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Column 261Specific measures aimed at preventing and detecting the illicit importation of drugs include :
supporting international efforts to curb trafficking in drugs. Last December together with 42 other countries we signed the new United Nations convention against illicit traffic in drugs. We also provide drug-related assistance overseas and maintain a number of drug liaison officers at strategic points on drug trafficking routes.
strengthening Customs and police enforcement. During 1988-89 a further 233 customs preventive staff have been allocated and the number of specialist customs drugs investigation staff will have risen to 395. We have also further strengthened the national drugs intelligence unit which co- ordinates drugs intelligence for Customs and police.
deterring drug traffickers by high maximum penalties and by confiscating the profits of their crime. We have already entered into reciprocal agreements with four countries for the confiscation of drug traffickers' assets, and are negotiating more.
Mr. John Patten : We have signed bilateral agreements with the United States of America, Canada, the Bahamas and Australia, and have completed substantive negotiations with Spain, Switzerland and Sweden. We expect to conclude further agreements this year. The United Kingdom also played a major part in bringing about the adoption in Vienna last December of a new United Nations convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which among other measures obliges member states to assist each other in confiscating the proceeds of drug trafficking.
Mr. John Patten : The courts have made confiscation orders totalling more than £3 million since section 1 of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 came into force on 12 January 1987. The information held centrally does not at present distinguish revenue obtained from the payment of such orders from revenue obtained from payment of other monetary penalties.
22. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the procedures for consultation and co-operation between police forces and transport police.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand that there is extensive consultation and co-operation between police forces and the British Transport police. Senior officers of all forces are in regular contact discussing issues of mutual interest and planning joint operations. Assistance is also provided regularly to the British Transport police around the country by regular police forces and the British Transport police reciprocates.
Mr. Renton : I refer my hon. Friends to the reply I gave earlier today to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight). We have endorsed IBA proposals to award 20 community radio contracts. In due course, up to several hundred local and community radio stations would be possible under our proposals in the White Paper "Broadcasting in the '90s".
Mr. Renton : The Act is now fully in force, and was quickly effective against the so-called "video nasty". We have extended enforcement powers to local authority trading standards officers to strengthen its impact over the full range of material. I have discussed the working of the Act with the British Board of Film Classification and I am confident that the board is doing its job effectively. I have also discussed with representatives of the video trade what further action they might take to ensure that matters not directly covered by the Act, such as displays in shops and packaging material, might be improved.
Mr. Renton : Passport department officials are in consultation with trade union representatives about staffing levels, pending a full review of staffing requirements which is to be undertaken following the completion of the current computerisation programme.
45. Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the average times taken to process non-urgent passport applications at major passport offices ; and what were the comparable times one year ago.
Mr. Renton : The current processing times for straightforward non- urgent postal applications at the six United Kingdom passport offices are shown in the table, together with those of a year ago. Urgent applications are given priority, and are not normally subject to delay.
|c|Average time between receipt of application and issue of passport|c| |c|(working days)|c| Passport office |19 February 1989|21 February 1988 -------------------------------------------------------------------- London |18 |37 Glasgow |20 |22 Peterborough |18 |18 Newport |24 |16 Liverpool |24 |12 Belfast |3 |3
53. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of discussions between the United Kingdom and other European countries on the attainment of Europeanwide standards and specifications relating to broadcasting technology and contents.
Mr. Renton : The United Kingdom is co-operating, through a EUREKA project, with a number of other European countries on the development of standards for high definition television. There is also a wide range of discussions on broadcasting specifications generally in the relevant international fora. We also hope to conclude agreement shortly on the Council of Europe convention on transfrontier television which, among other things, will provide minimum standards on taste and decency.
Mr. John Patten : It is planned to publish 1988 figures for all forces in a Home Office Statistical Bulletin in the week beginning 13 March. Figures for the 12 months ending 30 September 1988 show that recorded crime in the Cumbria police force area fell by 3 per cent. compared with the 12 months ending 30 September 1987. The change between the calendar years 1988 and 1987 will be similar.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Prison officers returned to work on 9 February. Under the terms of the dispute settlement, local discussions led to agreement on revised shift patterns by 15 February. They were implemented on 19 February.
Mr. John Patten : Mr. Le Vay has already written to all magistrates courts committees in England and Wales, with copies to justices' clerks, indicating his willingness to consider any comments sent to him. It is open to any local bench to submit representations if it so wishes.
32. Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will request Her Majesty's inspector of prisons to carry out an unannounced inspection, together with a senior environmental health officer, of the kitchen and other facilities related to hygiene of a prison selected by that environmental health officer.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Her Majesty's chief inspector of prisons has ready access to information and expertise which enables him to make proper assessments of hygiene standards in kitchens and other facilities during routine and unannounced inspections.
representations from hon. Members, from police authorities and from members of the public about the allocation of extra police officers for 1988-89 and for 1989-90.
|c|Pasengers refused leave to enter the United Kingdom and removed in|c| |c|1988|c| |Number of persons ------------------------------------------------------ First quarter |3,955 Second quarter |4,475 Third quarter |6,064 Fourth quarter |5,884
37. Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will facilitate the moving of Paul Hill of the Guildford Four to Wormwood Scrubs prison to ensure that the appropriate legal advice and preparation is available for his appeal ; and if he will make a statement.
50. Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will facilitate a further operation for Paul Hill to remove stones in the saliva gland and further ensure that the necessary after-care treatment is available.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Specific clinical information pertaining to individual prisoners is confidential and is not normally disclosed. Mr. Hill has received appropriate medical treatment and I have no information which suggests that his general medical condition is other than satisfactory.
78. Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison moves Paul Hill has experienced since conviction ; why they have been necessary ; and what assessment he has made of the effects of these moves on the ability of Paul Hill's family and relatives to visit him.
38. Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he plans to review the procedures for police scrutiny of applicants for firearm certificates to determine their suitability.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 contains powers to impose further requirements relating to applications for the grant or renewal of a firearm certificate. In addition to the stringent criteria set out in section 27 of the Firearms Act 1968, such applications will, later this year, need to be accompanied by photographs of the applicant and be countersigned by a person of standing in the community who has known the applicant personally for at least two years. The countersignatory will be required to verify the personal details of the applicant and to declare that he knows of no reason why the applicant should not be permitted to possess a firearm.
Mr. Renton : I am regularly in touch with the broadcasting authorities in order to discuss a wide range of broadcasting issues. On 27 and 28 February I met representatives from all the Scottish independent television companies in order to discuss the White Paper on broadcasting and other broadcasting matters.
Mr. John Patten : The safer cities programme is making good progress, with the first nine crime prevention projects either functioning or well on the way to becoming established. The Bradford and Wolverhampton projects have steering committees and locally recruited staff in place and are fully operational. We will establish seven
Column 266more projects in the coming year and I have recently invited Bristol, Hull, Salford, Sunderland and Wirral to take part.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The deployment of police officers is a matter for chief officers of police but the increases in police establishments approved since May 1979 will have assisted them in allocating more officers to operational duties. My right hon. Friend announced on 30 January his approval of further increases in provincial force establishments amounting to over 800 extra police posts. The great bulk of these posts will be deployed by chief constables on patrol duties. At the end of 1988, 52,906 officers (of all ranks) were estimated to be deployed on patrol duties-- this was 55.8 per cent. of strength. That is an increase of 0.8 per cent. on the previous year, which in turn had shown a gain of 2.9 per cent. over the year before. Information on the Metropolitan police is collected on a different basis. This shows that in 1988 some 1,600, 000 man days were spent on street duty, an increase of 9 per cent. on 1987.
42. Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration was given to the representations received on his decision not to direct the coroner to hold an inquest into the death of the Carlisle baby.
73. Sir Bernard Braine : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to increase the maximum sentences available to those found guilty of performing abortions contrary to sections 57 and 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Infant Life Preservation Act 1929.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : A number of measures which are under way or planned can be expected to have a significant effect on the health and well being of prisoners. They include a major programme of new building, refurbishment and environmental improvement and an increasing emphasis on preventive medicine and health education including specific initiatives in relation to AIDS, hepatitis B, and the risks from drug and alcohol misuse and smoking.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The police have a duty of care to anyone held in their custody and I have no doubt that chief officers of police ensure that that duty is carried out responsibly. In accordance with the codes of practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the police must call a doctor if a prisoner appears to be physically or mentally ill.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand from the commissioner that 60 officers have been attached to the British Transport police to help police the Underground. There are also 22 officers from the City of London force.
Mr. John Patten : It is planned to publish 1988 figures for all forces in a Home Office Statistical Bulletin in the week beginning 13 March. Figures for the 12 months ending 30 September 1988 show that recorded crime in the Avon and Somerset police force area rose by 1 per cent. compared with the 12 months ending 30 September 1987. Between the calendar years 1988 and 1987 there will be a small decrease.
55. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from legal representatives of the Guildford Four concerning moving them to London prisons prior to the Court of Appeal hearing.
Mr. John Patten : In the 12 months ending September 1988 there was a decrease of 1 per cent. in total recorded crime in the Metropolitan police district, compared with the corresponding period to September 1987. In particular motor vehicle theft decreased by 8 per cent., theft from the person decreased by 7 per cent. and residential burglary decreased by 3 per cent. These figures are an encouraging indication of the success of a range of crime prevention measures.
Mr. Hurd : Our discussions focused on terrorism, drugs and immigration control. We took stock of the results of the regular co- operation between the police and other relevant services of the two countries and reinforced our commitment to develop that co-operation both bilaterally and within the European Community.
60. Mr. Hardy To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the refusal to allow Mr. and Mrs. Calgar to return to the United Kingdom together.
61. Mr. Ken Hargreaves : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to introduce legislation to criminalise the supply of foetuses for other than medical or scientific purposes.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so. The disposal of foetal material in Great Britain is closely regulated in accordance with the code of practice recommended in the report of the advisory group on the use of foetuses and foetal material for research (the Peel report 1972). There is no evidence that this code of practice is being disregarded.
Mr. Hogg : At unlocking on Friday 24 February, 49,325 prisoners (The figures comprise returns from each regional office. Figures from the North region are only provisional.) were held in prison establishments in England and Wales. A further 196 prisoners were held in police cells.
Mr. Hurd : Although we have no evidence that this has been a problem in Great Britain the new provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill will facilitate investigation of any case in which there are reasonable grounds to suspect such abuse. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, policy on the payment of public funds to community groups, where there is evidence that such payments could directly or indirectly further the aims of a terrorist organisation, remains as set out in the reply I gave as the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to a question from the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) on 27 June 1985 at column 449.
Mr. Renton : I refer my hon. Friend to the replies that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Powell) on 2 February, at column 384 and my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave to the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) on 23 February at column 755.