HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc810-1W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many British police officers are to be sent to Iraq; for how long they will remain there; how their pay and conditions will vary from that in the UK; on what criteria the selection is made; what risk assessment has been carried out; what assessment the Department has made of the effect on crime(a) prevention and (b) detection in the UK of sending officers to Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [128319]

Ms Blears

I have agreed to a request from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary (Jack Straw) to ask the Association of Chief Police Officers to seek up to 200 volunteers to create a pool of United Kingdom police officers for potential deployment to Iraq. The pool is intended to sustain the deployment of up to 100 United Kingdom officers at any one time. Some may be deployed to a third country to assist in the out of country training of the Iraqi police service.

If UK police officers are required they will be deployed for six to 12 month periods. The terms and conditions of service of police officers from English and Welsh police forces will be protected under section 26 of the Police Act 1996. Officers will be recruited according to experience and the skills required for the post. The preliminary selection procedure is a matter for each force. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will conduct the final selection process following recommendations on applicants' suitability from forces.

Every effort will be made to ensure police officers' safety while on mission. Officers will be deployed only when conditions are right. The security position will be reviewed regularly. The advice of the two secondees from the Association of Chief Police Officers presently serving in Iraq will continue to inform any decision on the timing of a deployment of United Kingdom police officers to Iraq. When we judge that conditions are right for deployment, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will approach the Home Office with proposals to draw on the pool.

I have considered the demands on domestic policing resources. The deployment of 100 UK police officers to assist Iraq is within the contingency plans for overall police contributions to peacekeeping missions that have been agreed between the Government and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Chief constables and police authorities will take account of local policing requirements before deciding whether to release officers.