§ Mr. Woodward
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in Oxfordshire in(a) March 1997, (b) March 1998 and (c) March 1999; and how many he estimates there will be in March 2000. 
§ Mr. Boateng
I understand from the Chief Constable that it is not possible to provide information on the number of police officers in Oxfordshire as the territorial divisions of the Thames Valley Police are not co-terminous with the county boundaries of the three counties that make up the force area.
Information on the number of officers for March 1999 will not be available before the middle of May. Ministers have no direct control over police numbers. Under legislation passed by the previous Government in 1994, it is for the individual chief constables to determine the number of police officers in their force, on the basis of the resources made available to them. It is not, therefore, possible to provide a projection of the force's strength for March 2000.
Numbers of officers in the Thames Valley Police in 1997 and 1998 are set out in the table:
Thames Valley Police Year Number of officers1 31 March 1997 3,695 31 March 1998 3,776 1 Full-time equivalents