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Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek a report from the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester regarding the case of PC Sean Mullaney. (75414)

PC Mullaney was suspended from duty when the CPS decided to prosecute him for two counts of common assault. He was found guilty on both counts, but successfully appealed against the convictions. PC Mullaney’s suspension was consequently lifted, and the decision taken to offer him advice on the standards of conduct expected of him.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officer applications from (a) women and (b) black and minority ethnic candidates there were in each of the last five years in the UK. (73339)

The available information for police officer applications in England and Wales is set out as follows. It is based on responses from forces as these are not data that are collected centrally. Responsibility for recruitment of officers in Scotland and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of my right hon. friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Recruitment fluctuates according to natural wastage as well as specific funding available. The crime fighting fund has driven significant recruitment over recent years, including record levels in 2002-03 when joiners totalled 13,100. Since then, recruitment has slowed down and this is reflected in numbers of female and minority ethnic applicants as shown in the table.

Number of applications to be a police officer (2001 to 2005)


Female applicants

Minority ethnic applicants
















1 Total is based on 41 forces providing data. 2 Total is based on 42 forces providing data. 3 Total is based on 40 forces providing data. 4 Total is based on 38 forces providing data. 5 Total is based on 39 forces providing data.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer of 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 1046W, on the police, what the total expected cost is of the consultants employed by his Department to advise on police force amalgamations. (75223)

The total costs of employing consultants to help advise the Home Office on police force restructuring is expected to be around £1 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assurances (a) Cumbria and (b) Lancashire police authorities have sought regarding the terms of their amalgamation; what progress his Department has made in providing these assurances; and if he will make a statement. (82964)

Ministers and officials in the Home Office have had regular discussions with representatives of Lancashire and Cumbria police authorities covering a wide range of issues. We are working closely with them to resolve all outstanding issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department has had with other departments regarding the use of amalgamation orders to harmonise the police precept for council taxpayers where police authorities are amalgamated; and whether his Department plans to use primary legislation to harmonise the police precept for council taxpayers. (82965)

My Department has had regular discussions with other interested departments. I do not envisage that primary legislation will be required to harmonise police precepts.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 2 June 2006, Official Report, column 40W, on helicopter searches, at what time the police helicopter at RAF Benson was (a) placed on and (b) taken off standby. (81217)

The answer on 2 June 2006 referred to helicopter searches from RAF Benson on 18 July 2003. The police helicopter based at RAF Benson was available for tasking from 5.35 pm on 17 July 2003 until the end of its duty period at 2.30 am on 18 July 2003. It was available for tasking again from 8.00 am on 18 July 2003 until 2.30 am on 19 July 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the change in the number of civilian posts which would result if a merger of Cheshire and Merseyside police forces was carried out. (47791)

[holding answer 2 February 2006]: I apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in replying to her question.

It has been estimated that a merger of Cheshire and Merseyside police forces would lead to savings of 5 per cent. of the civilian staff payroll. The precise posts involved, or their number, have not been identified.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department will be taking to ensure that local decision-making is preserved under the planned merging of police forces in England and Wales. (75135)

[holding answer 5 July 2006]: The police basic command unit (BCD) will shortly be put on a legal footing under the provision of the Police and Justice Bill. Local accountability will remain, as operational policing in local areas will continue to be conducted by the BCD under the supervision of the commander. The creation of strategic forces would improve policing by reducing the abstraction of police officers away from neighbourhood policing to deal with serious and organised crime.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of police retirements were ill health retirements in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (75760)

Of the officers who retired with either an ordinary pension or an ill-health pension in 2004-05 10.5 per cent. retired with an ill-health pension, based on available data from 42 out of 43 forces. Since the number of retirements is liable to change from year to year, the rate of ill-health retirement is now measured against the number of officers in service, this being a more stable measure. For 2004-05 the rate of ill-health retirement was three per 1,000 serving officers. These figures are published in HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s annual report for 2004-05 (page 25) which can be found at: This represents a significant improvement in performance, the rate having been 14 per 1000 in 1997-98.