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Mr. John Patten : I understand from the Staffordshire police that at the end of September 1989 there were 760 neighbourhood watch schemes in Staffordshire, covering approximately 84,000 households. This represents an increase of 228 schemes compared with the position reported 12 months previously.
Mr. John Patten : At the end of September 1989 there were estimated to be in the region of 75,300 residential neighbourhood watch schemes in England and Wales. The total number of schemes is almost 16,000 more than recorded 12 months ago and covers well over 3.5 million households. In addition the original neighbourhood watch idea has diversified to include initiatives such as pub watch, business watch, taxi watch and farm watch schemes. I welcome this evidence of the public's continuing support for crime prevention in general and neighbourhood watch in particular.
Mr. John Patten : I understand from the Kent constabulary that at the end of September 1989 there were 1,604 neighbourhood watch schemes in Kent, covering approximately 201,000 households. This is an increase of some 280 schemes compared with the position reported 12 months previously.
Column 608service has prepared a comprehensive programme of action aimed at improving both its effectiveness and efficiency. Copies of both the strategy statement and the more detailed action programme are in the Library.
24. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the latest figures for the level of prosecutions, under sections 3 and 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824, for homeless young people in London ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John Patten : The number of persons aged under 21 proceeded against in the Metropolitan police district under sections 3 and 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 for 1987 was 171. Information is not collected centrally on the number of homeless people who have been prosecuted under the aforesaid Act. However of the 171 prosecutions only four were for sleeping out. This compares with 66 for being on enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose, 49 for indecent exposure and 38 for begging. Data for 1988 are not yet available.
25. Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made towards concluding further international agreements to confiscate the assests of convicted drug traffickers.
54. Mr. Charles Wardle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made towards concluding further international agreements to confiscate the assets of convicted drug traffickers.
Mr. John Patten : We have concluded reciprocal agreements or arrangements with 11 countries : the United States, Australia, Canada, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Spain, Switzerland, Nigeria, Anguilla, Gibraltar and Malaysia. An agreement with Sweden is also near completion and negotiations are under way with several other countries.
Mr. John Patten : The information available centrally relates only to confiscation orders made under the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986. For 1988, £8.1 million was ordered to be confiscated by the courts. The national drugs intelligence unit estimates that confiscation and restraint orders exceeding £13 million and £20 million respectively have been made since the Act came into force in January 1987.
Mr. John Patten : The information available centrally indicates that 9,214 offences of trafficking in controlled drugs were dealt with in the United Kingdom in 1988. A total of 4,208 persons were found guilty of 5,600 of these offences and a further 811 persons were cautioned or dealt with by compounding (payment of a penalty in lieu of prosecution) for a single offence.
28. Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received on the conduct of the Sussex police force when investigating the murder charge against Mr. Colin Wallace.
30. Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made towards securing greater efficiency and value for money by the police service in Norfolk ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for securing value for money in the Norfolk constabulary rests primarily on the chief constable and the police authority. Among the initiatives taken in pursuit of better value for money are a programme of civilianisation including the setting up of administrative support units which has released 112 officers to operational duties since 1981 ; sharing underused police premises with other services ; putting police canteens out to competitive tendering ; and a review of vehicle fleet management.
Mr. Hurd : As I indicated in a reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Boothferry (Mr. Davis) on 20 February 1989 at column 506, we accept that ending slopping out would make a substantial difference to the lives of prisoners and staff, and that achieving this should
Column 610be given a high priority. Work is under way to reach this goal, with all prisons built or designed since 1979 having either integral sanitation within the living accommodation or free access to sanitation. At existing establishments, the introduction of sanitary facilities is proceeding as quickly as possible within financial and physical constraints. I also announced a provisional programme to add more than 6,500 cells to those already scheduled for conversion. In addition, each establishment which does not have integral sanitation, or where it has not already been scheduled to be included, is being examined to determine the best way of providing such access, taking account of its individual circumstances. We thus plan to reduce the number of places without access to sanitation as quickly as possible, though it is not yet possible to say exactly when the practice will finally cease.
33. Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from chief constables in England and Wales on the steps they are taking to satisfy themselves that applicants for shotgun certificates can possess these weapons without danger to the public safety or the peace.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : My right hon. Friend has issued guidance to chief officers of police on this matter in the publication entitled "Firearms Law : Guidance to the Police", a copy of which is in the Library. Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary give considerable attention to this aspect in their inspections of forces.
48. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive and make public the findings of the five assessment projects on the feasibility of day fines and the causes of the decline in the use of fines as punishment.
Mr. John Patten : Since the war crimes inquiry's report was published, we have received a considerable number of letters representing a range of differing arguments of principle and practicality raised by the issue of war crimes prosecutions. We hope that it will be possible for the House to debate the issues raised by the report shortly.
38. Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will discuss with chief constables measures which would make it easier for police and traffic wardens to identify misuse of orange badges by able-bodied people.
Mr. Renton : By 11 October the asylum applications from 592 Turkish nationals had been considered in detail. The results of this consideration are that 71 met the criteria of the 1951 UN convention and have been recognised as refugees ; 243 have been given leave to remain in the United Kingdom on an exceptional basis ; 24 departed voluntarily before a final decision was reached ; 172 have been notified of a provisional decision that they do not qualify for asylum and further information/representations are awaited ; 36 did not qualify for asylum or leave to enter under the immigration rules, were refused entry and returned to Turkey.
In addition, a further 207 have made voluntary departures after withdrawing their claims for asylum.
Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of Kurds currently seeking asylum in the United Kingdom and of those the number in custody in (a) Her Majesty's prisons and (b) detention centres.
Mr. Renton : Immigration statistics do not record ethnic origins, but most of the 4,200 Turkish nationals currently seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are believed to be of Kurdish origin. Six Turkish asylum seekers, whose applications have been refused and who await removal, are currently detained, all in prisons.
41. Mr. Moss : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made towards securing greater efficiency and value for money by the police service in Cambridgeshire ; and if he will make a statement.
In pursuit of better value for money Cambridgeshire constabulary has undertaken, amongst other things, the following initiatives : the introduction of a comprehensive
Column 612performance review system ; reduction in the number of tiers of management and clarification of management responsibilities ; streamlining paperwork to reduce time spent by officers on administrative tasks ; the introduction of graded response to calls ; and civilianisation of police officer posts.
The chief constable has identified a number of other areas for further work to improve value for money, including transport and communications.
Mr. John Patten : Progress is good. Eleven local safer cities projects are now operating and five more should be in place by next January. Resulting action to reduce crime, and fear of crime, encompasses well-tried physical security and other more innovative measures. Examples are better fittings in homes of the elderly and in business premises ; improved lighting in car parks and streets ; personal safety classes ; and new activity for young people at risk of offending.
43. Mr. Key : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received following the publication on 24 July of the report of Her Majesty's chief inspector of prisons 1988.
Mr. John Patten : Our strategy for crime prevention applies to all parts of England and Wales. We have substantially increased police manpower and resources, set up Crime Concern to stimulate, support and develop local crime prevention activity, and have launched this month the third phase of our national crime prevention advertising campaign which will provide further advice for the public on how they can help to reduce crime. The Government encourage the growth and development of neighbourhood watch schemes and crime prevention panels and I am pleased to note that there are now 401 watch schemes in Bury, North compared to 259 this time last year. I know also that the Bury and district crime prevention panel has run successful campaigns against shoplifting and recently organised a major crime prevention exhibition.
45. Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the implementation of the new regulations relating to concessionary television licences ; and what representations he has received from local authorities on this matter.
Mr. Renton : By the end of August 1989 about 27,000 schemes had been reviewed under the May 1988 regulations, and some 804,500 people were covered by concessionary licences. Applications in respect of a further 10,000 schemes are being considered by the national TV licence records office and it is hoped that they will be dealt with by the end of the year. Since the change in the regulations, we have received 62 letters, 52 through hon. Members, from local authorities about aspects of the concessionary television licence scheme. I have also received two delegations from local authorities.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : My right hon. Friend last met the chief constable of Essex on 21 September when he opened the new police station at Colchester. They touched on a number of matters during the brief conversation which the occasion allowed.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information for 1988 is incomplete because for a proportion of the prisoners the outcome of court proceedings is not yet recorded. Final figures for 1987 and provisional figures for 1988 are given in tables 2.10 and 2.6 respectively of "Prison Statistics England and Wales 1988", published today, which is available in the Library.
Mr. Renton : I understand that the Broadcasting Standards Council has completed work on its code of practice on the portrayal of sex and violence in broadcast programmes and video works, and that it will be published along with the council's annual report on 1 November.
51. Mr. Wood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to implement the recommendations of the Audit Commission report on administrative support for police officers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Audit Commission recommendations in its report on administrative support for police officers contain valuable guidelines for improved value for money in the use of police resources. Responsibility for responding to the recommendations lies primarily with chief officers of police and local police authorities with the advice and encouragement of Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary. A survey carried out by the inspectorate last June showed that over 90 per cent. of forces had completed or were carrying out reviews of their administrative support services.
Mr. Renton : Excellent progress continues to be made. The number of applications currently outstanding is less than 40,000. As I indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) on 26 July at column 709, we expect to have taken decisions on all these applications by January 1990.
53. Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made towards securing greater efficiency and value for money by the police service in the London metropolitan area ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : A wide range of initiatives is being pursued to improve value for money in the Metropolitan police. They include a programme of civilianisation, which has released more than 360 officers for operational duties since April 1986 ; an annual programme of efficiency scrutinies with seven scrutinies completed to date ; the introduction of external inspections by Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary ; improvements in resource planning and central processes, including the development of output measures and performance indicators and targets, progressive delegation of budgets to areas and divisions and improvements in financial management information ; wide-ranging reviews by external consultants, including reviews of provisioning services and of building project management ; appointment of specialist procurement and accounting advisers ; and numerous other internal reviews. Further details on value for money activity may be found in the Commissioner's report for 1988 (Cm. 670).
56. Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police about proposals to create a national investigative bureau ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have not received any formal representations, but we welcome the views the Commissioner expressed in his speech to the Police Foundation on 6 July as being an important contribution to the debate on the organisation of policing to combat the challenge of serious crime. At this stage I believe that it would be premature to create an operational national unit to investigate serious crime, which would involve a substantial reorganisation of our present police force structures. Co- ordination of criminal intelligence is, however, essential. I am, therefore, asking the police service to consider how we might build on the excellent work of the regional crime squads, the national drugs intelligence unit and the national football intelligence unit to improve the collection and dissemination of criminal intelligence about all kinds of serious crime, perhaps by the creation of a national criminal intelligence unit.
62. Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many citizens of Hong Kong have been granted abode in the United Kingdom over the past five years for which figures are available.
Mr. Renton : The number of British dependent territory citizens from Hong Kong granted settlement in the United Kingdom in the years 1984 to 1988 is published in table 22 of the Home Office Command Paper "Control of Immigration : Statistics ; United Kingdom 1988" (Cm. 726), a copy of which is in the Library.
64. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress his Department has made on proposals that would lead to the removal of inefficient police officials ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice has been given to registrars in England in easing the formalities for the burial in England of persons who have died in Scotland.
Registrars are advised to obtain documentary evidence of the place and cause of death of persons who die in Scotland where it is intended that the burial or cremation take place in England or Wales.
The registrars general for England and Wales and for Scotland have recently agreed revised written instructions which will shortly be circulated to registrars in England and Wales, advising that the appropriate documentary evidence would include either a certified extract of an entry in a Scottish death register, or a letter from the procurator fiscal stating the place and cause of death. I understand that similar instructions are about to be issued to registrars in Scotland so that they can give advice on the documentary evidence required in England and Wales in such cases.
Mr. Gale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has considered, as recommended in the fifth report of the Home Affairs Select Committee (1987-88 session), the withdrawal of the British visitor's passport and the issue of the back page of the new United Kingdom passport as a voluntary identification document to facilitate travel within the European Community and to replace the growing number of cards now being issued by football clubs, public houses and other private establishments for the purposes of identification ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Renton : As explained in the Government's reply to the Committee's fifth report (Cm. 635), no decision about withdrawal or replacement of the British visitor's passport can be made until the main passport issuing system has been fully computerised and tested under a full workload.