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13 Jan 2005 : Column 588W—continued

Initiatives (Funding)

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what budget has been allocated to the National Asylum Support Forum in each of the last two years; and how many staff have been employed by the Forum in each year. [201898]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Forum is a regular meeting at which representatives from key stakeholder groups discuss current and future issues in Asylum Support. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate's costs of contributing to this are met from within their overall budget. It is not, therefore, possible to give information on staffing. No specific budget is allocated to it.

Policing (Young People)

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what remedy is available for a young person whose parents are mistakenly informed by the police that he has been spoken to about his conduct, on the basis that his name and address have been given by another individual to the police; [204810]

(2) what standard of proof is required, and upon whom, when there is a question about whether a young person whose parents have been informed in writing that he has been spoken to by the police about his conduct, asserts that he was not the individual spoken to; [204811]

(3) what opportunity is given to a young person to show that he is not the person who was spoken to about his conduct by the police before it is recorded that his parents have been notified that he has been spoken to about his conduct; [204812]
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(4) what police record is kept when a young person has been spoken to by police about his conduct and a letter is sent to his parents; [204858]

(5) what steps are taken against a young person whose parents have been notified on one occasion that he has been spoken to by police, if he is spoken to by police again; [204859]

(6) what action police officers should take to verify the name and address of a young person before they write to his parents to say that he has been spoken to about his conduct; [204860]

(7) what the status is of records kept by police that a young person has been spoken to by police and a letter sent to his parents where no verification of the individual's name and address have taken place; [204861]

(8) if he will recommend to police forces that, when asking for a young person's name and address in advance of sending a letter about his conduct to his parents, the individual's date of birth is also noted; [204862]

(9) if he will introduce a policy that a young person who is spoken to by police about his conduct is taken home to his parents before details are recorded. [204863]

Ms Blears [holding answer 14 December 2004]: The processes used by police forces to check the identity of a young person vary from case to case but will include asking to see any identification they may have on them, taking them home, cross-checking with any peers present at the time or asking their parents to attend the police station after arrest. The individual may also be known to the officer dealing with them. Relatively few young people give false details to the police; where there is doubt the police will make every effort to establish the correct details.

The processes used by police forces to record details of contacts with young people vary from force to force and will also depend upon the circumstances of the incident itself. Not every contact is recorded as that may be inappropriate.

In the case of street bail, the police will write to the parents of the young person concerned asking them to attend with their child at an appropriate time. Again, if it becomes clear that the young person is not the one involved in the matter under investigation, police will make every effort to locate the correct person.

Where the police decide to administer a reprimand or final warning, both of which count as a youth justice disposal, they are required first to make certain that the young person did commit the offence; including their having admitted this to the officer. The police then write to the young person, and their parents if the young person is under 16, asking them to attend at a police station for the reprimand or warning. If for any reason the wrong person has been written to the process will be discontinued with no action recorded against them, and separate attempts made to establish the true identity of the offender.

There are no current plans to change the way in which individual forces interact with young people as their policies will reflect local community concerns and protocols. However Clause 107 of the Serious Organised
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Crime and Police Bill will allow the photographing of suspects elsewhere than at a police station. This will provide a safeguard against misidentification.

Road Traffic Offences (Fatalities)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it a requirement for sentencing in all road traffic cases where a fatality has occurred to be made at the Crown court. [201253]

Paul Goggins: All current offences that include a fatality as an element are indictable only and dealt with in the Crown court. The current review of road traffic offences addresses the adequacy of the current law in respect of the often tragic consequences of bad driving, including the appropriate venue for trial. This work is reaching a conclusion and we aim to publish the consultation paper shortly. We are also responding to the recommendation of the Transport Committee's report "Traffic Law and Its Enforcement" that more cases should be dealt with in the Crown court. The Government are currently preparing its response to the Select Committee and aims to present this in the near future.


John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reassess the need for short custodial sentences, including custody plus, where there is no evidence of a deterrent effect or rehabilitative value. [204476]

Paul Goggins: The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced Custody Plus, which reforms the structure of short prison sentences. Custody Plus will involve a short custodial sentence followed by supervision and rehabilitation in the community.

At present most offenders released into the community after short sentences receive no supervision or support. Under Custody Plus, time spent in custody will be one part of an overall sentence plan, managed by a single offender manager, who will be responsible for ensuring appropriate interventions in order to prevent reoffending.


Freedom of Information

John Mann: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what categories of information are available under Freedom of Information legislation that have not been provided in written parliamentary answers on behalf of the House of Commons Commission in the last three years. [207832]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Freedom of Information Act does not make specific categories of information available, but places a general duty on public authorities to provide information, subject to specified exemptions. The House of Commons is a public authority within the terms of the Act, and written requests for information will be handled in accordance with the terms of the Act. The Act does not apply to parliamentary questions and
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answers, and I therefore do not expect any significant change in the Commission's practice in answering oral or written parliamentary questions as a result of the coming into force of the Act.


European Constitution

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister which speakers will be invited to the planned meeting of FTSE 100 leaders at Downing street on the European Constitution; what the projected cost of this meeting is; and which (a) Ministers and (b) outside organisations will be in attendance. [207109]

The Prime Minister: No such meeting is currently planned.


Mr. Salmond: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what discussions he has had with the US Administration concerning the tactics used in the siege of Fallujah; and if he will make a statement; [207797]

(2) what discussions he has had with the US (a) President and (b) Defence Secretary on the creation of a free fire zone in Fallujah. [207798]

The Prime Minister: The Government and UK Military Commanders are engaged in constant dialogue with the US Government on a range of operations in Iraq. Disclosing details would endanger those operations.

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