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Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review (1) the immigration status of Abu Hamza; and if he will make a statement; [7533]

Angela Eagle: The police are well aware of the statements made by these individuals in recent weeks and are monitoring the situation and are considering whether any offences have been committed.

Race Hate Legislation

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce proposals to amend race hate laws to include an offence of incitement of race hatred outside the UK through statements made inside the UK; and if he will make a statement. [7529]

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Angela Eagle: The Government intend to bring forward proposals to amend the law on incitement to racial hatred, as my hon. Friend suggests, to remove the existing limitation in the law which means that only hatred directed at a group of persons in Great Britain is covered by the offences.

The Government have also announced their intention to propose this change as part of a package of measures to strengthen the incitement to racial hatred provisions contained in Part III of the Public Order Act 1986 and in particular to extend those provisions to the incitement to religious hatred.

National Asylum Support Service

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the efficiency and accountability of the National Asylum Support Service. [7416]

Angela Eagle: The efficiency of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) in delivering its operations is kept under review by its senior management who report to Ministers as necessary. The reviews of the voucher and dispersal schemes have also involved looking at the way NASS operates and whether this can be improved.

As a part of the Home Office, NASS is accountable to Ministers for what it does. It also is open to scrutiny by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee.

Police Force Boundaries

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the advantages and disadvantages of the introduction of a police force based on local authority district boundaries. [6079]

Mr. Denham: We have no present plans for the alteration of police areas.

Forces based on local authority districts would be unable economically to provide the full range of police services and the capacity to respond to major incidents.

Unauthorised Encampments

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the law on unauthorised encampments. [7149]

Mr. Denham: The police already have powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct travellers or other trespassers to leave land when the appropriate statutory requirements are met. These are discretionary powers and it is the operational responsibility of the chief officer of the force concerned to decide when and how to enforce these powers. The effectiveness of this legislation is kept under regular review.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review guidance to police forces about the enforcement of public order legislation on travellers' camps. [7156]

Mr. Denham: The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) provides operational guidance to police forces on

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powers to direct travellers or other trespassers to leave land when the appropriate statutory requirements are met. This guidance is kept under regular review.

Research has been conducted to review the effectiveness of the current Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)/Home Office Good Practice Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping. I understand that the DTLR will be publishing a summary of the findings shortly, in the week commencing 29 October.

Long Lartin Prison

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for further development at Long Lartin prison; and if he will make a statement. [6610]

Beverley Hughes: A major refurbishment of older prisoner accommodation at the prison will begin early next year. This programme of work is due for completion in late 2003. Long Lartin has recently been granted Department of Health funding to allow a small unit to be constructed within the prison to cater for the mental health needs of prisoners. Funding has also been provided to allow Long Lartin to designate a small number of cells in the segregation unit for monitoring and support of prisoners who have refused to co-operate with the Close Supervision Centre system for disruptive prisoners.

Youth Justice Board Review 2000–01

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost was of publication and circulation of the Youth Justice Board Review 2000–01; and to whom the document was circulated. [6521]

Beverley Hughes: The publication costs of the Youth Justice Board's Annual Review 2000–01 were £26,785 with circulation costs of £4,856.28. Copies were distributed to youth offending teams; senior officers in social services, police, probation, education and health; magistrates and the courts; the juvenile secure estate, Members of Parliament and Ministers.

Miscarriages of Justice (Compensation)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent changes have been made to the method of calculation of compensation to be awarded to victims of miscarriages of justice; if he will place a document setting out the Independent Assessor's approach in the Library; what measures he will take to ensure that victims may benefit proportionately from these changes; and how many people are awaiting settlement of compensation claims. [7081]

Mr. Keith Bradley: In calculating the amount of compensation to be awarded to victims of miscarriages of justice, the independent assessor applies principles analogous to those governing the assessment of damages for civil wrongs. He must, therefore, give effect to any developments which may occur in the law and have regard to such judicial authority as there may be at the time of making an assessment. To that extent, the background against which he has to assess compensation

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is changing all the time. There has recently been a change of assessor (Lord Daniel Brennan succeeded Sir David Calcutt with effect from 27 July) but that does not mean that there has been a change in how compensation is calculated because, whoever is the assessor, the same principles will be applied.

The basis on which compensation is assessed is made clear in statute (section 133(4A) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988); in the Home office "Compensation for Miscarriages of Justice—Note for Successful Applicants" (copies of which have already been placed in the Library); and in individual Assessments.

As at 20 September 2001 there were 112 cases where a decision had been made to pay compensation but for a variety of reasons the claim had yet to be settled. These range from the many cases where successful applicants have yet to submit the details of their claims to the few where a final assessment has been made but not yet accepted.

Strip Searches (Holloway)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what method the number of strip searches is recorded at HMP Holloway; how many searches carried out in (a) the last year and (b) each of the previous five years; and what items of (i) contraband and (ii) other confiscated items have been recorded in each year. [7080]

Beverley Hughes: The available information on the number of searches is set out in the table. Prisoners are required to undergo strip searches in a number of circumstances, including whenever they pass through reception on their way into or out of prison establishments; prior to providing a sample of urine for a mandatory drugs test (MDT); and in connection with routine and targeted strip searches. A percentage of prisoners are strip searched before and after visits, and prisoners may also be strip searched at any time when it is believed that they may be concealing unauthorised articles. Prisoners in the Health Care Centre and Detox Units at Holloway prison may also be strip searched if staff believe they may be concealing articles which could be used to harm themselves or others.

In my written answer on 3 July 2001, Official Report, column 99W, to my hon. Friend, I referred to the consideration being given to upgrading the prisoner database to provide statistical recording and monitoring of strip searches. That work is still continuing. In the meantime, the position at Holloway is that a register is maintained of strip searches associated with visits. A separate register is maintained of prisoners undergoing MDT. Cell searches are recorded on the appropriate form. However, while movement through reception will be recorded against the individual prisoner's record on the Local Inmate Database System, there is no requirement to record strip searches conducted in reception.

It is not possible to identify the unauthorised articles for every find, but the principal finds at Holloway have been of drugs and tablets, tobacco, jewellery, telephone cards, cash, confectionery and unauthorised correspondence. In 1998 and 2000, there were also instances of weapons being discovered in searches prior to MDT.

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Number of strip searches undertaken

19971998199920002001(35)
Visits31542520112126
Cell searches(36)(36)(36)(37)1,034505
Segregation unit(36)(37)1,326(37)1,200(37)1,334(37)823
MDT(36)805740646458
Reception(37)18,000(37)18,000(37)18,000(37)18,000(37)18,000

(35) to 29 September

(36) not available

(37) approximately



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