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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his Department's predicted two-year reconviction rate for offenders serving community sentences is in each year from 2001 to 2004, inclusive. 
Mr. Boateng: Predicted two-year reconviction rates used in the measurement of Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets are not statistical forecasts, but are adjustments made once actual reconviction rates are known which make allowances for variations in the age, sex, offence and previous criminal history profile of persons commencing community sentences. These factors are known to be associated with the risk of reoffending. The purpose of the "predicted" rate is to ensure that comparisons between the reconviction rate when an improvement target was set and the reconviction rate when improvement is measured are meaningful.
The predicted rates will also take account of external factors associated with other PSA targets, which impact on reconviction, but not on the underlying rate of reoffending. The external factors include reduced delays in achieving a conviction (PSA target 8) and the increased proportion of recorded crimes where the offender is brought to justice (PSA target 6).
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he plans to take to meet his target of a 3 per cent. annual reduction in the number of offences involving firearms. 
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Mr. Charles Clarke: The police and other law enforcement agencies are working to combat the illegal possession and criminal use of firearms and the Government are fully committed to supporting them in this task and in carrying out their general operational responsibilities. The United Kingdom has strict laws governing the possession and use of firearms and the penalties for contraventions are high. Among measures which are currently being taken to tackle gun crime are:
It is important that action to reduce the number of offences involving firearms which represents about 0.1 per cent. of all offences, is not taken in isolation from other criminal activities which may encourage the possession of guns, such as the drugs trade.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many charges of racial discrimination have been made by staff of the Commission for Racial Equality against the commission itself in each of the last three years; and how many of these were settled before reaching the employment tribunal. 
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many drivers have been prosecuted for not having proper control of their vehicle while driving and holding a mobile phone in the Greater London area in each of the last three years. 
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There is no separate offence of driving a vehicle using a mobile telephone, and any prosecution is likely to be for driving without due care and attention, for which there were 9,900 prosecutions in the Metropolitan Police Area (including City of London) in 1999 with 11,000 in 1998 and 12,300 in 1997. Data for 2000 are not yet available.
It is also possible for such drivers to be prosecuted or issued with a fixed penalty for not being in proper control of a vehicle (Regulation 104 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986), but such cases cannot be separately identified in the statistics collected centrally.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many appointments he has made since May 1997 in accordance with the Nolan criteria; how many appointees were aged over 60 years at the time of appointment; and how many declared a political affiliation for (a) the Conservative party, (b) the Labour party and (c) the Liberal Democrats. 
Mr. Straw: Since May 1997, I have made a total of 440 appointments and reappointments to Home Office public bodies falling within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Eighty nine of these appointees were aged over 60 years at the time of appointment. Five appointees declared a political affiliation for the Conservative party, 16 for the Labour party and none for the Liberal Democrats.
The Government are committed to equality of opportunity and to increasing the diversity of those appointed to public bodies. Political affiliation was not a criterion for any of the above appointments.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The definition of what amounts to a racially aggravated offence is contained in section 28 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 in relation to the nine racially aggravated offences listed in sections 29 to 32 of that Act. Where race is concerned, the definition relating to the aggravating factor in sentencing, for all other offences, is contained in section 153 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. I believe these to be practical and enforceable definitions.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to consult the residents of Worcestershire before offering advice to Her Majesty the Queen on the name for the new hospital currently under construction in Worcester. 
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Mr. Charles Clarke: Recorded crime statistics include statistics on drugs offences, but do not record whether other offences are related to offenders' drug habits. The percentage of drugs offences in overall recorded crime in Lancashire in the last five financial years for which figures are available is given in the table. It should be noted that there was a change in counting rules on 1 April 1998 which increased the drugs offences counted. Before this date, only drugs trafficking was counted, whereas after this date possession and other offences were also counted. The change in counting rules also affected the general counting of offences, including other expansions of the offences counted, and so the percentages of drugs offences counted before and after 1 April 1998 will not be directly comparable.
|Year ending March||Recorded drugs offences as a percentage of all recorded crime in Lancashire|
Both the British Crime Survey and the new England and Wales Arrestees Drug Abuse Monitoring (NEW- ADAM) programme of interviewing and drug testing arrestees shed some light on the links between drugs and crime, although these conclusions do not relate specifically to Lancashire.
The second report on the NEW-ADAM programme of interviewing and drug testing arrestees was published in August 2000 (Home Office Research Study 205, Drugs and Crime: The results of the second developmental stage of the NEW-ADAM programme). The research, undertaken by the University of Cambridge at four sites (London, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sunderland), found that 69 per cent. of arrestees tested positively for at least one drug, excluding alcohol.
It should be remembered that because an arrestee tested positive for drugs or a victim believed that a perpetrator was under the influence of drugs it does not necessarily mean that the consumption of drugs caused the crime to be committed. As a result, while the NEW-ADAM study and the British Crime Survey advance our knowledge of the links between drugs and crime, it will always be difficult to calculate a single percentage figure calculating precisely what proportion of crime is drug-related.
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