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15 Nov 2004 : Column 1103W—continued

Cyber Crime

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cyber criminals have been prosecuted in the past five years; and if he will make a statement. [198061]

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Paul Goggins: The available information, taken from the Home Office Court Proceedings Database, relates to England and Wales for the years 1998 to 2002 and is shown in the table. It covers defendants proceeded against under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

It is not possible, from the data held centrally, to identify any other offences that may be connected with internet or computer crime, because the circumstances of any such offences are not collected.

Statistics on court proceedings for 2003 will be published on the 18 November.
Number of defendants proceeded against at the magistrates courts for offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, England and Wales 1998 to 2002 1

Offence descriptionStatute19981999200020012002
Unauthorised access to computer materialComputer Misuse Act 1990, Sec.166894
Unauthorised access with intent to commit or
facilitate commission of further offences
Computer Misuse Act 1990, Sec.263346
Unauthorised modification of computer materialComputer Misuse Act 1990, Sec.3448128

(52) These data are on the principal offence basis

Dalit People

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department recognises British South Asians who have their roots in the Dalit caste as an ethnic minority in their own right. [192594]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Race Relations Act 1976 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality national or ethnic origins in specified fields. It is for the courts, not the Government, to decide whether any particular group meets these criteria. We are not aware of any case law which would establish whether or not Dalits are an ethnic group within the meaning of the Race Relations Act.

Dangerous Offenders

Ms Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that hon. Members receive notification of a release of a dangerous offender before the release takes place. [192509]

Paul Goggins: Probation areas are required to notify the Public Protection and Courts Unit (PPCU) when dangerous offenders Critical Public Protection Cases (CPPC) are released into the community. When a release address of a CPPC is confirmed, the PPCU identify whether the local MP has indicated that they wish to be advised in confidence about the release of such a dangerous offender into their constituency. If so, I then write to the MP advising about the release with details of statutory supervision and licence conditions.

The purpose of this arrangement is to ensure the MP is aware of the arrangements to manage the offender's risk. It also enables the MP, if they wish, to make further inquiries of local police and probation services, as well as Ministers.

Departmental Database

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information is contained on his Department's court proceedings database. [191524]

Paul Goggins: The Home Office Court Proceedings database contains records of all defendants prosecuted for at least one criminal offence in the magistrates' courts or the Crown Court, England and Wales.

In each case, the defendant's gender and age are recorded along with some limited information on ethnicity. The database holds a record of each offence for which each individual is prosecuted, indicating the nature of the offence and the outcome of the prosecution. For those offenders found guilty details are recorded of the sentence(s) they have received as well as a measure of the length or value of each sentence. Information about where the case was dealt with, covering court name, type of court and police force area is available.

The database also contains fields covering remand status and, in Crown Court cases, the type of plea.

Aggregate data from the Court Proceedings database are published in the annual command paper "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales" along with four supplementary volumes. These give further breakdowns of the data in relation to offence, age, court, police force area and petty sessional area. The next editions of these publications covering the calendar year 2003 are due to be published in November.

Detection Rates

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures the Department will take to improve detection rates; and what assessment has been made of the reasons for changes in detection rates. [194943]

Mr. Blunkett: The Home Office Police Standards Unit is working with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities, the Office for
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Criminal Justice Reform and the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit, on a programme of work to improve performance on sanction detections.

Several schemes to improve detection rates are being developed and disseminated. These include efficient use of forensic techniques, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and studies on initial response (call-handling), screening and attrition in volume crime investigations. The Police Standards Unit will also issue shortly national good practice guidance on enhancing sanction detections performance.

Those factors that have contributed to recent changes in the detection rate have been explored by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics (RDS) Directorate. A summary of these issues can be found in chapter 7 of the RDS publication "Crime in England and Wales 2003/2004" published in July 2004.

Drugs in Prisons

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to reduce the amount of illegal drugs in prisons in England and Wales. [193155]

Paul Goggins: A comprehensive framework of measures is in place to reduce the amount of illegal drugs in prisons. Passive drug dogs are used to detect traces of drugs on visitors, and other dogs are used actively to search for drugs within prisons, as part of a general drug search strategy. Closed circuit television systems are installed in all visits areas to monitor behaviour, and fixed and low-level furniture is used in visits areas to make it difficult to pass drugs undetected. Sanctions are taken against visitors suspected of smuggling drugs, including visit bans and closed visits. Where there is adequate evidence they are prosecuted. Prisons and police share intelligence about drug routes into prisons.

A random sample of prisoners (5 or 10 per cent. depending on prison capacity) each month is required to submit to a drug test, and a positive test result will lead to disciplinary proceedings. All establishments use and contribute to a Drug Supply Reduction Good Practice Guide and a monthly security bulletin, both of which share information on ways of protecting against drugs.

The Prison Service works with the Police Scientific Development Branch to strengthen physical and technical barriers, particularly in prisons, such as those in city centres, where public spaces are close to the perimeter walls. The Prison Service has a Professional Standards Unit to help to identify staff who may be involved in or at risk of corruption. It will provide relevant information to facilitate investigations.

Electronic Tagging

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the value is of each of the new contracts for the electronic monitoring of offenders awarded by his Department to (a) Securicor Justice Services Ltd and (b) Premier Monitoring Services Ltd; and what the basis is of the estimate of savings to the Home Office of around 35 per cent. arising from the new contracts. [193993]

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Paul Goggins: The value of the electronic monitoring contracts, based on a contract life of five years and assuming substantial volume growth over that timeframe, is approximately £500 million (excluding VAT). The electronic monitoring service has been divided into five geographical areas with roughly equal volumes of business, so the contract value for each area is approximately £100 million (excluding VAT) over five years. Premier Monitoring Services Ltd has been awarded two areas, and Securicor Justice Services Ltd has been awarded three areas.

The charges under the new contracts were applied to the workload under the existing contracts for the Financial Year 2003/04. The result indicated a saving of about 35 per cent. on the actual amounts paid in that year under the existing contracts.

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