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Khawaja Badar Rauf

Claire Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to make a decision in the case of Khawaja Badar Rauf (IND reference number R341351); and if he will make a statement. [83823]

Beverley Hughes: I wrote to my hon. Friend on 5 December 2002.

Opioid Addiction

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will update Prison Service Order 3550 to take account of advances in the treatment of opioid addiction with buprenorphine; [85042]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 4 December 2002]: Prison Service Order 3550 introduced a new Prison Service Standard for Clinical Services for Substance Misusers. This already provides that, as new evidence becomes available on the chemical management of detoxification or abstinence, establishments should develop further treatment guidelines which are in line with those available in the national health service (NHS).

Buprenorphine is included in treatment protocols, developed in conjunction with the NHS, at six Prison Service establishments. This broadly reflects the extent of its current usage in the community.

Osama bin Laden

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he proposes to take over the circulation of a letter purporting to be written by Osama bin Laden on a UK website operated by an individual, details of whom have been supplied to him; and if he will make a statement. [83844]

Mr. Blunkett: I have been in close touch with the relevant police and security authorities, about the work they have undertaken surveilling, monitoring and evaluating evidence that might be used in any prosecution. As my hon. Friend knows, the detailed operational functions lie with those authorities. Decisions on prosecutions lie with the Crown Prosecution Service. I have always made it clear that those who step over the line will be prosecuted.

Outreach Programmes

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding from his Department has been provided to Outreach programmes for young offenders provided by ACFA in the financial year 2001–02; what will be provided in (a) 2002–03, (b) 2003–04 and (c) 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [82960]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 25 November 2002]: The Youth Justice Board, funded by the Home Office, paid #600,000 in 2001–02 for work done in 2000–01 by the Army Cadet Force Association's Outreach programme. The Home Office have committed #60,000 for 2002–03

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and subject to satisfactory performance plan to contribute #60,000 in 2003–04. No payment is planned for 2004–05.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to propose amendments to the law to increase the maximum sentence for paedophiles convicted of abusing children; what measures are in place to ensure that police have the details of known paedophiles in an area where a child has gone missing; what proposals he has to ensure that internet service providers that allow paedophile web sites to operate on their systems are prosecuted; how much has been spent on combating internet child exploitation since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [83222]

Hilary Benn: The criminal law is a devolved matter for Scotland and recent proposals for changes to the law in England and Wales are different from those in Scotland.

For offences committed in Scotland, the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill will increase the maximum penalties available to the courts to 10 years for taking and distributing indecent images of children and to five years for possession, (which are both offences under-the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982). The Bill will also implement certain of the recommendations arising out of the recent report of the Expert Panel on Sex Offending, chaired by Lady Cosgrove. The Executive is committed to tackling all forms of child abuse and keeps this area of the law under review.

In England and Wales, recent proposals in the Government command paper XProtecting the Public" outlined our plans for comprehensive legislative reform of sex offences. Protection for children will be strengthened by proposed new offences of unlawful adult sexual activity with a child, familial sexual abuse of a child, sexual grooming and commercial sexual exploitation of a child, alongside the non-consensual offences of rape and sexual assault, among others. The proposed penalties for these offences, which in many cases are higher than penalties for existing offences, will clearly demonstrate the abhorrence with which society views sexual activity with children. Legislation to implement these proposals is planned for the New Year.

In answer to your second point, the Sex Offenders Act 1997, which applies to the whole of the UK, places requirements on sex offenders who have been cautioned, convicted or found guilty by reason of insanity in respect of sex offences against children and other serious sex offences. Offenders convicted of a relevant offence must report to a police station prescribed by regulations within three days of the date of their conviction, caution etc. or their release from prison, and notify the police of their name (and any aliases), home address and date of birth. They are also required to notify any changes to their details within 14 days. Failure to comply is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

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The Sex Offenders Act applies to sex offenders cautioned, convicted or found guilty by reason of insanity after 1997. Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, when the police consider that a sex offender has behaved in a way that gives reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary to protect the public from serious harm from him, they can apply to a court for a Sex Offender Order to be made. The order will place restrictions upon his behaviour and activities and requires the offender to 'register' with the police for the duration of the order. An order lasts a minimum of five years and can be indefinite.

In the event that a child is abducted, the Government welcomes the pilot scheme based on the Amber Alert system used by some states in America, to try and ensure the safe return of the child. It was launched on 14 November and is known as 'Child Rescue—Sussex Police'. It involves a joint effort by police, the media and the public. Its intention is to notify the general public that a child has been taken, so they look out for the child, the abductor or any vehicle used in the abduction. They then report any relevant information to the police.

Decisions on taking prosecutions against internet service providers are a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. An internet service provider (ISP) which knows of the presence of an indecent image of a child on their system and does not remove or disable access to it expeditiously on becoming aware of it, would be at risk of prosecution under the Protection of Children Act 1978. The internet industry funds the Internet Watch Foundation to assess images which have been referred to it and notify ISPs and the police of those that are illegal. The Foundation also provides its members with a list of newsgroups which should not be carried because they contain or appear to offer indecent images of children. These arrangements apply across the UK as a whole.

Operational decisions on allocation of police resources to combating child exploitation rest with police authorities and chief officers and no central records exist to determine how many cases have been investigated or the resources allocated to them. The new National Policing Plan reinforces the recommendation in the Joint Chief Inspectors' Report on Arrangements to Safeguard Children that police forces and authorities should review the role, remit, location and status of child protection units to ensure that child protection is dealt with to a consistently high standard. We have also set up a National High Tech Crime Unit within the National Crime Squad to provide additional support to local forces in investigating the most technically sophisticated crimes, including internet child protection. As well as policing resources we have worked with industry and child protection organisations through our Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet to tackle this issue, for example producing Codes of Practice and running public awareness campaigns targeting children and their parents.

Combating the exploitation of children by offenders who use the internet to facilitate the abuse, is an integral part of the work of the police in tackling child sexual exploitation. The Government have provided specific

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resources for the National High Tech Crime Unit but this is not broken down across the different areas of their work.

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures the Government are taking to find the suspected paedophiles at large whose details were given to the police six months ago. [84547]

Hilary Benn: Police forces across the UK are prioritising and tracing e-mail addresses for investigation, assisted by the National Crime Squad.

It is not appropriate for me to provide more significant details of what are, and will be for some time, ongoing investigations.

Ministers are monitoring the law enforcement response and the progress of this investigation.

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