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Mr. John Patten : My right hon. and learned Friend is considering very carefully the further material which has been presented to him by a solicitor on behalf of the Birmingham Six, and will decide as soon as possible whether it justifies any intervention on his part.
65. Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the West Midlands police officers who were involved in the Birmingham pub bombings case and who have subsequently been (a) gaoled, (b) dismissed, (c) transferred to non-operational duties and (d) severely reprimanded.
93. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the West Midlands police officers who were involved in the Birmingham pub bombings case and who have subsequently been (a) gaoled, (b) dismissed, (c) transferred to non-operational duties and (d) severely reprimanded.
Column 864bombings case and who have subsequently been (a) gaoled, (b) dismissed, (c) transferred to non-operational duties and (d) severely reprimanded.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : None of the police officers who were involved in interviewing those convicted of the Birmingham pub bombing have subsequently been imprisoned, dismissed from the force or reprimanded. Four of the officers concerned have been transferred to non-operational duties. In the absence of any evidence at this stage that these officers have acted improperly it would be wrong to name them.
Mr. Mellor : On 30 September 1989, the latest date for which figures are available, a total of 329 inmates in the prison system in England and Wales were reported by prison medical officers to be mentally disordered as defined by the Mental Health Act 1983.
100. Mr. Hayward : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current prison population ; what it was one year ago ; and what projections he has made for the prison population over the next five years.
126. Mr. Janman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current project prison population ; what it was one year ago ; and what projections he has made for the prison population over the next five years.
Mr. Mellor : The prison population in England and Wales on 12 January 1990 was 46,504. The corresponding figure for 13 January 1989 was 48,736, including those held in police cells. The figures are an estimated 1,500 lower than would otherwise be the case due to the usual seasonal fall in the population over Christmas and the new year. Projections of the prison population are published annually in spring, in a Home office statistical bulletin "Projections of long term trends in the prison population" (the latest was issue 11/89, dated 6 April 1989). A revised projection taking account of changes in the prison population in the first half of 1989 and the anticipated effects of further measures to divert offenders from custody agreed in current public expenditure plans is as follows :
Projected prison population, England and Wales |Numbers ------------------------ 1990-91 |51,600 1991-92 |53,000 1992-93 |54,600 1993-94 |56,400 1994-95 |58,200
15. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what factors governed the time taken to produce the figures covering the number of people in the Metropolitan police district prosecuted in 1988 for begging under section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 ; when he plans to make the 1989 figures available ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John Patten : The Home Office collects returns from all police forces covering each defendant appearing in court for a criminal offence. Information for 1989 will not be available until autumn 1990. The Home Office is examining whether information could be provided directly from the courts, so reducing delays.
Mr. Mellor : We are considering the results of the further study of the cost-effectiveness of private sector involvement in the remand system which my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd) announced in his statement to the House on 1 March 1989. We hope to be able to announce a decision soon.
96. Mr. Gale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the latest figures for numbers of remand prisoners held in police cells ; and what were the comparable figures six months and one year ago.
Mr. Mellor : Yesterday, there were no remand prisoners held in police cells in England and Wales. Comparable figures for 21 July 1989 and 20 January 1989 were 192 and 277 prisoners respectively, most of whom were on remand.
Mr. John Patten : Our aim is to reduce both the number of people remanded in custody and the time taken to deal with cases. Bail information schemes are now operating in 42 courts and widespread expansion is planned. These schemes enable the probation service to provide Crown prosecutors with better information on defendants, to help
Column 866prosecutors decide whether they need to oppose bail. Resources have been provided for the provision of a further 500 places in bail hostels over the next three years.
Custody time limits, first introduced on a limited basis in 1987, are now in operation in most of England and Wales. We intend to extend their operation to the remaining areas--London and eight counties in the south- east--later this year.
Delays in the court system are also being tackled. In the magistrates courts, magistrates and clerks have been urged to concentrate on reducing delays and a new management information system is being introduced. My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor, has taken steps to tackle delays in the Crown court through improved management and the provision of more resources including additional judges and new court rooms. Separate initiatives are in hand on committals procedure and the development of mode of trial guidelines for magistrates, with a view to reducing the numbers committed for trial and accelerating the procedure.
18. Mr. Aitken : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is planning to reduce the numerical strength and resources of the security service in the light of political developments in eastern Europe.
19. Dame Janet Fookes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of seizures of cocaine, in the most recent years for which figures are available, was of cocaine entering the United Kingdom from member states of the European Community.
29. Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of seizures of cocaine, in the most recent years for which figures are available, was of cocaine entering the United Kingodm from member states of the European Community.
Mr. Mellor : Provisional figures for 1989 indicate that, of a total of 402 seizures (424 kg) of cocaine by Customs, 27 per cent. by numbers of seizures (62.8 per cent. by weight) were known to have been consigned from or routed through other member states of the European Community. This includes one seizure of 153 kg which originated in Ecuador and arrived at Southampton via Le Havre. The origin of a further 20 per cent. approximately, of the total number of seizures of cocaine by Customs was not known or not recorded. These figures may be compared with 1988 figures showing that fewer than 5 per cent. by number (1.5 per cent. by weight) of cocaine seizures by Customs were known to have originated from or arrived in the United Kingdom via other EC countries. (The figures exclude seizures of cocaine made by the police, for which the country of origin is not generally known.)
Column 867114. Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the percentage increase in the number of cases reported over the last year involving the drug crack.
21. Mr. Rathbone : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what amount of illegal drugs coming from outside the European Community have been seized during the last 12 months for which statistics are available ; and what was the figure in the previous 12-month period.
Mr. Mellor : At present only provisional figures are available for seizures of controlled drugs made by Customs in 1989. Figures for seizures of heroin, cocaine and cannabis coming from outside the European Community in 1989 are, provisionally, 247 kg of heroin, as against 218 kg in 1988 ; 158 kg of cocaine, as against 178 kg in 1988 ; and 25,750 kg of cannabis, as against 34,973 kg in 1988. Comparable figures for police seizures are unavailable since the country of origin is not generally known or recorded.
Mr. Mellor : As I stated in my reply to a question from the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) on 7 December, subject to Parliament's approval of the Supply Estimates, up to £2.3 million is being made available in 1990-91 for the drug prevention initiative which was announced on 11 October 1989.
39. Mr. Irvine : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures police forces are taking in conjunction with local education authorities to warn pupils of the dangers of drug taking.
Mr. Mellor : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Paice) on 5 December at column 176. Since then, Home Office circular 99/1989 has been issued to the police offering ideas on the way forward on police-schools liaison.
89. Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many seizures of illicit drugs have been made by police and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise from 1989 to date ; and what is the estimated value of drugs seized.
Column 868these would have had an equivalent street value of some £250 million. The provisional figures for January 1990 to date are 262 seizures with an estimated street value of £151,000. Comprehensive figures are not yet available for police seizures in 1989 or 1990 ; the latest information is for 1988 when police made 32,947 seizures and Customs 5,288 seizures of controlled drugs.
Mr. Mellor : The world ministerial summit to reduce the demand for drugs and to combat the cocaine threat, which will be held in London from 9 to 11 April, is being organised by Her Majesty's Government in association with the United Nations. Invitations are being extended to the member states of the United Nations, specialised agencies and related organisations, non-member observer states and
intergovernmental and other organisations having standing invitations to participate in the sessions and work of the General Assembly as observers. The indications are that most countries will accept the invitation to participate in the work of the conference.
32. Dr. Goodson-Wicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of special constables now attached to police forces in England and Wales ; and what steps he will take to encourage chief constables to recruit more, particularly amongst ethnic minority communities.
23. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of letters from hon. Members to his Department are answered within one month ; and what plans he has to speed up this rate.
Mr. Waddington : During the final quarter of 1989 about 50 per cent. of letters from hon. Members to the Home Office were answered within one month of their receipt. The underlying trend over recent years has been one of steady improvement in our performance and we hope that hon. Members will see further improvements in our service, not least by their taking increased advantage of the scheme for writing direct to the immigration and nationality department with their more routine inquiries in
Column 869that area and also by writing direct to local managers about other matters handled away from the centre, where they do not require their letters to be answered personally by Ministers.
24. Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice or instructions his Department is giving to clerks of magistrates in respect of the expected change in work load following the introduction of the community charge.
25. Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were fined under the Litter Act 1983 in 1989 ; and what proportion of these received the maximum sentence of £400.
Mr. John Patten : Information for 1989 will not be available until autumn 1990. In 1988, a total of 1,560 people were fined under the Litter Act 1983, of which two (0.1 per cent.) received the maximum fine of £400.
27. Mr. Waller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many safe cities schemes are now established; how many local initiatives prepared by safer cities teams have now been approved ; and in what categories they fall.
60. Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many safer cities schemes are now established; how many local initiatives prepared by safer cities teams have now been approved; and in what categories they fall.
Mr. John Patten : Fifteen projects are now operating and one more should be in place next month. Two hundred and sixty grants, totalling over £1.8 million, have now been agreed to support local crime prevention initiatives. The initiatives cover a wide range of activities which come within four broad categories--physical security improvements; activities for young people; changes in local services to take account of the need to prevent crime; and educational and development opportunities for individuals and communities.
Mr. John Patten : We have no plans at present to introduce legislation to regulate the activities of the private security industry. However, in the light of the report of a Home Office working group, we have asked officials to consider the scope for improving the self-regulation of the industry.
52. Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from the chief constable of the Northumbria police on the need for regulation of the private security guard industry.
30. Mr. Knowles : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the electronic monitoring pilot scheme in Nottingham revealed any technical faults in the equipment used ; and whether he will be conducting further trials.
Mr. John Patten : Minor faults in the electronic monitoring equipment used in Nottingham have occurred on 13 occasions, but the trial has shown clearly that the basic technology performs satisfactorily. As indicated in my reply to a question from my hon. Friend on 10 January, we plan to conduct a further trial of electronic monitoring on a larger scale later this year.
31. Mr. Turner : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of the now-disbanded West Midlands police serious crime squad have now been charged with criminal offences ; and in respect of how many former members charges are being considered.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The investigation led by Mr. Donald Shaw into the West Midlands police serious crime squad is still at an early stage. No consideration has yet been given to whether or not to institute criminal proceedings against any officer. In November last year criminal proceedings were instituted against four former members of the serious
Column 871crime squad, on charges of perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. These proceedings followed a separate inquiry by the police.
It would not be appropriate to give details of cases under consideration by the Crown prosecution service which may or may not result in prosecutions of former members of the serious crime squad.
106. Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of the inquiry by West Yorkshire police, under the auspices of the Police Complaints Authority, into the West Midlands police serious crime squad.
Mr. McFall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the progress of the inquiry by West Yorkshire police, under the auspices of the Police Complaints Authority, into the now-disbanded West Midlands police serious crime squad.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand that the investigation team, led by Mr. Shaw, assistant chief constable of the West Yorkshire police force, is in the process of examining the files relating to all the arrests made by the squad since 1986, and has begun to investigate individual complaints made against officers of the squad. The report of each investigation will be submitted to the Police Complaints Authority and the chief constable of West Midlands as it is completed, and it will be some time before all cases have been examined.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Considerable progress has been made. In order to ensure privacy and comfort for victims it is now normal for the police either to provide special rape examination suites or to utilise facilities in hospitals or doctors' surgeries. Much greater emphasis is being placed on sympathetic and informal treatment of victims, with officers receiving both general awareness training on rape and more specialised training if they are to be directly involved in the investigation of offences.
37. Mr. Forman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the results of his Department's consultation on the possible introduction of single double summer time.
127. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with whom the responsibility for determining the summer time arrangement in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe from 1993 onwards will lie.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The start and end dates for summer time for 1993 onwards in all member states of the European Community will be determined by negotiation within the EC and ultimately by the Council of Ministers as has been the case since 1981. It is for the United Kingdom alone to determine which time zone it wishes to adopt throughout the year.
38. Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) spouses and (b) children were awaiting entry clearance as at 30 November 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.