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31 Jan 2005 : Column 685W—continued

Blasphemy Law

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons he has decided not to bring forward legislative proposals to repeal the law on blasphemy; and if he will make a statement. [207701]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Government have no immediate plans to amend the laws on blasphemy. We acknowledge that there are a wide variety of views on whether the blasphemy laws should be retained, repealed or extended, but we have not sought to amend the current law on blasphemy in the absence of a consensus on how to proceed. For example in a recent ICM poll for The Guardian although 46 per cent. of the public believe that the blasphemy laws should be repealed, 38 per cent. believe it should be kept on the statute book. We will however, keep the issue under review, particularly as the benefits of the new provision against incitement to religious hatred are realised.

Carers (Police Checks)

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the recommended maximum time is for police checks on carers working with (a) vulnerable adults and (b) children. [208073]

Ms Blears: There is no recommended maximum time for police checks on carers working with vulnerable adults and children. The Criminal Records Bureau aims to complete disclosure applications across all sectors within the shortest time possible.

The Criminal Records Bureau has published service standards, which are to issue 90 per cent. of standard disclosures within two weeks and 90 per cent. of enhanced disclosures within four weeks for all employment sectors. The bureau has achieved this service standard on an annualised basis since November 2003.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what grant schemes are available to fund the capital costs of CCTV; what criteria are used to assess applications; what recent applications have been received; and what future grant funding will be available. [210613]

Ms Blears [holding answer 24 January 2004]: Under the Crime Reduction Programme (CRP) CCTV Initiative, £170 million was provided to local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) to set up 684 public space CCTV schemes across England and Wales, to tackle crime and disorder and the fear of crime.
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The CRP CCTV Initiative ended in 2002, but funding opportunities remain available under the Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF) and the BCU Fund. £72.3 million and £74 million was made available in 2003–04 and 2004–05 respectively from the BSCF and was allocated directly to CDRPs to tackle local crime priorities using a raft of interventions, including CCTV. A further £50 million was allocated to police forces under the BCU Fund in both years. In addition, police forces may include CCTV provision at their discretion from police capital grant to support local capital programmes. The Home Office has allocated a total of £210 million in capital provision for 2005–06, an increase of 13 per cent. over provision for 2004–05.

In the majority of cases, specific applications for CCTV capital funding are not required or made. Any capital spend on CCTV is usually built into CDRPs' plans for the BSCF and BCU Funds.

Alongside police capital grant money, grant funding for future projects is, as in the past, available to CDRPs under BSCF and to police and CDRPs under the BCU Fund.

Child Deaths in Custody

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the deaths of children in custody since 1997. [211509]

Ms Blears: The death of any young person in custody (or elsewhere) is a terrible tragedy. I send my deepest sympathy for the family of Gareth Price, who died on 20 January after being found hanging while on remand at Lancaster Farms Young Offender Institution. The Government take very seriously the issue of self-harm and suicide in the juvenile custodial estate and have taken a range of steps to try to prevent it. We are currently looking at what further measures may be needed.

Class A Drugs

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to make (a) Fly Agaric and (b) any of its preparations and derivatives a Class A Drug. [199679]

Caroline Flint: There are no plans to control Fly Agaric or any of its derivatives or preparations as its prevalence in the UK is negligible.


Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to answer the letter dated 11 December 2004 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr.Rahman Mohammed Mustafa. [210838]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 20 January.

Criminal Justice Intervention Panels

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) role, (b) aim and (c) purpose will be of the criminal justice intervention panels; and when they will be fully functional. [202689]

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Caroline Flint: The Drug Interventions Programme (formerly Criminal Justice Interventions Programme) is a critical part of the Government's national strategy for tackling drugs. The programme aims to make the most of opportunities provided by the criminal justice system to get drug misusing offenders out of crime and into treatment.

The 'intensive' elements of the Drug Interventions Programme are currently operational in 66 police Basic Command Units (47 drug action teams) with high levels of acquisitive crime. From April 2005–06, we will expand the intensive elements of the programme to a further 32 Basic Command Units covering 23 DATs. These elements include testing for Class A drugs following charge for certain trigger offences.

The programme will be enhanced by measures included in the Drugs Bill, which entered Commons Committee on 27 January 2005.

Between April and November 2004, over 9,000 people entered treatment through the programme.

Early evidence shows that acquisitive crime is falling faster in Drug Interventions Programme areas than non-programme areas.

Custody Officers

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for theHome Department what assessment he has made of the (a) qualifications and (b) skills required by civilian custody officers; and if he will make a statement. [210981]

Ms Blears: The skills and knowledge required for the post of custody officer are identical whether or not the statutory functions required under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) were to be carried out by a police sergeant, as currently provided for under PACE or, under Clause 111 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, for a staff custody officer.

Currently, there is no formal qualification required before a police officer can take on the role of custody sergeant. CENTREX have developed a national training programme for custody officers. It is a matter for individual force policy on training provided before the appointment of police officers to this role.

National Occupational Standards for the Police Sector developed by Skills for Justice set out the competencies and skills required for authorising and managing police detention and form an Integrated Competency Framework. In terms of the custody officer, the competency framework focuses on the key areas of making detention decisions; managing the detention of individuals; and authorising and reviewing continued detention.

In addition, further work is currently under way with stakeholders and the National Centre for Policing Excellence on developing guidance on how these standards are to be achieved. This will be published later this year. Combined with the competency framework, we will have in place definitive standards for police and police staff employed in the custody suite.
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Departmental Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the European Union directives and regulations relating to his Department that have been implemented in each of the last two years, specifying (a) the title and purpose of each, (b) the cost to public funds of each and (c) the cost to businesses of each. [200771]

Caroline Flint: The Home Office has implemented eight European Community Directives and/or Regulations in the time specified.

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Records of the cost of implementation of these measures to public funds are not kept by the Home Department; to endeavour to do so would incur disproportionate cost. This applies to all of the aforementioned.

Records of the cost of each measure to business are monitored through the production of Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs). These project the likely costs on businesses, charities or voluntary organisations.

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