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21 Jan 2004 : Column 1271W—continued

Civic Renewal

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to encourage people to take part in community action for the purposes of civic renewal. [147239]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 12 January 2004]: The Home Office recognises that local communities are best placed to define and solve their own problems and that they should be able to work with the relevant authorities and organisations in a flexible way. This approach is termed civil renewal and can be applied across areas such as policing, criminal justice, and the work of drug action teams.

In terms of policing and police reform, for example, in the last six months three police authority areas have been identified—Cheshire, Merseyside and Northumbria—to test out new ways to engage with communities. The lessons they learn will be fed through to the work of a Practitioner Panel which will identify and share good practice in citizen-focused policy and community engagement.

Reform of the criminal justice system will continue to address the challenge of developing more effective community engagement, so that individuals and communities affected by crime can play an active part in solving the crime-related problems in their local areas, and can feel greater confidence in the criminal justice system.

As another example of the civil renewal approach, the Home Office is monitoring what drug action teams across the country do to engage local communities. Progress is good, including a grants scheme for black and minority ethnic community groups to carry out research into the health needs of their communities and generate ideas for service improvements.

The Home Office is currently consulting the community and voluntary sector about practical ways to build capacity in communities in order to achieve civil renewal. It has also recently launched the Active Citizenship Centre, which is the centre for research in best practice and case studies of civil renewal.


Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter of the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham of 10 July 2003. [144158]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 16 December 2003]: The Home Office can find no trace of the original correspondence. After being provided with a copy, I replied to the hon. Member on 18 December 2003.

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his normal practice is for the length of time taken to reply to correspondence. [145620]

Caroline Flint: The Home Office's published targets for responding to correspondence are as follows:

Length of time taken to reply to correspondence
Correspondence from Member of parliament relatingto matters other than immigration, nationality andHM Prison Service(20)15
Correspondence from Members of Parliament relatingto immigration, nationality and HM Prison Service(20)20
Correspondence, including emails, from members ofthe public(20)20

(20)Working days

A great deal of effort has been put into improving performance over the past six months following the introduction of the new Correspondence Tracking System.

The latest available figures show that 60 per cent. of letters from hon. Members are now replied to within the target. This is an increase on the figure of 36 per cent. achieved in May 2003. Although this indicates a considerable improvement, the department is committed to improving this further.


Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his assessment of the current risk to British security posed by cyber-terrorism. [148761]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 19 January 2004]: The National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) is continually monitoring the threat of electronic attack on the UK's Critical National Infrastructure. NISCC's assessment is that the overall threat from electronic attack is increasing but remains less attractive than a conventional attack. While the threat of the sort of attack that could disable a critical service is considered to remain low, less serious but damaging attacks that might deface a website or deny service from a website are assessed to be more likely.

Uninsured Drivers

Andy Burnham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people in each police force area were charged by police with driving without insurance in each of the last five years. [148742]

Ms Blears: Information on the number of people charged is not collected centrally.

However, the number of prosecutions for the offence of using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks is given in the table from 1997 to 2001 by police force area.

Information for 2002 will be available in the spring.

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Total proceedings at the magistrates courts for the offence of using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks(21) total offences by persons(22)—England and Wales

Number of offences
Police force area19971998199920002001
Avon and Somerset15,35416,89115,09414,60913,022
Bedfordshire4,7244,4493,4773,594 4,651
Devon and Cornwall8,4227,2317,4939,2338,648
Greater Manchester30,63630,82933,20333,76237,068
London, City of2,6693,1272,5171,7381,824
Metropolitan Police42,26635,05731,26929,63532,015
North Yorkshire3,9253,7424,0013,9033,541
South Yorkshire11,22311,55111,75912,68914,615
Thames Valley11,88411,94513,54012,81111,723
West Mercia7,0758,2077,4467,686 7,784
West Midlands29,86230,91627,40028,14027,000
West Yorkshire23,97823,54625,76926,52727,616
North Wales4,8594,452-4,1013,6963,370
South Wales14,82816,186.15,40314,61513,803
England and Wales396,967389,956387,266391,551388,167

(21) An offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s143(2).

(22) Excludes companies, local authorities etc. One person may be proceeded against more than once on the same occasion.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many speeches during 2003 he declared support for the Government's policy on the euro. [147298]

Caroline Flint: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 12 January 2004, Official Report, column 516W.

Give as You Earn Scheme

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of staff in his Department contribute to a charity through the Give as You Earn scheme; how much money is donated to charity per month by staff in his Department through the scheme; and what steps he is taking to encourage greater participation in the scheme by staff in his Department. [143906]

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Fiona Mactaggart: Figures for staff in central Home Office and Immigration and Nationality Directorate contributing to the Give as You Earn (GAYE) scheme are outlined in the table. Figures are taken from the November 2003 payroll. Figures for other agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) are currently not available.

Give as You Earn scheme

Number of payees contributing770 out of 20,162
Percentage of payees contributing3.82
Monthly amount collected£8,877.48

Home Office staff can find information on how to contribute to the GAYE scheme from their personnel unit; or electronically, via our Intranet. Promotion of the scheme has recently taken place in some small areas in London. The Human Resources Policy Section is currently working on a strategy to publicise the scheme across the whole Department. This work has been suspended because of the current pay dispute, but I would envisage that the strategy will be implemented in the spring.

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