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Asylum Seekers

26. Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the additional responsibilities local authorities will have to look after asylum seekers from 1 April. [112598]

Mrs. Roche: Local authorities will have no additional statutory responsibilities to look after asylum seekers from 1 April.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers were being housed in each of the London borough council authorities on 1 March. [113430]

Mrs. Roche: The latest available information is given in the table and shows the number of asylum seekers supported by each London Borough Council authority. All of those receiving support from these local authorities are also being accommodated.

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Number of asylum seekers being supported by each London Borough Council authority in the week ending 18 February 2000

BoroughTotal number of asylum seekersUnaccompanied minors(15)Single adults(16)Number of families(17)Number of people in families
Barking and Dagenham2,5401108305301,590
Corporation of London(18)170--902070
Hammersmith and Fulham(18)2,3401606504601,530
Kensington and Chelsea1,820110810280910
Tower Hamlets75010270140470
Waltham Forest2,270--1,1605001,110

(15) Unaccompanied children under 17

(16) A significant proportion of the single adults live in other areas of the country but the accommodation is organised by London local authority

(17) Families include cases with only dependant adults

(18) Updated figures not yet reported, figures taken from previous report

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Drugs and Crime

27. Mr. Khabra: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the links between the commission of crime and the illegal trade in hard drugs. [112599]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Research carried out for the Home Office has clearly established the link between drugs, particularly heroin and crack/cocaine, and crime. The Drug Testing of Arrestees research programme suggests that about one third of all property crime is committed in order to buy these drugs.

The Government are determined to break the link between drugs and crime. Initiatives in hand include piloting the Drug Treatment and Testing Order with a view to national roll-out later this year. £20 million is also being invested in a joint funding initiative with the police to speed up the development of arrest referral schemes. Proposals are also being developed to extend drug testing across the criminal justice system in order to identify drug misusing offenders, get them into treatment where appropriate and monitor their progress.


29. Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of efforts to reduce the backlog of outstanding immigration cases at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. [112601]

Mrs. Roche: New, streamlined procedures have been developed to speed up the consideration of all immigration (i.e. non-asylum) applications, and management changes introduced to maximise operational efficiency. Over 70 per cent. of new applications are now being decided under fast track procedures, most of them within a week. A dedicated team is tackling the backlog of general and settlement casework, at present concentrating on marriage cases.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications were made for UK nationality at the Immigration and Nationality Office in Croydon during 1999. [112580]

Mrs. Roche: All applications for British citizenship are dealt with by the Integrated Casework Directorate in Liverpool. The number of applications received during 1999 is estimated at 76,500.

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Police Numbers (West Mercia)

30. Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on police numbers in West Mercia. [112602]

Mr. Charles Clarke: At the end of September 1999, the West Mercia Constabulary had 1,979 police officers. Following the passage of the Police and Magistrates' Court Act 1994, the actual number of police officers at any one time is a matter for the Chief Constable to determine within the available resources.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced the allocation of additional police posts under the Crime Fighting Fund in a reply given to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Mr. Burgon) on 9 February 2000, Official Report, columns 172-74W. As a result, the West Mercia Police Authority will receive sufficient funding for 89 police posts over the next three years in addition to the planned recruitment over that period.

Political Asylum

31. Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are currently seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom. [112603]

Mrs. Roche: At the end of January 2000, there were 104,890 people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom whose applications remained undecided.

Crime Fighting (Derbyshire)

32. Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received following the recent allocation of funding to the Derbyshire Constabulary from the Crime Fighting Fund. [112604]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I have received no representations about the allocation of funding to Derbyshire Constabulary from the Crime Fighting Fund.

UK Visas

33. Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has determined the amounts of the financial bond to be applied in the experimental pilots for UK visas. [112605]

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Mrs. Roche: No. The amount of the bond was one of the issues on which comments were sought in the consultation paper issued last year. Responses to the consultation are currently being assessed.

Probation Service

34. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress in his plans for reforming the Probation Service. [112607]

Mr. Boateng: The Government plan to create a unified service for England and Wales, which will have a national headquarters and 42 local boards. Provision for the structural changes needed to achieve this will be included in the forthcoming Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill. We expect these changes to create a service which is better able to play its part in protecting the public and reducing re-offending. The new service will concentrate on enforcing community sentences so that they command public confidence, and will use offender programmes--the What Works programmes--which have a proven record in reducing re-offending behaviour. Work on improving enforcement and implementing What Works is already well under way.

Young Offenders

35. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to prevent re-offending by young people awaiting trial. [112608]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales is investing more than £18 million over three years from its development fund to strengthen the local provision of bail support and supervision schemes. From 1 April, local authorities, working in partnership with other agencies in youth offending teams, will be placed under a duty under section 38 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to ensure such provision is available.

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