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7 Nov 2002 : Column 841Wcontinued
Mr. Denham: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 22 October 2002, Official Report, column 243W, on the action I am taking to increase the time police officers can spend on the streets rather than dealing with paperwork. The introduction of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for police officers has the potential to make a major contribution to that aim.
The Police Bureaucracy Taskforce identified a clear and pressing requirement for officers to be able to remotely update force systems via a hand-held device. A number of forces are now taking this forward and are piloting the use of hand-held devices. However we need to ensure that any hand-held device is useable in an operational environment and that the technical and information management infrastructure is also in place to provide and send data. That is why we are taking a pilot approach.
Our aim is to identify and spread good practice and provide practical advice and guidance to forces on the implementation and use of mobile data services. We are also providing forces with the new Airwave radio communication system, which when fully implemented will deliver mobile data facilities.
7 Nov 2002 : Column 842W
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the maximum distance between the place of arrest and a custody suite persons in police custody should be transported. 
Mr. Denham: There is no central policy on the maximum distance persons should be transported between arrest and a custody facility. Such transfers fall within chief constables' operational discretion. Chief constables are required to designate the police stations which are to be used for the purpose of detaining arrested persons. However, the location and distribution of such stations is entirely a matter for chief constables to decide. Constables do have the power to take arrested persons to non-designated stations in certain specific circumstances. For example, where they are working in an area covered by a non-designated station and they think it will only be necessary to detain the person for a relatively short time.
A further important development in this area will be the planned introduction of Xstreet bail". This will remove the absolute obligation on police officers to take arrested persons to a police station as soon as practicable. Officers will be able to exercise discretion and decide to bail arrestees on the street on the basis that they must undertake to attend a police station at a later time.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the proposed increase in the sparsity component to one per cent. As one of the possibilities for change to the police funding formula; and what factors contributed to the calculation of that figure. 
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who funds (a) Centrex and (b) the Police Major Disaster Advisory Team; and for what reason British Transport Police Superintendent Tony Thompson has been dismissed from these two bodies; and if he will make a statement. 
7 Nov 2002 : Column 843W
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to give further powers to the police to confiscate unopened bottles and cans of alcoholic drinks from youths gathered in public places. 
Mr. Denham: Existing police powers to confiscate alcohol from under-age drinkers in public places are provided by the Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997, as amended by section 29 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.
We are considering representations from the police and others about these powers, and in particular the restriction to confiscating alcohol in sealed containers. We will introduce any changes in the law that may be necessary as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Mr. Denham [holding answer 29 January 2002]: The terms of Mr. Bond's contract state that he may be entitled to a bonus of up to 20 per cent. of his Home Office salary. His eligibility for such a bonus will be assessed in April 2003, according to the contribution which his unit has made to improving police performance over the preceding year.
Mr. Denham [holding answer 29 January 2002]: When first appointed in January 2001, the Director of the Standards Unit, Mr. Kevin Bond was seconded to the Home Office from his employers, Earth Tech Inc. The effect of this was that Mr. Bond's duties and obligations were equivalent to a full-time permanent member of the civil service, but that the Home Office reimbursed Earth Tech for the cost of his services.
From October 2002, Mr. Bond ceased to be an employee of that company and the secondment agreement was replaced with a fixed term employment contract with the Home Office. The salary of #195,000 which Mr. Bond receives from the Home Office is the same as applied under the secondment agreement.
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Mr. Denham: The Home Office is currently assessing the progress made in the Policing Priority Areas (PPAs) established in March this year. Most recently, I chaired an extremely constructive seminar on 8 October, attended by police and Local Authority representatives from each of the five PPA areas, to review and assess the experiences of the pilot sites. I intend to make an announcement about PPAs in the near future.
Mr. Denham: The Government recognises the importance of providing children with safe places to play and this issue will be carefully considered as part of the Government's review of children's play, jointly launched by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and the Department for Education and Skills on 15 October. There will be a consultation process as part of the review, which will allow all interested parties to feed in their views.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his Answer of 28 October 2002, Official Report, column 640W, on policing charges, when the Working Group on Football will meet; what its remit is; and what opportunities there are for (a) clubs, (b) supporters and (c) other interested parties to make their concerns known in respect of policing charges. 
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