Previous Section Index Home Page

Industrial Action

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many days have been lost owing to industrial action by staff in his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies in each of the last four years. [36176]

Angela Eagle: No days were lost to industrial action in the Home Office and its agencies during 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Bogus Callers

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his Department will organise a national campaign to alert people, especially the elderly, to the dangers of bogus callers to their homes; and if he will make a statement. [36291]

Mr. Denham: Bogus caller crime is nasty and pernicious because it is targeted at the most vulnerable in our community—the elderly. In April 2000 the Home Department launched a campaign, the National Distraction Burglary Task Force, in partnership with utility companies, voluntary groups, local authorities and the police. So far, Good Practice Guides and Toolkits have been produced. Campaigns are now under way in all regions across England and Wales to alert older people and their families to the problem. The Task Force also raises awareness among workers who call at older people's homes. The advice being given to older people is to remember the doorstep etiquette "Stop, Chain, Check", and not let anyone whom they do not know into their homes without a prearranged appointment. I believe that the work of the Task Force is an excellent example of central and local government co-operating with the private and voluntary sectors to combat crime.

Car Theft

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue guidance to prevent police forces charging victims of car theft the cost of garaging their vehicles while forensic tests are carried out; and if he will make a statement. [36241]

26 Feb 2002 : Column 1238W

Mr. Denham: The police have a power under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to remove a vehicle that has been left or parked illegally, obstructively or dangerously, or that has been abandoned or broken down. This may include vehicles that have been stolen. Where a vehicle is so removed, the police have a power to require the owner to meet the costs associated with that removal and subsequent storage. The police do not charge for the storage of vehicles that they retain as evidence or for forensic examination.

Removal and storage costs have to be met, but we are very sympathetic to the sense of injustice that a person may feel in having to meet these costs in order to recover his or her vehicle after it has been stolen. We are considering whether there are any changes to the current position that might be both possible and appropriate, taking into account all the relevant considerations.


Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter dated 19 December 2001 from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding his constituent Mr. N. Koudreiko of Fraserburgh. [36059]

Angela Eagle: My right hon. and noble Friend Lord Rooker wrote to the hon. Member on 12 February 2002. I am sorry for the delay in replying.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase powers of courts to issue custodial sentences for (a) mobile phone theft, (b) car-jacking and (c) possession of drugs with intent to supply. [34777]

Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 8 February 2002]: The courts already have very extensive sentencing powers to deal with this kind of offending. The circumstances of the offence will determine whether a person stealing a mobile phone is convicted of theft or robbery. The latter is the more serious offence because it necessarily involves force or the threat of force. The maximum penalty for theft is seven years imprisonment and the maximum penalty for robbery is life imprisonment. Car-jacking is charged as robbery. Moreover, section 109 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 provides for an automatic life sentence for a second serious sexual or violent offence. The offence of robbery is a qualifying offence under section 109.

Similarly, extensive sentencing powers are available in order to provide public protection in respect of supply of drugs. The maximum penalty for possessing class A drugs with the intent to supply is life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for possessing class B drugs with intent to supply is 14 years and the maximum penalty for possessing class C drugs with intent to supply is five years imprisonment. Section 110 of the Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years for a third class A drug trafficking offence.

The Government share public concern about the increasing prevalence of mobile phone robbery and car-jacking and about the continuing threats posed by

26 Feb 2002 : Column 1239W

drug offending. We need to protect the public from the harm that this kind of offending can inflict upon our communities. It is important that the courts treat these offences with the seriousness they deserve.

We are committed to making sense of sentencing. We need a new sentencing framework which will do more to support crime reduction and reparation, while meeting the needs of punishment, through the introduction of more flexible sentencing options such as a new generic community sentence and a new suspended sentence. We need to be better able to exploit the developing opportunities to work with offenders to reduce re-offending and in the new approaches to restorative justice and reparation.

Immigration Detainees

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were held, by venue, under immigration law, at the latest available date. [36629]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 25 February 2002]: The latest available information on the number of persons detained under Immigration Act powers by place of detention relates to 30 September 2001 and is given in the table.

Place of detention(47) Immigration Act detainees as at 30 September 2001(48)
Oakington Reception Centre 195
Immigration detention centres
Tinsley House125
Campsfield House80
Dover Harbour20
Manchester Airport10
Dedicated Immigration Service wings
Prison establishments
Holme House45
High Down45
Wormwood Scrubs30
The Verne15
The Mount10
Other prison establishments(49)150

(47) Figures rounded to the nearest five, and exclude persons detained in police cells.

(48) Figures include 260 persons detained in prison establishments under dual immigration and other powers.

(49) Other prison establishments with five or fewer detainees.

The temporary use of spaces in a number of local prisons ended in mid-January 2002, as did the use of the accommodation at Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Rochester.

26 Feb 2002 : Column 1240W

Information on Immigration Act detainees as at 29 December 2001 will be published on 28 February 2002 on the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at immigration1.html.

Family Visitor Appeals

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was (a) the gross and (b) the net income for (i) oral and (ii) paper appeals during the first year of operation of family visitor appeals; and what were the administrative costs of the scheme. [32997]

Angela Eagle: The figures requested by my hon. Friend are as follows:


Net incomeGross income


Net figures exclude refund payments made by the Home Office.

The Joint Entry Clearance Unit estimate Foreign and Commonwealth Office costs for the scheme as a whole at about £1.4 million in the first year, including set-up costs. The Lord Chancellor's Department spent £883,000 on the administration of appeals in the six months April to September 2001. Home Office administrative costs for the first year reached around £4,200.

Police Expenditure (East Sussex)

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the per capita expenditure on police in East Sussex was in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001; and what the national average was in those years. [34089]

Mr. Denham: Figures are not available separately for East Sussex. The gross cost per capita for Sussex in 1997–98 was £117.8 and in 2001–02 it is estimated at £132.5. The gross cost on an average per capita basis in England and Wales was £138.4 in 1997–98 and estimated at £165.5 in 2001–02.

Next Section Index Home Page