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Mr. Browne: We are involved in a wide range of discussions across Government and with key stakeholders. In addition to the evidence I and my hon. Friend gave to the Home Affairs Select Committee, colleagues in Health, Education and the Department for Work and Pensions also gave evidence showing how ID cards could simplify access to services and help reduce fraud.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the representatives of Mr. Shams Uddin Ahmed, Ref: A534268, were informed in June that no decision had been reached regarding Mr. Ahmed's application for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom in the light of the letter from the Minister of State to the hon. Member for Christchurch dated 28 April 2004. 
Mr. Browne [holding answer 5 July 2004]: The Immigration and Nationality Enquiry Bureau (INEB) use the General Case Information Database (GCID) when answering telephone application inquiries. Unfortunately, GCID had not been updated with the decision at the time the representatives called.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the decision was taken to grant Mr. Shams Uddin Ahmed, Ref: A534268, leave to remain in the United Kingdom; and by whom it was taken. 
Mr. Browne [holding answer 5 July 2004]: There is currently no method for estimating the number of illegal immigrants in the UK. The Government have commissioned research into the methods used in other countries to estimate the size of their illegal populations in order to define methods appropriate for the UK. Work on this is ongoing.
The work required is challenging because, by definition, illegal migrants fall outside of official statistics and are therefore difficult to measure. People illegally present in the UK are also motivated to ensure they remain hidden, which is a challenge to conducting research.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the staff-customer ratio is for those contacting or receiving services from the National Asylum Support Service, broken down by (a) all staff, (b) staff dealing with customers face-to-face, (c) call centre staff and (d) staff processing claims without customer contact. 
Mr. Browne: There are currently 1,308 staff in the National Asylum Support Service, including temporary staff. Of these, 206 staff primarily deal with customers face-to-face. There are eight dedicated staff working in the National Asylum Support Service Telephone Enquiry Bureau. It is not possible to provide details of staff processing claims without customer contact as most will have some contact by telephone with customers at some point.
Ms Blears: The Home Office has worked in partnership with the National Neighbourhood Watch Association (NNWA) for a number of years. And, in 2003, provided a grant of £350,000 to help them out with their financial difficulties.
It recently came to light though that the NNWA has, without authorisation, registered the Neighbourhood Watch name and logos as its own trademarks. These are Crown copyright and public assets. We are taking steps to recover the name and logos to public ownership.
Dr. Evan Harris:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reform the immigration
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procedures for doctors from overseas to enable those who wish to work and train in the UK to do so more quickly. 
Mr. Browne: There are currently no plans to change procedures specifically for the admission to the UK of overseas doctors. Doctors from outside the European economic area who wish to work in the UK normally require a work permit or permission to work through the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).
All doctor posts are deemed in shortage which means Work Permit (UK) applies a simplified work permit application procedure for these posts. In the period April 2003 to March 2004 4,377 work permits were approved for a range of posts requiring doctors.
The HSMP scheme is a points based scheme designed to allow individuals with exceptional personal skill and experience to come to or remain in the UK to seek and take up work. In the period April 2003 to March 2004 699 HSMP applications were approved for a range of posts requiring doctors.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effect on police efficiency of the obligation upon police officers to be available for jury service, as set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: The reform of the jury service provisions was a recommendation contained in Lord Justice Auld's Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales. Jury service is an extremely important civic duty. For too long a large number of people have been excused from serving on a jury because of their profession or position in society. The changes contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 send a clear message that serving the community as a juror is the responsibility of everyone. Expanding the pool of potential jurors will ensure that juries better reflect the communities from which they are drawn and this in turn should improve public confidence in the criminal justice system.
No formal assessment has been conducted of the effect of these measures on police efficiency. However, we expect that the guidance issued to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau staff will allow individual officers who are summoned to defer jury service where there are good operational or personal reasons for doing so.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether extra resources will be made available to police forces to help facilitate the development of forces' intelligence IT systems and the smooth transfer of data to a national database. 
In my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's response to the House on 22 June 2004, following publication of Sir Michael Bichard's report he made it clear that the Government shall introduce a national intelligence system. The Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) is working with the
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Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Association of Police Authorities (APA) and the Home Office to take this work forward. This will include building upon existing in force and cross force systems.
(2) for what reason Stage 2 police probationer training is being reduced from 15 weeks to 12 weeks; 
(3) what changes will be made to Stage 2 police probationer training to facilitate the intended reduction of training from 15 weeks to 12 weeks; 
(4) which aspects of Stage 2 police probationer training will receive less time as a result of the intended reduction Stage 2 probationer training from 15 weeks to 12 weeks. 
Ms Blears: The reduction of Stage 2 of police probationer training has taken place within the context of discussions with Centrex over their budget for 200405. Representatives of Centrex, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and force training managers considered the length of Stage 2 in detail and concluded that 12 weeks would be sufficient to impart a fully comprehensive probationer training programme. I am satisfied that the reduction in length of Stage 2 will in no way affect the quality of the programme.
The 12 week programme will embrace the principles of practice-based learning and community involvement, and focus on the role and context of policing. In response to force feedback, there will be intakes every six weeks. There will be no general increase of class size and no change in the probationer-to-trainer ratio.
The content of the law aspects of the course has been thoroughly reviewed in consultation with force training managers to remove any duplication of teaching. Some material has been changed from traditional classroom training to self-study.
The relatively small amount of basic public order training delivered to new recruits will be removed, but forces will continue to deliver public order training during Stage 3. Extensive training is available for those officers who choose to specialise in public order. This change is fully supported by force training managers.
Case file preparation will be removed as forces agree that probationers should focus their initial training on the basic principles of evidence gathering, leaving the technical aspects of case file preparation to Stage 3. However, training on statements will be retained.
Passing out parades will be withdrawn, as the philosophy of the modernised, restructured programme is to encourage probationers to take greater personal responsibility for their development, and in particular their fitness.
All of these changes have been made in consultation with key stakeholders, who are content that the approach taken will not impact negatively on the provision of Stage 2 probationer training. The programme will still impart all the essential components of the 15 week course.
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A new probationer training programme which is under development, will see a shift away from residential training to learning in the workplace and focus on delivery in the community. These new methods of delivering recruit training have been successfully piloted in five forces.
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