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20 Jan 2004 : Column 1208Wcontinued
Caroline Flint: The Government are determined to support the police in tackling the problem of drug abuse with an effective and realistic approach to drug legislation, enforcement and education. Cannabis will not be legalised or decriminalised. It is a harmful drug that will remain illegal following its reclassification as a Class C drug on 29 January.
Our drugs laws and our educational messages to young people must reflect the relative harms of drugs, in accordance with the available scientific and medical advice, if they are to be credible. Reclassification will enable a more convincing and ultimately more effective educational message to be conveyed to young people about the dangers of misusing different types of drug, including cannabis.
We are publishing information about what reclassification will mean in practicethrough making a leaflet widely available to young people and through extensive radio advertising, beginning on 22 Januaryto ensure that the clear message that cannabis is illegal
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and harmful continues to be heard. This information will feed into the three year FRANK publicity campaign to better inform people's understanding of drugs and to provide a single, easily accessible source of advice and support for those affected by drug use. This will help young people, in particular, to understand what will happen to them if they are found in possession of cannabis (or any other illegal drug) or are supplying drugs.
Reclassification also sends a clear signal to the police that the priority is Class A drugs, like heroin and crack cocaine, which do the most harm. The Association of Chief Police Officers' cannabis enforcement guidance is rightly directed at ensuring that those who cause public order problems, those who persist in misusing cannabis, and those who use cannabis close to places where children are present are dealt with appropriately. But where none of these factors apply, it is not right that someone who is an adult who is found with cannabis should take up police time.
Time saved as a consequence of policing cannabis possession offences in this way, following reclassification, will provide the police with an opportunity to focus greater resources on priority areas like tackling Class A drug supply offences.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of damage or injury caused by the use of catapults have been reported in each of the last five years; and how many of these cases have led to (a) arrest and (b) prosecution. 
Ms Blears: We are not satisfied that the problem of the misuse of catapults is serious enough to merit their inclusion on the current list of prohibited weapons. We will continue to monitor the situation.
Paul Goggins [holding answer 13 January 2004]: Coroners' salaries are agreed with the relevant local authorities and the Home Office has no information about individual salary levels. The Cleveland lead authority is Middlesbrough Borough Council and it is a matter for that authority to decide whether or not to provide the requested information.
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Paul Goggins: The Government are committed to reforming the law on corporate manslaughter. We intend to publish our proposals for legislation in the near future, followed by a draft Bill in the spring.
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he will reply to the letter to him dated 4 November from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. M. Atem; 
(3) when he will reply to the letter to him dated 4 November 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. M. Atem. 
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 1 December 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Abdul Hussain Talash. 
Ms Blears: The Government do not collect figures on the cost of credit card fraud but the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) assesses the cost of all plastic card fraud in 2002 (the most recent figures available) to be £424.6 million.
In April 2002, the Government launched a two-year pilot of a unique policing unit (the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU)) based in London, which works closely with the banking industry to reduce organised card and cheque fraud, using intelligence largely provided by the card industry. DCPCU had significant success in its first year including recovery of more than 4,000 cards and 525 cheques, resulting in 59 arrests. Potential savings amount to £13.35 million. DCPCU cases have so far led to 31 convictions, all following guilty pleas.
Government are actively supporting "Chip and PIN", a major finance and retail industry initiative which is the introduction of microchips into payment cards to help authentication combined with the introduction of PIN codes in place of signatures. The banking industry anticipates that, by 2005, the new Chip and PIN technology will eliminate over half of the predicted level of plastic card fraud in the UK.
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Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment his Department has made of the benefits of re-location of staff to north Staffordshire; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what assessment his Department has made of the effect of possible relocation of staff in his Department to north Staffordshire on (a) job creation, (b) sustainable development, (c) the local economy and (d) tackling regional economic disparities; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what plans he has to establish procedures for assessing the impact of possible re-location of staff in his Department to the regions; and if he will make a statement. 
Fiona Mactaggart: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury gave her to similar questions to his Department on 12 January 2004, Official Report, column 516W.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines his Department has set for the police concerning motorists (a) eating, (b) smoking and (c) drinking non-alcoholic drinks whilst driving. 
Caroline Flint: Drivers must have proper control of their vehicles and drive carefully and safely at all times. Any motorist who fails to do so, for whatever reason, is liable to prosecution for failing to exercise proper control of a vehicle, careless or inconsiderate driving, or dangerous driving. The police will consider in each case whether eating, drinking or smoking whilst driving might amount to or contribute to the commission of one of these offences and charge accordingly. The Association of Chief Police Officers is content that the existing legislation provides sufficient powers to prosecute successfully any driving offences that may arise from distracting behaviour.
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(2) how many breath tests were taken by drivers in each year since 1997; and how many accidents were caused by drunk drivers in each year since 1997. 
|Total tests||Positive/refused||Percentage positive/refused|
(14) Figures for 2002 are not available.
|Total number of breath tests|
(15) Figures for 2002 are not available.
|Total numberof accidents||Fatal||Serious||Slight|
Department of Transport
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