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Dangerous Driving

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce a vehicle homicide charge, with sentence, for those who cause death by dangerous driving whilst having no insurance, MOT or driving licence and are consistently driving offenders; and if he will make a statement.[56270]

Beverley Hughes: The current offence of gross negligence manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, is appropriate where the driving in question falls so far below the required standard that it amounts to criminal negligence and applies irrespective of the drivers insurance, MOT or licence status. The law of manslaughter is currently under review. Our current proposals for reforming the law are detailed in the consultation paper "Reforming the law on Involuntary Manslaughter: the Government's Proposals" (a copy of which is available in the Library). The proposals do not include the introduction of a specific vehicular manslaughter offence.

If the offender's driving falls far below the required standard but not so far as to support gross negligence manslaughter, the appropriate charge could be causing death by dangerous driving. The maximum penalty

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available for this offence is currently 10 years' imprisonment. This penalty is under consideration as part of the Government's Review Of Road Traffic Penalties.

As part of the sentencing framework reform, building on the recommendations of the report "Making Punishments Work" published in July 2001, we are looking at ensuring that those who commit offences of violence that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, such as motor manslaughter, will receive that sentence if the court takes the view that they present significant risks of further serious harm to the public.

Racially Motivated Crimes

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the incidence of racially motivated crimes (a) per 1,000 population and (b) in total were in each police authority area in Wales and England in each year since 1997. [56272]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is given in the attached table. Information on the number of racist incidents for all police force areas is published annually in the Home Office publication under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice system. Comparisons between the number of racist incidents and resident population may be misleading since this does not adequately describe those people likely to be at risk of being the victim of a racist incident in an area.

Racist incidents for all police force areas 1996–97 to 1999–2000

Police Force Area1996–97 Total1996–97 Per 1000 Population1997–98 Total1997–98 Per 1000 Population1998–99 Total1998–99 Per 1000 Population1999–2000 Total1999–2000 Per 1000 Population
Avon & Somerset3100.234090.316260.478870.67
Devon & Cornwall820.06900.061160.085380.39
Greater Manchester5950.276240.2811970.542,3241.04
London, City of101.8561.11285.195510.19
Metropolitan Police5,6210.835,8620.8711,0501.6423,3463.46
North Yorkshire430.03410.03640.05960.08
South Yorkshire1690.152130.192930.265570.49
Thames Valley2330.132790.154860.269990.54
West Mercia640.06570.06830.084640.46
West Midlands7250.326320.289880.441,5480.68
West Yorkshire6230.346440.3510680.582,1181.15
North Wales40.01120.02360.06800.14
South Wales3570.333670.347340.681,6021.47
England & Wales13,1510.2913,8780.3023,0490.5048,0161.04

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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of shoplifting there were in Lancashire in each year since 1997. [56179]

Mr. Denham: The number of crimes of theft from a shop is recorded by the police in Lancashire since 1997 are given in table.

Recorded thefts from a shop in Lancashire

YearNumber of offences

(34) Calendar year

(35) Year ending March

There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998. Numbers of recorded crimes before and after this date may not be directly comparable. The 2000–01 figure for Lancashire may have been affected by new recording practices introduced by the force in April 2000.

Police Radio System

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the compatibility of the radio system used by police officers in Lancashire with the one used by the Greater Manchester police force; and what plans he has to improve the systems. [56994]

Mr. Denham: As the Air wave service is rolled out across the United Kingdom, its features will be enhanced by a series of software upgrades. In mid 2003, a software upgrade will provide the potential for full national compatibility.

In Lancashire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police, an interim arrangement has been put in place. Where appropriate, their radios are being programmed to enable officers to communicate with either force control room. The situation will be further eased by a software upgrade which will take place in September, 2002.

Football Violence

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions have taken place following the acts of violence committed by Millwall supporters following the club's Division One play-off match against Birmingham; [57162] (2) what further plans he has to combat football hooliganism; [57163]

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(3) what recent discussions have taken place between the Government, football authorities and clubs to help eradicate hooliganism. [57164]

Mr. Denham: Government, police and football authorities have worked closely together to make our football stadia among the safest and most secure in the world and to marginalise hooliganism. It has never been claimed that the phenomenon has been eradicated and it is evident that certain clubs continue to attract a disproportionate number of potential troublemakers. Tough legislation is in place for dealing with miscreants and, prior to next season, Government will be hosting discussions with key policing and football agencies to identify what further action is required.

Asylum Accommodation Centres

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what minimum accommodation and other requirements he sets for each asylum accommodation centre; [57449] (2) what criteria he set for locating asylum accommodation centres. [57450]

Angela Eagle: The criteria for site selection included; sites with the capacity to cater for several hundred residents plus facilities either as new-build or conversion, a non-urban location and a reasonable geographical spread beyond London and Kent. We are seeking to build around four centres of 750 people each to a total capacity of 3,000, although one of the centres may be smaller during the trial period.

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