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3 Dec 2002 : Column 711W—continued


Air Passenger Processing

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress with advanced passenger processing on incoming flights to the UK. [83845]

Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to the modernisation of public services. Advance Passenger Processing is the framework for a modernised immigration control. It will comprise a range of operational and analytical initiatives which will provide a balance between expediting clearance of genuine passengers and targeting those passengers who present an immigration or security threat. Over the last few years, we have been building a platform of legislation to support this strategy: the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000; the Immigration (Passenger Information) Order 2000; and the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

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The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), with .private sector partners, have recently completed a three month feasibility study to examine whether a system of advance passenger processing, akin to the electronic travel authority which operates in Australia, might be applicable to the United Kingdom. The initial conclusions are positive and IND are currently engaged in an evaluation of the study, which is being conducted in consultation with key stakeholders. It is expected that the evaluation will be completed by Spring 2003 and we will then consider the best way forward.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Turkish citizens applied for asylum in the UK in 2001; and how many were successful in their application. [83890]

Beverley Hughes: 3,700 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in the United Kingdom in 2001 (excluding dependants). In 2001 there were 7,660 initial decisions made on asylum applications from Turkish nationals, 195 grants of asylum, 275 grants of exceptional leave to remain (ELR), and 7,190 refusals. Data on initial decisions are independent of applications data, and do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same period.

During 2001, 1,840 appeals against Home Office decisions on Turkish asylum claims were determined by adjudicators of the Immigration Appellate Authority. Of these, 485 granted either refugee status or ELR, 1,295 were dismissed and 60 cases were withdrawn. Appeal outcomes in any given time period do not necessarily relate to initial decisions made in the same period. The figures exclude any further appeals (Immigration Appeals Tribunal, Court of Appeal, judicial review, House of Lords).

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action the Government is taking to combat the illegal entry of Pakistani Pathan asylum seekers. [83891]

Beverley Hughes: A four tier screening process is in place for all new asylum applicants. Those holding documentation establishing their identity and nationality undergo the first level of screening, which is photographing, fingerprinting and taking personal details. In all other cases, more in-depth screening is undertaken to ascertain nationality and identity along with the route taken to the United Kingdom. The highest level of screening is used in cases where prosecution is a possibility and these interviews are conducted under caution by specially trained officers. Country information is available to immigration officers to assist in establishing nationality.

A pilot project took place at the Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon exploring ways of identifying nationality by the use of language analysis experts. Samples of conversations were forwarded to language experts to establish if the asylum applicant's language and dialect were consistent with his nationality. The results of this project are still being assessed.

Flights identified as potentially 'high risk' for carrying passengers who destroy their documents en route to the United Kingdom are met by specially designated and

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trained immigration officers who escort them to the immigration control for further examination. On a number of occasions full document checks are carried out on arriving flights to ascertain that passengers have the appropriate travel documentation.

In addition specialist expertise and advice on passport and visa documentation is readily available from the British High Commission in Pakistan and this resource is used by the airlines when denying boarding to inadequately documented passengers.

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what contractual relationship exists between his Department and Clearsprings Ltd., with regard to the (a) processing and (b) housing of asylum seekers. [84175]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 2 December 2002]: There is no contractual agreement between Clearsprings Management Ltd. and the Immigration Nationality Directorate on the processing of asylum seekers. The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) does have a contract with Clearsprings Management Ltd. to provide accommodation for destitute asylum seekers.

Asylum Seekers (Somalia)

Mr. Coleman: : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans his Department has to return failed asylum seekers to Somalia; and if he will make a statement. [84041]

Beverley Hughes: Asylum seekers from Somalia who are found not to be in need of international protection following proper consideration of their claim have the option to return voluntarily to Somalia by way of a voluntary assisted returns programme.

If they choose not to return voluntarily they will be subject to removal to Somalia as soon as it is possible to conclude negotiations with the relevant authorities.

Criminal Records Board

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will instruct Capita to deal first with the backlog of claims for the Criminal Records Board which have been waiting for adjudication for more than six months. [82073]

Hilary Benn: It is the agency's policy to process disclosure applications in the order that they are received, however, some may complete each stage of the process quicker than others. Some applications become delayed due to missing information from applicants or registered bodies.

Capita, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Agency and local police forces work in partnership throughout the CRB disclosure process.

Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will write to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam regarding the Criminal Records Bureau. [84809]

Hilary Benn: I will write as soon as possible.

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Cyclists (Pavements)

Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there were in 2001 of cyclists riding on pavements, in each police authority; and if he will make it his policy to place these figures in the Library in subsequent years. [83440]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Statistics will be available once Criminal Statistics 2001 is published. This Command Paper is due to be published before the end of 2002.

Drugs Courts

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria are being used to assess the success of the drugs courts pilot schemes. [82884]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Drug courts are not presently being piloted in England and Wales, but the STEP Project, a court based treatment initiative, ran in Wakefield and Pontefract from summer 1998 to autumn 2000. The nearest comparison now is with the court review process of the drug treatment and testing order (DTTO), which shares with drug courts in other jurisdictions sentencer review of the progress of offenders.

The Government believe that getting drug misusing offenders into treatment through court-based interventions can be effective in reducing drug misuse and crime, and officials are currently developing proposals for piloting drug courts drawing upon the good practice of dedicated DTTO review courts.


Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on resettlement of ex-prisoners; and if he will make a statement. [82087]

Hilary Benn: The Home Office is working to develop an action plan on a National Rehabilitation Strategy. The plan will respond .to issues highlighted in the recent Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and Sentencing Enforcement Unit (SEU) reports and will draw on the experience and skills of a range of Departments and agencies working with vulnerable and excluded groups. Partnership between the prison service and national probation service will be important in the joint delivery of support to offenders both during and after custody and helping them to reintegrate successfully into the community on release.

The National Probation Directorate (NPD) provides funding to several voluntary sector organisations, including the Society of Voluntary Associates (SOVA) and the National Association for Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO). Both NPD and the Prison Service work closely with partner agencies in the voluntary and not for profit sector to address offenders resettlement needs. Partnerships typically deliver services supporting offenders to access housing, prepare for and obtain employment and enter basic skills learning.

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