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Republic of Ireland

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) contacts and (b) exchanges have been organised with relevant authorities in the Republic of Ireland at which issues of (a) racism and racist attacks, (b) immigration and (c) asylum seekers have been discussed; and what agreement was reached on further co-operation. [29250]

Angela Eagle: On the issues of racism and racist attacks, the Government have frequent informal contacts with European Union (EU) representatives, including the Republic of Ireland, at international fora such as the recent World Conference Against Racism. Information on racist incidents is one of the issues discussed at the European Union Terrorism working Group, which normally meets six times a year.

The Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate hold biennial bilateral meetings with the relevant authorities in the Republic of Ireland (Asylum, Immigration and Citizenship Division, Asylum Policy Division, Immigration Policy Division, Reception and Integration Agency) on issues of concern to both countries in relation to immigration and asylum. These are held for the purpose of exchanging experience and providing an update regarding recent and prospective developments.

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The United Kingdom immigration service holds regular operational meetings with the Republic of Ireland's Department of Justice and Garda Siochana (Irish police) in order to develop closer co-operation on asylum and immigration matters, including Common Travel area issues. The primary aims of the operational group are to enhance operational co-operations, improve the exchange of information on asylum seekers to prevent abuse, to deal more effectively with human smuggling and trafficking and to explore the scope for additional co-operation on the removal of failed asylum seekers to third countries via the United Kingdom.

In addition, the Irish Government have appointed a Garda liaison officer to the Irish Embassy in London who is tasked with taking forward cross border and intelligence liaison between the two countries in order to counter immigration trafficking.

Su Jin Park

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will investigate the handling by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at Croydon of mail sent by recorded delivery on 26 November by Su Jin Park. [29266]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 22 January 2002]: Su Jin Park's application was posted to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) Public Enquiry Office in Birmingham. They forwarded it to IND in Croydon on 28 November 2001. Of late, it has been taking up to eight weeks to consider new applications. The reasons for this are (i) the exceptionally high number of applications received in 2001; and (ii) process changes that are being introduced. I regret that it was not possible to decide Miss Park's application before her planned departure from the United Kingdom but am pleased that she was able to travel as a result of obtaining an emergency travel document from the Korean Embassy. Her passport will now be returned to the Embassy.

Sentenced Persons Transfer Convention

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the targets are for the efficient and effective operation of the Convention for the Transfer of Sentenced Persons; how these performance indicators were constructed; and how far the operation of procedures has matched these targets in each year since its coming into force. [29249]

Beverley Hughes: The Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons sets no targets for the consideration of applications for repatriation. Since January 2001, Her Majesty's Prison Service has set and applied the following targets to those parts of the process that lie within its control. These targets were constructed to take account of the need to obtain information from agencies outside the Prison Service in support of individual applications.

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During the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2001, the following targets were met: Applications from foreign nationals imprisoned in England and Wales, target (a) 58 per cent. and target (b) 91 per cent. Applications from British nationals imprisoned overseas, target (c) 67 per cent. and target (d) 100 per cent.

At-risk Prisoners

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what special arrangements the Prison service makes over the Christmas and new year period to (a) prevent suicides, (b) prevent self-harm and (c) increase observation of at-risk prisoners. [29525]

Beverley Hughes: The last two weeks of any year is a difficult time for most prisoners and particularly harrowing for those with suicidal thoughts. Staff are reminded of the enhanced dangers and to ensure that anti-suicide policies and procedures are firmly adhered to. There were four self-inflicted deaths in late 2001 but the overall total for the year was reduced by 11 per cent. for the second year running and the rate per 100,000 of average daily population was the lowest since 1993.

Prisons go to great lengths at Christmas and the new year to make establishments as pleasant and relaxed as possible in the prison environment. Specific arrangements will vary between prisons depending on local circumstances and available staffing levels, for example, allowing all prisoners one call on Christmas day to contact their family.

Lost/stolen Property

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list those items valued at more than £50 which have been stolen or lost from his Department in each of the last four years. [27991]

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Angela Eagle: A list of items stolen or lost from the Home Department in the last four years and approximate value of each item stolen is provided in the following tables.

Analysis of the items of reported theft 1997–98

DescriptionValue (£)
Laptop computer6,000
Laptop computer3,000
Laptop computer3,000
Laptop computer3,000
Laptop computer3,000
Laptop computer2,000
Laptop computer2,000
Laptop computer1,500
Laptop computer1,500
Personal computer1,550
Personal computer1,005
Personal computer434
Computer printer1,593
Computer printer329
Computer monitor500
Computer mother board150
Fax modem130
Mobile phone118
Video camera1,500
Video camera800
Field gates240
Pressure washer3,317
Armoured cable200
Total value of 26 cases of theft37,797

Analysis of cases of reported theft 1998–99

DescriptionValue (£)
VCR taken from classroom—HMP98
Missing video recorded and four blank videos HMP106
Theft of laptop containing inmate records during course— HMP69
Loss of computer discs and equipment—HMP800
Loss of computer discs from Education Department— HMP992
Break-in at FSS outstation3,150
Missing IT equipment—HMP33,773
Theft of various computer items after break-in at Salford—DPASNot known
Handheld computer stolen from car—HMP400
Theft of laptops from storeroom—HMP20,421
Theft of hired video recorder—HMP80
Theft of Camcorder—HMP399
Total value of 12 Cases of theft60,288

Analysis of cases of reported theft 1999–2000

DescriptionValue (£)
Computer keyboard stolen from office in QAG80
Theft of computer equipment from Grenadier House16,500
Quest House—theft of 25 PCs, servers and equipment110,000
Quest House—theft of components from Sun Server74,000
Total value of four cases of theft200,580

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Analysis of 25 cases of reported theft 2000–01

DescriptionValue (£)
Theft of seven laptops31,000
Theft of IT equipment100
Theft of two Home Office computers from ICL premises6,000
Theft of computer parts4,000
Laptop and projector stolen on Away Day8,000
Video player stolen from locked room100
Theft of modem linking franking machine to supplier180
Eternet card discovered to be missing from laptop PC80
Laptop stolen in house burglary1,200
HMPS—Laptop computer unlocatable1,000
HMPS—Laptop computer taken from locked cabinet229
HMPS—Theft of pressure washer125
HMPS—Dictation machine gone missing377
HMPS—Theft of laptop computer (mugging)2,000
HMPS—Bicycle stolen from outside prisoner's place of work89
HMPS—A Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet printer stolen1,085
HMPS—Theft of laptop, printer and mobile phone73
HMPS—Theft of two Video Cassettes128
HMPS—Theft of Industrial Hoover200
HMPS—Prison Service employee house burgled—Computer and printer stolen2,650
HMPS—Prison Service issue laptop stolen from boot of car1,000
HMPS—Training and Development Unit burgled5,000
HMPS—Theft of portable generator340
HMFSI—Disappearance of four laptops from locked room9,000
Total value of 24 cases of theft73,956

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