Previous Section Index Home Page

Passport Control (Biometric Techniques)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 26 June 2002, Official Report, column 886, on the meeting with the French Interior Minister, if he will make a statement on the use of biometric techniques in establishing more secure methods of passport control. [66745]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 15 July 2002]: The use of biometric techniques to link a travel document to the rightful holder has long been recognised as a policy goal by passport issuing authorities around the world. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is developing a biometric standard for use in machine readable travel documents to ensure global interoperability. The United Kingdom (UK) is supporting the work of ICAO in establishing this standard. In addition the UK Passport Service is investigating ways to use biometrics information in UK passports and in passport cards as the latter are developed; and in its efforts to counter fraud.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last visited the Public Inquiry Office of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. [67926]

Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary (Mr. Blunkett) visited the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's Public Inquiry Office in Croydon on 26 June 2001.

My noble Friend, (Lord Rooker), the former Minister for Immigration also visited the Public Inquiry Office, as did I, on 20 June 2002.

Foreign Nationals

(Domestic Violence Provisions)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions the provisions relating to domestic violence have been applied to allow a foreign national who has married a UK citizen to remain in the UK despite the break-up of that marriage due to domestic violence. [70035]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 15 July 2002]: Up to the end of 2000, the latest available data from case records, 63 applicants under the domestic violence concession have been granted settlement.

Internet (Child Protection)

Lawrie Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times the Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet has met since it was set up last year; what progress has been made; and if he will make a statement. [70809]

16 Jul 2002 : Column 230W

Hilary Benn: The then Home Secretary (Mr. Straw) announced the establishment of the Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet on 9 May 2001. Since then, the full Task Force has met four times and most recently on 3 July 2002. The work of the Task Force has been taken forward by a number of Sub Groups which have met regularly and have been looking at the criminal law, law enforcement, child protection measures, public awareness, training and further developing co-operation between the industry and others on reporting and handling child protection issues.

Members of the respective Sub Groups have given freely of their time to support the aim we set last year: to make the United Kingdom the best and safest place in the world for children to use the internet, and to help protect children the world over from abuse fuelled by criminal misuse of new technologies.

The Task Force has developed, run and now evaluated a successful national awareness campaign. Research had confirmed two key gaps: first, that parents are ill-informed about their children's use of the internet and chat rooms, and second that young people give out their personal details without considering the consequences. Two campaigns were designed, one to target 14 to 16-year-olds and the other parents/carers of 11 to 13-year-olds. The media used included press advertising, cinema, radio, on-line and viral marketing from December 2001 until spring 2002. Independent evaluation of the campaigns shows significantly improved awareness of the key messages in both target audiences. The Task Force is now considering that evaluation and how to build on the momentum created.

The Task Force has also developed proposals for a criminal offence to tackle the "grooming" of children by paedophiles online or offline. This is intended to allow prosecution at an early stage when children are being groomed, before an existing sexual offence has been committed. In addition, the proposals include the creation of a new civil protection order relating to behaviour towards a child for an illegal or harmful sexual purpose.

Practical online child protection measures have been drawn up in a draft good practice document for service providers which deals with chat, instant messaging and web services. These encourage, among other things, clear and accessible safety messages and advice and user-friendly ways of reporting abuse. The drafts are being considered by the wider industry through the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) and the London Internet Exchange (LINX).

Work is also in hand to develop a shared matrix for reporting and handling child protection issues, and developing good practice for dealing with law enforcement requests for information from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This is being taken forward, with the oversight of the Task Force, by the Internet Crime Forum.

The Task Force will continue to work in partnership with the industry to: consider the extent to which the criminal law currently covers unsuitable material being sent to children and all forms of indecent representations of children; assess the new challenges posed by

16 Jul 2002 : Column 231W

development of 3G mobile phones; and develop basic training materials for child protection staff on children's internet use.

In parallel with the Task Force, the United Kingdom has played a leading role in the development of a G8 strategy for protecting children from sexual exploitation on the internet. The strategy, which is not yet finalised, will cover issues such as: victim identification; intelligence gathering and sharing; location of suspects; enforcement tools and training; awareness building and prevention; and police working with industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Forensic Science Service

Mr. Alan Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will lay before Parliament the annual report for the Forensic Science Service. [70810]

Mr. Denham: Copies of the Forensic Science Service's (FSS) Annual Report and Accounts for 2001–02 have today been laid before Parliament.

Performance against Agency targets 2001–02
The FSS met seven of its 10 targets and concluded the financial year with a strong performance.
Financial targets
A 12.9 per cent. return on capital employed was produced against a target of 10 per cent.
A three-year rolling efficiency gain of 10 per cent. was achieved against a target of 10 per cent.
Service Delivery
An average turnaround time of 35 days was achieved against a target of 26 days.
94 per cent., 92 per cent. and 90 per cent. of agreed dates were achieved in urgent, critical and persistent young offender cases (respectively) against targets of 97 per cent., 97 per cent. and 100 per cent.
89 per cent. of agreed delivery dates in all categories were achieved against a target of 93 per cent.
Service level agreements were put into place with 92 per cent. of police forces—against a target of 90 per cent.
A biennial customer satisfaction survey was conducted.
A baseline overall measure for putting into place routine and robust customer satisfaction measurement processes based on transactional approach, and for demonstrating year on year improvements in police (customer) satisfaction was established.
External quality accreditation to ISO standards was maintained—and extended.
Application for 50 per cent. of reporting officers for accreditation to the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners, where appropriate, was achieved.

The targets for 2002–03, the agency's fourth year of trading fund, are:

Target: a 10 per cent. return on capital employed.
Target: a 10 per cent. efficiency gain (over three years).

16 Jul 2002 : Column 232W

Service delivery:
Target: a five per cent. increase in transactional index of customer satisfaction (baseline 100 per cent).
Target: agreements on service levels implemented with 92 per cent. of police forces.
Target: maintain quality accreditation.
Target: meet dispatch dates in 98 per cent. of urgent and critical cases and 99 per cent. in persistent young offenders cases.
Target: meet dispatch dates in 93 per cent. of all categories of cases.
Target: achieve a 70 calendar day turnaround time in 90 per cent. of standard jobs (violent and volume crime cases) by the year end, demonstrating improvements through the year.
Target: submit applications for accreditation to the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP) of 100 per cent. of reporting officers in areas where the CRFP is registering people.

Dungavel Detention Centre

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further renovations are planned to transform Dungavel detention centre into a removal centre; what the estimated cost is; and from which budget line such renovation costs will be met. [69281]

Beverley Hughes: There are no physical alterations needed to transform Dungavel House from a detention to a removal centre. Any future proposals to alter the building will be considered and if found to be economically advantageous the costs will be met by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND).

Next Section Index Home Page