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Temporary Staff

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many agency temporary staff have been working for his Department in each of the last five years, excluding those working for agencies for which no data is kept centrally. [195247]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 1 November 2004]: The Home Office does not normally maintain a central record of agency workers. Agency workers are appointed by agreement with individual units within the Department and the recruitment agencies supplying agency workers. However, a one-off exercise was carried out in April 2004 and I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave on 5 May 2004, Official Report,
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column 1544W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). The information now required for previous years could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.


Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his most recent assessment of the current threat to the UK from terrorists is; and whether an assessment has been made of the impact on the terrorism threat to the UK of involvement in Iraq. [196623]

Mr. Blunkett: As I said in my discussion paper "Counter-Terrorism Powers: Reconciling Security and Liberty in an Open Society", published in February 2004:

This threat remains real and serious. Leading members of al Qaeda have in several statements specifically named the United Kingdom and British interests as targets, and encouraged attacks to be carried out against them. International terrorists and supporters of affiliated groups are known to be active in the UK.

We are maintaining a state of heightened readiness and as I have made clear on a number of occasions we take every feasible precautionary measure to protect British citizens, both here and abroad, consistent with the level of threat.

I regularly receive intelligence assessments that address the situation in Iraq and its wider impact including the threat to the UK and its interests from international terrorism.

Information on the threat to the public is available on the Home Office website: and the Security Service website:

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms are used to scrutinise the effectiveness of spending on counter-terrorism. [196624]

Mr. Blunkett: Counter-terrorism expenditure and programmes which lie under the ownership of the Home Office are subject to the same internal performance management review regimes as other non-CT programmes in the Home Office.

Outside of the Home Office a range of official and ministerial committees exist and which include HM Treasury and Cabinet Office representation, for the purpose of ensuring that CT programmes and spending have the appropriate oversight and review.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the impact of the threat of terrorism on (a) community relations and (b) social cohesion. [196627]

Mr. Blunkett: The Government are aware of concerns in all communities about the threat from terrorism to the UK and its interests. In response to these concerns
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the Government are taking a number of measures to ensure that any tensions affecting particular communities arising from this threat are listened to and dealt with proactively. The Home Secretary has regular meetings with the leaders of faith and ethnic minority communities to discuss their concerns and ensure that they are receiving the support and protection that they need. The Government have progressively strengthened the law against racially and religiously motivated crime, and against racial and religious discrimination and have recently announced their intention to outlaw religious discrimination in the provision of goods and services and to create an offence of incitement to religious hatred.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many TETRA masts are operational; and how many are planned but have yet to be (a) activated and (b) sited. [197990]

Caroline Flint: Approximately 2,950 Airwave TETRA masts are commissioned and operational, with another 300 currently under construction. When the network is completed, which is expected to be by March 2005, there will be around 3,300 masts in total.

Traffic Police

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many traffic police there were in the Metropolitan Police Authority in each of the last five years. [197703]

Ms Blears: Published information on police strength by police force area is available for rank, gender, ethnicity but not function. Figures on police Strength for March 2004 were published in Home Office Statistical Bulletin 13/04, copies of which are available in the Library or on the internet site:

Travel Documents (Prosecutions)

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 8 November 2004, Official Report, columns 469–70W, on travel documents (prosecutions) how many of those convicted were sentenced to terms of imprisonment; for what periods; how many of those convicted were fined; what the amount of such fines were; and what proportion have been paid. [198093]

Mr. Browne [holding answer 15 November 2004]: Between 22 September 2004 and 30 October 2004 the 15 convictions under section 2 have been given custodial sentences, averaging four months. The longest sentence has been five months and the shortest three months. None of those convicted have been given fines in addition to the custodial element of the sentence.

Sentencing is a matter for the courts with the legislation dictating the maximum sentence only. It is open to the court to hand down a custodial sentence, to impose a fine, or both as clearly stated in the legislation
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Uninsured Drivers

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of uninsured drivers in each of the last 10 years. [198841]

Caroline Flint: Official figures are not available, but I understand that estimates by the insurance industry suggest there are 1.2 million people who drive regularly whilst uninsured. Figures on the numbers convicted of driving whilst uninsured are in the table attached.
Findings of guilt at all courts for the offence of using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks(51) total offences by persons(52) England and Wales, 1993 to 2002

Police force area England and Wales:Number of defendants

(51) An offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s1 43(2).
(52) Excludes companies, local authorities etc. One person may have more than one finding of guilt on the same occasion.

Violent Crime

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the reasons for the recently recorded increase in violent crime; and what steps he will take to reverse the trend. [194863]

Ms Blears: With regard to violent crime, the British Crime Survey (BCS), which is considered to be a more reliable indicator of trends in violence than recorded crime, showed there were six per cent. fewer violent crimes in the 12 months to June 2004 compared with the previous year. Over the longer term, the BCS shows that violent crime has fallen by 26 per cent. between 1997 and 2003–04.

It is true that the recorded crime figures recently published showed an increase of 11 per cent. in April-June compared with the equivalent quarter a year earlier. However, it is important to remember that recorded crime data are affected by changes in reporting and recording. With regard to reporting, the BCS estimates that the proportion of violent crimes reported to the police has increased each year since 1999, from 35 per cent. in 1999 to 42 per cent. in 2003–04.

The introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002 led to an increase in the number of violent offences recorded by the police. An analysis of the impact of NCRS, both nationally and for individual forces, was published in two companion volumes to "Crime in England and Wales 2002–03". Both volumes are available on the Home Office website. The volume covering the national picture is available at: and the volume covering individual forces is available at:
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The reports said that the impact for offences of violence against the person was 23 per cent. in 2002–03 but also said that there was evidence that the effect was continuing and that there would be a further increase irrespective of any real changes in the level of violent crime.

Data from individual police forces suggests that the data audits following the introduction of the NCRS has encouraged increased recording, particularly for minor violence.

We are taking many steps to reduce violent crime. We have, for example, taken concerted action against street robbery, focusing on the highest priority areas. We have increased numbers of police officers to deal with all crime and there are a record level of police officers in England and Wales. There were nearly 140,000 as at August 2004—an increase of 12,570 since March 1997. There were also 4,094 police community support officers in August 2004. On 31 March 2004 there were 67,597 police (support) staff and 10,988 special constables.

Low level thuggery is being tackled by measures to reduce alcohol-related crime and antisocial behaviour. Almost half of violent crime is alcohol-related. The Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy sets out how we intend to address the problems associated with alcohol, building on the good practice already developed by the police, local authorities and the drinks industry. This summer some 80 local areas have taken part in a campaign focusing on those who sell alcohol to under 18s, bars and clubs who promote irresponsible and rowdy behaviour, and drunken yobs who cause violence on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

We are following this up with a programme which will help local areas reduce violent crime and improve partnership working at the local level. In the first instance the programme will take place in six police force areas who are already delivering solutions to violent crime; it will begin in November and further areas will join the programme later. We are focusing in the first instance on those areas with the largest proportion of more serious violence.

Domestic violence and sexual offences, including those against children, are also being tackled. The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill is currently going through Parliament and contains a number of measures which will improve protection offered to victims and sits at the heart of a wide-ranging programme of work. The Sex Offences Act 2003 was implemented on 1 May, including measures to: prevent grooming both on the internet and elsewhere; strengthen the monitoring of registered sex offenders; and modernise laws relating to sexual offending.

Crime involving firearms is comparatively rare but is nonetheless a cause for concern and we are taking action against it. There are new powers including a five year minimum sentence for illegal possession of a firearm and further restrictions on possession and use of firearms; £1.5 million of confiscated criminals' money is to be put back into the community to tackle gun crime.
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