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19 Sept 2002 : Column 53W—continued

Police (Ethnic Minority Gender Targets)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the advantages and disadvantages of introducing ethnic minority gender targets for the police. [9390]

Mr. Denham: There are no current plans to introduce such targets. The Government has published overall targets for the recruitment, retention and progression of minority ethnic police officers in "Dismantling Barriers". Forces have until 2009 to meet those targets. It remains a priority for the Government that the police service should represent the communities it serves.

Crime (Buckingham)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of crime prevention partnerships in reducing crime in the Buckingham constituency. [22628]

Mr. Denham: The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires the responsible authorities—police and local authorities—for each area jointly to conduct an audit of all crime and disorder and in the light of that and following local consultation, to formulate and implement a crime and disorder reduction strategy. In so doing, they must involve other local agencies, and the local community. The Act also requires the responsible authorities to keep the strategy under review to monitor its effectiveness.

The Buckingham constituency falls within the Aylesbury Vale Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP). The Partnership has conducted an audit of crime and disorder in their area to inform their strategy for crime and disorder reduction for Aylesbury Vale for the period April 2002 to April 2005. This strategy was published in April 2002.

Latest recorded crime figures published in July 2002 for the 12-month period to March 2002 are set out in the table, along with comparisons for the previous two years. British Crime Survey (BCS) figures are not available at CDRP or Basic Command Unit (BCU) level, but figures for 2001–02 do show significant national reductions in the key categories of crime over the two years since the last BCS with a large enough sample size to demonstrate trends (1999): burglary fell by 23 per cent.; vehicle thefts fell by 14 per cent.; common assaults fell by 28 per cent.; vandalism fell by six per cent.; and overall crime fell by 14 per cent. The BCS also demonstrates that the chances of being a victim of crime remain stable at their lowest level for nearly twenty years. In the South East region, the BCS shows that burglary and vehicle crime levels are well below the national average, although the same cannot be said for violent crime.

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Aylesbury Vale Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership

Number of offences
Recorded Crime2001–022000–011999–2000
Violence against the person9701,016842
Sexual offences576870
Robbery14713358
Burglary dwelling779533622
Theft of motor vehicle523540604
Theft from a motor vehicle1,9252,0762,054

Domestic Violence

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish a process to ensure that (a) criminal justice agencies, (b) social services departments and (c) others can learn the lessons from those cases where a victim of domestic violence has subsequently been murdered by her abuser. [18646]

Mr. Denham: There are a number of processes already in place to ensure all relevant agencies learn from cases where domestic violence culminates in murder, and measures are currently underway to try and minimise the likelihood of such a tragic event.

In the event of a victim of domestic violence being murdered by her abuser, where the local police had prior contact or knowledge of the abuse, an internal police review should routinely be undertaken to consider the force's processes and identify failings. Such a review will report to the Chief Officer and will contain recommendations as to what processes are required to ensure that such a crime is not allowed to happen.

Tragically, children can also be the victims of murder following domestic violence. Chapter 8 of the Government's "Working Together to Safeguard Children" child protection guidance details the process by which Area Child Protection Committees can institute a serious case review into cases where a child dies and abuse or neglect are known or suspected to be a factor in the death. During such reviews, the agencies involved—the Police, Social Services, Education and Health Services—prepare reports of their involvement with the case. The final report then considers whether there are any lessons to be learned from the tragedy about the ways in which agencies work together to safeguard children, and the involvement between the family and relevant professionals.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are also currently piloting domestic violence murder reviews in cases that do not necessarily involve children, based on the same model as that just set out. Such reviews involve the key agencies and ensure an appropriate forum exists to take forward any recommendations that may prevent further homicides. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is awaiting the results of the MPS pilots before requiring all forces to follow similar procedures.

Further, the Solicitor General has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to carry out multi-agency domestic violence murder reviews in a number of recent cases. These reviews, and those conducted by the MPS seek to predict the risk factors where domestic violence is occurring and improve risk management.

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Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which voluntary organisations he has consulted on his policy on domestic violence; and when he last met representatives from Refuge to discuss this issue. [71843]

Mr. Denham: The Home Office has consulted many voluntary sector organisations, and will continue to do so, on the policy of domestic violence. Officials from the Home Office and others from the Inter-Departmental Group on Domestic Violence also attend the Women's National Commission (WNC) Violence against Women Working Group which is made up of different voluntary sector organisations and projects working to combat domestic violence.

Organisations participating include Women's Aid Federation of England (WAFE), Refuge, Standing Together, Womankind Worldwide, Greater London Domestic Violence Project (GLDVP), Camden DV/Rape Crisis, IMKAAN, SERICC, Scottish Women's Aid, Welsh Women's Aid, Victim Support, Southall Black Sisters.

The Home Secretary has not held any meetings with Refuge to discuss domestic violence policy. My hon. Friend, Barbara Roche, Minister for Women, and also a member of the Home Office-led Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence with responsibility for education and awareness raising, has met their representatives very recently.

Police

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement regarding the minimum level of police cover allowed when overtime is managed down. [44025]

Mr. Denham: On 9 May 2002, the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) agreed a package of reforms to police pay and conditions of service. The PNB is the statutory negotiating body for police pay and conditions throughout the United Kingdom.

As part of a package of reforms, there will be a scheme to manage down overtime, with a service-wide target of a 15 per cent. reduction in the overtime bill over the three years from 2003–04. There will be local targets, taking account of force strength and effective management action already taken to manage down the overtime bill.

Achievement of the target will not be at the expense of police officer operational availability.

The scheme for managing down overtime will be complemented by the efficient and effective deployment of officers. The Inspectorate will monitor both the increased availability of officers for frontline duties and the managing down of overtime. Forces should be able to keep any savings achieved dependent on achieving improved visibility and availability, which will allow opportunities for increasing establishment or other initiatives designed to further improve visibility or availability.

The new pay and conditions package agreed on 9 May will provide a modernised pay structure rewarding those at the sharp end and reducing reliance on overtime. In so doing, it both underpins the rest of the police reform programme and demonstrates the Government's

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commitment to invest in the police service to achieve the reforms needed and to give it the support and flexibility it requires to deliver a first-class service to the public.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by how much the amount of premium pay for overtime and roster rest day working will be reduced; and what this figure is in cash terms. [44024]

Mr. John Denham: On 9 May 2002, the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) agreed a package of reforms to police pay and conditions of service. The PNB is the statutory negotiating body for police pay and conditions throughout the United Kingdom.

Under the PNB Agreement, the rates of premium pay for overtime and rostered rest days are not being reduced.

Under the Agreement, there will be a scheme to manage down overtime, with a service-wide target of a 15 per cent. reduction in the overtime bill over the three years from 2003–04.

Achievement of the target will not be at the expense of the police officer operational availability. The scheme for managing down overtime will be complemented by the efficient and effective deployment of officers. The Inspectorate will monitor both the increased availability of officers for frontline duties and the managing down of overtime. Forces should be able to keep any savings achieved, dependent on achieving improved visibility and availability, which will allow opportunities for increasing establishment or other initiatives designed to further improve visibility or availability.

The new pay and conditions package agreed on 9 May will provide a modernised pay structure rewarding those at the sharp end and reducing reliance on overtime. In so doing, it both underpins the rest of the police reform programme and demonstrates the Government's commitment to invest in the police service to achieve the reforms needed and to give it the support and flexibility it requires to deliver a first-class service to the public.


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