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CS Spray

22. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reported incidents involving the use of CS spray by police officers in England and Wales there were in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 2000 and (e) 2001; and if he will make a statement. [64768]

Mr. Denham: I regret that this information is not available for the majority of police forces in England and Wales. The Association of Chief Police Officers is considering what arrangements should be made to ensure that national statistics are available in future.

Race Relations

24. Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he proposes to improve race relations and community cohesion. [64770]

Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to making race equality and community cohesion central to their aims.

We are committed to outlaw discrimination in employment by December 2003 as required by European Employment Directives.

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The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 came into force on 2 April. It places a general duty on specified public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination—and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.

Public bodies were required to have in place by 31 May this year, realistic and timely plans to show how they intend to comply with the general duty.

The Government are working right across Departments on a number of measures to promote community cohesion. Our aim is to build communities where:

Following the disturbances, we rapidly set up a programme of summer activities. This summer, we are running an enhanced programme of activities—both on community cohesion and to address issues of street crime. For example, a £16 million summer activities programme run by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) also includes community cohesion criteria alongside other aims.

We are also engaging young people through other measures. For example, "Beyond Labels"—an international conference for young people, supported by the Home Office, will take place in Leicester in July.

We commissioned the Community Cohesion Review Team—chaired by Ted Cantle—to explore the causes of last summer's disturbances and the independent report made several, wide-ranging recommendations. The Government published its initial response to the Cantle Report in December last year.

The recommendations are being taken forward by the Ministerial Group on Community Cohesion, which I chair. The group is advised by a Community Cohesion Panel, chaired by Ted Cantle. The panel comprises people with expertise in relevant areas—including young people and the community. The Government announced membership of the panel on 22 May 2002.

A new Community Cohesion Unit has been established to support the Ministerial Group and Panel—and to work across Government to deliver community cohesion.

Community Facilitators are now in place in 34 towns across the country to bring together local people, foster dialogue and encourage the search for positive solutions to local problems. Community Support teams are also being provided to Bradford, Burnley and Oldham, to address community cohesion issues and each town has also produced an outline community cohesion action plan.

To assist local government address community cohesion issues. The Home Office has published—jointly with the Commission for Racial Equality, Local Government Association and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister—draft guidance for local authorities. This sets out a series of practical steps that they (and other

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local agencies) can take to address community cohesion issues. A copy of this has been placed in the Library. We are seeking views on it by 14 August.

The Government believe that community cohesion is an issue that all local authorities need to urgently consider. Some local areas will conclude that their existing policies and community planning systems are satisfactory. But the Government believe that the majority will need to amend some of their policies in order to build effective community cohesion. A small number of areas may identify a wide range of issues which are best addressed by a specific and focused action plan. A number of areas other than Bradford, Oldham and Burnley have already indicated their commitment to developing such plans.

National Security

25. Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the security of the United Kingdom from the intentional release of chemical, biological and radiological materials. [64771]

Mr. Blunkett: I keep these matters under close review through my chairmanship of the Ministerial Committees on Terrorism and Civil Contingencies.

Our crisis management machinery is based on a proven, co-ordinated response capability involving the relevant agencies.

Following the tragic events of 11 September last year, we have accessed the threat from the use by terrorists of chemical, biological and radiological materials and reviewed our arrangements for dealing with such events. A major cross-departmental programme of work is in hand to enhance the resilience of the UK and counter the threat. Following the Budget on 17 April, I announced additional resources to enable this work to be sustained and developed. This will be further reviewed in the Spending Review.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders

26. Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in reducing the paperwork required for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders; and if he will make a statement. [64772]

Mr. Denham: The recent Home Office review of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) found that unnecessary bureaucracy was a problem in some areas. The review recommended that local agencies draw up simple, streamlined protocols designed with the local area in mind and made a number of practical suggestions for minimising bureaucracy and delays. Advice on how best to do this will be included in the new Home Office guidance on ASBOs.

Victim/Witness Protection

27. Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the protection of victims and witnesses pending court proceedings. [64773]

Hilary Benn: Chief officers of police assess whether a witness needs protection pending court proceedings and then put in place measures which are commensurate with the level of risk identified.

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Several communities have established safety schemes to support witnesses and we would like to see more of these. Witness intimidation is an offence and the police have been encouraged to prosecute whenever possible.

Violent Crime (Elderly Victims)

29. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the level of violent crime against elderly people. [64775]

Mr. Denham: The Government shares the profound revulsion which is caused by crimes against elderly people, and is determined to ensure that even the most vulnerable people can feel safe both in their homes or out in their neighbourhood. The latest British Crime Survey (BCS) published last year does not separately identify the level of violent crime against elderly people. However, the BCS did show that the risk of elderly men becoming victims of violence was less than 0.5 per cent. and that the corresponding risk for women was about 0.6 per cent.


30. Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action is being taken to reduce the number of burglaries. [64776]

Mr. Denham: Reducing burglary is being tackled in a number of inter-connected ways. These include:

Police Pay

31. Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has recently received about police pay. [64777]

Mr. Denham: The Secretary of State is represented on the Police Negotiating Board (PNB), the statutory negotiating body for police pay and conditions. All the main police organisations are represented on the PNB, including the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Association of Police Authorities (APA), the Superintendents' Association and the Police Federation.

On 9 May 2002, the PNB reached agreement on a recommendation to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for a package of reforms to police pay and conditions. The Secretary of State has approved the PNB recommendation.

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Under the PNB Agreement, all officers in the federated ranks will get an increase in basic salary of £402 from 1 April 2003, on top of the annual police pay award made in September each year.

In addition, from the same date federated ranks' officers who have spent a year at the top of their pay scales will be eligible for a competence-related payment of £1,002 a year. We expect at least 75 per cent. of those eligible to get the payment. There will also be a new special priority payment scheme, under which officers in qualifying posts will get a payment of between £500 and £3,000 normally, up to £5,000 exceptionally.

The PNB Agreement also delivers a number of significant improvements in the management and deployment of police officers, including more flexible rostering and use of part-time working as well as better management of ill health and poor attendance.

The Secretary of State has also received representations from a number of police officers, including the Chief Constable of Thames Valley about the pay and allowances which officers receive.

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