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17 Dec 2002 : Column 745Wcontinued
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Our central database only holds the requested information for the last two years. This shows that two applications were formally refused, both in 2001. One was for a project licence and the other for a personal licence. Over the same period 115 project licence applications, 54 personal licence applications and one application for a certificate of designation have so far been recorded as not proceeded with.
A feature of the regulatory regime under the 1986 Act is the discussion that often takes place at an early stage between applicants (or prospective applicants) and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate. This means that proposals unlikely to meet the Act's stringent requirements are revised or withdrawn before formal refusal becomes necessary.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the survey conducted by the Schools Health Education Unit on cannabis use by younger teenagers. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The survey suggests many 14 to 15-year-olds thought cannabis was 'safe' to use. Most young people are aware of the enormous dangers involved in using Class A drugs but they often overlook the longer-term damage to health caused by smoking cannabis, particularly when it is smoked on a regular basis. We will be making sure that the harm it causes is communicatedyoung people need to know the dangers that all drugs cause.
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This is one of the reasons why reducing the frequent use of any illicit drug has been included within the updated drug strategy target for young people. Government Departments are now looking at how best to convince young people about the health risk associated with cannabis use.
The Department for Education and Skills will be revising its guidance to schools on the delivery of drug education and the revised guidance will be available in September 2003. We will also be working with youth media and health organisations to make sure the health risks associated with smoking cannabis are much more widely understood.
Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 7 November, Official Report, columns 82425W, when he will write to the hon. Member for Reading, East. 
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 28 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mohammad Delowar Selinan. 
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 24 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Nisar Ahmed. 
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications to the Criminal Records Bureau from addresses in postcode areas CO1, CO2, CO3 and CO4 are awaiting processing; what is the average time the applications have been delayed; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 9 December 2002]: As at 9 December, there are 562 Disclosure applications awaiting processing from applicants who live in postcode areas C01, C02, CO3 and C04. The average delay is estimated to be eight weeks, although this includes a significant number of applications which have been returned to the applicant for more
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information which is still awaited. On average, recent correctly completed applications are taking five weeks to process.
Delays in the Disclosure process continue to be a subject of some concern. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's independent review team are taking a fundamental look at all aspects of the Criminal Records Bureau's (CRB's) operation with a view to identifying medium to long term improvements. They will report to the Home Secretary shortly.
The CRB has already implemented a range of improvements to processes and working practices and the intensive focus on improvements is already yielding results. Over the last two weeks the CRB has been averaging around 43,500 Disclosures per week, which is double the weekly output issued by the police under the previous arrangements. Since 11 March the CRB has received 1,023,000 applications and issued over 755,000 Disclosures.
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John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions there have been (a) in Nottinghamshire and (b) in the United Kingdom for the smuggling of (i) heroin, (ii) cigarettes and (iii) cannabis, in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information requested is not available in the form requested. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise figures show that the number of persons sentenced for all offences of smuggling tobacco within the United Kingdom was 884 in 200001 and 431 in 200102. Figures are not available on a comparative basis for such offences before 200001, and there are no figures available by county or police force area.
Such information as is currently available on drug 'trafficking' offences in Nottinghamshire and Great Britain is given in the table. Drug 'trafficking' offences normally include the illicit production of drugs and the illicit cultivation of cannabis plants, but these are outside the definition of smuggling and have been excluded.
|Drug and offence||1998||1999||2000||1998||1999||2000|
|Possession with intent to supply unlawfully||24||38||55||1,311||1,454||1,502|
|Possession with intent to supply unlawfully||86||61||60||4,898||4,206||3,282|
(16) Conviction data from 1997 onwards are not currently available for Northern Ireland.
(17) Data from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise are only available at a UK level.
(18) Estimated from court appearance data for England and Wales.
Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Court Proceedings Database and Drugs and Alcohol Research Unit
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the number of ethnic minority women's voluntary organisations in the UK; and how many of these have benefited from regeneration programmes such as health action zones. 
Beverley Hughes: Government statistics are not kept on the number of ethnic minority women's voluntary organisations in the United Kingdom. However the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), an umbrella organisation funded by the Home Office to provide services to the black and minority ethnic (BME) voluntary and community sector had 444 BME women's organisations run by women on their database as of 9 December 2002.
Information for the number of ethnic minority women's voluntary organisations which have benefited from Health Action Zones or other regeneration programmes is not available centrally. Many programmes do however support marginalised groups and have strategies in place to increase their participation. In 2001 for instance, 560 (36 per cent.) of the 1,555 community champions funded by the Community Champions Fund were from BME communities, a success attributable to strategies such as simple application form and positive role models.
The voluntary and community sector (VCS) makes a vital contribution to tackling deprivation and promoting community cohesion. We are working across Government to further increase our support for the sector. Race equality has been placed in the mainstream of all areas of neighbourhood renewal and regeneration. We are also raising awareness of the Compact, the framework for effective partnership working between Government and the VCS, and are developing a more robust evidence base for marginalised sectors such as BME women's groups so that all parts of Government can better respond to the VCS's requirements.
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