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Mobile Phone Theft and Crime Figures

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what proportion of offences of (a) theft and (b) robbery relating to mobile phones in the last three years have involved both offenders and victims who are school-age children; [40008]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 5 March 2002]: The requested information is not routinely collected centrally.

A research study, 'Mobile phone theft' (by Victoria Harrington and Pat Mayhew, Home Office research study 235), included provisional results of a survey of 15,000 11–15 year olds which estimated that 12 per cent. of those questioned had been a victim of phone theft at least once in the last year. However, this survey was conducted in deprived areas.

A MORI survey in early 2001 of 5,000 11–16 year olds, also quoted in the research study, estimated that 5 per cent. had been a victim of mobile phone theft at least once in the last year. The sample used was regarded as being more representative.

The research study separately estimated that, overall, in police areas where the research took place, 48 per cent. of all victims of phone robbery, and 63 per cent. of those accused of the offence, were under 18.

We are working with the police and the mobile phone industry to reduce mobile phone robbery, undertaking public awareness campaigns and joint tracking exercises. Our discussions with operators have recently borne fruit.

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By the summer all five of the main operators will be able to bar stolen handsets by reference to the unique IMEI number which identifies the handset. All of the operators are also working together to develop a shared database of stolen phones, which will allow them to disable stolen phones if there is an attempt to use them on a different network. We believe that this is a very important step forward, as it should remove one of the major incentives for robbery.

Operators have also agreed to improve security as they invest in new systems. We are pressing the handset manufacturers for similar commitments. A start has been made, but more needs to be done before Britain's mobile phone system can lead the world in security. The mobile phone industry needs to show more interest in the security of phones they are selling to British consumers and, as the motor industry has done, do more to prevent their customers from becoming the victims of crime.

Crime Reduction

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what capital resources are made available for initiatives to change the physical arrangement of an area to reduce crime in residential neighbourhoods in England. [63148]

Mr. Denham: Several crime reduction initiatives provide the opportunity for funding for such projects.

Under the crime reduction programme CCTV initiative up to £80–85 million will be spent in 2002–03 on 279 CCTV schemes in residential areas. Funding for a number of these schemes also includes provision for improved street lighting.

Under the communities against drugs initiative the £50 million funding for 2001–02 (crime and disorder reduction partnerships' baseline allocation) comprised 32 per cent. for capital expenditure. Some partnerships' use of the funding includes regeneration works.

Under the safer communities initiative £20 million funding is available in 2002–03. There is no specific capital element but funding can be used to purchase capital items. Partnerships' plans are still being developed.

There is also funding from the capital modernisation fund to assist small retailers in deprived areas to improve the security of their businesses—£3 million in 2001–02, £6 million in 2002–03 and £6 million in 2003–04. While this funding is not specifically directed towards residential neighbourhoods, environmental improvements such as better lighting and landscaping of shopping parades may well impact on crimes affecting residential neighbourhoods as well as those impacting on small retailers, since many small shops and parades of shops are located within, or close to, residential areas.

Approximately a fifth (£380 million) of the £1.9 billion allocated over ten years to the new deal for communities areas and a fifth (£180 million) of the £900 million allocated over three years to the 88 neighbourhood renewal areas will go towards tackling crime. Money allocated to an area is spent according to priorities agreed by the area and its local strategic partnership. Central records of this spending are not kept and so it is not possible to set out how much is spent specifically on initiatives to change the physical arrangement of an area.

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In addition, the cross-cutting review on improving the public space, announced in July 2001 by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has been exploring how Government policies, funding and targets could produce improvements in the safety and attractiveness of the public space—the local environment where people lead their lives. The lead Minister Lord Falconer presented the review's final report to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in April, in order to inform spending review decisions.

Speeding (Surrey)

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many motorists have been caught speeding by police cameras in Surrey in each of the last five years. [66492]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 2 July 2002]: Data supplied directly from the police showing the number of prosecutions and fixed penalties notices issued for speeding offences as a result of the use of cameras are given in the table.

Prosecutions and fixed penalties for speeding offences detected by camera within the Surrey police force area, 1996–2000

Fixed penalties(24)(24)(24)2,1955,274

(24) Not available

Police Reform Bill

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the timetable is for the implementation of section 31A, part 4 of the Police Reform Bill. [70363]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 16 July 2002]: The legislation to which I assume the hon. Member refers is section 31A of the Transport and Works Act 1992, which is to be inserted by clause 59 of the Police Reform Bill.

The provision is parallel to the new section 7A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to be inserted by clause 57 of the Bill. Both make provision for blood specimens to be taken without consent where, after an accident, a person cannot for medical reasons give valid consent.

It is customary for provisions within a Bill to be brought into effect no sooner than three months after Royal Assent. Subject to that, we intend that these measures should be brought into effect at the earliest possible moment. We have already entered into discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on the issue of appropriate guidance to the police and shall be liaising with the Department of Health, the British Medical Association and the Association of Police Surgeons in order to ensure that the new procedures run smoothly.


Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the (a) central and (b) local government contracts with Capita whose performance was reviewed by his Department prior to awarding that company the Criminal Records Bureau contract. [69275]

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Hilary Benn [holding answer 16 July 2002]: As part of the agency benchmarking exercise, the Criminal Records Bureau procurement team obtained references from the Driving Standards Agency, the Teachers Pensions Agency, operated by Capita Group plc for the Department for Employment and Skills at Darlington and the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) contact centre in Belfast.

Drug Testing

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the impact of the use of urine samples for detection of illegal drugs on the types of drugs used by prisoners; and what plans he has to change his policy of mandatory drug- testing. [70359]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 16 July 2002]: There is no substantive research evidence that the use of urine samples for detection of illegal drugs permanently affects the types of drugs used by prisoners. However, in light of anecdotal evidence that prisoners may be switching from cannabis to heroin in order to avoid detection (because the latter can be detected in the body for a shorter period), research has been commissioned from the Institute of Psychiatry and the Office for National Statistics which is due to report in December 2002. The implications of this research will be considered carefully.

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