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20 Jan 2004 : Column 1212W—continued

Drug-related Crime

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the costs of drug-related crime in each year since 1997. [148605]

Caroline Flint: Estimates of the costs of drug-related crime are not available annually. However, a recent study published by the Home Office provides estimates of the total economic and social costs of Class A drug use and puts these in the range of £10.1 to £17.4 billion for the year 2000. These costs include the costs of drug-related crime, which are estimated to fall in the range £8.8 to £15.8 billion. The costs of drug-related crime include victim costs and those accruing to courts, prisons and other parts of the criminal justice system.

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Durham Police Force

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the strength of the Durham police force was in each year since 2000, broken down by rank; and how many civilian personnel there were in each year. [148780]

Ms Blears: The information requested is set out in the table. Decisions on the number of officers in each rank below that of Assistant Chief Constable is the responsibility of the Chief Constable.

(I) Police Strength by Rank (Durham Constabulary)

Rank31 March 200031 March 200131 March 200231 March 2003
ACPO Ranks(16) 3333
Chief Superintendent(17) 11
Chief Inspector23212118

(16) ACPO ranks include Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable.

(17) Chief Superintendent rank was abolished in April 1995 and was reintroduced from 1 January 2002. Separate collection of Chief Superintendent and Superintendent data was not reintroduced until March 2003.

(II) Police (Support) Staff

Year(18)Number of Police Staff

(18) As at 31 March

Early Release

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many under 18-year-olds have been released under the early release of short-term prisoners; and how many were assigned a mentor on release. [146997]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 12 January 2004]: The standard custodial sentence (up to 24 months) for offenders under 18 is the Detention and Training Order (DTO). Half the term is spent in custody and the remaining half under supervision in the community. Early release from custody (of one month, in the case of offenders serving terms of eight, 10 or 12 months; or one or two months, for those serving 18 or 24 months) has been available since the DTO was introduced in April 2000. In May 2002, new guidance specified that, in future, DTO trainees granted early release would be electronically monitored up to their original release-from-custody date.

Since 29 May 2002, 2,451 DTO trainees have been granted early release. The guidance does not specify that those released should be assigned a mentor. It is open to Youth Offending Teams to arrange this, and those offenders who undertake an Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme during the community part of their DTO are usually assigned a mentor, but figures on this are not collected centrally.

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Emergency Services (Radio Systems)

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the Government will ensure that usable spectrum is available to bidders seeking to supply and manage new radio network systems for the emergency services following the award of the contract for a new modern digital radio system for the police service to Airwave/02 in February 2000. [147809]

Ms Blears: Potential suppliers of public safety radio networks may apply to the interdepartmental Public Safety Spectrum Policy Group (PSSPG) for suitable radio spectrum. The PSSPG is an interdepartmental committee that ultimately answers to the UK Spectrum Strategy Committee of the Cabinet Office. Regularly updated information on available spectrum is available on the Ofcom website.

EU Accession Countries

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether the residents of the nations securing membership of the EU in May will have automatic right of access to the United Kingdom on that date; and whether they will have access to social security and housing benefits; [146651]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 12 January 2004]: Under the EU Accession Treaty, citizens of all 10 new member states will enjoy the same right to travel freely across the EU as is enjoyed by citizens of the current member states, for all but one of the purposes envisaged by the EC Treaty. The Accession Treaty allows the 15 current member states to impose temporary restrictions on the right of citizens of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia to travel freely across the EU for the purpose of work. These restrictions may last, at the most, until 30 April 2011. Cypriot and Maltese citizens will enjoy free movement for work across the EU automatically on accession.

The United Kingdom Government, along with Denmark, Netherlands, Greece, Ireland and Sweden, have decided to allow access to their labour markets immediately upon the accession. Many other member states have yet to make any final decisions. France and Germany have indicated that they will impose some temporary restrictions on workers for at least two years from accession.

Citizens of the new member states will have the same rights and restrictions as citizens of existing EU member states in relation to access to social security and housing benefits.

Under EC law, a citizen of the European Union may not be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality and must enjoy the same access to social security benefits as a national of the state of residence.

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The habitual residence test, which applies to income related non-contributory benefits, such as housing benefit and pension credit, has to be satisfied before a person can receive these benefits.

Entitlement to contributory benefits, such as state pension, depends on payment of national insurance contributions.

Citizens of other EU member states cannot come to the UK simply to claim benefits. They must first meet the Habitual Residence Test (HRT). The HRT covers non-contributory benefits including income support, jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit, and council tax benefit.

The Government are committed to ensuring that the benefits system and the taxpayers who support it are protected against abuse by people with little or no connection with the UK. Measures already in place under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, together with the HRT, help insure this. This area is kept under constant review to ensure that the benefit system remains fully robust and resistant to abuse.

Female Genital Mutilation

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what funding was provided to local authorities for the training of public service providers, with particular reference to police, teachers, doctors and nurses, to enable them to understand and identify women who have undergone female genital mutilation in (a) 2001, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003; [146054]

Paul Goggins: No specific funding was provided to local authorities for this purpose.

However, the voluntary organisation the Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development (FORWARD) received a core grant of £40,000 for each of the three years to 2004–05 and an additional sum of £25,000 for each of the three years to 2003–04 for a project aimed at mobilising professionals who work with children from communities where Female Genital Mutilation is practised. This involves assessing the training needs of a range of professionals and offering them training.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 received Royal Assent on 30 October. The Government will take steps to ensure that relevant professionals are informed about this new legislation and their duties under it.

Forensic Science Service

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the case for private finance initiative for the Forensic Science Service to upgrade its laboratories. [148213]

Ms Blears: The independent McFarland Review identified that if the Forensic Science Service (FSS) were to remain a Trading Fund, funding for investment in

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laboratories would probably need to come from some form of Private Finance Initiative (PFI). This has not been assessed in detail as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, accepted the review's main conclusion that more fundamental changes were needed to secure the FSS' future growth and that this should be achieved by its transformation into a public private partnership.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of expenditure required to upgrade the Forensic Science Service laboratories in each of its centres; and if he will list the centres. [148365]

Ms Blears: Assessment of the capital expenditure requirement for the Forensic Science Service (FSS) was undertaken within the recent review of this organisation, led by Robert McFarland. It was estimated that the FSS requires capital expenditure in the region of £20 million to £30 million to sustain business at its present level in the emerging competitive climate. The Review team did not undertake a detailed study of the FSS's capital investment needs, which would be necessary to determine a precise figure and establish the investment required at each of the centres.

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