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23. Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department has had with chief constables about recognising (a) transience and (b) visitor numbers when allocating policing resources to seaside and coastal towns. 
Mr. Denham: The Home Office allocates funding to forces as a whole, it is for the chief officer to determine the best deployment of those resources taking operational needs and priorities into account.
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The police funding formula does take account of population including resident population, overnight visitors and day visitors and so deals with the influx of visitors and holiday makers into seaside and coastal towns.
Mr. Denham: I am told by the Chief Constable that on 31 October this year Essex police had 2,953 officers, 66 more than in March this year. Essex police also had 1,598 civilian staff, 151 more than in March 2001.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the scientific and medical arguments for reclassifying cannabis from Class B to Class C under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The Advisory Council is due to provide its advice within three months.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the changes in the numbers of people using recreational cannabis in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) other Council of Europe countries with populations of more than five million in the last five years. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Estimates on the changing patterns of drug misuse in this country are set out in the British Crime Survey. European data are collected by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). EMCDDA are working to develop specific instruments to facilitate analysis of the different data collection and data comparison methods throughout Europe. Copies of both reports are available in the Library.
27. Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the additional costs to the Metropolitan Police Authority of tackling the threat of terrorism. 
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There has been a great deal of speculation as to the additional costs to the Metropolitan police of the increased security measures. We have set in train a process for the detailed assessment of the additional resources deployed.
Angela Eagle: Details of all asylum applicants are checked against the immigration service warnings index. Asylum seekers are also fingerprinted and photographed when an application for asylum is made, with further checks made with the police and Security Service if any doubts or question marks arise in the initial interview.
The 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees also specifically precludes certain individuals from benefiting from its provisions, and allows refugees to be returned to their original country in certain circumstances. Measures in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, the Second Reading of which takes place today, deals specifically with this point.
Mr. Denham: The police reform process is looking at ways in which the visibility and accessibility of the police can be increased. A range of tasks are currently undertaken by police officers which could be carried out by suitably trained support staff, freeing up officers to return to the beat.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced on 1 November, when he published the report by PA Consulting "Diary of a Police Officer", that we are committed to encouraging broader use of support staff for custody duties and handling the paperwork involved in case preparation. We will use the Police Bill to make any necessary legislative changes.
Mr. Denham: Ministers and senior officials have regular meetings with police organisations and representative bodies, including the Police Federation, at which matters relating to police pay and conditions, such as pensions, are discussed.
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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The main focus of the Government's drugs strategy is on the drugs that cause the greatest harm, Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine. However, as the Home Secretary indicated in his evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on 23 October 2001, we need to be even more effective at tackling the harm caused by Class A drugs. He is seeking advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on their assessment for reclassifying cannabis from Class B to Class C and will be introducing an innovative public awareness campaign on drugs aimed at young people. In addition, he has provided £1 million as a starter fund for a pilot project to help police target regional drug traffickers with a view to a national roll-out of the scheme, has agreed further roll-out of drug testing programmes, and has agreed a series of measures, in partnership with the Department of Health, to minimise the harm drugs cause. We are also currently reviewing progress against all the drugs strategy targets as part of the work for the 2002 spending review, to ensure that we still have the right balance and focus.
Mr. Denham: Tackling crime and the fear of crime in all areas, including rural areas, is a clear priority for this Government. Our approach is to support the police and the local crime and disorder partnerships in tackling local crime effectively.
This includes increased funding for police forces covering rural areas to take account of the additional costs involved: £30 million is being allocated to 31 forces this year. This money will make a real difference to policing in rural areas. In addition, the anti-crime strategies drawn up by the crime and disorder partnerships support a wide range of initiatives, including local "watch" schemes to help protect farms, equipment and livestock, and rural closed circuit television schemes. The rural crime toolkit, on the crime reduction website, will help local partnerships address crime in rural areas.
Mr. Denham: On 1 November my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary published PA Consulting's study "Diary of a Police Officer" which had considered what more could be done to free police officers from the unnecessary paperwork and other obstacles which prevent them from spending more time in public.
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how to take forward the recommendations in this, and other, relevant reports, in order to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens on police officers.
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