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Avon and Somerset Police

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the ratio was between the number of police officers and notifiable offences in Avon and Somerset for each year from 1980 to 2001; and if he will make a statement. [1374]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is given in the table. Recorded crime figures for the year ending 31 March 2001 are not currently available.

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Avon and Somerset

YearRecorded crimes per police officer

(4) Recorded crime data expressed on a financial year basis.

(5) Revised rules for recording crime were introduced on 1 April 1998. The ratios before and after this date are therefore not directly comparable.

Metropolitan Police

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the numerical strength of police officers in the London Metropolitan police area in (a) April 2000 and (b) April 2001; and how many officers (i) have been recruited to the Metropolitan police and (ii) have left the service since 1 April 2001. [1778]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 3 July 2001]: The Metropolitan police had 25,485 police officers on 31 March 2000 and 24,878 officers on 31 March 2001. Most of the decrease of 607 officers can be attributed to the reduction in the size of the Metropolitan police district following the boundary changes with Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey on 1 April 2000.

I am told by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that 412 officers were recruited in April and May of this year. 264 left in the same period.

Young Offenders

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convicted juveniles aged 15 and 16 years have been given (a) a custodial sentence and (b) a non-custodial sentence in each of the past 10 years; and what has been the reconviction rate in each category. [1682]

Beverley Hughes: Data on custodial and non-custodial sentences imposed on 15 and 16-year-olds for standard list offences between 1990 and 1999 are shown in table 1. Reconviction rates for male offenders aged 16 and under at time of sentence and subsequently reconvicted for a standard list offence within two years of discharge from a custodial sentence between 1987 and 1997 are shown in table 2.

Reconviction rates for non-custodial sentences for 15 and 16-year-olds have not routinely been collected. However from a sample of 15 and 16-year-old offenders sentenced during the first half of 1997, 76 per cent. of

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those given a community penalty and 63 per cent. of those given a fine, discharge or other type of sentence were reconvicted within two years of sentence. Reconviction rates monitoring performance under public service agreement target 10 will be published as a national statistic in due course.

Table 1: number of persons aged 15 and 16 sentenced at all courts for standard list offences, England and Wales 1990–99

Non-custodial sentence
Total sentencedImmediate custodial sentenceCommunity penaltyOther non- custodial sentence

Table 2: percentage of young males, aged 16 or under at age of sentence, who were reconvicted for a standard list offence within two years of discharge from custody, England and Wales 1987–97

Percentage reconvicted

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases in each police authority have been investigated relating to the deliberate infecting of farms with foot and mouth disease since 21 February. [1593]

Mr. Denham: This information is not collected centrally.

Asylum Support

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish the findings of his Department's review of the asylum voucher system. [1321]

Angela Eagle: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 25 June 2001, Official Report, column 50W.

Rural Crime (Leicestershire)

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to reduce crime in rural areas, with particular reference to Leicestershire. [1425]

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Mr. Denham: Tackling crime and the fear of crime is a clear priority for this Government. It applies to all areas, whether suburban, rural or inner-city, and our approach is to assist the police and the local crime and disorder partnerships to address local crime effectively.

We are providing increased funding for police forces covering rural areas to take account of the additional costs involved: £30 million is being allocated to 31 forces this year. The allocation for Leicestershire police is £433,516. In addition, the rural crime toolkit, on the Home Office's crime reduction website, provides a new resource to help local partnerships to address crime in rural areas.

The nine crime and disorder partnerships in Leicestershire are supporting a varied programme of crime reduction initiatives and projects as part of the Government's crime reduction programme. Each of the partnerships is being provided with £10,000 from the crime reduction programme this year to help them to improve their performance in tackling crime in their areas. In addition, the partnerships in Leicestershire have received money to support closed circuit television initiatives, and they have been allocated £565,000 this year to tackle drug related crime. In November last year, Leicestershire received £341,000 for a project to tackle burglary in Leicester as part of the reducing burglary initiative, and £168,000 was awarded to eight forces, including Leicestershire, to tackle distraction burglary in central and eastern England as part of the targeted policing initiative.

Asylum Seekers

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the method for recording failed asylum seekers as leaving the country was changed to include dependants in the total figures; when the change in recording measures was published; and if he will make a statement. [1600]

Mr. Blunkett: Statistics concerning asylum applications have been published since 1992. Separate figures are given both for principal applicants only, and for principal applicants and dependants; and cover the period from 1984 to the present. The information is published in the annual Home Office statistical bulletins entitled "Asylum Statistics", copies of which are available in the Library and on the Department's website at

Statistics concerning asylum removals published before March 2001 have given figures for principal applicants only. From April 2001, the figures show the total number of failed asylum seekers removed, including dependants. This is to reflect the change in the removals target for failed asylum seekers for 2001–02 which is expressed in terms of the total figure for the first time. The change is intended to give a more informed picture of the number of people being removed from the United Kingdom as a result of failed asylum applications and to give a fairer reflection of the activity involved in enforcing their departure. The details were published in December 2000.

The removals target is equivalent to some 24,000 principal applicants and 6,000 dependants, although the number of dependants removed will vary according to the balance between individuals and families as well as family size, and is difficult to predict. The 30,000 target has always been extremely ambitious and high risk; no

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European country has achieved levels of this kind. We are investing substantial additional resources, and the programme to increase the numbers is continuing. I will be monitoring the position closely.

Despite these difficulties, the Government are committed to increasing the number of failed asylum seekers who are removed from the United Kingdom. The Labour manifesto said that in excess of 30,000 people who had not justified their claim would be removed in 2003–04, which is about 2,500 people a month. We have decided that that monthly target must be met by early next year, which enables us to have a commitment to reach and exceed 30,000 removals by 2003.

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