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Police Headgear

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers concerning the adequacy of the traditional policeman's helmet as protective headgear. [103175]

Mr. Charles Clarke: A Home Office Minister met a representative of the Association of Chief Police Officers' Uniform Project Group in October 1998. That project has been looking at the design of the police uniform, including headgear, to ensure that it is fit for purpose and affords adequate protection to the officer. The Police Scientific Development Branch of the Home Office is involved in this continuing work.

Income Tax (Guernsey) Law 1975

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy on the (a) repeal and (b) amendment of section 201 of the Income Tax (Guernsey) Law 1975; and what representations he has received from the States of Guernsey on the repeal and amendment of the section. [103137]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I understand that the Guernsey authorities do not at present propose to repeal or amend section 201 of the Income Tax (Guernsey) Law 1975. I have received no representations on the matter from the States of Guernsey.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the (a) repeal and (b) amendment of section 201 of the Income Tax (Guernsey) Law 1975. [103136]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My officials have had correspondence and discussions with Guernsey officials about this matter.

Case Outcomes

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for each of the years 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998, what percentage of defendants appearing before magistrates' courts were found guilty, having pleaded not guilty. [101943]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 13 December 1999]: The Home Office Court Proceedings Database does not contain details of defendant plea in the magistrates' courts.

However, I understand from the Attorney-General's Office that, in respect of proceedings handled by the Crown Prosecution Service, the proportion of convictions in contested hearings was as follows:

Percentage
199577.3
199675.7
199774.4
199873.7

Convictions following guilty pleas fell within this period because an increasing number of cases were proved in absence of the defendant rather than proceeding to a contested hearing. Proofs in absence rose from 92,251 in 1995 to 114,133 in 1998, an increase of 23.7 per cent.


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Sayyad Boland

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date exceptional leave to remain was withdrawn, and when he expects a final decision to be taken, in the case of Sayyad Ali Ghamety Boland. [102775]

Mrs. Roche: Our detailed records relating to individual overseas nationals are confidential and not particularly disclosable. A final decision has now been taken and the applicant will be informed shortly.

Paedophiles

Mr. Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the last available 12 months for which figures are available, what percentage of the victims of convicted paedophiles in England and Wales were infant girls. [103384]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information is not held on the Home Office Court Proceedings Database.

Gaming

Mr. Ernie Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 8 December 1999, Official Report, column 534W, on Gaming, if he will make a statement on the composition of the Independent Review Body he intends to establish to review and advise on the law on gaming. [103867]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The members of the review body will bring a wide range of relevant expertise to bear, including business, law, accountancy, psychology and law enforcement. I shall announce the names of the Chairman and members as soon as possible.

Mothers and Infants (Prisons)

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the action plan in response to the review on mothers and babies and children in prison. [104125]

Mr. Boateng: The Prison Service announced earlier this year that it would publish an action plan setting out how it intended to respond to the 62 recommendations made in the 'Report of a Review of Principles, Policies and Procedures on Mothers and Babies/Children in Prison'. This has now been completed and I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library.

I am pleased to say that the Service has accepted the majority of the recommendations in full. This will mean new procedures governing admission to the units and published standards for their management. More importantly, the Director General has reinforced his acceptance that the overriding principle guiding the provision and allocation of places in mother and baby units should be in the best interests of the child.

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I am grateful to the members of the working group who prepared the report, particularly those from outside the Service. Their expertise, and the commitment from the Prison Service to implement the recommendations will help ensure that the needs of children and mothers in custody are met.

Sex and Drugs Markets

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish his Department's research on sex and drug markets. [104126]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office Policing and Reducing Crime Unit (PRCU) commissioned researchers at South Bank University to examine the links between sex and drug markets. The report "Street Business: the links between sex and drug markets" (Police Research Series No. 118) is published today and a copy has been placed in the Library.

The report findings will be considered carefully by the Government. However, the report is not a statement of Home Office policy or intention in this area.

Metropolitan Police (C3i) Project

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if bidders for the Metropolitan Police Command, Control, Communications and Information (C3i) project will be reimbursed their bid costs if the project is terminated. [104127]

Mr. Straw: With my agreement, the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District is prepared to reimburse the C3i bidders some of their bid costs solely in the event of cancellation by the Metropolitan Police Authority resulting from a change in policy following transition to the Metropolitan Police Authority. The bidders will be expected to continue to bear the normal commercial risks and costs associated with failing to secure a contract.

Sex Offenders

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many sex offenders have registered under the Sex Offenders Act 1997 to date; and if he will make a statement. [104128]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There are now over 10,000 sex offenders registered in England and Wales. This represents a compliance rate of 97 per cent. This compliance rate refers to the number of offenders who have registered their names and addresses with the police. There has been a steady improvement in compliance rates for registration from around 70 per cent. when the Act first came into force in September 1997. This is due to a large extent to the active approach adopted by the police in enforcing the registration system and following up those who have failed to register. The police are working with the Home Office to look at how compliance rates can be improved further.

Neighbourhood Warden Schemes

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the current operation and effectiveness of neighbourhood warden schemes; and if he will make a statement. [103648]

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Mr. Charles Clarke: The report of the Policy Action Team on Neighbourhood Wardens will be published in the New Year. My foreword to this report will outline in full the Government's response to its recommendations, including those relating to the current operation and effectiveness of neighbourhood warden schemes.

Family Court Welfare Officers

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance is given to family court welfare officers; and if he will make a statement. [103245]

Mr. Boateng: Family Court Welfare officers are expected to comply with the National Standards for Probation Service Family Court Welfare work, published in 1994. The Standards, which set out basic standards of good practice, are issued in consultation with the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Department of Health and the Wales Office. Probation Services should ensure that local procedures are instituted to monitor whether the standards are being achieved. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation inspect service performance against the standards.

Court welfare officers must ensure that their work is free from improper discrimination on any ground; chapter one of the standards includes guidance on equal opportunities.

In addition, an induction manual produced by the Association of Chief Officers of Probation is given to members of staff on appointment as family court officers and is supported by a National Induction programme and two training resource packs, one of which includes an anti-discriminatory trigger training video.

A copy of the National Standards has been placed in the Library of the House.


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