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Correctional Services Review

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons Patrick Carter was selected to carry out the correctional services review. [182291]

Paul Goggins: Patrick Carter, a non-executive member of the Prison Service Board and the Home Office Board, was selected to carry out the correctional services review on the strength of his previous experience within the correctional services.


Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his officials at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate will answer letters dated 12 March and 20 April from the hon. Member for Vauxhall about a constituent, reference number: A571357. [184699]

Mr. Browne: A response to the letter of 12 March 2004 was sent to my hon. Friend on 9 July 2004. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate do not have a record of receiving my hon. Friend's letter of 20 April 2004 but they are contacting her office to clarify the matter.

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when a reply will be sent to the hon. Member for Walsall, North's letter of 8 June concerning a constituent, ref 5835523. [185290]

Mr. Browne: I wrote to my hon. Friend on 24 August.
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Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 2 June 2004 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms K Akhtar. [185347]

Mr. Blunkett: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 27 July 2004.

Country Status

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many countries had their status changed from unsafe to receive failed asylum seekers in the last 12 months. [185208]

Mr. Browne: Countries of origin of asylum seekers are not designated as safe or unsafe to receive failed asylum seekers. All asylum and human rights claims are considered on their individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Individual asylum seekers found by both the Home Office and the independent Appellate Authority not to be at risk of persecution and not in need of humanitarian protection are considered for removal on a case by case basis.

Separately, section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provides for the designation of countries which are considered to be generally safe and from which many asylum claims are likely to be clearly unfounded.

Crime (Public Expenditure)

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent in real terms on tackling crime in each of the last 25 years, broken down by police authority area. [186159]

Ms Blears: This information is not available. General government grants (Principal Home Office police grant and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Revenue Support grant) are normally distributed to police authorities using the police funding formula that takes account of the whole range of policing activity, including tackling crime.

Force net expenditure on policing in England and Wales has increased from £1,468 million in 1979–80 to an estimated £9,157 million in 2003–04, an increase of 100 per cent. in real terms.

Crime Reduction Policy

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress made towards local crime reduction targets in each area participating in the Small Retailers in Deprived Areas scheme. [160202]

Ms Blears [pursuant to her reply, 10 March 2004, Official Report, c.1573W]: Due to a printing error, the percentage sign was missing from the answer given. A corrected version is as follows.
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In June 2001, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced funding of £15 million over three years for a project to improve the security of small retailers in the 10 per cent. most deprived areas throughout England and Wales.

Individual projects are developed by local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in conjunction with Regional Home Office Directors. Part of this process is to ensure adequate local targets have been set, and systems put in place to measure performance against them.

A detailed evaluation of the scheme is currently under way and will be completed in the autumn. The findings, which will be widely disseminated, will identify effective interventions that have been shown to have a beneficial impact on crime against small retailers. The evaluation will also examine other ways in which the scheme has impacted upon businesses and the surrounding retail environment—such as the fear of crime among business, fear of crime among customers, business viability and partnership working.

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will amend the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to exempt all police officers from being required to be available for jury service; and if he will make a statement. [181750]

Ms Blears: We have no intention of amending the provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 relating to jury service. Under these provisions a large number of occupations ceased to be exempt from, or to have a right to decline, serving on juries. This will allow juries to be more representative of the communities that they serve.

Criminal Records Bureau

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what advice Essex police have given to the Criminal Records Bureau as to their estimated despatch time for returning applications; what factors affect the time scale for the process; and if he will make a statement; [185801]

(2) what the cause of delay to processing Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) application No. 4881924 is; on which date the CRB forwarded this application for checking by the Essex police; and when the constituent of the hon. Member for Thurrock can expect a reply. [185803]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 July 2004]: The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) received application No. 4881924 on 7 May 2004. Following initial checks, the application was sent to Essex Constabulary in mid-May and it was returned to the bureau on 19 July. The Disclosure was completed and issued to your constituent on this date and I trust that it has now been received. I apologise for any inconvenience caused by its delay.

The Criminal Records Bureau aims to complete 90 per cent. of all Enhanced Disclosures within four weeks and has been regularly meeting these targets since June 2003.
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Factors such as the volume of applications, the number and availability of staff, the number and type of police data bases searched and the existence of any relevant intelligence on Disclosure applicants can affect processing time scales at any police force, including Essex Constabulary. The estimated despatch time for returning applications can therefore fluctuate, depending upon variations of these factors.

In recent months, and due to a combination of these factors, checks undertaken by Essex Constabulary have been taking longer to complete and a backlog of cases has built up.

Although this work is the responsibility of the constabulary, the CRB has been working closely with them to manage the backlog of cases and to minimise any disruption and inconvenience to Disclosure applicants.

The CRB has in fact seconded a number of its staff in recent months to Essex and will shortly be sending more staff to help clear the outstanding work. This work is expected to be finished during the next two-three months and the backlog eliminated.

Departmental Annual Report

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the production of his Department's latest annual report cost; how many copies were printed; how many copies of it were sold at its cover price; to whom copies of the report have been provided free of charge; and how many copies were provided free of charge. [171146]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office Departmental Report 2004 (Cm 6208) is the main vehicle by which the Home Office explains its aims and performance for 2003–04, and how it organised itself to deliver. As such it plays an important part in maintaining accountability to both Parliament and the public. It also provides key external stakeholders with an overview of the Department's activities as a whole.

In order to ensure transparency, the report is structured around our key aims and the key PSA targets and other priorities that underpin these.

The report's publication was handled by the Stationery Office Ltd. (TSO). Under the terms of the contract with TSO that company generally meets the costs of printing and publication and uses its commercial judgement as to the number of copies which it prints and the sale price.

The direct costs of production borne by the Home Office and the printing costs of those copies ordered by the Department came to £65,282 excluding VAT and £72,210 including VAT. This excludes the costs of staff time within the Department, obtaining estimates of which would involve disproportionate cost. 1,150 copies were purchased by the Department for distribution within its headquarters (to directors, board members and on request to other members of the Senior Civil Service) and to senior managers in key delivery partners such as probation areas, police forces, and Government offices. Copies were also made available to Parliament and the press. The report is also available without charge on the Department's website.
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