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John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for regional police forces in England and Wales. 
Ms Blears: A major consultation exercise on the future direction of police reform was launched on 4 November with the publication of "Policing: Building Safer Communities Together". Among other things this paper opens the debate on whether the current 43 force structure in England and Wales is the right one for today's and tomorrow's policing needs. A copy of the paper is in the Library.
We are clear that any structural change will need to deliver improvements in police performance and delivery of service.
Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) which police forces use (a) the Early Evidence Kit produced by the Forensic Science Service and (b) the Tetra modules for the early securing of samples in complaints of rape and drug rape; and which use neither; 
Ms Blears [holding answer 12 January 2004]: The Forensic Science Service (FSS) have supplied Early Evidence (K106) kits to a total of 30 forces, with 22 of these having ordered more than once. Regular users of the K106 include Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, the Metropolitan Police Service, Northumbria, Staffordshire, Suffolk and Warwickshire. FSS have received new interest and preliminary orders for Hampshire, Kent, Merseyside, North Wales, Surrey and Thames Valley Police.
The Home Office does not hold information on the use of Tetra modules by police forces.
Instruction on collecting evidence and how to conduct investigations is a matter for individual Chief Officers of police.
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Romanies from East Europe have sought access to the UK in the past three years; and how many have been admitted. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 12 January 2004]: It is not possible to say how many persons of Roma origin have sought access and have been admitted to the
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United Kingdom. Data on the ethnic origin of those entering the United Kingdom are not collated and are therefore not available.
Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people were arrested by police forces in Scotland in respect of offences committed in (a) England and (b) Wales in each of the last five years; 
Ms Blears: Information on arrests collected centrally by my Department is based on persons arrested for 'notifiable' offences by police forces in England and Wales only. The information does not identify the location of where an offence was committed.
Information for Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Executive.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research has been carried out by his Department into the dispersal of crime from areas targeted by the street crime initiative into outlying areas not covered. 
Ms Blears: There has been no research into the disbursement of crime from areas targeted by the street crime initiative into outlying areas not covered by the initiative. The street crime initiative focuses on those areas which account for the great majority of street crime. In these areas, robbery fell by 17 per cent. in 200203. Across England and Wales in the same period, recorded robbery fell by 11 per cent. (14 per cent. adjusted for the National Crime Recording Standard).
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times the police have used powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000; how many individuals this involved; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Blunkett: Figures on stops and searches under section 44(1) and section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000 are published annually in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin.
During the financial year 200102, police conducted a total of 9,239 stops and searches under section 44(1) of the Act and 947 stops and searches under section 44(2). During the financial year 200203, police conducted a total of 27,313 stops and searches under section 44(1) of the Act and 4,774 stops and searches under section 44(2). Figures for 200304 will be published when the relevant data has been collated and verified.
The above data relates to the number of times police exercised powers under section 44 of the Act. Information on the number of individuals involved is not collated centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the number of countries (a) on the white list and (b) for which a visa to enter the United Kingdom is required; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The list of 24 countries designated under section 94 of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 can only be added to by Affirmative Order following debate in both Houses of Parliament. The list is kept under review and we will make proposals to amend it when we consider it to be appropriate. We have no plans at this time to amend existing visa requirements, although all such requirements are kept under review.
Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the number of women held in custody in British prisons. 
Paul Goggins [holding answer 11 December 2003]: The number of women held in custody in Prison Service Establishments in England and Wales, as at 14 January 2004 was 4,283.
Information relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for Ministers in the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Office.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what his policy is on returning to Zimbabwe people from that country who have made an unsuccessful claim for asylum in the United Kingdom; 
Beverley Hughes: The Government's position is, as it has been since January 2002, that each asylum (and human rights) claim made by a Zimbabwean national will be considered on its individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Each application is considered against the background of the latest available country information including that obtained from and through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The suspension of removals of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe announced in January 2002 was in response to concerns about the serious deterioration in the situation in Zimbabwe in the build up to the Presidential election held in March that year. We did not regard it as unsafe to return failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, but in view of the rapidly changing conditions we considered that it would be appropriate
We do of course recognise that conditions in Zimbabwe are such that there are individuals who are able to demonstrate a need for international protection. Where they meet the definition of a refugee in the 1951
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Convention, asylum is granted. There may also be individuals whose circumstances make them particularly vulnerable and who would engage our obligations under the ECHR. Where this is the case these individuals will be granted Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave.
In the first nine months of this year we have granted asylum to 755 Zimbabweans and granted other forms of protection, including Humanitarian Protection, Discretionary leave (and their predecessor, exceptional leave to remain), to over 25 others. These statistics show that we are giving protection to the significant number of people who are found to be in need of it.
If an application is refused, there will be a right of appeal to the independent appellate authorities against that decision. Should a claim be refused and any appeal be unsuccessful that means that, for that individual, return to Zimbabwe would be safe. That is why we consider it reasonable to expect an individual in that position to leave voluntarily.
Although it would be safe to return failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, our view at present is that in the wider context of the Government's position on Zimbabwe, it would be inappropriate forcibly to return them at this time.
The policy remains under continuous review.
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