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5 Apr 2005 : Column 1393W—continued

Essex Police

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the HomeDepartment what plans there are to amalgamate divisional police commands in Essex. [222493]

Ms Blears: The operational control and direction of police resources is vested in the local chief constable. Inevitably this includes where and how resources are deployed and the supporting structures for service delivery. This is not a matter over which Ministers, quite rightly, have any direct influence and I am not therefore in a position to be able to answer this question.


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the ex-prisoner groups which have received funding from his Department in the 2004–05 financial year; and how much funding each has received. [223277]

Paul Goggins: There is no record of any funding being provided to ex-offender groups, we do however try to include ex-offender groups in all relevant information, discussion groups, conferences and other related events. There may be instances where individual prison governors or probation areas provide funding for specific service provision, but we do not hold this information centrally.

Gun/Knife Crime

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on levels of (a) gun crime and (b) knife crime since 1995. [222649]

Caroline Flint: Excluding air weapons, in 1995, there were 5,866 recorded firearms offences. In 2003–04, the total number of recorded offences was 10,338. This figure includes incidents in which a firearm is fired, used as a blunt instrument against a person, or used in a threat, and includes handguns, shotguns and rifles, as well as imitations, and other firearms (e.g. stun guns, CS gas). However, it is important to remember that these figures may be affected by changes in reporting and recording and, in particular, figures for some offences may have
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been inflated by the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April 2002. In 1995, 70 homicides were committed using a firearm; in 2003–04, the total was 68 homicides.

Figures for knife crime are not collected separately from statistics for offences of violence against the person. However, in 1995, there were 243 homicides using a sharp instrument (including knives, broken bottles, etc). In 2003–04, there were 237 homicides using a sharp instrument.

We are fully committed to taking action to reduce levels of gun and knife crime. Our strategy on both fronts includes working with police, other statutory agencies, the voluntary sector, and also with the community, who have a major role to play in dealing with these issues.

We have tightened firearms legislation by banning the sale, manufacture and import of guns that use self-contained gas cartridge systems (e.g. Brococks) and have made it an arrestable offence to carry an imitation or air gun in public without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. We have also introduced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for anyone convicted of unlawful possession of an illegal firearm. We are conducting a comprehensive review of the firearms legislation, which includes a careful look at whether there are areas of the legislation which need to be strengthened.

We have provided £2.25 million from recycled criminal assets in 2004–05 to support gun crime work in England and Wales, including £250,000 for the second round of the Connected Fund, which supports small community groups involved in a wide variety of local projects.

On knife crime, we recently announced a package of proposals, including:

Indonesian Rainforest Timber

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Indonesian rainforest timber has been used in (a) the new Home Office building at 2 Marsham street, (b) the contents of the building and (c) construction of the building; and if he will make a statement. [205333]

Mr. Browne: No Indonesian rainforest timber has been procured for the new Home Office headquarters building at 2 Marsham street.

In respect of Indonesian rainforest timber used in the construction process, I would refer the right hon. Member to the Report on the Procurement of Timber for the Re-development of 2 Marsham street of June 2003 which has been placed in the Library.
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Infectious Diseases (UK Entrants)

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria the Government have set to determine whether to test an individual for tuberculosis. [217746]

Mr. Charles Clarke: It is long standing policy that people subject to immigration control who are seeking to enter the UK for more than six months from countries which are high risk for tuberculosis (i.e. have an annual incidence rate of over 40 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 population) and port asylum claimants should be checked for tuberculosis.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost to public funds has been of testing people entering the UK for tuberculosis in each year since 1997. [217747]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The immigration service does not have any details regarding the cost of providing this service.

The department of health advises that where tuberculosis (TB) checks are carried out at ports of entry in the UK, the costs are met from health budgets. The Department of health does not collect centrally the cost to local NHS bodies of providing medical inspectors.

Inquests (Teesside)

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time between death and inquest in the jurisdiction of the coroner for Teesside was in 2004; and what the average time between death and inquest was in other coroners' jurisdictions in (a) the North East and (b) England and Wales in that year. [212092]

Paul Goggins: Figures for 2004 are not yet available.

Figures for 2003 show that the coroner for Teesside had an average time of 35.6 weeks for completed inquests. The 2003 figure for the remainder of the coroners in the North East region was an average time of 24.8 weeks and for the whole of England and Wales the average time for completed inquests was 19.5 weeks.

International Terrorism

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the security services have advised the Government that powers to imprison suspected terrorists without normal trial would be helpful in tackling international terrorism. [222781]

Ms Blears [holding answer 21 March 2005]: The then Home Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) took account of advice from the Security Service and police, after the attacks of 11 September 2001, on the measures necessary to defend the UK and its interests against similar terrorist attacks. This resulted in the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001—including the Part 4 provisions relating to the detention of foreign nationals who could not be deported.

The Government have accepted the Lords' judgment of 16 December 2004 that the Part 4 powers of the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act are discriminatory and
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therefore disproportionate. Accordingly, it decided that detention in such circumstances was no longer appropriate. The measures contained in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 are the result of consultation with the police, and Security Service about the best way to deal with the problems posed by suspected terrorists who cannot be prosecuted.

Members' Security

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans his Department has to increase levels of security provided for (a) Ministers and (b) hon. Members. [216059]

Mr. Charles Clarke: We do not comment on the security levels of individuals. The security of individuals is continually reviewed to ensure it is in line with the threat.

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