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Communities Act 2000

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list those (a) businesses,

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(b) individuals and (c) organisations he (i) has consulted and (ii) plans to consult over Communities Act 2000/c124/01, of OJ C124, vol. 43, 3 May 2000. [128104]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Prior to the adoption by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 23 March 2000 of the document, "The Prevention and Control of Organised Crime: A European Strategy for the Beginning of the New Millennium", it was cleared by the European Communities Committee of the House of Lords on 14 March and the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons on 15 March. Throughout negotiations on the document, we regularly consulted Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, the National Criminal Intelligence Service the National Crime Squad and the Association of Chief Police Officers. There are no plans for further consultations.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy concerning the extension of the (a) competetencies and (b) resources of Europol; and if it is his policy that Europol should have the authority to ask member states to initiate investigations (i) singly and (ii) co-jointly on its behalf. [128107]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The European Council, in its special meeting at Tampere on 15-16 October 1999, invited the Council of the European Union to extend the competence of Europol to money laundering in general, regardless of the type of offence from which the laundered proceeds originate. A draft amendment to the Europol Convention which would give effect to the Tampere proposal is currently under consideration by member states. We support the purposes of the amendment which would enable Europol to provide member states with more effective support in fighting money laundering which is at the heart of much organised crime. We take the view, in negotiating the budget for Europol, that it must demonstrate that it is using its resources efficiently and cost effectively in discharging its mandate. Any proposed increase to Europol's budget is subjected to detailed scrutiny, including by the United Kingdom's representative on the Europol Management Board.

The European Council at Tampere also attached importance to allowing Europol to ask member states to initiate, conduct or co-ordinate investigations, each involving a single member state, or joint investigation teams involving two or more member states, while respecting national systems of judicial control. A draft recommendation reflecting this Tampere conclusion is also under consideration by the member states. We support the purposes of the recommendation on the basis that any participation by Europol in investigations or joint investigation teams would, as also envisaged at Tampere, be in a support capacity.

EU Court Judgments

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on discussions at EU level concerning the recognition of court judgments passed in one member state being automatically recognised in other member states. [128137]

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Mr. Charles Clarke: The Tampere European Council strongly endorsed the concept of mutual recognition of judicial decisions, and asked the Council and Commission to adopt a programme of measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition, by the end of this year.

The possible contents of the programme of measures have been discussed in the European Union's Article 36 Committee and in other European Union working groups in the third pillar, on the basis of the United Kingdom's proposals. The European Commission has also held consultations on enforcement of foreign sentences. The incoming French Presidency is preparing to table a draft of the programme very shortly. A copy of this document will be deposited for Scrutiny. The programme is likely to include mutual recognition of decisions concerning the freezing of assets, arrest for purposes of extradition and execution of fines, imprisonment and other sentences imposed in another member state.

The Government intend to support further work on this issue, based on the conclusions of the Tampere European Council.

European Police College

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the planned activities of the European Police College; how many and what types of police it will cater for; and what its overall purpose is. [128109]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government are committed to the establishment of a European Police College Network to encourage greater co-ordination and sharing of good practice between European States. We have contributed fully to discussions on the role and organisation of such a network. I refer the hon. Member to the draft Council decision which we have recently submitted for Parliamentary scrutiny. This provides details on the specific functions and responsibilities the Network is proposing to undertake.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy towards Eurojust. [128257]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 23 March 2000, Official Report, columns 682-83W.

Global Cultural Diversity Congress

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the fee was for attendance at the proposed Global Cultural Diversity Congress; and if Ministers were exempted. [128116]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I understand from the Gurbux Singh Report that various categories of delegate attendance fees were set by Global Cultural Diversity Congress (GCDC) 2000 Ltd. and that the suggested standard delegate fee was £595. All decisions about who to exempt from fees were for GCDC 2000 Ltd.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which Ministers had planned (a) to attend and (b) to contribute to the Global Cultural Diversity Congress. [128115]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Invitations to attend and contribute to the congress were a matter for Global Cultural Diversity Congress 2000 Ltd.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was proposing to Chair a Think Tank at the Congress and I had agreed to chair a panel debate.


Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in respect of the last 12 months for which information is available, what proportion of persons appearing before (a) magistrates courts and (b) Crown courts had no previous convictions. [128023]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Information on previous convictions for persons appearing before magistrates courts or the Crown court is not available centrally. However, previous conviction data are available for persons who appeared and were subsequently convicted.

Based on a sample of over 38,000 persons convicted of a standard list offence during 1998, 40 per cent. of persons convicted at magistrates courts and 32 per cent. of persons convicted at the Crown court had no previous convictions.

Police Recruitment

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will extend the principle of London weighting to Hampshire to help police authorities recruit officers in areas of high property prices. [128160]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Police Act 1996 provides that the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) shall make recommendations to the Home Secretary on matters including the pay and allowances of police officers, which include London Allowance and London Weighting. The Home Secretary shall take into consideration any such recommendation before making regulations.

A Working Party of the PNB is meeting on 11 July to discuss the impact on other forces of the increase in London Allowance which will take effect from 1 July.

Police (Colchester)

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the established strength was of the Colchester Division of the Essex police force; and what was the actual number in post at (a) May 1995, (b) May 1996, (c) May 1997, (d) May 1998, (e) May 1999 and (f) May 2000. [128141]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Chief Constable of Essex is only able to provide figures for 1997 onwards and these are set out in the table.

Colchester division budgeted strength and actual strength 1997-2000

As at 31 MayBudgeted strength(22)Actual strength(22)

(22) Full-time equivalents

The reduction in the budgeted strength of the Colchester Division since 1997 is a consequence of the

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force's civilianisation programme, the transfer of some posts from Divisional strength to Headquarters strength, although the officers concerned remained based in Colchester, and the formation on 1 April 2000 of Major Investigation Teams. The changes are intended to make Essex police more efficient, effective, responsive to demands and to enable better targeting of resources on crime reduction.

The Colchester Division receives additional policing support from centrally provided road policing, dogs section, air support and Crime Division officers. The number of specialist department officers deployed in Colchester will vary according to demands for their services in Colchester and elsewhere in the Essex police.

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