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Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables are serving, and what the total was on 1 May 1997, broken down by individual police authorities; how many special constables (a) were recruited to each police authority in each year since 1997 and (b) left; what regulations govern the method of recruitment and enlistment of special constables, and whether they vary between police area; and how long a gap there was on average in the last 12 months between a potential special constable's volunteering and eventual enlistment, broken down by police area. 
The Special Constables Regulations 1965 (as amended) specify that a person appointed as a special must have attained the age of 18 years and be of good character and health. Beyond that, the regulations leave qualification for appointment to the discretion of the chief officer. However, the Home Office has issued guidance on the eligibility and recruitment of specials, in particular, Home Office Circular 12/2000, copies of which have been lodged with the Library.
|March 1997||September 1997||March 2001||September 2001|
|Avon and Somerset||759||629||400||391|
|Devon and Cornwall||1,148||1,079||796||780|
|City of London||86||84||43||34|
|Total all forces||19,874||19,163||12,722||12,068|
10 Jul 2002 : Column 1074W
|Avon and Somerset||203||171||138||140||98||172||38||126||57||124|
|Devon and Cornwall||194||162||192||256||158||179||119||139||87||131|
|City of London||32||23||22||32||17||29||8||14||0||15|
|Total all forces||4,908||4,169||3,660||4,321||2,823||3,853||1,867||3,208||1,640||3,133|
(58) Not available.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions in each of the last five years the Metropolitan police has lost the files of those seeking to enlist as special constables. 
Mr. Denham: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that current records indicate there have been no missing files during the course of 2002. Information is not centrally available to the Metropolitan police service in order to indicate the position regarding the proceeding four years.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the establishment is of the Honourable Artillery Company's Metropolitan Special Constabulary; what its strength is; how many constables enlisted in each year since 1997; and what the delay between recruitment and enlistment was. 
Mr. Denham: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that there is no specific establishment figure for the Metropolitan Special Constabulary Unit associated with the Honourable Artillery Company. The current strength of the unit is 14 special constables. It is understood that three special
10 Jul 2002 : Column 1075W
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many persons charged with criminal offences arising out of the fire at Yarl's Wood have received legal aid to instruct solicitors and counsel; 
(3) in relation to the fire at Yarl's Wood, what allegations of crimes against Kosovan women were reported which did not result in charges being preferred. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 July 2002]: These are all matters which should be addressed to the Chief Officer of the Bedfordshire police. However, I understand that 12 people have been charged with violent disorder in relation to the incident at Yarl's Wood. Of these, five are Nigerian, two are Algerian, two are Albanian, one is Kosovan, one is Yugoslav and one is from the Ivory Coast. I further understand that all of these people have received legal aid to instruct solicitors and counsel.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many potential witnesses in relation to criminal trials arising out of the Yarl's Wood fire have been (a) removed and (b) deported; and whether arrangements will be made for their return to give evidence. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 July 2002]: Information about the number of witnesses who have been removed is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by an examination of individual case files. There is, however, an existing procedure in place for the police to contact the Immigration Service should they wish to request the return of a prosecution witness to attend a trial where there is a reason to believe that a person will not qualify for entry.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in relation to the fire at Yarl's Wood, how many persons absconded following the fire; how many have been recaptured; and what criminal charges have been laid against those recaptured. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 July 2002]: In the immediate aftermath of events at Yarl's Wood on 1415 February 2002 there were 21 detainees unaccounted for. Of these 15 remain unaccounted for. They are believed to have absconded during the fire and disturbance and efforts to trace and apprehend them are continuing.
10 Jul 2002 : Column 1076W
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the cause of the clashes between detainees and Group 4 staff at Yarl's Wood prior to the fire; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: Stephen Moore is currently heading a Home Office investigation into the events at Yarl's Wood and we await his recommendations. It would be inappropriate to comment further at the present time.
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