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6 Mar 2003 : Column 1216W—continued

Children at Risk

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times last year police officers from (a) the Metropolitan and (b) Sussex police force areas accompanied social workers to addresses of abusive and intimidating parents and guardians of children deemed at risk. [100486]

Mr. Denham: This information is not collected centrally, or by the Metropolitan and Sussex police forces.

The standard operating procedure in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Child Protection Group is that in cases where there are criminal allegations, social workers will be accompanied by the police. There may be other instances where, although no criminal allegations have been made, a risk assessment will be conducted to determine whether the presence of the police is necessary.

In 2002, Sussex Police received 3,783 referrals of possible child abuse. In the overwhelming majority of cases of this kind, Sussex Police carry out joint visits to the child's home with the relevant social worker. This is irrespective of whether the allegation is made against the parent/carer or whether the parent/carer is believed to be aggressive or intimidating. Given that this is the normal

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practice, Sussex Police do not keep separate records of joint visits or quantitative information about intimidating parents.

Community-based Sentencing

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to promote to the public the (a) use, (b) effectiveness, (c) range of initiatives and (d) suitability of community based sentencing. [98878]

Hilary Benn: Increasing confidence in the Criminal Justice System is the subject of a Public Service Agreement target (PSA 10). The creation of the National Probation Service and the establishment of the Youth Justice Board have provided clearer structures, substantial changes in practice based on evidence of effectiveness in reducing crime and new community-based sentences. A task force, based within the Home Office, has recently been established to further inter-departmental work towards the PSA target.

To increase the use, effectiveness, range of disposals and suitability of community based penalties, the National Probation Service and the Youth Justice Board are working with the courts to ensure sentences are targeted appropriately. This includes ensuring that accredited programmes and recently introduced disposals, like drug treatment and testing orders and the intensive supervision and surveillance programme (ISSP), are used appropriately and their potential to reduce reoffending and protect the public fully exploited.

Ways are also being developed to increase sentencers' awareness of new assessment techniques that act as a guide to the suitability of community sentences and accurately reflect risk factors that sentencers must take into account. The implementation of new disposals, or changes to existing sentences such as the "enhancement" of community punishment (formerly community service), will include effective communications.

As it becomes available both the National Probation Service and Youth Justice Board regularly publish relevant information on reconviction data, practice and policy developments and performance. The National Probation Service is currently reviewing the communications capacity of the 42 local probation areas and increasing national resources for communications, including work with the media. This, and future work, will be evaluated against and informed by surveys of public and sentencer perception.

Computer Fraud

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many laptop computers were used by (a) Ministers and special advisers and (b) officials in his Department in each year since 1995; how many were (i) lost and (ii) stolen; what their cost was; and if he will make a statement. [97500]

Hilary Benn: Information on the issue of laptop computers by year is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Three laptop computers have been provided over the last 26 months to Ministers and special advisers and none have been reported either lost or stolen.

A further 4,721 laptop computers have been issued to officials including those within the Executive Agencies.

In both 1995 and 1996 no laptop computers were reported lost. In 1997 one was reported lost. In 1998 four were reported lost. In 1999 two were reported lost, although one was subsequently recovered and since then no laptop computers have been reported lost.

In terms of thefts we have reported to the House before seven laptop computers were reported stolen in 1995 with a combined value of £3,924. Nine were reported stolen in 1996 with a value of £20,300. In 1997 a further nine laptop computers were reported stolen with a value of £25,000. In 1998 a single laptop was stolen but no reliable data has been recorded regarding its value. In 1999 a number of laptops were stolen from a storeroom and were valued at £20,421. During 2000 a further 18 thefts of laptop computers were reported. The total value for these losses was £53,429 but the figure is distorted by at least one machine having no formal value recorded against it and in another case a PowerPoint Projector being included in the financial loss. From 2000 through to 13 February 2003 a further 39 further thefts were reported, with one subsequent recovery but a financial value is not available. In part this is because 897 laptop computers are now provided as a managed service from a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) partners. Where loss occurs the financial risk has been passed to the partner organisation.

In addition to these figures 14 laptop computers have been lost from the Forensic Science Service at a cost of £1,200 each since 1995.

Computer Hacking

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) internal hacking and (b) external hacking incidents categorised as (i) access denied, (ii) browsing, (iii) password abuse, (iv) privilege abuse, (v) data stolen/disclosed, (vi) files deleted/damaged, (vii) fraud and (viii) other were reported by each Department contributing to the Unified Reporting and Alert Scheme. [100166]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There has been a very substantial reduction in the figures over the previous year. Analytical work is still in progress; I will reply in more detail as soon as I am able.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason he has not replied to the letter to him dated 15 January 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. Huda Abdulwahed. [100685]

Mr. Blunkett: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 28 February 2003.

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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the change in the volume of crime in (a) total and (b) by major category, on (i) a British Crime Survey basis and (ii) a police statistics basis, comparing (A) 1978–79 with 1996–97 and (B) 1996–97 with 2002–03; and if he will make a statement. [99810]

Mr. Denham: The earliest estimates available for the British Crime Survey (BCS) are for the 1982 survey, which measured crime in 1981. Likewise, the closest BCS data to 1996–97 is from the 1998 BCS (crime in 1997). The latest available (provisional) data on trends in the numbers of incidents of crime were published in January 2003 in Home Office Statistical Bulletin 02/03, reporting on the results of BCS interviews that took place in the year ending September 2002.

Trends in the number of BCS incidents of crime for the major crime categories, 1981 to year ending September 2002
Interviews (in thousands)

19811997Year ending September 2002
All vehicle thefts(14)1,7513,5112,388
All BCS violence2,1603,6642,712
All BCS crime11,04116,69212,251

(13) Burglary includes burglary with entry and attempts.

(14) All vehicle thefts includes thefts of and from vehicles and associated attempts.

The percentage changes in the number of incidents of crime, as recorded by the BCS from 1981 to 1997, are therefore:

Percentage increase
All vehicle thefts101
All BCS violence70
All BCS crime51

Additionally, the percentage changes from crime in 1997 to the results of BCS interviews conducted in the year ending September 2002 are:

Percentage decrease
All vehicle thefts32
All BCS violence26
All BCS crime27

Police-recorded crime statistics are available for the financial years 1978–79, 1996–97 and the latest data are for the year ending September 2002. The offence coverage of the British Crime Survey and recorded crime differs. For example, the BCS excludes victimless crimes, crimes against those under the age of 16 and against those living in institutions, to name a selection. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 07/02 provides further details on the coverage and comparability of the two measures, and the need for the use of a comparable subset of offences for any comparison of the two.

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Trends in the number of recorded crimes of the major categories

1978–791996–97October 2001 to September 2002
Burglary in a dwelling(15)253,878581,985447,100
All vehicle thefts(16)592,2791,245,052998,400
All violent crime123,276348,032909,300
Total recorded crime2,514,6604,930,6785,797,100

(15) Burglary here includes only burglary from a dwelling.

(16) All vehicle thefts includes thefts of and from vehicles and associated attempts.

The percentage changes in the number of recorded crimes from 1978–79 to 1996–97 are therefore as follows.

Percentage increase
Burglary in a dwelling129
All vehicle thefts110
All violent crime182
Total recorded crime96

The percentage changes from recorded crime in 1996–97 to the year ending September 2002 are:

Percentage change
Burglary in a dwellingDecreased 23
All vehicle theftsDecreased 20
All violent crimeIncreased 43
Total recorded crimeIncreased 3

The percentage changes since 1996–97 have been adjusted for the effects of the revisions in April 1998 to the way recorded crimes are counted and classified. This has had a large impact on the changes in violent crime and total recorded crime, but a negligible impact on those for burglary and vehicle crime. Recorded crime figures have also been affected by the National Crime Recording Standard. The Standard, which was introduced formally in all forces in April 2002 and informally in other forces prior to this date, has had the effect of increasing recorded crime statistics by at least 10 per cent. in the year ending September 2002. This means that, but for the Standard, there would have been a fall in total recorded crime between 1996–97 and the 12 months to September 2002.

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