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4 Jun 2003 : Column 462W—continued

Speed Cameras

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines have been drawn up to regulate speed cameras used by partnership vehicles to Avon and Somerset. [115617]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: All partnerships accepted into the Safety Camera scheme must comply with the rules of the scheme to qualify for payment of their costs from fixed penalty receipts.

The rules state that all vehicles should be clearly marked as camera enforcement vehicles, and the camera operatives should wear fluorescent clothing and abide by all Health and Safety requirements.

Enforcement should take place at accident hotspots, or at sites or routes with a history of speed related accidents. Camera warning and speed limit reminder signs must also be placed in advance of mobile speed enforcement taking place. Ideally, these should be placed at the beginning of a targeted route for mobile enforcement sites.

Terrestrial Trunked Radio System

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the health implications of the terrestrial trunked radio system; and what plans he has for an investigation into a health and safety study; [115069]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The advanced features and flexibility offered by the new digital radio communications service for the police will contribute significantly to officer and public safety. The service will provide high quality fully encrypted communications to prevent eavesdropping, and for the first time will allow officers to call for assistance in emergencies by the operation of a single key.

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Following the Stewart Report on mobile phones and health, we asked the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to look at the health and safety aspects of the TETRA technology used by Airwave. Their report, prepared by the NRPB's independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, was published in July 2001. It concluded that, "Although areas of uncertainty remain about the biological effects of low level Radio Frequency radiation in general, including modulated signals, current evidence suggests that it is unlikely that the special features of the signals from TETRA mobile terminals and repeaters pose a hazard to health".

The report recommended further research to address remaining areas of uncertainty. We are taking this forward with a comprehensive programme of work, which has found no adverse health effects so far. As part of this programme, the Home Office has commissioned a national health monitoring study of Airwave police users. Regular updates are available on the Home Office website

Advice to planning authorities about radio masts is contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and is supported by the ODPM Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development. No minimal distance from TETRA masts residential properties is recommended. The rule is that international guidelines on energy levels received from the mast should be met in areas accessible to the public. Independent checks of Airwave base stations have shown that these energy levels are hundreds of times less than the guidelines. As the service rolls out the location of TETRA masts within the Airwave service will be available on the "Sitefinder" database managed by the Radiocommunications Agency.

Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001

Mr. McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 on recorded and actual vehicle crime; how many salvage operators have been registered under the Act; how many registrations have been rejected; and how many premises have been inspected by the police using their new powers. [114592]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: It is too soon to make an assessment of the impact of the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 on vehicle crime. The provisions of the Act, and accompanying regulations, regulating the motor salvage industry took effect only on 21 October 2002; those to control the supply of number plates on 1 January and 1 March 2003; and those to implement the Vehicle Identity Check on 7 April 2003. The information sought about registrations of motor salvage operators and inspections of premises under the Act is not available centrally at present. We are in touch with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Local Government Association about an appropriate monitoring regime.

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Victim Support Berkshire

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what support his Department provides to Victim Support Berkshire; and if he will make a statement. [116336]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Home Office grant to Victim Support increased from £12.7 million in 1997–98 to £29.3 million in 2002–03, and has been further increased in the current year to £30 million.

The allocation of the Home Office grant to local victim support schemes is the responsibility of the Victim Support Funding Panel, a sub-committee of the organisation's Board of Trustees. From October 2003, the allocation of funds will be based on a new funding formula which has been developed by the Victim Support National Office. This will enable funding allocations to be tied more closely to the workloads of local schemes.

Victim Support advise that the allocation of Home Office grant to Victim Support Berkshire in 2003–04 is likely to be in the order of 246,000.


Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many visas without restriction were granted in each of the last six months for which figures are available. [116058]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 3 June 2003]: All visas have certain restrictions. Statistics on entry clearance applications granted worldwide in 2000, the latest available, are given in the table. Monthly information for this period is not available as monthly statistics for many posts were not collated centrally at the time. A requirement to produce statistics on a monthly basis for all posts was introduced in April 2002. Data for 2001 and 2002 will be published later this year.

Entry clearance applications granted(23) worldwide, United Kingdom, 2000

Number of persons
Granted for temporary purposes(24)1,424,880
Granted for settlement(25)54,505

(23) Granted initially or on appeal.

(24) Nationals of certain countries currently need a visa to enter the United Kingdom regardless of the purpose of their journey.

(25) Includes applications for a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode.

Young Prisoners

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether youth offending teams have responsibility for young prisoners who are also unaccompanied asylum seekers. [100284]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 3 March 2003]: Youth offending teams are responsible for the supervision of all children and young persons under 18 serving custodial sentences.


John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) discussions have taken place with Interpol and (b) representations he has

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received concerning an award by Interpol to the Commissioner of Police for Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [114989]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 22 May 2003]: No representations have been received and no discussions have taken place. The Political and Security Committee of the EU met on 16 May 2003 where it was agreed that the EU Presidency would write on behalf of the council to the Secretary General of Interpol setting out the EU concerns and asking them to consider the moral and political implications of this appointment. The UK fully supports this move.


Civil Service (People with Disabilities)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Department. [110527]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office, in conjunction with the Scottish Executive, has already undertaken a range of positive action measures to help meet targets of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Department. These include the increased use of open competitions and assessment centres to provide a wider pool of diverse applicants and the appointment of an outreach worker to increase numbers in our under-represented groups, including staff with disabilities. In addition, a varied programme of awareness raising initiatives is planned as part of the European Year of Disabled People, including seminars focusing on particular disabilities and a leaflet, issued to all staff, advising them of internal services and assistance available. Our annual disability self-declaration exercise will also take place later this month.

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