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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers were licensed to carry firearms in each year since 1997.[129940]

The number of authorised firearms officers (AFOs) in police forces in England and Wales for years 1997–2002 are shown in the table.

Number of authorised firearms officers (AFOs)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the more flexible working practices in the Police Service are that are referred to on page 46 of the 2003 Departmental Report.[130505]

A number of more flexible working practices were implemented in April 2003, as part of the reforms to police pay and conditions agreed by the Police Negotiating Board in May 2002. They are:

A national target of a 15 per cent. reduction in overtime expenditure by 2005–06, designed to give officers a healthier work life balance;
A change from annual rosters to three-month rosters;
Removal of the 16-hour a week minimum requirement for part-time working;
Removal of the requirement for job-sharing in middle and senior ranks; and
Rationalisation of the system of allowances.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the work of the Police Standards Unit in assisting forces which are having difficulty meeting volume crime targets.[130491]

The Police Standards Unit's (PSU) work with police forces to address performance issues is initiated where there are gaps in performance across a range of indicators, including key volume crime indicators. The full range of indicators were set out in the National Policing Plan 2003–06. The PSU is also leading the development of the Policing Performance Assessment Framework (PPAF) which aims to provide a broader balanced score approach to performance assessment.While each PSU project is subject to scrutiny and review, no formal assessment has been made to quantify the impact of this work on meeting specific volume crime targets in forces. PSU is making, and will continue to make, a significant impact in assisting forces to improve their performance.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made by police forces in England and Wales in emulating the best practice highlighted by the National Centre for Policing Excellence.[130506]

The National Centre for Policing Excellence was launched in April 2003 to increase the professional capacity of the police by identifying and disseminating evidence-based best practice. In 2002–03, it produced a knowledge map on street robbery which has been available to all forces on the Criminal Justice Extranet. It is too early, however, to judge how effective this good practice guidance has been in improving the professional capability of the Police Service.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police forces in England and Wales have signed up to the best practice standards in the use of the National Intelligence Model.[130507]

The National Policing Plan commits all forces in England and Wales to be National Intelligence Model (NIM) compliant by April 2004. Implementation is supported by Home Office funding. Regular assessments of progress are taking place and development plans are in place within forces where appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what appraisals of the safety and reliability records of different types of pistols are being undertaken in relation to weapons recommended for police use.[130697]

All forces are required to notify the Police Scientific Development Branch (who are part of the Home Office) of any failures or defects in weapons or ammunition in order that an assessment can be made as to whether there is a need for further investigation and potential circulation of information to all forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the manufacturers of pistols used by UK police forces; and if he will indicate for each manufacturer which other Western European police forces use weapons of that manufacture. [130698]

Decisions on the make of pistols used by UK police forces would be a matter for chief officers. Information on the weapons used by other European police forces is not available.