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4 Mar 2005 : Column 1481W—continued


Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what checks are made by his Department of whether non-European Union citizens who enter the United Kingdom (a) take-up illegal employment and (b) live on benefits. [219761]

Mr. Browne: Nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area who are subject to immigration control are examined by the Immigration Service on arrival in the United Kingdom to establish whether they qualify for leave to enter under the Immigration Rules. Certain nationalities require prior entry clearance at British diplomatic posts overseas. Checks are carried out into the cases of individual non-EEA nationals who have entered the United Kingdom where there is particular reason to suspect they are committing immigration offences or breaching their conditions of stay. Enforcement operations against illegal migrant working and suspected benefit fraud are intelligence-led, and in some cases involve joint action with other Government Departments.

Overseas Bribery

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library the minutes of the meeting that took place on 27 October between his officials and the Confederation of British Industry at which legislation on overseas bribery was discussed. [201648]

Paul Goggins: This was an informal meeting in the context of a visit from officials of the Government of the Netherlands who were seeking to learn from UK experience in the implementation of anti-bribery legislation. No minutes were made by the Home Office.

Police IT

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in the integration of police IT systems. [218616]

Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) announced on 22 June 2004 that the Government accepted the recommendations of Sir Michael Bichard's report following the Soham murders, including the introduction of a national IT system to support police intelligence. Work on introducing a national information-sharing system, safeguarding the future of the central information services currently provided by the Police National Computer, and implementing the business process changes in the police service required to make the new systems effective is being taken forward under the IMPACT Programme. As an interim solution, a National Nominal Index (NNI) gives police forces access to data held by the Criminal Records Bureau's Interim Police Local Cross-Check (I-PLX) system, which flags which forces hold information in specified systems about an individual. The NNI is currently being piloted in three forces and will be rolled out to other forces during 2005. The aim is to complete the IMPACT Programme by March 2007.

Prisoners (Resettlement)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are taken to involve
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families in the arrangements for the resettlement of prisoners upon their release; and what plans he has to change the system. [217112]

Paul Goggins: The Government recognise that helping to keep families together during sentence can contribute to successful resettlement and is firmly committed to promoting family ties. The Prison Service has a statutory obligation to encourage and assist prisoners to maintain contacts with their families and the wider community. It has strengthened its partnership with the voluntary and community sector, recognising the invaluable contribution it makes to services to families. There are now over 100 visitor centres and conditions have improved significantly in recent years, with more prisons adopting an imaginative approach in providing for extended family visits and play areas for children. The Assisted Prison Visits Scheme, funded by the Prison Service, also provides help with travel costs to prisoners' families and partners.

Prisoners' families are involved in sentence planning at certain establishments, where family members and outside probation staff are invited to attend sentence planning boards, in preparation for release. Family members are also invited to attend post-course reviews following the completion of offending behaviour programmes such as PASRO, a cognitive behavioural programme for substance misusers. The DfES Offenders' Learning and Skills Unit also supports a range of family literacy and parenting programmes within prisons, working closely with the voluntary sector to provide support to prisoners and their families.

The Government are seeking to develop a more strategic approach to engaging the children and families of offenders, both to maintain family ties and to support resettlement. Work is being taken forward under the Reducing Re-offending National Action Plan to establish best practice within a regional pathfinder. This is being taken forward in partnership with a wide range of voluntary and statutory organizations. In support of this collaborative working, the Probation Service is developing a national framework for working effectively with children and families of offenders.

Prison Staff

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prison officers and staff (a) were tested for HIV/Aids and (b) tested positive for HIV/Aids, following an incident in which they were injured (i) in each year since 1997 and (ii) from 1 January to 1 December; [203714]

(2) how many prison officers and staff were waiting on 6 December for the outcome of a test for HIV/Aids following an incident in prison in which they were injured. [203715]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 13 December 2004]: The Prison service does not hold information on the number of prison officers or staff tested for Aids/HIV or the results of any such tests. This information is confidential to the member of staff and is not normally available to the Prison Service.
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with prison governors about the ability of prison officers to carry out front-line duties beyond the age of 60 years; and if he will make a statement. [218187]

Paul Goggins: The Prison Service has been involved in a range of discussions with prison governors and their representatives on the ability of prison officers to work beyond the age of 60, through the formal Whitley Council structure as well as in other forums. These discussions continue. Prison Officers are currently able to work beyond the age of 60 in exceptional circumstances where the Governor is satisfied that retention is necessary to meet the overriding needs of the Service.

Serious Organised Crime Agency

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the proposed objectives of the Serious Organised Crime Agency have changed since the decision to establish it. [218359]

Caroline Flint: The proposed objective for the Serious Organised Crime Agency continues to be to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime to the United Kingdom, as set out in the Government White Paper, "One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Crime", published on 29 March 2004.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what costs have been incurred in the establishment of the Serious Organised Crime Agency to date; and what estimate he has made of the total costs. [218361]

Caroline Flint: Costs incurred within the 2004–05 financial year towards the establishment of the Serious Organised Crime Agency have been met from within the existing Home Office budget. Costs to be incurred within 2005–06 will be funded from a transition budget of up to £13.5 million resource and £10 million capital agreed as a result of SR 2004.

Sexual Assaults

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the network of sexual assault referral centres to (a) Leeds and (b) Yorkshire. [218660]

Paul Goggins: Plans are under way to develop a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Leeds which would provide forensic examination and link in with the support and counselling offered by the STAR (Surviving Trauma After Rape) project. STAR was established in 1994 by the Police and the four health authorities in West Yorkshire to provide co-ordinated support and counselling for victims of sexual assault. In addition, I understand that the voluntary and community sector are considering developing a SARC in Halifax.

We are committed to increasing the number of SARCs in England and Wales and Home Office funding from the Victims Fund is to be made available for the establishment of new SARCs in 2005–06. Projects in Leeds and in Yorkshire will be invited to apply for
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grants along with all other areas of England and Wales. Details of the application process will be made available in March.

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