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16 Dec 2003 : Column 862W—continued

Community Support Officers

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he gives to police forces about the insignia on policy community support officers' uniforms which describes their role; and if he will make a statement. [143891]

Ms Blears: The uniform and insignia worn by Community Support Officers is a matter for the Chief Officers of individual police forces. The Home Office's guidance document, available on the police reform web site, states that CSOs' uniforms should make them 'recognisable as such' so as not to confuse the public.

However, many police forces have employees who are designated as both CSOs and appointed as Traffic Wardens. In line with the Home Office circular 065/2002, forces have labelled these CSOs' uniforms with the word 'Traffic'.

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase funding to the West Midlands Police for the expansion of the police community support officers for (a) 2004–05, (b) 2005–06 and (c) 2006–07; and if he will make a statement. [143913]

Ms Blears: By the end of the 2003–04 financial year, the Home Office will be funding 2457 CSOs across 38 police forces. 40 of these are in the West Midlands Police area. These were provided for in the second CSO bidding round (2003–04). West Midlands Police did not put forward a bid in the first round (2002–03).

Across England and Wales, a further 454 CSOs have been funded from other sources, including 21 in the West Midlands.

In 2004–05 the West Midlands Police, along with other forces in England and Wales, will be invited to bid in a third CSO funding round. This round will provide 50 per cent of funding for salary and direct on costs.

Final decisions about funding for future years, beyond 2004–05, have yet to be taken.


Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will guarantee the grant for Crimestoppers for the next four years. [142531]

Ms Blears: The Government believes that Crimestoppers is a highly effective organisation that gathers vital intelligence for the Police and other law enforcement agencies. As laid out in the 1998 Compact on relations with the Voluntary and Community Sector, the Government recognises that continuity of funding is important to voluntary organisations and takes this into account where possible.

Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what additional payments have been made to Capita in respect of amendments and modifications to the Criminal Records Bureau computer system in each financial year since the project began; [142059]

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Ms Blears: Additional payments in respect of amendments to computer systems in each financial year are as follows:



(24) To date.

Based on the projections in the Criminal Records Bureaus (CRB) Corporate and Business Plans 2003–04 the individual unit costs are estimated as follows:


Standard paper25
Standard telephone20
Enhanced paper31
Enhanced telephone26

Standard and Enhanced Disclosures are issued free of charge to volunteers.

There have been no subsequent developments, which would suggest these costs are now materially different.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) for what reasons the Criminal Records Bureau has further increased its fees; [142261]

Ms Blears: We announced on 1 December that the fee charged by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for a Standard Disclosure will rise from £24 to £28 and that for an Enhanced Disclosure from £29 to £33. These increases will take effect from 1 April 2004.

We have always made it clear that the CRB would be self-financed through the fees charged for providing the Disclosure service, and that the fee levels would be regularly reviewed. When the last fee increase was announced in June 2003, we re-affirmed the requirement that the CRB should be self-financing in the medium term—that is, from 2005–06 onwards. The CRB continues to make efficiency savings. However, as the CRB moves towards full cost recovery, it is necessary to reduce the substantial subsidy that the CRB currently receives from the general taxpayer and to make a compensating increase in the Disclosure fee.

Disclosures continue to be issued free to volunteers, saving the voluntary sector some £12 million in 2004–05. We have had no discussions with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) specifically on the latest fee increase. But we agreed earlier to meet representatives of the NCVO to discuss its concerns about the previous fee increase, amongst other issues. In addition, the NCVO is represented on the CRB

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Voluntary and Community Sector Working Group which provides a forum to raise any CRB-related issues affecting the sector.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the costs of Criminal Records Bureau checks for (a) care homes and (b) voluntary organisations. [143062]

Ms Blears: Criminal Records Bureau checks are free for volunteers, saving the voluntary sector some £10 million in 2003–04. In other cases, responsibility for paying the fee rests primarily with individual applicants, although it is open to the employer to reimburse the cost. Since 1 July 2003, the fees for an Enhanced and Standard Disclosure have been £29 and £24 respectively; I announced on 1 December 2003, Official Report, column 51–52WS the fees to apply from 1 April 2004. The total revenue from fees in 2003–04 is estimated to be £47 million. No detailed breakdown is available of the proportion of Disclosure applications, which come from each sector.

Emergency Services (Hoax Calls)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many hoax calls to (a) the emergency services and (b) the fire service there were in each of the last three years in (i) Bolton, (ii) the North West and (iii) the UK. [143247]

Mr. Raynsford: I have been asked to reply.

The following information is available in relation to the fire service:

North West(26)11,67211,48910,639
United Kingdom(26)74,08674,13467,060

(25) Provisional

(26) Includes estimates for incidents not recorded in November 2002 during industrial action

Information about the number of hoax calls received by the police and ambulance services is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Immigration and Nationality Directorate expects to reach a decision in the case of Mr. S. S. of Aylesbury (ref.S108 1532/8). [140970]

Beverley Hughes: A decision was made on 25 November to grant him leave to remain here.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of (a) lorries and (b) other vehicles passing through Calais and Coquelles en route to the UK were not checked for purposes of seeking to discover illegal immigrants over the last 12 months. [142168]

Beverley Hughes: The Calais port operator (Calais Chamber of Commerce) check 100 per cent of freight vehicles passing through Calais (approximately 2,500

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per day) either by Passive Millimetric Wave Imagers (PMMWs), carbon dioxide or heartbeat detectors. Additional checks are also carried out by ferry operators and French customs. All other vehicles such as private cars and vans are systematically checked by the ferry operator before boarding.

We are unable to say what proportion of vehicles (approximately 2,000 per day) are checked by Euro-tunnel at Coquelles prior to boarding. Immigration Service search teams exercising their powers under the Immigration Act currently carry out targeted and intelligence-led searches of UK bound freight and other vehicles within the British Control Zone at Coquelles.

Migrant Workers

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Government will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families. [142294]

Beverley Hughes: The Government has no plans to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the protection of rights of migrant workers and their families.

We believe that the United Kingdom has struck the right balance between the need for immigration control and the protection of the interests and rights of migrant workers and their families. The rights of migrant workers and their families are protected in UK legislation, including the Human Rights Act 1998, and the UK's existing commitments under international law.

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