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Mr. Denham: The appointment of a chief constable is a matter for decision by the appropriate police authority, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. In making an appointment, a police authority will want to be fully satisfied that the individual selected has the necessary abilities and experience to lead an effective and efficient police force. Since the 1960s, regulations under the Police Act 1964 have included a requirement that no person may be appointed as a chief constable without prior experience in a supervisory police rank. Since 1979 that requirement has been for an appointee to have had at least two years' experience in the rank of superintendent or in a higher rank.
Current guidance to police authorities indicates that appointment to all chief officer ranks in forces will only receive approval from the Secretary of State where the individual has attended the strategic command course for senior police officers. This guidance reflects a recommendation by the Home Affairs Committee (Third Report, Session 198889) that this should be a compulsory requirement for all applicants for posts at chief officer rank.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of antisocial behaviour orders have been breached by individuals where that breach led to a custodial sentence. 
Mr. Denham: Provisional data taken from the Home Office court proceedings database up to December 2000 show that 48 per cent. of offenders who have breached antisocial behaviour orders have been given a custodial sentence for the breach.
Provisional data taken from the Home Office court proceedings database show that up to December 2000 two persons within the Sussex police force area have been proceeded against for the criminal offence of breaching an ASBO.
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Mr. Denham: Overall numbers of recorded crimes at basic command unit (BCU) level are not collected centrally. Total numbers for certain categories of recorded crime have been collected centrally at BCU level since 1 April 1999. The information for the North Oxfordshire BCU is as follows:
|Number of Offences (in financial years)|
|Violence against the person||1,323||1,291|
|Burglary of a dwelling||692||572|
|Theft of a motor vehicle||964||740|
|Theft from a motor vehicle||1,695||1,797|
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received concerning the working conditions of police inspectors and chief inspectors; what measures he plans to introduce to address the concerns raised; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 19 July 2001]: The inspectors central committee wrote to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke) in March regarding the effects of changes made in 1994 to the working conditions for inspecting ranks.
Beverley Hughes: All Prison Service establishments are required to submit monthly statistical returns on a range of health care activity to the prison health policy unit. The information provided includes the total number of prisoners receiving treatment in prison for mental health reasons, either as out-patients or in the health care centre; and national health service activity, including the numbers of prisoners who had been seen by a psychiatrist, and who had been transferred to hospital or who were awaiting such a transfer.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimates he has made of the number of illegally held firearms in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. 
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The existence of any illegal firearms is of great concern to the Government and we are fully committed to supporting the police and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to combat the illegal possession and criminal use of firearms.
The use of firearms in crime is small in relation both to overall national crime figures (0.1 per cent.) and to other comparable countries. We are liaising closely with the police to establish the source of illegal weapons. There is no evidence at present of organised and large-scale smuggling; nor does there appear to be a single main source of firearms.
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information is available to him to determine the percentage of a police constable's time spent on average (a) on patrol, (b) undertaking duties within a police establishment, (c) off sick, (d) on leave and (e) otherwise engaged, for the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what targets he has set for the total size of the police force in England for each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 20 July 2001]: On the basis of force projections, we expect police strength to reach record numbers by March 2003 (more than 128,300) and at least 130,000 officers by March 2004.