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8 Jan 2003 : Column 256W—continued


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 7 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mohammed Asim Qureshi. [87658]

Beverley Hughes: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 13 December 2002.


Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will abolish his rule that prevents those awaiting decisions of the UK immigration authorities from carrying out voluntary work. [87274]

Beverley Hughes: We are keen to see asylum seekers and recognised refugees take an active interest in the welfare of their own communities and the local community by undertaking voluntary activity while they are in the UK. All asylum seekers, whether or not they are the principal applicant, may take part in voluntary activity at any point during their time in the UK. Others whose conditions of entry or stay prohibit employment paid or unpaid may not undertake voluntary work while their applications are being considered and we have no plans to change this.

Missing Persons

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce a common reporting procedure for police services for missing persons. [88190]

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Mr. Denham: There is an agreed procedure: details of all missing persons should be recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC) as soon as possible and in any case within 48 hours of their disappearance.

Notification of all outstanding missing persons should be sent to the Police National Missing Persons Bureau (PNMPB), based at New Scotland Yard, within 14 days. Most missing persons are found locally within this period. Forces will not, however, be precluded from forwarding information to the PNMPB in a shorter time if a particular case appears to warrant more urgent attention.

Details of unidentified persons or bodies found should be reported to the PNMPB within 48 hours of being found.

Police Stations

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many police stations have (a) opened and (b) closed in Lancashire in each year from 1997 to 2002; [87908]

Mr. Denham: Chief constables in the north-west have provided information on the number of police stations that have opened and closed in the region in 2002. This is given in the table:

Calendar year 2002

Greater Manchester1168

The chief constable of Lancashire has provided information on the number of police stations opened and closed in each year from 1997 to 2002. This is set out in the table.

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Police station numbers in Lancashire 1997 to 2002

Financial year to:OpenedClosedTotal
March 19970-3102
March 19980-498
March 19990-593
March 20000-390
March 20010-189
March 20020089
2002 to date0-188

It is the Government's role to allocate grant to police force areas as a whole. Capital grant and credit approval in 2002–03 for all police authorities in England and Wales totalled #199 million, including #20 million specifically for premises improvement and associated items. It is for the chief constable to decide how best to deploy available resources according to operational priorities and objectives. Accordingly, the decision to close a police station or restrict opening hours is an operational matter for the chief constable and not one in which it would be appropriate for the Home Office or Ministers to become involved.

Public Footpaths

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prosecutions there have been in the Greater London area of cyclists for cycling on the public highway without lights on their bicycles in the last 12 months; [88441]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The available information, relating to the Greater London Area (Metropolitan and City of London police forces) for 2001 is contained in the table.

This relates to riding on footpaths (which will include riding on pavements and using footpaths designated for pedestrians) and lighting and reflector offences (which will include cycling without lights).

Information for 2002 will be published in the late autumn of 2003.

Persons proceeded against for offences connected with pedal cycles, Greater London 2001

Offence description/Principal statute2001
Lighting and reflector offences Road Traffic Act 1988 Sec. 81 and RVL Regs. 19892
Riding on footpath (persons aged 18 and over only) Highways Act, 1835 Sec 72; (as amended by Local Government Act 1888 S.85(1), the Statute Law Revision (No2) Act 1888, Highways Act 1959 Sch25, Criminal Justice Act 1967, 3rd Sch. and Criminal Justice Act 1982, ss 39 and 46 and Sch.3); Metropolitan Police Act, 1839, Sec.54(7) and Byelaws.11

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the policy is of the Metropolitan police in seeking to deter adults from cycling on public footpaths; and if he will make a statement. [88443]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Cycling inconsiderately or irresponsibly on public footpaths is a criminal offence. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that the Metropolitan police view the offence seriously, particularly where it is likely to result in danger being caused. Any Metropolitan police officer who is called to or witnesses such an offence will take whatever action is appropriate in the circumstances. The offence can be dealt with by way of a fixed penalty of #30. To help the police with enforcement we have made it possible for community support officers (CSOs) appointed under the Police Reform Act 2002 to issue these penalties. We have provided the Metropolitan police with additional funding for the recruitment of 500 CSOs.

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Sporting Events (Violence)

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been legally prevented from travelling abroad to football matches since 1997 as a result of prosecution for violent behaviour. [88724]

Mr. Denham: 1,401 individuals are currently prevented from travelling abroad by the conditions of their football banning orders. Since 1 January 2000, a further 175 orders preventing travel have expired. All individuals subject to an order have at least one conviction for an offence of violence or disorder. No information is available for the period 1997–99.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with European colleagues regarding prevention of violence at football and other sporting events. [88725]

Mr. Denham: The Government work very closely with their European counterparts in tackling football disorder through active participation in Council of the European Union (ED) and Council of Europe fora. In the last 12 months this has resulted in a number of European-wide initiatives, including an updated XEuropean Handbook on International Police Co-operation in connection with Football Matches" and the setting-up in each EU member and candidate state of a XNational Football Police Information Point" for exchanging football-related intelligence and other information. The United Kingdom is also playing a leading role in a Council of Europe working group on the role of football in delivering social policy and in a recently established European 'think tank' on tackling football related violence. There are regular bilateral meetings with European colleagues.

Transnational Sex Trade

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what legal assistance is provided to women that have entered Britain illegally as victims of sex trade. [89020]

Beverley Hughes: The White Paper XSecure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration With Diversity Within Modern Britain"—published in February 2002—sets out our general proposals for assisting the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Briefly, where trafficked people are willing to come forward to the authorities, we shall where necessary make special arrangements for their protection including the provision of safe accommodation and health checks. We will consider, in the light of individual circumstances, whether it would be appropriate to allow them to remain here. Where they are to return home, we will assist them to do so, providing them with initial counselling, ensuring that they have suitable accommodation to return to, and providing help to enable them to reintegrate into their own community and find employment.

We propose to commission non-governmental organisations to provide a range of support services, including access to legal advice, for women who are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, when trafficking shortly becomes an offence, as anticipated, on commencement of the relevant provision of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

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