§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables have been in post, in each half year, since September 2001. 
§ Ms Blears
Home Office figures on police strength moved to an annual cycle from March 2002 and are available in the House Library, as are previous publications. The number of Special Constables in post in England and Wales for each half year available since September 2001 are set out as follows:
Number September 2001 12,068 March 2002 11,598 March 2003 11,037
We are working with stakeholders to increase the size and effectiveness of the Special Constabulary. In particular, we are rolling out Home Office/Association of Chief Police Officers 'Good Practice Guidance'; we are also holding a 2nd National Specials Weekend on 28–29 February 2004 to help raise the profile of Specials and the invaluable work they do; and we have recently announced grants of up to £70,000 to assist forces to boost their capacity to recruit and manage Specials effectively.