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21 Oct 2002 : Column 102W—continued

Safety Cameras

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of the safety camera initiative on the numbers of police officers employed on speed enforcement duties in those areas where it has been implemented. [73430]

Mr. Denham: The use of automatic road safety cameras, which operate at all times, and act as a continuous deterrent to speeding, does not need uniformed attendance. It therefore frees up police resources for other purposes, including other traffic law enforcement.

Air Weapons

Joyce Quin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had in relation to air weapons including (a) minimum age for possession of such weapons and (b) a licensing system. [74099]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In addition to meeting a delegation lead by the hon. Friend for Gateshead East and Washington West, I have met other MPs and the victim of a very serious assault with an air weapon and his parents. In order to obtain an overall assessment of the effectiveness of existing controls, I have also been in contact with organisations such as the British

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Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Gun Trade Association, the Forensic Science Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

We are determined to tackle the problem of air weapon misuse and are looking very carefully at all aspects of the problem with a view to determining whether or not any changes in the present age limits or the introduction of a suitable registration system might help to ensure that air weapons are used safely and responsibly at all times.

Football Banning Orders

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long after the issue of a banning order for travelling to an overseas football match a relevant reason remains a consideration for the maintenance of the banning order. [74466]

Mr. Denham: The duration of a football banning order is determined by the court in accordance with criteria set out in section 14F of the Football Spectators Act 1989. An individual may apply to the court for the order to be terminated once it has been in force for two-thirds of the period determined by the court.


Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that deactivated guns are not reactivated; [73854]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Under section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 any gun may be considered to be deactivated and thus no longer a firearm if it bears a proof mark to that effect and has had a certificate of deactivation issued by one of the two Proof Houses. To assist in this process the Home Office issued a set of specifications in 1989 against which a deactivated firearm could be compared. These were subsequently revised and more stringent specifications have applied since 1995. There is no substantial evidence to suggest that guns deactivated to these later standards are being successfully restored to working order.

The Proof Houses have the authority to reject any deactivated firearms submitted to them which do not conform with the approved specifications. However, section 8 is only an evidential provision and does not preclude the possibility that a firearm which has been deactivated in some other manner may also have ceased to be a firearm within the meaning of section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968. In the event of a prosecution it would be for the courts to decide whether or not this was the case.

There are no legal requirements regarding the storage of deactivated firearms.

We are looking in conjunction with the European Commission at the need to establish stricter controls on deactivation standards throughout Europe.

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Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people failed to comply with the conditions associated with their temporary immigration status in each year since 1997; and how many were reprimanded as a result; [73739]

Beverley Hughes: The information requested, on the number of persons who have been temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom, have failed to comply with the conditions associated with their temporary immigration status, and were reprimanded as a result, is not available.

Failure to comply with the conditions attached to a grant of temporary admission or release without a reasonable excuse is an offence under section 24(1)(e) of the Immigration Act 1971. Depending on the circumstances, consideration may also be given to varying the conditions or detaining the person concerned.

Information from the Home Office Court Proceedings database on a principal immigration offence basis indicates that in 2000, four persons were prosecuted under section 24(1)(e) of the Immigration Act 1971, and three were found guilty. Information for 2001 is due to be published in the Command Paper ''Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom 2001'' on 29 November 2002.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to modify the systems for tracking illegal immigrants. [73777]

Beverley Hughes: The nature of illegal entry is such that it is not possible to track every individual who has entered the United Kingdom unlawfully.

However, on detection, those liable to removal may be granted temporary admission pending a decision whether to grant leave or remove.

Temporary admission may be subject to conditions of residence, employment and reporting to the Police or an Immigration Officer. Failure to comply with these conditions is an offence. A person detained under Immigration Act powers may be released on bail, subject to conditions, which may include a requirement to report.

I outlined in my reply to the hon. Member of 16 July, Official Report, column 224W, measures for contact management which are in place to track and monitor all failed asylum seekers whether illegal entrants or not. This is to ensure that they are removed from the United Kingdom if they do not appeal or as soon as possible after their appeal rights have been exhausted. Since my earlier reply the number of designated reporting centres has been increased to eight, and plans are in hand to enhance contact management further by the use of mobile reporting centres, Immigration Service teams using specified police stations for reporting and for visiting asylum seekers at their accommodation.

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The Immigration and Nationality Directorate are currently undertaking a project to amalgamate their Ports, Enforcement and Casework Information Technology Systems into a joint database. This project is in its early stages. However, once completed, it should enhance our ability to track those illegal entrants who have been detected.

Additionally, the Government is developing strategies to detect clandestine illegal entrants before they get to the United Kingdom. On 12 July my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary agreed a range of measures with his French counterpart to reduce the level of illegal immigration between France and the United Kingdom. As part of this the Immigration Service is committed to deploying new detection technology (such as heart beat detectors and millimetric wave imagers) at Calais and other continental ports.

The government has also created Reflex, a multi-agency forum to direct all activity against organised immigration crime targeting the United Kingdom. Reflex aims to reduce the profits made by the criminal gangs, raise the risks they face and reduce the opportunities for them to exploit individuals, thereby reducing the flow of illegal migrants to the United Kingdom. It achieves this through a combination of overseas and United Kingdom based activity. Since April 2002, 16 organised crime groups involved in people smuggling and trafficking have been disrupted and there are currently 60 operations targeting serious criminal involvement ongoing. Nine Immigration Liaison Officers have been posted overseas to work closely with local law enforcement to disrupt the flows of illegal migrants to the United Kingdom and a United Kingdom-led project assisting the State Border Service in Bosnia has seen a reduction of over 90 per cent. of potential illegal migrants passing through Sarajevo airport.

Mobile Phones

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many (a) car, (b) bus, (c) taxi, (d) coach drivers and (e) cyclists have been prosecuted for offences involving the use of a hand held mobile phone in each of the last three years; [74242]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 15 October 2002]: There is no separate offence for driving a motor vehicle (of any type) using a hand-held mobile telephone. In the main prosecutions are likely to be for driving without due care and attention or not being in proper control of a vehicle. For drivers of public transport these offences are also covered under specific regulation, a pedal cyclist is likely to be prosecuted for the offence of careless riding.

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