§ Mr. Soames
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables there were in West Sussex in(a) 1992, (b) 1997 and (c) the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
Statistics of the strength of the Special Constabulary have been collected since 1995 by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate. These figures are compiled at the end of March and September each year. Before 1995, figures were collected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. The figures for 1992 were compiled at the end of the calendar year.
Both sets of figures are collected for Sussex police as a whole and not defined further. The Special Constabulary strength figures for Sussex police force for 1992, September 1997 and September 2000 (the latest figures available) are therefore as follows:
Total December 1992 549 September 1997 465 September 2000 317
Home Office funded research was completed last year into the premature wastage of special constables. We are currently exploring the implications of this research with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities with a view to identifying the best way of addressing the decline in the number of special constables in England and Wales.