commissioner of
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the Metropolitan Police Service. I understand that the review was conducted in the form of a full inspection in accordance with the latest procedures and protocols practised by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. The report was submitted recently to my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, who has responsibility for the Royal Parks Constabulary. He will be publishing the report shortly.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consult the National Black Police Association on challenges facing the Royal Parks Police and other police services in the fields of equal opportunities and community and race relations; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: I understand from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whose Department has overall responsibility for the Royal Parks Constabulary, that the force intends to consult the National Black Police Association about an extension of diversity training. The Home Office has consulted the association about community and race relations training for officers in Home Office forces in England and Wales. The association was also consulted during the development of minority ethnic employment targets and an associated action plan for all Home Office forces, published in July 1999 under the title 'Dismantling Barriers'. The association is represented on the steering group overseeing the implementation of 'Dismantling Barriers'.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) funded and (b) actual (A) special constables and (B) salaried constables were in post in the Lancashire Constabulary (i) on 31 March 1997 and (ii) at the latest date for which figures are available. 
There are no national target numbers for specials, and Lancashire Constabulary advises that they do not differentiate between funded and actual specials. The Special Constabulary strength figures for Lancashire Special Constabulary for 31 March 1997 and 30 September 2000 (the latest figures available) are as follows:
|March 1997||September 2000|
I understand from the Chief Constable that it is not possible to provide information on the number of funded constable posts as Lancashire does not budget for workforce totals and the force devolves its budget to its Divisional Commanders, who then determine how to use funds to maximise their effectiveness locally. Police Constable numbers for Lancashire Constabulary for 31 March 1997 and 30 September 2000 (the latest figures available) are as follows:
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|March 1997||September 2000|
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reported offences involving violence there were in Lancashire in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000 and (e) 2001; and how many of those involved (i) village shops and (ii) village post offices. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: Numbers of recorded violent crimes in Lancashire by category are given in the table, the most recent published data being for the year ending September 2000. Recorded crime statistics do not generally include the location of offences, and so details of those involving village shops and village post offices are not available. It should be noted that, owing to the change in counting rules on 1 April 1998, figures for recorded crime before and after that date are not directly comparable. For example, from that date, figures for offences of violence against the person additionally include figures for common assault and assault on a constable, among other offences.
|Year ending||Violence against the person||Sexual offences||Robbery|
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