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Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fingerprint experts have had training to deal with the non-numeric standard. [16954]

Mr. Denham: All registered fingerprint experts are trained to be capable of dealing with the non-numeric standard. There are currently 1,470 police fingerprint experts on the fingerprint register in England and Wales.

As part of the change to the evidential standard, the training programme for all fingerprint experts in England and Wales has been revised. All new fingerprint officers undergo the new modular training programme which incorporates the change from the previous 16 point standard. All fingerprint experts trained prior to 11 June have been made aware of these issues through their local bureau trainers.

Metropolitan Police

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on Government plans to increase the number of officers in the Metropolitan police. [18726]

Mr. Denham: The Government are committed to increasing police numbers and have set up the Crime Fighting Fund (CFF) to enable forces to recruit 9,000 officers over and above previous plans in the three years to March 2003.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been allocated 2,044 recruits over the three years of the CFF. The number of police officers in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) within funding limits defined by government grant and council tax precept set by the Mayor and Greater London Assembly. The mayor has indicated that he proposes to increase the police precept to secure a significant increase in the total number of police officers in London. The actual number will depend on the result of the budget process within the MPA and GLA.

I am advised by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis MPS that police officer recruitment to the Metropolitan police is at an all-time high with an average of over 1,100 applications received a month.

The MPS has also benefited from the Home Office funded National Recruitment Campaign, from the provision of free rail-travel within a 70-mile radius of London and from the last year's £3,327 increase in London Allowance for officers recruited on or after 1 September 1994 and not in receipt of housing allowance.

In addition, Metropolitan Police Officers will benefit from the starter home initiative through which about 550 London police officers and support staff will be helped to buy a first home over the next three years.

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many officers there are in the Metropolitan police; what the budgeted work force target is; and what the figures are for detective officers. [20390]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 5 December 2001]: I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that the budgeted work force total for

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2001–02 is 26,254 and on 31 December 2001 the actual strength of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was 25,994.

I am also told that the budgeted work force total for detectives for 2001–02 is 5,439 and the actual detective strength on 31 December 2001 was 4,228. The MPS is actively recruiting towards its budgeted work force total.

Police White Paper

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received from members of the police force regarding the Home Office White Paper; and how many of these express concerns about the impact on retention and recruitment in the police force. [24265]

Mr. Denham: The White Paper invited comments by 21 January 2001. We received approximately 1,100 representations, of which the vast majority were from police officers. We are still considering representations and will place a summary in the Library.

Police Officers

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy on the award of early pensions on medical grounds to serving police officers. [25440]

Mr. Denham: Last month the Police Negotiating Board agreed in principle ways to deliver a fair and more consistent approach towards early retirement due to ill health, so that forces can ensure wherever possible that officers continue in employment where they are capable of performing sufficient duties to make their retention operationally justifiable. This should enable forces to reduce the level of ill-health retirement still further and match the performance of the best quartile of forces by 2005.

In the White Paper the Government also announced that they will establish a national occupational health strategy for the police service, which should assist forces to manage cases of ill health more effectively at the outset.

Revenue Support Grant

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the category and amount of each item of funding outside the revenue support grant which his Department made available to (a) Westminster city council and (b) Kensington and Chelsea in (i) 2000–01 and (ii) 2001–02. [26247]

Angela Eagle: The information is given in the table. The grants included are those paid solely to the councils except in the case of Drug Action Teams, the Crime Reduction Programme and the Partnership Development Fund. In those cases, the council is a member of a partnership and funding is allocated to one or more of the partners, for the benefit of the partnership as a whole.

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2000–01 2001–02(14)
Kensington and ChelseaWestminsterKensington and ChelseaWestminster
Drug Action Teams
Development Grant 35,78237,48435,78237,484
Communities Against Drugs31,49731,497
Crime Reduction Programme and Partnership Development Fund176,582384,1491,214,250
Adult and Family Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking children11,242,10812,751,486
Referral Order Pilots59,79162,00062,00062,000
Communities Against Drugs199,400277,800

(14) Estimated

Child Curfew Orders

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which the issue of child curfew orders is appropriate. [28414]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 January 2002]: We are ready to consider applications from local authorities or the police to set up local child curfews where:


Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what target has been set for responding to hon. Members' letters to the Immigration Department. [31579]

Angela Eagle: The Home Office's published service delivery agreement for 2001–04 commits all Home Office Directorates, including the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), to replying to 95 per cent. of public correspondence within 20 working days and 95 per cent. of ministerial correspondence within 15 working days by the end of 2001–02. Improving performance against published targets for dealing with correspondence is recognised as a priority for IND as part of the wider Home Office programme to modernise business processes and information management.

IND has dedicated resources to improve the service provided to MPs on casework related correspondence.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to provide a substantive reply to the letter of 25 September from the hon. Member for Christchurch about alcohol and under-age drinkers. [28425]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 January 2002]: I wrote to the hon. Member, in reply to his letter, on 30 January 2002.

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Crime (Coventry)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to combat gang violence and the gang culture in young people (a) in Coventry and (b) in the UK. [28883]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 21 January 2002]: Reducing all aspects of youth crime, including gang violence where this occurs, is a key priority within the Government's crime reduction programme. Our approach in all areas is to support the police, crime reduction partnerships and the Youth Offending Teams in developing effective local solutions. In addition, we have introduced a wide programme across Government including Youth Inclusion Programmes and Summer Splash schemes.

The Youth Inclusion Programme in Coventry includes organised intensive workshops and group discussions about group/peers behaviour, designed to provide young people with opportunity to voice their concerns and experiences of gang culture.

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