§ Mr. Charles Clarke
[holding answer 19 March 2001]: The information requested is set out in the table. The funded police numbers have been provided by the Chief Constable of the Essex Police.
The Home Office Statistical Bullet in on police service strength provides numbers of police officers available for ordinary duty, as opposed to all officers in each force. Officers on secondment, for example, on maternity leave or undertaking full-time further education, are excluded from the figures. This is the basis used in the table for the number of actual police officers.
Essex police—funded police posts and actual police numbers Year Number of funded policed posts (fte) Actual number of police officers (fte) 31 March 1997 2,944 2,961 31 March 1998 2,947 2,928 31 March 1999 2,92[...] 2,891 31 March 2000 2,859 2,806 31 March 2001 2,955 12,859 1 Numbers as at 31 January 2001. The force returns for strength as at 31 March 2001 for the purposes of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin are not yet available.
The force strength (actual numbers) figures for 31 March 1997 and as at 7 February 2001, set out in my answer to the hon. Member on 15 February 2001, Official Report, column 240W, were obtained from the Chief Constable of the force. Upon inquiry, it appears that the force classified some officers differently from the method used under Home Office counting rules for the half yearly Statistical Bulletin. This is the reason for the differences between the numbers in that answer and the numbers given here.