HC Deb 17 September 2004 vol 424 c1916W
David Davis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have entered a witness protection programme in each year for which figures are available, broken down by police force. [184962]

Paul Goggins

This information is not currently available. The Home Office, in conjunction with the Scottish Executive, the Northern Ireland Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, has appointed an independent consultant to carry out an assessment of witness protection arrangements nationally. The assessment is covering all cases where witness protection is afforded by UK law enforcement agencies including the police. It will provide us with valuable information about the numbers and circumstances in which witness protection is provided.

The assessment commenced on 2 January; it was announced in the White Paper 'One Step Ahead—a 21st century strategy to defeat organised crime' which I published on 29 March. The assessment is due to be completed over the summer, and a final report will be available in the autumn.

However, even after completion of this assessment, we are not intending to make available publicly any of this information below national level. Such information broken down by individual police force is obviously operationally sensitive and could compromise the integrity of witness protection programmes and the officers who work on them.

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