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Ministerial Group on the Family

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times the Ministerial Group on the Family has met since (a) its formation, (b) the publication of Supporting Families and (c) 7 June 2001. [29931]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 24 January 2002]: The Ministerial Group on the Family, as with other ministerial groups, met when needed. Following the June 2001 general election the ministerial group was replaced by the Cabinet Committee on Domestic Affairs Sub-Committee on Active Communities and Family Issues, which is chaired by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and which co-ordinates Government policies on the family.

Family Visitor Appeals

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the net annual income is from family visitor appeals in the first year of its operation. [29400]

Angela Eagle: The net income from fees for family visitor appeals in the first year of the scheme was £104,000.

Police (Early Retirement)

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on Government policy towards police officers taking early retirement while disciplinary charges are pending. [22782]

Mr. Denham: The Government believe that it is unacceptable for sickness or medical retirement to be used as a means of avoiding discipline. Regulations allow for disciplinary hearings to go ahead in the absence of the accused, although the power is not used very frequently. It will require strong support from the centre—which we will provide—and firm management action to use the existing power to proceed with hearings in all but the most exceptional cases. We will amend the central guidance and, if necessary, the statutory regulations to achieve this. Where medical retirement is at issue, the police authority should consider whether it would be right to exercise its discretion not to retire the officer where the public interest in completing the proceedings in a misconduct case outweighs the medical condition.

Violence Against Women

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to include violence against women in his Department's recent policy initiatives on violent crime. [27860]

Mr. Denham: The Government have made it clear that they have committed to the reduction of all violent crime, including against women. Tackling violence against women is an integral element of our strategies to reduce violent crime.

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Domestic violence is the largest single form of violent crime against women. We have taken a number of steps to address domestic violence including issuing a new Home Office circular to the police, issuing multi-agency guidance for addressing domestic violence, and issuing guidance for prosecuting cases of domestic violence to Crown prosecutors. We have provided over £10 million funding under the Crime Reduction Programme to the Violence Against Women initiative. This initiative is aimed to discover what is effective and cost effective in reducing domestic violence, rape and sexual assault by known perpetrators.

Ministers from across Government are working closely together to consider areas for priority action (to effectively address domestic violence and reduce incidents) such as intervention by health professionals and enhancing the interface between the criminal and civil jurisdictions.

Police Pensions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Police Federation on proposals to change the pension provisions for police officers. [30213]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 January 2002]: We are looking at ways of modernising police pensions to make them more flexible and affordable for future entrants and to reflect modern lifestyle patterns. Any proposals for change would of course be subject to discussion and negotiations with the Police Federation.

Police Terms and Conditions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers on the terms and conditions for the employment of police officers; and when he expects the new pay and terms and conditions document will be agreed. [30211]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 January 2002]: Both the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Association of Chief Police Officers are represented on the Official Side of the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) for the United Kingdom. On 27 December 2001, following negotiations, the Official Side reached agreement in principle with the Staff Side on a package of changes to police pay and conditions of service. The changes are set out in the Heads of Agreement. Both Sides are now consulting their members on the changes which have to be ratified by the end of February.

Young Offenders

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the level of youth crime in the London borough of Havering. [21012]

Mr. Denham: Information provided by the youth offending team in Havering shows that, in the year 2000, youth crime accounted for just under a quarter (24 per cent.) of all crime in the borough. The corresponding figure for 1999 was 31 per cent.

The number of young offenders arrested by the police in Havering during 2001, excluding those in respect of whom no action was taken, is set out in the table.

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January to March15531186
April to June18131212
July to September16137198
October to December(20)14028168

(20) Up to 5 December

Children (Supervision Orders)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children who are the subject of supervision orders issued by each local authority in England and Wales are resident in institutions in Scotland. [27733]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 17 January 2002]: The information required is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate costs.

Police Overtime

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of his proposal to reduce police officers' enhanced overtime rates on the morale of frontline officers. [30113]

Mr. Denham: The Police Negotiating Board (PNB), on which both the Secretary of State and the Police Federation are represented, reached agreement in principle on 27 December 2001 on a package of changes to police pay and conditions of service. The changes are set out in the heads of agreement.

One of the proposed changes is to reduce the premium rates of pay, but not to plain time, for working overtime, on rostered rest day and on public holidays. The reductions would be phased in over two years, the first stage on 1 April 2003 and the second stage on 1 April 2004. The savings from reducing the premium rates of pay would be re-invested into the new pay framework.

The proposed reductions in premiums have to be seen in the context of all the other changes set out in the heads of agreement. Those changes include shortened pay scales for all federated ranks, a minimum increase of £402 on 1 April 2003 on each point of the pay scales, a new competence-related payment of £1,002 at the top of the scales.

There will also be a new special priority payments scheme to reward those officers working at the sharp end of public service, doing the most difficult and demanding tasks. Officers in qualifying posts will receive a payment of between £500 and £5,000 a year. The national criteria are that posts carry a significantly higher responsibility than the norm for the rank; or are particularly difficult to fill; or have specially arduous working conditions. All parties in PNB recognise that there are a number of specialist posts where long hours are a necessary and integral part of the officers' role rather than due to management failure.

In addition, chief constables will be able to award bonuses of between £50 and £500 for occasional work of an outstandingly demanding, unpleasant or important nature, such as hostage negotiation, or fingerprinting and searching badly decomposed bodies.

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The Government believe that, taking all the elements of the package into account, the vast majority of officers will be better off.

Nuclear Security

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reviews of the preparedness for terrorist attack against (a) chemical industry plants and (b) nuclear industry facilities have been conducted by the civil contingencies unit following the terrorist activities in the United States on 11 September 2001. [28537]

Mr. Blunkett: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry keeps security and safety precautions at nuclear sites under regular review. The United Kingdom's civil nuclear sites apply stringent security measures regulated by the security regulator, the Office for Civil Nuclear Security. She is also working closely with industry representatives and others to analyse the vulnerabilities of the chemical industries to terrorist attack and to identify and implement measures to maximise their resilience.

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In addition, I chair the civil contingencies committee which, through its sub-committees, has co-ordinated reviews by the appropriate lead Government Departments and devolved Administrations into the contingency and other arrangements to protect the United Kingdom against the effects of a terrorist attack, particularly in the light of the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

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