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Foot and Mouth

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department where and when police marksmen were involved in culling animals during the foot and mouth outbreak. [41214]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 7 March 2002]: I regret these figures are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The responsibility

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for culling animals lay with veterinary officers and licensed slaughterers under the control of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reports have been compiled by police forces on police involvement in measures to tackle foot and mouth disease. [41215]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 7 March 2002]: Following a national police debrief of the foot and mouth crisis, Suffolk constabulary circulated a report to all forces concerning the difficulties faced by the service during the crisis and making recommendations for improvements. The chief constable of Suffolk has made the document available to me and I am placing a copy in the Library.

Asylum Centre (Edinburgh)

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to build an asylum seekers' centre near Edinburgh; what time scale he is working to; and when he advised (a) official bodies and (b) local residents of his plans. [39672]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 1 March 2002]: The Air West Edinburgh (formerly Royal Air Force (RAF) Turnhouse) site is one of eight potential sites presently under consideration for the building of trial accommodation centres for asylum seekers. My noble Friend Lord Rooker wrote to the Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell, formally informing him of the site on 21 January 2002. My noble Friend has also met the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (John Barrett) who, together with the planning authority, was advised shortly afterwards. The Home Office interest in the site was then made public. A meeting between Home Office officials and the Edinburgh city council planning department took place on 6 February 2002.

Preferred locations will be decided upon in the next few months and the Home Office intends to consult widely within the constraints of the planning process, time and departmental resources. This will include public consultations.

Yarl's Wood

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have (1) been admitted to Yarl's Wood Detention Centre since it opened; and of these how many at the time of entry (a) had removal directions set, (b) had removal directions pending, (c) had appeals pending and (d) were awaiting initial decisions; [38655]

Angela Eagle: Internal management information, which has not been quality-assured, records that there were 385 individuals held at Yarl's Wood on 14 February 2002. In addition, 764 individuals have passed through the centre since it opened last November. Of those who have passed through the centre, 416 were removed from the United Kingdom and 16 were granted bail. The

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remaining 332 were given temporary admission, moved to Oakington Reception Centre or transferred to other removal centres.

Information about the stage reached in the asylum process by each of the 1,149 detainees who had either passed through Yarl's Wood or who were at Yarl's Wood on 14 February 2002 is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by an examination of individual case files.

Criminal Justice and Police Act

Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the monitoring systems he has put in place to evaluate the effectiveness of section 71 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001; [39807]

Mr. Denham: Section 71 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 came into force on 1 October 2001. Since 1 October, the police have been able to arrest suspected kerb crawlers and hit and run drivers and take them into custody for questioning rather than having to summons them to appear at a magistrates court.

I am informed by the Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit that the Metropolitan police have made 221 arrests for the offence of kerb crawling since the implementation of the new power on 1 October 2001.

As the new powers have only been in force for five months, we have not as yet set up any monitoring systems to assess their effectiveness. However, we intend to write to chief officers of police in the autumn to obtain a picture over a 12-month period of how many arrests there have been, how effective the new arrest powers are and whether any practical difficulties have been experienced.

Prison Population

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the projected change in the prison population is over the next (a) 12 months, (b) two years, and (c) five years; for what reasons the prison population is expected to change over these periods; and if he will make a statement. [37741]

Beverley Hughes: Prison population projections are produced every six months; information from the latest projection (November 2001) is provided.

Central population projectionHigher population projection
12 months69,26471,785
2 years72,61576,068
5 years77,92284,501

The main determining factors in the size of the prison population are the numbers of offenders being sentenced at the courts, the proportions given custody, and the average lengths of sentences received. The projections make assumptions about future trends in court sentencing behaviour, based on observed trends in these three areas. The total number of persons sentenced for indictable

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offences has remained stable over the last eight quarters. Custody rates (the proportion of those sentenced at court who are given immediate custody) have increased for adult males and females, and have decreased for male young offenders. Average sentence lengths have remained stable for adult males, and have increased for young males, and also for females.

The projections take into account the average year on year changes over the last four quarters for which information is available. Three scenarios, based on different possible sentencing trends at the courts, are used to project forward the prison population. These scenarios apply to prisoners sentenced to four years or less. Prisoners with sentences of four years or greater are assumed to increase in line with the long-term trends. Males are expected to increase by 70 prisoners per month, and females by 20 per month.

As well as assumptions about court sentencing behaviour, the projections also take into account known changes in legislation and policy. That is, where the proposals are law, that relevant legislation has been enacted, and there is an agreed timetable for implementation. Various changes can act to increase or reduce the prison population. On 1 March 2002 the population had exceeded the higher projection for six weeks. The reasons for this are as yet unclear.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the number of airguns handed in during gun amnesties in the UK; [38250]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: This information is not collected centrally.

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Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to investigate the charges private wheel-clamping companies levy for unclamping cars; [38103]

Mr. Denham: Currently there are no regulations relating to clamping on private roads. However, last year the Government introduced the Private Security Industry Act 2001, in part because of concerns about the unscrupulous behaviour of some clamping companies. The Act specifies the creation of a Security Industry Authority. The authority, which will regulate the industry through licensing, will begin operations in 2003; it will have wheel-clamping as one of its priority areas.

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