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European Border Management

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the first drafts of the European Commission Communication on European Border Management will be released. [57919]

Beverley Hughes: The communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament towards integrated management of the external borders of the member states of the European Union was deposited for parliamentary scrutiny on 17 May 2002. The communication proposes the following action in the short and medium term:

The Government are supportive of closer co-operation between national border authorities of the European Union, which we believe is one of the ways to tackle the criminal networks responsible for human trafficking and illegal immigration. We are also keen to discuss practical ways of strengthening the European Union's external borders, in line with our frontiers protocol. We welcome the fact that the commission is responding to calls from member states for action in this area.

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The Government will provide Parliament with detailed views on this document in its explanatory memorandum, which was submitted on the 29 May.

Conviction Rates

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress towards meeting the Government's pledge to bring 100,000 more criminals to justice. [56386]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 23 May 2002]: In the year ending March 2000, 1.1 million offences were brought to justice. In the year ending March 2001, this figure was 1.02 million. The most recent data (for the year ending November 2001) shows an improvement in performance. 9,900 more offences were brought to justice than in the year ending July 2001.

Domestic Violence

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women have been victims of domestic violence in each of the last five years. [59850]

Mr. Denham: Domestic violence is not separately identified in recorded crime statistics collected by the Home Office. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) collects figures from police forces on the number of recorded incidents of domestic violence. Incidents can be counted in the HMIC figures regardless of whether or not the incident is subsequently recorded as a crime, and all incidents initially recorded as domestic violence are counted regardless of the final outcome.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) can provide trend information on the number of incidents of domestic violence against women.

Number of BCS incidents of domestic violence against women,
1997 to 2000 Thousands



1998, 2000 and 2001 British Crime Surveys

The 2001 British Crime Survey estimates that there were, in total 354,000 incidents of domestic violence against women in England and Wales in 2000. This was a decrease from the previous sweep, the 2000 BCS, which estimated there were 560,000 incidents against women in the year preceding that survey (1999). This in turn was a reduction from the 1998 BCS, which estimated that there were 583,000 incidents of domestic violence suffered by women in 1997 in England and Wales.

Young Offenders

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average length of time prisoners at Feltham (A and B) young offenders' prison spent locked in their cells each day was in (a) 1995, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2002 to date; and if he will make a statement. [61374]

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Hilary Benn: The Prison Service collects information on average time unlocked at each establishment, but does not break those figures down below establishment level.

The average time unlocked for all prisoners at Feltham young offender institution (YOI) for the periods specified is given in the table.

Average week day time unlocked at Feltham YOI
April 20027.1

Criminal Justice System

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the work of the Criminal Justice Joint Planning Unit in relation to the development and testing of joint and shared performance measures and the date envisaged for the production of a set of indicators on criminal justice system priorities. [59658]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 12 June 2002]: The current criminal justice plan already contains joint objectives and public service agreement targets for the criminal justice system as a whole. These are the targets towards which the criminal justice agencies must collectively work.

The Criminal Justice Joint Planning Unit is currently working with the criminal justice agencies in Merseyside to examine the whole range of targets, investigate inconsistencies and develop a set of joint and shared performance measures for that area. Once they have been agreed, they will be further tested in a number of other criminal justice areas.

Our intention is that the shared indicators will be introduced into the next set of local criminal justice business plans during 2003–04.


Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter of 8 May from the hon. Member for Northavon regarding Mr. Jason Davis and Ms Elaine Smith, a constituent. [61409]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 13 June 2002]: A reply to the hon. Member was dispatched on 10 June 2002. This was within the Prison Service's 20 working day target for ministerial correspondence.

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he will reply to the letter to him dated 9 April from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Rahemi Aminulah; [61680]

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Mr. Blunkett: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 27 June 2002.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will provide an answer to the question tabled by the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton on 11 June regarding the letter to chief police officers Ref. 62195. [64607]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I replied to the hon. Member's question on 25 June 2002, Official Report, column 841W. I apologise for the delay in responding.

Royal Prerogative of Mercy

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the review of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy; what its findings have been; what action he plans to take; and if he will make a statement. [61339]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 17 June 2002]: Applications for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy are rare. Each one is considered on its own merits. The review completed last year (which did not lead to any significant change of policy or practice) was conducted by means of communications between Ministers and officials, and legal advice to Ministers. The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information indicates that such internal discussion and advice is exempt from the commitments to provide information in that Code.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held on 13 and 14 June was; what the Government's stance on the issues discussed, including its voting record was; and if he will make a statement. [62932]

Mr. Blunkett: I together with my right hon. Friend the Deputy First Minister and Minster for Justice for Scotland, and my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Filkin, represented the United Kingdom at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 13 June.

A points

The A points were approved as in document 9825/02 PTS A 31 and ADD 1 and COR 1 (a copy of which has been placed in the Library), except points 23, 24, 25 and 45.


The Council noted a terrorism threat assessment document, Europol reports on security measures taken since 11 September and extremist terrorism, and a report on the current list of terrorist organisations. The Director of Europol reported on the work of the Europol Counter-Terrorism Task Force, noting that the provision of information to Europol had improved but remained insufficient and that more could be done to improve co-operation with the United States.

Activities of the Spanish presidency on the subject of violence against women, to be submitted by the Ministers

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of Education, Justice, Home Affairs and Health at forthcoming Councils:

The presidency presented a study on measures adopted by member states to combat violence against women and a guide to good practice to mitigate the effects of and eradicate violence against women.

Illegal immigration and external borders

During a general debate on illegal immigration and asylum, I called for the Seville European Council to deliver concrete results so that citizens could see the relevance of a European Union (EU) approach. I said that the message should not be one of fortress Europe but a coherent policy which opposed racism, welcomed legal inward migration, protected refugees and ensured that each member state accepted its responsibilities. I supported common action to work to protect the European Union's external frontier, arguing that this should be achieved through the use of joint operations at weak points in the border, extensions of the immigration liaison officer network and greater use of Europol's expertise, rather than through the establishment of a new border police. I also supported the need to complete work on common asylum measures and co-operation with third countries in a spirit of "positive conditionality", involving the provision of assistance to support returns and develop migration infrastructures.

The Council also noted a presidency report on progress made in the fight against illegal immigration, agreed conclusions on measures to be established for the prevention of and the fight against illegal immigration and the trafficking of human beings by sea and agreed a plan on the management of external borders.

Proposal for a Council regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the member state responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the member states by a third-country national:

In discussing key aspects of the draft Dublin II Regulation, the majority of member states, including the United Kingdom, said that the existing Dublin Convention criteria should be taken as a starting point but that procedures should be improved and time limits shortened. Two member states with difficult external frontiers argued that they should not be penalised by virtue of their geographical position. Two other member states also opposed the proposed new criterion on tolerated illegal presence.

Proposal for a Council Decision on the implementation of specific measures for police and judicial co-operation to combat terrorism in accordance with Article 4 of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP:

The Council reached a general approach on the Council Decision. Portugal, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom maintained parliamentary scrutiny reserves on the text.

Proposal for a Council Framework Decision laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of drug trafficking:

The Council reached a general approach on the majority of the text. However, member states were divided by a proposal to permit the imposition of lower

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penalties for trafficking in small quantities of drugs. The presidency concluded that discussions on this item would continue under the Danish presidency.

Proposal for a Council Directive to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid and other financial aspects of civil proceedings:

The Council agreed that the scope of the draft Legal Aid Directive should be limited to cross-border claims.

Proposal for a Council Regulation creating a European enforcement order for uncontested claims:

The Commission presented its proposal for a European enforcement order. This would abolish, in uncontested cases, the requirement for a court to examine the procedure by which a judgment was issued in another member state before recognising the validity of that judgment.

Civilian aspects of crisis management:

The presidency reported that member states had met the targets set by the Gothenburg European Council for the provision of officials and judges to international missions intended to strengthen the rule of law in third countries.

Any Other Business

The Commission presented its revised scoreboard on the implementation of the Tampere European Council conclusions.

Mixed Committee

The Mixed Committee with Norway and Iceland met at ministerial level in the margins of the Council. It noted the existence of two negotiating mandates for the association of Switzerland with the implementation of the Schengen acquis, the Dublin Convention and Eurodac acquis; of a general approach on the proposal for a Decision amending Article 40 of the Schengen Convention, subject to parliamentary scrutiny reserves from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; of conclusions concerning the new requirements for the Schengen Information System (SIS) and a technical solution for the participation in the SIS by the United Kingdom and Ireland, reflecting the partial participation of the United Kingdom and Ireland in Schengen; and of a plan on the management of external borders.

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