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21 Feb 2005 : Column 448W—continued

European Refugee Fund

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on UK participation in the European Refugee Fund. [215235]

Mr. Browne: The European Refugee Fund has been for some years an important source of support for Britain's programmes for the integration of refugees and the voluntary return of asylum seekers to their own countries. The UK will participate in the new phase of the Fund which began in January 2005. Actions carried out in the UK will be implemented on the basis of guidelines which will be issued by the Commission on the basis of two phases of Multi-annual Programmes, each lasting three years (2005–07 and 2008–10).
21 Feb 2005 : Column 449W

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the application of Article 8(c) of the European Refugee Fund in the United Kingdom; and what rules have been drawn up to assure balanced representation of views in such projects. [215236]

Mr. Browne: Article 8(c) of the Council Decision establishing the European Refugee Fund for the period 2005–10 (13086/84) envisages the possibility of the expenditure of such funds on multi-national awareness raising-campaigns relating to the situation of refugees, stateless persons, and people otherwise in need of protection. It will be for member states to draw up, after consultation, proposals for the expenditure of the Fund within their countries. The process of consultation will take place later this year and the Government would not propose to pre-empt it by taking a firm view at this stage on whether rules would be needed in respect of expenditure under Article 8(c) ".

Female Prisoners

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of women were homeless on leaving prison in the last period for which figures are available. [206287]

Paul Goggins: Recorded information on the discharges of female prisoners between April and December 2004 shows that 19 per cent. had no address on release. All prisoners who are discharged with no address to go to are referred for a Local Authority Homelessness Assessment.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2005, Official Report, column 1738W, on Gurkhas, what criteria were used to determine the cut-off date of 1 July 1997 for eligibility. [217387]

Mr. Browne: The date of 1 July 1997 recognises when the Brigade of Gurkhas moved their headquarters from Hong Kong to the UK. Settlement is normally granted on the basis of residence in the UK and so it was considered appropriate to enable all those discharged after this date, and who would have developed close physical ties with the UK through being based here, to be able to apply for settlement. However, applications from Gurkhas discharged before 1 July 1997 will be considered on their individual merits, and discretion will be exercised in appropriate cases. Factors such as time spent in the UK, the presence of close family members here, or a chronic medical condition will be taken into account in reaching a decision on applications that are outside the rules.
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High Visibility Policing

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with chief constables concerning high visibility policing. [215325]

Ms Blears: Neighbourhood policing, of which high visibility is an important element, is a key priority for Government for the next five years. We see effective and responsive policing at the neighbourhood level as essential to sustaining the trust and confidence of the public. However, unlike previous community policing initiatives, neighbourhood policing is about more than just public reassurance and high visibility—it does not stand in isolation from other levels of policing, but is essential in tackling the 21st century challenges of crime and antisocial behaviour.

We are working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on a programme to embed a neighbourhood policing approach in all forces by 2008, and my officials meet regularly with the ACPO lead for neighbourhood policing—the Chief Constable of Leicester—to discuss progress. I have regular bilaterals with the president of ACPO to discuss policing priorities, and I met with Chief Constables from all 43 forces in England and Wales on 12 January to discuss progress on a range of police reform issues, including the approach to neighbourhood policing set out in the Police Reform White Paper, Building Communities, Beating Crime.

Home Detention Curfews

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offences were committed by prisoners while released on the home detention curfew scheme since January 1999; what the category of each offence was; and on how many occasions the offence committed was similar in character to that for which the prisoner had originally been sentenced. [203518]

Paul Goggins: As of 31 October 2004, 101,806 prisoners have been placed on home detention curfew since the scheme was introduced in January 1999. Up to 31 October 2004, 2,107 of those prisoners have been reported to the Home Office as having been cautioned, convicted or awaiting prosecution for an offence committed while they were subject to the scheme. This represents around 2 per cent. of the offenders placed on the scheme.

The following table gives a breakdown of these figures into offence category for the last five years up to 31 October 2004. These figures will be subject to constant change as further data is provided, such as when court proceedings on outstanding charges are completed.
Total breakdown of all further offences from January 1999 to 31 October 2004Total further offences committed that are similar to the index offence
Violence against the person47160
Sexual offences100
Theft and handling906288
Fraud and forgery11914
Drug offences31354
Motoring offences1,023120

21 Feb 2005 : Column 451W

Identity Cards and Passports

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 27 January 2005, Official Report, column 472W, on the Identity Cards Programme, what issues were under discussion at the meetings held with (a) the Football Association and (b) Idenex; and what conclusions were reached. [214952]

Mr. Browne: The topic of discussion at the meeting between the Identity Cards Programme and TMG.TV Ltd. which was representing the Football Association was the potential use of ID Cards for those organisations who either currently or may in the future require certain employees to undertake Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. In this instance, the discussion focused around local football teams and volunteers and the potential requirement on coaches for children's football teams to undertake CRB checks and how this may work with the introduction of ID Cards. The purpose of the meeting was to inform both parties' understanding of the issues, rather than to reach any specific conclusions.

This meeting was with Identix and I apologise for the typographical error in the original answer. The meeting was part of market sounding process to inform the Programme Team's knowledge of capability and capacity in the biometrics technology sector. The company provided insight on the experience of large scale deployments of biometric technology. Following the meeting the company provided the team with further information on the international structure of relevant standards setting bodies together with various case studies and product brochures.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the UK Passport Service biometrics trial has included groups who by reason of their disabilities are unable to provide biometric data. [210158]

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Mr. Browne: A sample of 750 people with disabilities was included in the United Kingdom Passport Service (UKPS) trial. In making these arrangements the UKPS engaged with organisations representing people with disabilities to ensure that issues relating to difficulty in providing biometric data were identified. These issues were recorded during the trial for analysis in order to seek resolutions.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce (a) a green card system and (b) an independent body to handle immigration requests. [215893]

Mr. Browne: The Government's proposals for a new system to manage the admission of non-EEA nationals coming to the United Kingdom for the purpose of work are set out in the five year strategy for asylum and immigration announced by my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary on 7 February 2005. Under those proposals, Tier 1 of the employment scheme would provide for the admission of the most highly skilled without an advance offer of a job. Applications for admission to work under the new system would continue to be handled by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and UK Visas. However, it is proposed to establish an independent skills advisory body to advise on labour market and skills shortages.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) immigration officers and (b) senior immigration officers (i) are in post and (ii) form a full complement at the docks in (A) Hull, (B) Harwich, (C) Portsmouth, (D) Poole, (E) Plymouth and (F) Dover. [216502]

Mr. Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the information in the table.
PortNumber of FTE(198) immigration officers in postTarget FTE immigration officer staffing figureNumber of FTE senior immigration officers(199) in postTarget FTE senior immigration officer staffing figure
Humber Ports(200)192045

(198) FTE = Full-time equivalent.
(199) Senior immigration officers have been defined as chief immigration officers and HM inspectors.
(200) Staff at Humber Ports are deployed to Hull port, Humberside airport and other areas including Immingham docks.
(201) Following the establishment of the juxtaposed controls in France, immigration officials operating the control for passengers arriving in Dover are based in Calais.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training members of staff in the front line services of immigration in the UK receive. [216315]

Mr. Browne: In depth training is provided to front line immigration staff, including Immigration Officers and caseworkers, specific to their role. This is supplemented by mentoring and coaching in the workplace, and by a range of broader learning activities, covering diversity, management and IT for example.

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