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Senator Pinochet

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many police officers have been involved in the protection of Senator Pinochet since October 1998; [113513]

Mr. Straw: The information requested cannot be provided for security reasons. The number of officers deployed to protect Senator Pinochet by the Surrey police and the Metropolitan police are operational issues for the appropriate chief officer of police.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the costs to public funds of Government participation in legal activity relating to General Pinochet (a) to date and (b) in total; and if he will break this information down by the principal heads of expenditure. [113529]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Lord Bassam, on 2 March 2000, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA87.

Local Government Elections (Freepost Mailings)

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the Government's policy regarding freepost mailings at local government elections; and if he will make a statement. [112457]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 1 March 2000]: Under current legislation, there is no provision for freepost mailing at local government elections because of the considerable financial burden which would have to be borne by local authorities, and the lack of evidence that such schemes would contribute to improved democracy at local level.

We are now seeking two changes to this position. First, in view of the exceptional size of the electorate, we intend to provide special arrangements for the first election of the Mayor of London to allow the compilation of a single booklet of election addresses for mayoral candidates to a standard format. This will be distributed to all London electors at taxpayers' expense. For future elections, we propose that there should be an Order making power to allow the Greater London Authority to organise and pay

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for mailings (or other ways of informing the public about candidates). Any such scheme would be developed in consultation with the proposed Electoral Commission.

Secondly, we are providing the opportunity for local authorities to pilot, at their own expense, a freepost mailing scheme.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers were living in the Greater London area on 1 February. [113085]

Mrs. Roche: This information is not held centrally.

Harmondsworth Detention Centre

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) deaths and (b) injuries have occurred in Harmondsworth Detention Centre in the last 12 months. [113007]

Mrs. Roche: Between the period 1 March 1999 and 29 February 2000, there was one death at the Harmondsworth Detention Centre. This occurred on 24 January when a 49-year-old Lithuanian national was found hanged. A date for the Coroner's inquest is awaited.

During this same period, there were a total of 10 incidents involving injuries to detainees. These included six incidents where detainees sustained injury by self harm, and one incident involving detainees fighting which led to a detainee being injured. On three occasions, an accident in the Centre resulted in injury to a detainee.

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what review of health and safety procedures in Harmondsworth Detention Centre has been undertaken following the recent death of an asylum seeker in the centre. [113006]

Mrs. Roche: Following this tragic incident, immediate steps were taken to further reduce the number of possible ligatures points within the Harmondsworth Detention Centre. An investigation into the death of the detainee has been completed and a copy of the report has been sent to the Coroner. The Immigration Service is examining in detail all those recommendations that refer to health and safety procedures.

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the provision of an on-call Samaritan service to detainees in Harmondsworth Detention Centre. [113004]

Mrs. Roche: Within the Harmondsworth Detention Centre there are notices, translated into a number of languages, detailing the services of the Samaritans. Information on contacting them is also provided in a brochure given to each detainee upon arrival at the Centre. Any detainee unable to make a telephone call to them is advised to speak to a member of staff who will allow the use of an official telephone for such calls.

A representative of the Samaritans visits the Centre once a month.

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Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines are provided to staff at Harmondsworth Detention Centre about monitoring detainees with suicidal tendencies. [113003]

Mrs. Roche: All detainees who are considered to be at risk of committing suicide are interviewed by staff on their arrival at the Centre to identify their immediate needs. A Suicide Prevention Committee, chaired by the Centre Manager, monitors potential suicide risks and considers what steps can be taken to minimise the risk of such an event.

Within the Centre, those detainees who are considered to be at high risk of suicide are placed on a constant watch and may be confined to a small area where their behaviour can be closely monitored. Where the risk of suicide is lower the detainee is monitored every 15 minutes. It is recognised that the Harmondsworth Detention Centre is not a suitable location for those detainees displaying serious suicidal tendencies and arrangements are made to transfer such detainees to more suitable locations.

Suicide awareness training has been provided by a member of the Samaritans who is also the Chairman of the Harmondsworth Visiting Committee.

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department has taken in response to the annual report of the Harmondsworth Detention Centre's Visiting Committee in relation to the care of asylum seekers with depression and suicidal tendencies. [113005]

Mrs. Roche: The Immigration Service commissioned an assessment to enable a better understanding of the health needs of immigration detainees to be achieved. This was completed by Dr. Geraint Thomas, the medical practitioner at Tinsley House, and incorporated a general overview of the medical requirements, mental health and morbidity of male and female detainees and families. This was completed in April 1999 and distributed to medical health staff at Harmondsworth. The provision of nursing services at Harmondsworth Detention Centre was also extended to 12 hours each day.

Ticket Touting

Mr. Pendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to implement the provisions contained in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to make ticket touting an offence at all major sporting events. [112958]

Mr. Charles Clarke: This matter is kept under close review and representatives of other sports are periodically consulted. Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 currently makes it an offence for an unauthorised person to sell, or offer or expose for sale, a ticket for a designated football match. The law applies to football because the risk of disorder associated with that sport is increased if ground segregation is undermined by the sale of unauthorised tickets. There is no evidence to suggest that other sports are currently experiencing significant crowd safety and security problems as a result of ticket touting.

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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if all police divisions in the UK have in place a computer system to exchange information with each division on paedophiles. [112915]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Police National Computer (PNC) is the premier national information system available to police officers in all United Kingdom forces, and will increasingly become available to other Criminal Justice agencies. Data on all sex offenders are held on the PNC which is accessible to police officers in all forces.

In addition, the Sex Offenders Act 1997 requires offenders cautioned or convicted of certain sexual offences, including certain sexual offences against children, to notify the local police of their name, address and any changes, as well as their date of birth within 14 days of caution/conviction or change of address.

Police Pension Scheme

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many officers in each police force in England have opted out of the Police Pension Scheme. [112962]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Police Pension Scheme is administered locally by individual police authorities. The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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