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17 Nov 2004 : Column 1586W—continued

Equatorial Guinea

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from the Government of Equatorial Guinea for co-operation in the investigation of alleged conspiracy to carry out a coup d'état in that country; and if he will make a statement. [196434]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 8 November 2004]: It is not the normal policy of the Home Office to discuss requests for mutual legal assistance. However, on this occasion I can confirm that the Home Office has received such a request from the Attorney General of Equatorial Guinea in relation to this matter and is considering it in line with normal procedures. Officials in the Judicial Co-operation Unit of the Home Office have been in close contact with the authorities in Equatorial Guinea and their legal representatives to ensure that we can co-operate as fully as possible with their inquiries. The Home Office is currently awaiting documentation from the Equatorial Guinean authorities, which will enable them to move forward with the case.


Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many United Kingdom citizens are awaiting extradition to the United States; and for what alleged offences. [194230]

Caroline Flint: As at 17 November 2004, there are 21 British citizens, who are the subject of US requests for their extradition from the UK to the US, whose cases have been placed before the courts, including some dual nationals. We do not record individual offences but the charges against the individuals involve:
Number of cases
Drugs offences7
Child assault1

Football Hooliganism

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to reduce football hooliganism since 1997. [198608]

Caroline Flint: Since 1997 the Government have introduced extensive powers to enable police and courts to tackle football disorder, notably in the form of rationalising and extending the scope to impose football banning orders.

Following disorder during Euro 2000 the Home Office has co-ordinated a multi-agency strategy, working closely with police, football authorities and supporter groups towards:
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Statistics published by the Home Office last month confirmed that violence and disorder at football matches is now rare, with an average of less than two arrests per match for offences inside and outside of stadia. The number of banning orders now stands at 2,647.

There is no complacency. Football disorder will not be tolerated but our stadia are now widely recognised as being amongst the safest and securest in the world, and the reputation of English and Welsh football fans at home and abroad has improved dramatically in recent years.

Forced Marriage Unit

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the new joint Home Office-Foreign Office Forced Marriage Unit plans to implement its strategy. [196777]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 10 November 2004]: The Forced Marriage Unit will open officially in December 2004 and will be the government's central unit dealing with forced marriage casework, policy and projects. It will provide information and assistance both to potential victims and to concerned professionals.

Later this year we will launch a consultation on whether to create a specific criminal offence of forcing someone into marriage.

In December we will publish a short guide for education professionals on how to identify and handle cases of forced marriage.

In February 2005 we will publish updated guidance for the police on forced marriage, including accumulated best practice.

Early next year we will distribute a free copy to every secondary school of the second series of the "Watch Over Me" teenage "soap opera" which addresses domestic violence and forced marriage.

Foreign Workers

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his proposals to attract skilled foreign workers into the UK; and what funding exists within his Department to pursue this policy. [193145]

Mr. Browne: The movement of skilled foreign workers into the UK is not a new phenomenon and has always been essential to our economy. For the UK to continue to be able to compete effectively in a global economy it is vital that employers are able to recruit workers with the skills they need to remain competitive, where those cannot be met from within the UK and wider EU workforce.
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We therefore believe that controlled, selective migration, alongside having a firm grip of our borders and dealing vigorously with any immigration or asylum abuse, works for the economic benefit of the whole of the UK.

Our managed migration programmes, including the highly skilled migrant programme, attract fee income which is currently designed to match their cost over a number of years.

Fox Hunts

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Gloucestershire police receives additional resources to police fox hunts when (a) members of the Royal Family and (b) other VIPs are present. [197913]

Ms Blears: Police grant is allocated to police authorities each year, based upon the relative need for policing, derived from the police funding formula. One element within the formula provides for certain security related commitments. For events such as fox hunts, Gloucestershire Constabulary would normally be expected to absorb any additional policing costs within their own budget.

Group Intervention Referral Panel

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the Group Intervention Referral Panel scheme. [193104]

Ms Blears: The Group Intervention Referral Panel is a multi-agency, early intervention initiative, which works with children and young people most at risk of criminality in areas of Lancashire. It is similar to the Youth Inclusion and Support Panel model supported by the Youth Justice Board.

As set out in the Home Office's Strategic Plan, "Confident Communities in a Secure Britain", which was published on 19 July, the Government are committed to increasing the number of such schemes as part of our programme to reduce the number of children and young people drawn into criminal or antisocial behaviour.

Gun Crime (Wales)

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidences of gun crime there were in Wales in 2003; and how many have been reported so far in 2004. [197412]

Caroline Flint: The latest available figures relate to firearms offences (excluding air weapon offences) recorded by the police. There were 169 offences recorded by the police in Wales in 2003–04 and 161 offences recorded in 2002–03.

Hague Programme

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the key targets are of the Hague Programme. [197687]

Caroline Flint: The key targets of the Hague Programme are outlined in the presidency conclusions. This includes the objectives to improve the common
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capability of the Union and its member states to guarantee fundamental rights, minimum procedural safeguards and access to justice, to provide protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention on Refugees and other international treaties to persons in need, to regulate migration flows and to control the external borders of the Union, to fight organised cross-border crime and repress the threat of terrorism, to realise the potential of Europol and Eurojust, to carry further the mutual recognition of judicial decisions and certificates both in civil and in criminal matters, and to eliminate legal and judicial obstacles in litigation in civil and family matters with cross-border implications.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals for action have been made under the Action Plan for the Hague Programme; what the timetable is for the (a) adoption and (b) implementation of each; and if he will make a statement. [197688]

Caroline Flint: The Hague Programme was endorsed by Heads of State at the European Council on 5 November 2004. The European Council has invited the Commission to present an Action Plan in 2005, with proposals for concrete actions and a timetable for their adoption and implementation. The Government will consider this Action Plan once presented.

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