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10 Jun 2003 : Column 823W—continued

Prison Service

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reduce staff shortages in the prison service. [116047]

Paul Goggins: The Prison Service has increased prison officer recruitment from an average 1,000 a year to 2,096 during 2002–03. In line with all other staff recruitment, responsibility for officer recruitment has now been devolved to area and establishment level in order that areas of specific need can be addressed more effectively by local advertising and recruitment campaigns.

Recruitment campaigns are currently being run in areas where shortages have been identified and provision has been made to train a further 2,200 new officers during the current financial year. Additionally, to assist in the retention of staff in areas of high turnover, local allowances have been introduced.

Recovered Assets Fund

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what financial benefits from the confiscation of criminals' assets have been designated to the Recovered Assets Fund; what this money has been spent on; and if he will make a statement. [117683]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: A total of £14.5 million of receipts recovered from confiscated criminal assets was distributed through the Recovered Assets Fund (RAF)

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in the year 2002–03. 48 projects received funding under the scheme. Grants were allocated to projects under the following RAF criteria:

Special Constables

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables are employed in each police area in England. [117772]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Police strength figures are collected by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate. The latest available figures for Special Constables in England are for March 2002 and are shown in the table.

Police forces (England)Strength at 31 March 2002
Avon and Somerset364
Devon and Cornwall689
Greater Manchester338
City of London36
Metropolitan police680
North Yorkshire185
South Yorkshire206
Thames Valley356
West Mercia339
West Midlands598
West Yorkshire349

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Theft from Vehicles

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what priority his Department is giving to reducing the incidence of the theft of goods from heavy goods vehicles; and if he will make a statement; [118594]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Reducing vehicle crime, including thefts from heavy goods vehicles, is an essential part of the Government's crime reduction strategy. One measure of the priority that the Home Office attaches to reducing such thefts is the support we are giving to the National Stolen Lorry Load Desk. The Desk, run by the Metropolitan police, collects and analyses information about thefts from heavy goods vehicles and shares it with police and industry to help prevent and detect this crime. The Home Office supported the Desk financially with contributions of £36,000 in 2001–02 and £50,000 in 2002–03, and we are providing £50,000 in 2003–04; matching contributions are raised by industry.

Information on the numbers and values of thefts of goods from lorries is not available centrally. But information provided by the National Stolen Lorry Load Desk shows that the value of property stolen from heavy goods vehicles in thefts notified to and recorded by the Desk amounted to £100 million in 2000, £145 million in 2001 and £124 million in 2002.

Traffic Offences

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which constabularies operate quotas for the minimum number of people fined for traffic offences; and if he will make a statement. [116461]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No constabulary operates such quotas. When a motorist is detected committing an offence the police must decide according to the circumstances of each particular case whether to offer a fixed penalty. If a fixed penalty is not offered, it will be for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide on prosecution and if there is a prosecution for the court to decide on conviction and any consequent fine.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many motorists were issued with fixed penalty notices by each constabulary in England and Wales in (a) 1997 and (b) 2002. [116462]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Information for 1997 and 2001 (latest available) can be found in Tables 20(a), (b) and (c) of the annual Home Office publication, Offences relating to motor vehicles, England and Wales: supplementary tables. Copies are in the Library.

2002 data will be available in the autumn.

Young Offenders

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many young people under the age of

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18 were serving custodial sentences in England and Wales on 1 May 2003. [116711]

Paul Goggins: There were 2,259 young people under the age of 18 serving custodial sentences in England and Wales on 1 May 2003.

Visa Applications

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons have been granted (a) indefinite leave to remain and (b) exceptional leave to remain in each of the last four years for which figures are available. [115228]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 22 May 2003]: The latest available information is given in the table.

By way of background, indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can be granted in a variety of circumstances, for example to married and unmarried partners who have successfully completed a two year probationary period, long residence, in employment and business categories, such as work permit employment. A migrant can apply to settle in the United Kingdom as long as they meet the requirements set out in the Rules. In general these are that the migrant has been continuously resident in the UK save for a short trips abroad, for a minimum of four years; and still meets the requirements for stay under that category; and is still required in the UK for employment. Since July 1998, a person granted refugee status will have also been granted ILR concurrently.

Under the Immigration Rules, ILR will also be granted to dependent children of people settled here who are aged under 18. Also, children who are admitted for adoption to someone settled here will qualify for ILR, once the formal adoption proceedings have been completed.

A person who has completed four years exceptional leave may also apply for ILR. The rises in grants of exceptional leave to remain (ELR) have been contributed by a record number of initial decisions in 2001 (119,015) and high levels in 2002 (82,715), and by changes in the mix of applicant nationalities. All cases are decided on their individual merits. The main nationalities to be granted ELR in 2002 were Iraqi (8,130), Afghans (4,710) and Somali (1,400).

On 1 April 2003, exceptional leave for failed asylum seekers was replaced by two forms of leave—Humanitarian Protection (HP) and Discretionary Leave (DL). They are more focused than exceptional leave and early signs are that we will see a reduction in those granted HP and DL compared to those who were previously granted exceptional leave. We have also ensured that the Secretary of State's over-riding discretion in immigration matters has been retained by introducing the concept of Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR). This, as previously, will be used in those wholly exceptional cases in which it would be inappropriate to remove someone from the UK even though they do not qualify under the Rules.

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Table 1: Grants of settlement and exceptional leave to remain(20), United Kingdom(21), 1998–2002

Total grants of settlementAsylum cases granted ELRExceptional leave granted when applicant had not applied for asylum
TotalOn removal of time limit (ILR)Settlement on arrival (ILE)Cases considered under normal procedures(22)Considered under backlogclearance exercise(23)

n/a = Not yet available

(20) Information is of initial decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.

(21) Figures rounded to the nearest 5, with * = 1 or 2.

(22) Cases considered under normal procedures may include some cases decided under the backlog criteria.

(23) Cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre 1996 asylum application backlog.

(24) Provisional data


Data for 2002 will be published in August 2003.

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