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Nuclear Safety

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will request from her German counterpart papers produced on (a) the BMU Radiation Safety Commission and (b) Reactor Safety Commission relating to environmental safety matters concerning British Radioactive waste and nuclear facilities handling imported German nuclear materials. [3948]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

I do not intend requesting such documents. The Department is not aware of these papers and would not expect to receive documents produced by or for German regulatory authorities. The UK's independent nuclear regulators meet with their German counterpart organisations in a number of international fora and bring to each others' attention issues of mutual interest.


Child Abductions

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been abducted from the UK in the last three years; and what action is taken to ensure the welfare of such children.

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

Between 1998 and 2000, 431 cases involving children allegedly abducted from England and Wales were processed by the Child Abduction Unit for determination under the 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Of these cases, 252 were concluded either by the foreign court ordering the return of the child or by the abducting parent returning voluntarily to this jurisdiction. In 27 cases the foreign court refused to return the child; 15 cases were resolved by the court graning the left behind parent contact; 79 cases were withdrawn and the remaining cases are pending. Some cases involve more than one child.

As far as Scotland is concerned, between 1998 and 2000 the Central Authority in Edinburgh dealt with 22 cases of children who had been abducted. It has not been possible, in the time available, to obtain figures from Northern Ireland. These are being collected and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as they are available.

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The Child Abduction Unit ensures that the child's welfare is protected by requesting its counterpart abroad to contact child protection authorities to investigate any concerns.

In addition, the Consular Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides consular services in cases in which children have allegedly been abducted from the United Kingdom to countries which are not party to the 1980 Hague Convention.

Police Retirement

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of each police force in England and Wales retired in each of the last five years for which figures are available, broken down by the reason for retirement; and if he will make a statement about his plans to reduce the number of medical retirements from the police. [162]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 June 2001]: Tables setting out the requested data on retirements from police forces in England and Wales for the years 1995–96 to 1999–2000 will be placed in the Library.

The level of medical retirements from the forces in England and Wales has fallen from 46 per cent. of all retirements in 1995–96 to 31 per cent. in 1999–2000. I am, however, currently considering what steps need to be taken in order to ensure that all forces deal with medical retirements effectively.

Police Divisions, (Cheshire)

Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Chief Constable of Cheshire on (a) the resources allocated to, and (b) the level of crime, broken down by standard category in, each police division in Cheshire since 1997. [1135]

Mr. Denham: The allocation of resources to the territorial divisions and for other centrally provided operational units in any force is a matter for the professional judgment of the Chief Constable and his senior command team.

The Chief Constable has provided the information in the tables about the allocation of officers to each division, and the level of crime in each of the divisions between 1997–98 and 2000–01.

Since 1997 Cheshire Constabulary has civilianised a significant number of operational support roles. This has contributed to the reduction in police numbers and the increase in civilian numbers. The structure of the force is periodically reviewed and changes are made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the force. Changes in recent years have resulted in the centralisation of officers deployed on armed response vehicles and the creation of a Central Traffic Enforcement Unit. These changes have reduced the number of officers in the territorial divisions. I understand that the Constabulary plan to recruit 156 officers including 77 under the Crime Fighting Fund by March 2002.

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Cheshire constabulary: resources

Police officers1997–981998–991999–20002000–01
Chester and Ellesmere Port380360353346
Congleton and Vale Royal272257258271
Central Operational and Support functions345459421405
Total Police Officers2,0422,0712,0112,002
Civilian Support Staff781785823833
Total Personnel2,8232,8562,8342,835
Force Budget (£ million)102.4106.7111.1115.1

Cheshire constabulary: crime figures

Total crime
Chester and Ellesmere Port13,52715,80615,06514,792
Congleton and Vale Royal9,25611,34910,90610,160
Cheshire Constabulary59,45565,11964,52863,288
Violent Crime
Chester and Ellesmere Port9092,1111,6511,676
Congleton and Vale Royal6241,140906914
Cheshire Constabulary4,7437,6236,6456,490

Burglary Dwelling1997–981998–991999–20002000–01
Chester and Ellesmere Port1,2801,1851,0951,138
Congleton and Vale Royal9721,066850969
Cheshire Constabulary6,2535,9255,3795,449

Vehicle Crime1997–981998–991999–20002000–01
Chester and Ellesmere Port2,7823,1272,3782,606
Congleton and Vale Royal2,1742,2982,2122,018
Cheshire Constabulary12,76612,44712,17612,253

Special Constables

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to amend the conditions of service of special constables. [2951]

Mr. Denham: Revisions to the conditions of service for the Special Constabulary have been circulated to forces.

The changes to the conditions of service focus on improving provisions for "unemployed" Special Constables and introduce mandatory payment of certain allowances and expenses.

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We have also introduced a dedicated legal representation scheme and are working with the Association of Police Authorities and Association of Chief Police Officers to improve the local management of Special Constables.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend to special constables the same entitlements to free travel on London Transport as applies to regular officers; and if he will make a statement. [5108]

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Mr. Denham [holding answer 19 July 2001]: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that since 20 June 2001, members of the Metropolitan police special constabulary have been allowed to travel free of charge on all London Bus Services while on duty. Other travel operators have not made available similar concessions. There are currently no plans to extend free travel facilities to members of the Metropolitan special constabulary while travelling off duty.

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