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5 Feb 2003 : Column 325W—continued


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he has not replied to the letter to him dated 26 November from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Yimika Walker. [94694]

Beverley Hughes: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 4 February 2003.

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his officials at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate will answer the letters from the hon. Member for Vauxhall of 18 October 2002 and 13 December 2002, about a constituent, A466054. [94711]

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Beverley Hughes: An official from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate wrote to my hon. Friend on 30 January 2003. I am sorry for the delay in replying.

Council Tax

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of custodial sentences for (a) non-payment of council tax and (b) pensioners who have failed to meet council tax payments. [94941]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

Before seeking committal warrants, local authorities must have tried other enforcement measures and before sentencing a council tax debtor to a term of imprisonment, the Court must first determine that there has been wilful non-payment. Magistrates also have the power to remit all or part of a debt if they consider this is justified.

The Government believes that pensioners should be treated in the same way as any other person who has failed to pay their council tax. This includes the need for the Court to determine whether the debtor has the means to pay.

Committal to prison for the wilful non-payment of council tax provides an incentive to encourage payment. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to abolish it.

Public Transport (Crime)

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with Transport for London regarding crimes committed on (a) the London Underground and (b) London buses; and if he will make a statement. [94203]

Mr. Denham: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has not held any recent discussions with Transport for London on these matters he has however discussed transport crime with the Commissioner and the Mayor.

The Government takes tackling transport related crime along with tackling all forms of crime very seriously. Steps that we are taking to help to reduce violent crime, anti-social behaviour, and fear of crime as well as youth crime would all impact on helping to reduce transport related crime.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Commissioner for Transport for London have set up a Transport Operational Command Unit. The unit has specific responsibility for policing agreed corridors on the London bus network.

A partnership has also been formed to fight crime on buses and coaches in England and create a safe environment for crews and passengers. The panel, entitled Safer Travel on Buses and Coaches Panel (STOP) has brought together bus operators, unions, transport and local authorities, the police, passenger groups and officials from Government Departments, including the Home Office. It is charged with considering how to combat assaults, anti-social behaviour and vandalism on vehicles and property.

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The British Transport Police (BTP) work with Transport for London, London Underground, local police forces and other agencies to deliver a safe railway environment free from disruption and the fear of crime. The BTP also play a key role in the Secure Stations Scheme which encourages train operators, including London Underground, to improve security and gain national accreditation. London Underground has a number of its stations accredited under the scheme. Central funds amounting to £1.36 million have also been provided to the BTP to support their participation in the Street Crime initiative. This will help BTP step up operations on and around transport, targeting stations and their car parks, station approaches and concourses as well as on tubes and trains.

Domestic Violence

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reported cases of domestic violence there have been in (a) the west midlands and (b) England and Wales in the last four years; and how many of those cases resulted in a conviction. [84398]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 2 December 2002]: Domestic violence is not separately identified in recorded crime statistics collected by the Home Office.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) provides national trend information on the number of incidents of domestic violence. The BCS figures are derived from a sample and so are subject to sampling error. Moreover, the BCS is carried out by face-to-face interviews and some respondents may be unwilling to reveal experience of domestic violence to interviewers.

The 1996 BCS included a self-completion component on domestic violence to encourage disclosure. Results were published in Home Office Research Study No. 191; copies are available in the Library.

The BCS defines domestic violence as all violent incidents, excluding mugging, in which the offender is a current or former partner, household member or other relative. For the 1996 self-completion module the coverage was limited to violence involving current or former partners.

The national BCS figures are as follows:

Number of BCS incidents of domestic violence, 1997 to 2001–02 BCS interviews England and Wales


BCS figures for west midlands are available only for 2001–02 BCS interviews as the sample size in previous BCS reports was too small to provide reliable regional results. The 2001–02 west midlands figure is available only as a rate: 96 incidents per 10,000 adults.

Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many drug treatment and testing orders have been issued since the scheme was introduced;

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what the cost of each drug treatment and testing order is per person; what percentage of those issued with drug treatment and testing orders complete the course; and what percentage of those issued with drug treatment and testing orders have re-offended. [95115]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Between 1 October 2000, when the order was first rolled out to all courts in England and Wales, and 31 December 2002, 10,525 drug treatment and testing orders (DTTOs) were made. 46 per cent. of orders that commenced during this time were revoked for failing to comply, for a further conviction or for other reasons. 12 per cent. of orders have been completed, and 42 per cent. of orders are still continuing.

The assessed national average unit cost of a DTTO is £6,000, of which, in England, £3,600 per order is transferred to the Department of Health pooled treatment budget to cover treatment and related costs.

Information as to re-sentencing in respect of revoked orders is not available.

GBH Drug

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government will make the drug GBH illegal. [95271]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has recommended that 4-Hydroxy-n-butyric acid, otherwise known as gammahydroxy-butrate or GHB, should be controlled as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Following a public consultation, I have accepted the Advisory Council's recommendation.

It is expected the matter will come before Parliament in a few weeks' time and that the drug will become controlled by early summer.

Kent Policing Model

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make an assessment of the importance of patrolling within the Kent Policing Model. [95037]

Mr. Denham: Kent Police use a model of intelligence led policing to drive operational performance. Uniformed police patrol focused by intelligence is a fundamental constituent of this model. Kent Police has been subject to regular inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary at force and Basic Command Unit (BCU) level and has met its efficiency target for the last three years.

Lincolnshire Police Force

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) police officers and (b) police civilian staff the Lincolnshire police force had in each year since 1997. [94245]

Mr. Denham: The table gives police officer and support staff strength in Lincolnshire police force in each year from 1997 to 2002.

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Police Officers1,1961,1911,1401,1151,2021,198
Support Staff521541517516561600

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offences were recorded by the Lincolnshire police force in each year since 1997, broken down by category. [94201]

Mr. Denham: The number of offences recorded by Lincolnshire police force, for the years requested, are given in the tables.

There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which would have the tendency to increase the number of offences counted. Numbers of offences before and after this date are therefore not directly comparable.

Lincolnshire police force adopted the principle of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in March 2002, one month earlier than it was officially introduced across England and Wales. The aim of the Standard is to promote greater consistency between forces in the recording of crime and to take a more victim-orientated approach to crime recording.

Number of recorded offences in Lincolnshire, from 1997 to 2001–02, by offence group

TotalViolence against the personSexual offencesRobberyTotal violent crime

BurglaryTheft and handling stolen goodsFraud and forgeryCriminal damageDrug and other offences

(24) Recorded on a calendar year basis.

(25) The number of crimes recorded in that financial year using the coverage and rules in use until 31 March 1998.

(26) The number of crimes recorded in that financial year using the expanded offence coverage and revised counting rules which came into effect on 1 April 1998.

(27) Before 1 April 1998 the only drug offence was "trafficking".

(28) Figures for this year may be slightly higher due to Lincolnshire adopting the principle of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in March 2002.

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