§ Ms Blears
Avon and Somerset Constabulary had 2,989 officers on 31 March 1997, which has increased by 315 to 3,304 in August this year, a record number.
Information on police officer numbers for each Basic Command Unit (BCU) is only available for March 2002 and 2003 and is set out in the table.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary—Number of officers allocated
to Basic Command Units
Basic Command Unit March 2002 March 2003 Bath and North-east Somerset 228 224 Central Bristol 367 378 North Bristol 263 255 North Somerset 203 213 Somerset East 255 257 Somerset West 295 295 South Bristol 251 251 South Gloucester 265 263 Total BCU Strength 2,127 2,136
§ Mr. Djanogly
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what in-service death benefits are payable to members of the Police. 
§ Ms Blears
Death in-service benefits include a lump sum ranging from a death grant for all in-service deaths to a death gratuity for any death as a result of an injury in the execution of duty, where death occurs within one year of the injury. The lump sum death grant is twice the annual value of the officer's pensionable pay. The death grant will be the lesser of either five times the annual value of the officer's pensionable pay or four times his total remuneration during the last 12 months as an officer and his or her total pension contributions for that period.
These lump sums are payable in addition to a widow or widower's pension and any other dependant's benefits where applicable. The surviving spouse's pension will range from half the officer's pension, had he or she been medically retired and not died in service, to a special award of 45 per cent. of the officer's average pensionable pay where death is as a result of an injury in the execution of duty. The special award will be augmented to 50 per cent. where death occurred in particular circumstances such as in the course of trying to save another's life.
§ Mr. Jenkins
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to improve the performance of the police forces that have come bottom of the league tables. 
§ Ms Blears
The police performance monitors, which were published on 21 October 2003 are not league tables, but show performance across key areas of policing for each force in England and Wales, and show a comparison with similar forces.
Our regular monitoring of police performance enables us to identify those forces whose performance needs to be improved. Her Majesty's Inspector Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit are currently working with a number of forces, whose performance is significantly below the average for their most similar forces, to help them address performance issues. This can involve assistance with performance management systems, improved use of forensics 112W processes across a force, or more targeted assistance. This could take the form of the establishment of a policing priority area, or specific projects targeting an individual crime, such as burglary.
§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on(a) audio and (b) visual recording of police interviews. 
§ Ms Blears
The information requested is as follows:
(a) Section 60 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides for the mandatory (audio) tape recording of interviews of persons suspected of the commission of criminal offences. Code E of the Codes of Practice issued under the above mentioned Act dictates the procedures through which the police should carry out this task. It became mandatory to tape record interviews in police stations in England and Wales using the procedures outlined in Code E on 1 January 1992.
The Terrorism Act 2000 makes separate provision for a Code of Practice for the tape recording of interviews of those arrested under Section 41 or detained under Schedule 7 of the Act.
(b) A pilot has been undertaken in five police forces (Metropolitan, Essex, Hampshire, Kent and West Mercia) to test all aspects of visually recording suspects'interviews. The pilot started in May 2002, except in Essex who started in October 2002, and they all finished on 31 October 2003. A team of Evaluators, from London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Kent, are preparing a report on the project but this will not be with the Home Office till the end of December. However, from 1 November 2003 visual recording may be undertaken on a discretionary basis and it is a matter for each force (including those not involved in the pilot) to decide which types of cases should be recorded in this way. Police officers have been told that regard should still be paid to Code F (Visual Recording of Suspect Interviews) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, when such interviews are undertaken.
Guidance on conducting interviews with vulnerable or intimidated witnesses (VIWs) is set out in 'Achieving Best Evidence: Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses, including Children'. This guidance is intended to assist those conducting video recorded interviews with VIWs as well as giving guidance to those who are tasked with preparing and supporting such witnesses throughout the criminal justice process. The document can be found at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/justice/legalprocess/witnesses/index.
§ Paddy Tipping
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in(a) England and (b) Nottinghamshire on (i) 1 April 1997, (ii) 1 April 2003 and (iii) 30 September 2003. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 3 November 2003]:On 31 August (latest date for which figures are available) there was record police strength in England of 126,949, an increase of 8,490 since March 1997. Nottinghamshire Constabulary also had record police strength of 2,468, an increase of 145 since March 1997.
In England and Wales on 31 August there were 136,386 police officers, again a record.113W
In England alone there was also 59,403 police (support) staff on 31 March 2003 (latest date available), an increase of 8,847 since 1997. In Nottinghamshire there was 1,180, an increase of 177 since March 1997. Additionally Nottinghamshire had 10 Community Support Officers (CSO) at the end of August with plans for 45 CSOs by March 2004.
The table sets out the figures for the years requested.
England Nottinghamshire Police
31 March 1997 118,459 50,556 2,323 1,003 31 March 2003 124,158 59,403 2,41 1 1,180 31 August 2003 126,949 n/a 2,468 n/a
§ Dan Norris
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many police officers there were in(a) Avon and Somerset constabulary and (b) Bath and North East Somerset Basic Command Unit in (i) 1997, (ii) 2002 and (iii) 2003; 
(2) how many burglaries there were in (a) Avon and Somerset constabulary and (b) Bath and North East Somerset Basic Command Unit in (i) 1997, (ii) 2002 and (iii) 2003; 
(3) how many vehicle crimes there were in Avon and Somerset in (a) 1997, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003; 
(4) how many robberies there were in Avon and Somerset in (a) 1997, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003; 
§ Beverley Hughes
The available information is given in the tables.
Number of police officers in Avon and Somerset Police Force Area (PFA) as at 31 March:
Number 1997 12,989 2002 3,096 2003 3,149 1 Excludes staff on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave (command with previously published figures).
Details on the number of police officers at Basic Command Unit (BCU) are not available centrally.
Number of burglary offences recorded by the police:
1997 2001–02 2002–03 Avon and Somerset PFA Total burglary 31,220 32,865 30,182 Burglary in a dwelling 16,466 15,995 14,561 Other burglary 14,754 16,870 15,621 Bath and North East Somerset BCU Burglary in a dwelling n/a 1,563 1,194
BCD data are available from the financial year 1999–2000, onwards. Details on the number of total burglary, and other burglary offences, at BCD are not available centrally.114W
Number of vehicle crime1 offences recorded by the police:
Avon and Somerset PFA Number 1997 41,715 2001–02 40,791 2002–03 36,249 1 Vehicle crime is comprised of theft of a motor vehicle, and theft from a vehicle offences
Number of robbery offences recorded by the police:
Avon and Somerset PFA Number 1997 1,562 2001–02 4,889 2002–03 3,504
There was a change of counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which had the effect of increasing the number of crimes counted. Numbers of offences for years before and after this date are therefore not directly comparable.
The National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) was introduced across England and Wales in April 2002. Some police forces adopted the standard prior to this date. Avon and Somerset police force introduced the standard in October 2000. Broadly, the NCRS had the effect of increasing the number of crimes recorded by the police. Therefore, following the introduction of the standard, numbers of recorded crimes are not comparable with previous years.
§ Mr. Rosindell
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vehicles are owned and used by the police within the constituency of Romford.