11 Nov 1997 : Column: 459

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 11 November 1997

HOME DEPARTMENT

Ibrahim Sey

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken following the unlawful killing verdict at the inquest of Ibrahim Sey; and if he will make a statement. [14481]

Mr. Michael: An inquest jury concluded that Mr. Sey's death was by unlawful killing. The cause of the death was found to be postural asphyxia and excited delirium. Concern about the use of CS gas has been expressed in press reports, and Counsel for Mr. Sey's family expressed concern about the possible role of CS but no evidence was submitted to show that CS contributed to Mr. Sey's death. There is nothing in the Coroner's comments to attribute Mr. Sey's death to the use of CS. The Coroner recommended changes to training, and that all police forces should review the use of CS sprays.

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that the Metropolitan Police have taken note of and reviewed the Coroner's recommendations and responded positively and immediately to them. This includes issuing clear instructions on how to deal with postural asphyxia and acute exhaustive mania in the near future.

After considering the implications, including the safety of the public and his officers, the Commissioner has decided that it is appropriate for CS spray to be issued to all Metropolitan Police officers. The use of CS spray will be carefully monitored by the Metropolitan Police.

In view of the large number of officers involved in the incident, the Metropolitan Police are considering to whom the verdict applies. This is complicated by the fact that it is not the role of an inquest to apportion blame to individuals. The Metropolitan Police have removed ten police officers from operational duty until their individual positions can be established.

Correspondence

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Walsall, North will receive a reply to his letter of 4 June (Ref. 5345038). [15351]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I sent an interim reply to my hon. Friend on 25 June and a final reply on 10 November.

Casinos

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the regulation of advertising by the casino industry. [14917]

Mr. George Howarth: Under section 42 of the Gaming Act 1968, casinos may not advertise their location or facilities.

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We are considering the proposals for partial relaxation of the ban on advertising set out in the November 1996 consultation paper "Second Consultation on Casino Deregulation". We will announce the outcome of our consideration in due course.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the expansion of the casino industry into other geographical areas in the United Kingdom. [14918]

Mr. George Howarth: Regulations made under the Gaming Act 1968 confine the licensing of casinos to 53 permitted areas in Great Britain; 116 casinos were operating there on 31 March 1997.

The previous Government consulted on proposals to designate additional permitted areas. We are considering whether new permitted areas are desirable in principle. We will make our conclusions known in due course.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement concerning the level of trade union organisation in the casino industry. [14916]

Mr. George Howarth: The Government have no separate figures on trade union organisation or membership in the casino industry.

Exports Initiative

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the decision was taken to end the Home Office Exports Initiative; and when it will be terminated. [14960]

Mr. Michael: The decision to end the Home Office Exports Initiative was taken in July. It was terminated at the end of October.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of companies which will be affected by the decision to terminate the Home Office Exports Initiative. [14961]

Mr. Michael: During the period of the Exports Initiative, it is estimated that the Home Office Exports Promoter had dealings with some 80 companies, including those who participated in trade events sponsored by the Initiative. These companies, together with others in the policing and security sector, will continue to have access to the full range of overseas trade services of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the savings which will be made by abolishing the Home Office Exports Initiative. [14963]

Mr. Michael: The initiative had an annual budget of £100,000; approximately £40,000 of this will be saved in the current financial year.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has made for a scheme to replace the Home Office Exports Initiative. [14962]

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Mr. Michael: The trade associations and companies in the policing and security sector will continue to have access to the full range of overseas trade services of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is considering what specific additional support for exporting may be provided for this sector.

Burglar Alarms

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the costs of false burglar alarm call-outs for each police force in England and Wales in each of the past three years. [14829]

Mr. Michael: The information requested is not collected centrally. I understand that last year the Association of Chief Police Officers introduced a policy to reduce false alarms by 10 per cent. per year over four years. In 1996-97, false calls fell by 12.2 per cent. and the target is likely to be met again in 1997-98.

Data Protection

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a list of the responses to the consultation paper, "Data Protection: the Government's Proposals." [14834]

Mr. George Howarth: I have placed the list in the Library.

Gaming Act 1968

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the proposal in the report of the Gaming Board for 1996-97 that there is a need for substantial reform of the Gaming Act 1968. [14915]

Mr. George Howarth: We are carefully considering this. The Government will make their intentions known in due course.

Metropolitan Police (Equal Opportunities)

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the staffing complement of the P2 branch of the Metropolitan Police service's equal opportunities unit; and if he will make a statement on its current level of staffing. [15024]

Mr. Michael: The Commissioner informs me that there are five staff allocated to the Equal Opportunities Unit in the Metropolitan Police, P2 branch. I am told that the Unit is not carrying any vacancies and that the current level of staffing is considered appropriate to the work of the branch.

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The Unit has some administrative responsibilities and advises senior managers and personnel managers in the Metropolitan Police on matters concerning equal opportunities and fairness relating both to police and civil staff. I am told that the Unit does not itself investigate cases. Investigations are carried out by the Complaints Investigation Bureau or Area Complaints Investigation Branches.

The responsibility for ensuring equality of opportunity through the Metropolitan Police rests with all members of the Service.

Post-release Support Services

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 28 July, Official Report, columns 3-4, if he will review the provision of post-release support services for long sentence prisoners whose convictions have been overturned by the Court of Appeal. [13088]

Ms Quin [holding answer 6 November 1997]: The support services to which my hon. Friend the Minister of State referred in his reply to a question from my hon. Friend on 28 July, Official Report, columns 3-4, are national and local voluntary organisations which provide help to prisoners on release. It is for those organisations, which are independent from government, to decide what services they are able to offer.

As my hon. Friend also mentioned, probation services are able to help with resettlement problems experienced by released prisoners. Since those who have had their convictions overturned would be free of any ties with the criminal justice system and its agencies, there is no statutory obligation for probation services to provide assistance to people in these circumstances. However, probation services can, and do, provide help on a voluntary basis. Again, it would be for the service concerned to decide what help it is able to offer in the particular circumstances. The Government currently have no plans to introduce any legislative requirements to compel probation services, or any other organisation, to provide support services to prisoners whose convictions have been overturned.


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