§ Matthew Green
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables are members of the police forces in England and Wales as at the beginning of April; and what his estimates are of the numbers in(a) April 2003 and (b) April 2004. 641W
§ Mr. Denham
Data on special constabulary strength is collected for March and September each year. On 31 March 2002 there were 11,598 serving special constables in police forces in England and Wales.
We have made it clear that the special constabulary has a vital role to play in reducing crime and providing reassurance to the public. The Government is committed to increasing the numbers of specials. We are working with the police service on a number of measures, including a new headline role, new training packages and good practice guidance, to help forces improve performance on the recruitment, management and deployment of specials. A number of "Specials Champions" forces have been identified to take forward iniatives and support the good practice guidance. Deputy Chief Constable, Peter Fahy, of Surrey Police has agreed to lead the police on this work.