§ Mr. Steen
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (I) what discretion is given to individual police services in recruiting police officers that do not match the prescribed eyesight criteria set by his Department; 
(2) what national standards are set by his Department for (a) unaided and (b) aided vision for new recruits to the police service. 
§ Mr. Denham
The Home Office provides guidance to forces on eyesight standards. The present guidance for eyesight is that candidates' unaided vision must be 6–24 or better in either eye and aided vision must be 6–12 or better in either eye and 6–6 binocularly.
All forces are expected to follow the guidance, but responsibility for the appointment of constables rests with the Chief Officer of each force.
A Home Office project is under way to establish national recruitment standards (NRS) for the police service. It is reviewing all current entry requirements, to ensure they are job related, evidence based and non discriminatory. The eyesight guidelines are currently under review as part of the NRS project.
When the new standards are in place, forces will be required to follow them.
§ Paddy Tipping
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in Nottinghamshire on 31 March of each year since 1981; and how many there are expected to be on 31 March 2003. 
§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 25 June 2002]The table sets out police numbers for each year since 1981. I am told by the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire (Mr. Stephen Green QPM) the force has a target strength of 2,434 officers for 31 March 2002.
Police force performance does not depend solely upon the number of officers available. The proposals in the White Paper "Policing a New Century: A blueprint for reform" set out a radical and ambitious programme of reform, with the overall aim of reducing crime and the fear of crime and to tackle anti-social behaviour. The test of success will be whether the measures being put in place will make a real difference to the quality of life of individuals and communities up and down the country.
The public have a right to expect the same high standards of service wherever they live and the Government propose to put a framework in place to ensure that all police forces come up to the standard of the best.
Nottinghamshire Constabulary: Police numbers 1981 to 2002 Year (as at 31 March) Police officer numbers 1981 2,241 1982 2,252 1983 2,249 1984 2,229 1985 2,150 1986 2,210 1987 2,226 1988 2,252 1989 2,298 1990 2,316 1991 2,336
Nottinghamshire Constabulary: Police numbers 1981 to 2002 Year (as at 31 March) Police officer numbers 1992 2,331 1993 2,327 1994 2,328 1995 2,319 1996 2,318 1997 2,323 1998 2,323 1999 2,225 2000 2,204 2001 2,212 20021 2,323 131 January
§ Norman Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanism exists to prevent duplication of activity between(a) HMIC, (b) the Police Standards Unit, (c) the Audit Commission and (d) Home Office-based teams in respect of the police. 
§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 25 June 2002]Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the Police Standards Unit, the Audit Commission and the Home Office have separate but complementary roles which together seek to ensure that the police service in England and Wales is efficient and effective.
A steering group chaired by myself, due to my responsibility for policing, oversees implementation of the police reform programme and ensures a cohesive and prioritised approach to police activity. Senior Home Office officials, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Police Standards Director attend these meetings.
There are close working relationships between HMIC and the Police Standards Unit. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Police Standards Director meet regularly. Their respective roles are clearly defined. HMIC has an independent inspection and monitoring role as distinct from the police standards unit's policy implementation and support role.
There are well developed mechanisms for co-ordination of HMIC and the audit commission's work which in turn ensure that both those organisations' work is properly integrated with that of the police standards unit. There are regular meetings between Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Audit Commission Controller. There are formal agreements in place where duplication is possible, for example on the integration of audit and inspection of best value performance plans.
§ Norman Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what targets have been set within the police for the recruitment and retention of officers from ethnic minorities; and what the latest outturns are in respect of these targets. 
§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 24 June 2002]The latest recruitment figures available are as at 30 September 2001. The following table shows, by police force, the minority ethnic (ME) officer strength target for 2009, ME officer strength and percentage as at 30 September 2001.190W
Police force 2009 target (percentage) Number of ME officers September 2001 Percentage of ME officers September 2001 Avon and Somerset 2.0 39 1.3 Bedfordshire 10.0 42 4.0 Cambridgeshire 4.3 34 2.5 Cheshire 1.0 9 0.4 City of London 7.3 18 2.6 Cleveland 2.0 18 1.3 Cumbria 1.0 4 0.4 Derbyshire 3.3 51 2.8 Devon and Cornwall 1.0 15 0.5 Dorset 1.0 10 0.7 Durham 1.0 14 0.9 Dyfed-Powys 1.0 5 0.5 Essex 1.9 31 1.1 Gloucestershire 1.6 16 1.4 Greater Manchester 7.6 200 2.8 Gwent 1.1 18 1.4 Hampshire 2.0 39 1.1 Hertfordshire 4.7 35 1.9 Humberside 1.1 16 0.8 Kent 2.0 50 1.5 Lancashire 5.0 57 1.7 Leicestershire 11.0 98 4.8 Lincolnshire 1.2 10 0.8 Merseyside 2.0 81 2.0 Metropolitan Police 25.0 1,117 4.4 Norfolk 1.0 15 1.0 Northamptonshire 2.3 28 2.4 Northumbria 1.5 35 0.9 North Wales 1.1 7 0.5 North Yorkshire 1.3 6 0.4 Nottinghamshire 3.5 66 2.9 South Wales 1.5 45 1.4 South Yorkshire 3.3 86 2.7 Staffordshire 1.8 31 1.5 Suffolk 1.1 20 1.7 Surrey 3.2 29 1.4 Sussex 2.4 31 1.1 Thames Valley 5.4 94 2.5 Warwickshire 4.0 24 2.6 West Mercia 2.0 23 1.2 West Midlands 16.1 382 5.1 West Yorkshire 9.5 148 3.0 Wiltshire 1.0 10 0.9
Figures have been set to 1 per cent. for areas below 1 per cent.
The targets for retention are that the percentage of minority ethnic officers leaving the service through resignation or dismissal each year should equal the percentage of white officers leaving each year under similar circumstances within three years in each of the following bands:
- six months to under two years service
- two years to under five years service
- five years to under 10 years service
- with demonstrable, significant progress made each year to reduce the overall figure.
Figures for March 2000 act as baseline and forces' progress against targets is due to be monitored at 31 March 2003.
§ Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in England and Wales on(a) 9 September 1999 and (b) 31 May 2002. 
§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 24 June 2002]Information for the specified dates has not been collected centrally. However, on 30 September 1999 there were 125,394 officers and on 31 January 2002 (the latest date for which figures are available) there were 128,748 officers in England and Wales. This was a record number.191W
The increase in police strength reflects the impact of the crime fighting fund (CFF), which is enabling forces in England and Wales to recruit 9,000 officers over and above previous recruitment plans in the three years to March 2003.