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Firearms Homicides

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information the recent survey of firearms homicide obtained on (a) the type of firearm used and (b) the type of homicide; and if he will make a statement. [7125]

Miss Widdecombe: The following table gives the information requested:

Firearms homicide--circumstances of offence by type of firearm, England and Wales 1992-94

Circumstances of homicideHandgunsShotgunsOther (and weapon type not known)Total
Organised crime, drugs related, contract killing etc4015459
Domestic1541460
Robbery or gain85215
Arguments, jealousy, revenge610-16
Other (and not known)10142246
Total798532196

Rwanda (Arms Sales)

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if the Isle of Man is subject to the UN embargo on the sale of arms of Rwanda; [7436]

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Mr. Sackville: The Isle of Man is subject to the United Nations embargo on the sale of arms to Rwanda. An Order in Council--SI 1994-1637--was made on 24 June 1994 which applied this embargo to all persons within the United Kingdom and to any person elsewhere who was a British citizen or a body incorporated under United Kingdom law. Most residents in the three crown dependencies are British citizens and are covered by this order, as are companies incorporated in any of the islands if they are operating from within the United Kingdom.

Orders in Council, which will have the effect of extending the embargo to companies incorporated in the islands and operating from outside the United Kingdom and to foreign nationals in the islands, will be made later this month. An inter-departmental committee has been set up to examine the procedures within Government in relation to the trafficking in arms, and to determine whether there has been a gap in controls and, if so, what action needs to be taken.

Criminal Records

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which statutory provisions govern the length of time criminal records are retained by the police; and what plans he has to define retention criteria on the basis of those outlined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. [7550]

Mr. Maclean: There are no statutory provisions which govern the length of time criminal records are retained by the police. To ensure compliance with the data protection principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1984, the Association of Chief Police Officers--ACPO--issued a code of practice for police computer systems which includes guidelines on the removal of criminal record data when they are no longer required.

There are no plans to define the retention criteria on the basis of the rehabilitation periods set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

The police hold criminal record information for various purposes, including crime prevention and detection and in order to supply antecedent information to the courts. Conviction information retains its value for these purposes for much longer then the rehabilitation periods set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the items of personal data from the Phoenix system which would be disclosed (a) to data subjects via subject access and (b) to applicants on a criminal record certificate under the Data Protection Act 1984. [7551]

Mr. Maclean: Under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1984 individuals have the right, providing considerations of crime prevention do not arise, to see what information is held about them on Phoenix, the criminal records database on the police national computer. Subject to these considerations, data disclosed from Phoenix for subject access purposes would include name, address, sex, age, physical description, prosecution and conviction history, cautions, aliases, and modus operandi.

Criminal record certificates are not currently available. Under proposals being taken forward in the Police Bill, three types of certificate would be issued for employment

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and related purposes. In relation to the Phoenix database, criminal conviction certificates would show details of convictions which are "unspent" under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974; criminal record certificates and enhanced certificates, which would be available only for occupations and offices which are exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, would show details of convictions and cautions.

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what percentage of the population under the age of 35 years have a criminal record; and what proportion of these are male; [7548]

Mr. Maclean: Information available centrally on the percentage of the population with a criminal record relates to conviction for standard list offences only. Standard list offences include all indictable offences--including those triable either way--plus the more serious summary offences.

Results from criminal histories of a sample of offenders born in 1953 indicate that 21 per cent. of the population born in that year were convicted of at least one standard list offence before the age of 35. Of these, 82 per cent. were male. This analysis also indicates that 0.4 per cent. of the population born in 1953 had a conviction by age 35 that will never be spent.

Police Paperwork

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average number of forms which the police have to complete in order to prosecute a young offender. [7440]

Mr. Maclean: In the event of a guilty plea being entered, the police are required to complete an average of six forms in order to prosecute a young offender. In the event of a not guilty plea being entered, the police would be required to complete an average of 12 forms. Additional forms may be needed in complex cases.

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average number of forms which the police must complete to prosecute and adult offender. [7442]

Mr. Maclean: In the event of a guilty plea being entered, the police are required to complete an average of five forms in order to prosecute an adult offender. In the event of a not guilty plea being entered, the police would be required to complete an average of ten forms. Additional forms may be needed in complex cases.

"On the Record"

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to paragraph 44 of his Department's paper, "On the Record," Cm 3308, if he will list the steps he proposes to take to prevent enforced subject access; what legislative proposals he has to deal with this matter; and if he will make a statement. [7552]

Mr. Maclean: The new criminal conviction certificates proposed in the White Paper, "On the Record", will provide employers and others with a legitimate means of

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obtaining information about criminal convictions which are unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. There would be no justification for the practice of enforced subject access once these are introduced. Should the practice continue after their introduction we shall consider what action should be taken to discourage or prevent it.

Prosecutions

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prosecutions of adult offenders were started in each of the last five years; [7443]

Mr. Maclean: The complexities of the criminal justice system and the constraints on resources in collating and processing data necessarily limit the amount of information collected routinely, and so only the final outcome of proceedings at magistrates' courts is collected centrally.

Information on the number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts by age group is published in the Command Paper, "Criminal Statistics England and Wales 1995"--latest available. Table 6.1 refers.

Copies of the publication are available in the Library.

Surrendered Guns

Miss Emma Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what sums in compensation have been paid to owners of weapons voluntarily surrendered since the Hungerford killings under specific agreements made with the police; and what Government payments are outstanding in respect of claims for compensation. [7742]

Miss Widdecombe: There have been two Government schemes since 1987 where people have received payments in exchange for surrendering weapons which became prohibited under the firearms legislation. A total of £620,000 was paid in relation to claims following the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988. A total of £42,000 was paid in relation to claims following the Firearms (Amendment) Regulations 1992. The Department has considered all claims made under these schemes and advised claimants of the outcome. Offers have been made to all claimants entitled to receive compensation.


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