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23 Jun 2004 : Column 1414W—continued

Departmental Staff (Scotland)

Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Home Office staff are employed in Scotland. [178100]

Fiona Mactaggart: Staff employed by the Home Office within Scotland are shown in the following table. These staff are from the Main Home Office, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, and the United Kingdom Passport Agency.
Mandate region: Scotland

Communities Group11
Immigration and Nationality Directorate57
UK Immigration Service (IND)157
UKPA Glasgow285

Distraction Crimes

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many distraction crimes were reported in each of the last 10 years; and how many successful prosecutions followed in each of those years; [178416]
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(2) how many distraction burglaries there were in each (a) local authority and (b) constituency in each of the last 10 years, listed in descending order and according to region. [178419]

Ms Blears: The information is not available as requested.
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However, police force data on distraction burglary were collated in special exercises in four recent years. These are available only on a force-by-force basis, as set out in the table. The figures need to be treated with considerable caution as there was no standard definition of distraction burglary and this type of crime is considerably under-reported.
Recorded distraction burglary in England and Wales

Police force area1998–992000–012001–022002–03
Avon and Somerset378545686542
CumbriaNot available262631
Devon and Cornwall204197151192
Greater Manchester1,4131,4621,3121,945
LeicestershireNot available257330291
London, City of0931
Metropolitan Police4,4914,3095,0154,567
North Wales124384654
North Yorkshire104175147188
South Wales19017091132
South Yorkshire374571724978
Thames Valley599706731685
West Mercia176195270313
West Midlands1,4011,0221,6301,126
West Yorkshire9549681,1701,141
WiltshireNot available162176261

With effect from 1 April 2003, distraction burglary became a sub-category of "burglary dwelling" under the Home Office counting rules, allowing data on this type of crime to be collated routinely. Crime figures for 2003–04 will be published in July.

Prosecution data are not available, as the law does not separately define distraction burglary.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to prevent distraction crimes; and if he will make a statement. [178418]

Ms Blears: Distraction burglary is a callous crime against mainly older members of society. We are determined to do as much as we can to prevent it.

We set up a Distraction Burglary Task Force in 2000 to gather data, publicise good practice and increase the awareness of the problem, particularly among vulnerable people. The Task Force includes representatives of the police, voluntary organisations, the utility companies, banks and local authorities.

Many measures are now in place to prevent distraction burglary including in a number of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships where this crime has been identified as of local concern. These measures include improving the appearance and security of homes, sharing intelligence between all the involved agencies and educating people in crime reduction measures. In addition, from February to April 2004, the Home Office ran a publicity campaign to raise awareness of distraction
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burglary and to promote safe doorstep behaviour. Over 100,000 "How to Beat the Bogus Caller" leaflets were distributed, many regional and local newspapers published articles on local incidents and initiatives and over 30 local radio stations ran items about distraction burglary and how to combat it.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions his Department has had with other Government Departments on combating crime resulting from cold calling. [178420]

Ms Blears: In May 2004 the Office of Fair Trading published a report on doorstep selling. This included a recommendation that the Department of Trade and Industry consult on the option of banning cold calling to offer property services.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), will respond to the report on behalf of the Government. I have discussed the importance of tackling doorstep crime with him. Officials from my Department and his, alongside representatives of other Departments and the devolved Administrations, are already taking forward work in response to the report. The response will be made within 90 days of the report's receipt.

EU Workers

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's review of quotas for workers in (a) agriculture, (b) hospitality and (c) food processing in the light of EU enlargement. [179332]

Mr. Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the House on this issue on 19 May 2004.

Excessive Drinking

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much police (a) time and (b) resources were spent on dealing with problems associated with excessive drinking in the latest year for which figures are available. [179646]

Ms Blears: No specific grant is made available to police forces to deal directly with the problems associated with excessive drinking. However, the total Government provision for policing to be supported by grant or spent centrally on services for the police amounts to £10.1 billion, an increase of £2.3 billion or 30 per cent. since 2000–01. It is for individual police forces to decide how they allocate their resources to tackle their crime and disorder priorities.

There is provision within the Building Safer Communities Fund (BSC) for Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to tackle alcohol-related crime—just one of the many crime reduction uses to which BSC funding may be put. Total funding for England and Wales in 2003–04 was £72.3 million, and a further £74 million is being made available this year.

The Government attach a high priority to tackling alcohol-fuelled violence. On the 11 June 2004 we announced that the Home Office Police Standards Unit, working in partnership with the Association of Chief
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Police Officers, will be inviting forces and other partners from across the country to take part in a co-ordinated programme of enforcement and initiatives to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence. The campaign includes targeting the irresponsible few who encourage underage and binge drinking and targeting drunken behaviour. This takes forward one of the recommendations in the Government's Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy (AHRS) for England.

The Government's AHRS was published on 15 March 2004. The strategy proposes a series of measures to address the problems of those town and city centres that are blighted by alcohol misuse. The Government are working closely with a range of partners from the drinks industry to statutory authorities to help deliver the recommendations in the AHRS and tackle alcohol misuse.

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