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There is already a range of controls to tackle the misuse of these guns which cause real nuisance and can result in the deployment of armed police. To help
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combat the problem, the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 created a new offence of having an imitation firearm in a public place without reasonable excuse. This means that anybody seen in public with an airsoft gun can be challenged and, if unable to give a satisfactory explanation for having it, arrested. It is also a serious offence to threaten other people with imitation firearms.
We have made it clear that we will not tolerate the use of imitation firearms to threaten and intimidate others and we will be proposing tougher laws on the sale and manufacture of all imitation firearms and tougher penalties for misuse in the proposed Violent Crime Reduction Bill.
The interim report of the National Evaluation of Community Support Officers (CSOs) published in December 2004 (available at www.policereform.gov.uk) found that, of the forces surveyed, the minimum pay point, excluding allowances, for CSOs ranged nationally from £14,094 and £19,626 and the maximum ranged from £15,408 to £25,356.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on levelsof (a) violent crime, (b) car crime, (c) robbery and (d) burglary in Hammersmith and Fulham constituency. 
Hazel Blears: In 200304 in Hammersmith and Fulham the police recorded 1,146 robberies (down 10 per cent. from 200203), 2,074 burglary dwelling offences (down 5 per cent), 4,478 thefts of or from vehicles (down 20 per cent.), and 4,287 violence against the person offences (down 1 per cent.).
The Government have established a number of targeted measures to continue to tackle crime in Hammersmith and Fulham. The area has been part of the Government's successful Street Crime Initiative, and has benefited from intensive national work to reduce vehicle crime and burglary and more recently to tackle violent crime through our alcohol harm reduction strategy and our work to tackle gun crime.
Hazel Blears: On 31 March 2005 the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham had 32.6 full-time equivalent community support officers (CSOs). There are currently 2,143 CSOs in the Metropolitan Police Service (MRS). The deployment of CSOs within the MRS is a matter for the Commissioner.
There were over 6,300 CSOs in England and Wales at the end of March 2005. We are making significant additional resources available through the neighbourhood policing fund to help forces increase CSO numbers to 24,000 by 2008.
Hazel Blears: The Commissioner of Police of the metropolis tells me that, in the last 12 months, three areas in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham were designated under section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. In these areas, 82 people were given a direction to disperse.
Paul Goggins: Cannabis was reclassified from Class B to C on 29 January 2004. In March of this year, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to consider all the relevant evidence from recent studies into the links and associations between cannabis and developing mental health problems. The Home Secretary also asked for advice on the claims of greater prevalence of increased strength cannabis. He wants to be clear whether the evidence would alter the Council's overall assessment of the appropriate classification of cannabis. The Advisory Council intends to complete this review by the end of the year. The Government will consider the Council's recommendations carefully before making any decision about the classification of the drug.
There are a number of powers available to tackle graffiti in a public place, ranging from a Penalty Notice for Disorder for a minor offence of graffiti, up to a £5,000 fine under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. The police also have the power to stop and search someone suspected of causing criminal damage. The Home Office is currently reviewing the Graffiti Removal Notice power introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. This power is currently available to 12 local authorities on a pilot basis. Following the review of the pilot a decision will be made on whether these powers will be rolled out nationwide. The Home Office also reviewed the legislation in preparation for the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
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This strengthened existing legislation regarding the under-age sale of aerosol paints. The Home Office will keep graffiti legislation under review.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to assist Hertfordshire Constabulary in retaining experienced police officers with more than three years' service; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: Measures to assist retention in Hertfordshire include the Special Priority Payment Scheme, which gives forces flexibility to target payments at officers in demanding roles, those with higher responsibility than normal for the rank, and where particular recruitment or retention difficulties exist. All officers who joined on or after 1 September 1994 and are not in receipt of a housing allowance are entitled to the south east allowance of £2,000 per annum.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of the research on the costs and benefits of the Identity Cards scheme, referred to in his oral answer of 23 May 2005, Official Report, column 412. 
Mr. McNulty: We have published our current best estimates of the average annual operating costs of issuing biometric passports and ID cards to UK nationals and operating identity verification services in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) on the 25 May. The RIA also discusses the areas where the scheme will provide benefits to public and private sector organisations as well as to citizens.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what administrative fee an individual will be charged in order to receive an identity card under proposals to introduce a national identity card system. 
Mr. McNulty: The latest cost estimates are contained within the Regulatory Impact Assessment which was published alongside the Identity Cards Bill on 25 May 2005. The current best estimate for the Unit cost of a 10-year adult passport/ID Card package for UK citizens is £93. The costs of producing the passport/ID card are however, different from fees that would be charged for the passport/ID card. Clause 37 of the Identity Cards Bill gives the power for Parliament to approve fees for the ID Cards Scheme. The actual amount charged to a person will depend on future policy decisions on charging within the scope allowed by the Bill.
The latest cost estimates are contained within the Regulatory Impact Assessment published with the Identity Cards Bill on 25 May 2005. The current best estimate of the unit cost of an adult passport/ID card package for UK Citizens valid for 10 years is £93 at 200506 prices. Clause 37 of the Identity Cards Bill gives the power for Parliament to approve fees for the ID
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Cards Scheme. The actual amount charged to a person will depend on future policy decisions on charging within the scope allowed by the Bill.
Mr. McNulty: The latest cost estimates are contained within the Regulatory Impact Assessment which was published alongside the Identity Cards Bill on 25 May 2005. The current best estimate of the total average annual running costs for issuing biometric passports and ID cards to UK nationals, and running a verification service is £584 million at 200506 prices. This cost includes operating and maintaining the identity card database.
Mr. McNulty: The latest cost estimates are contained within the Regulatory Impact Assessment which was published alongside the Identity Cards Bill on 25 May 2005. The current best estimate for the total average annual running costs for issuing biometric passports and ID cards to UK nationals, and running a verification service is £584 million at 200506 prices. Around 70 per cent. of these costs would be incurred in issuing biometric passports alone.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost of the additional central IT infrastructure for providing online verification of identity for user organisations; and what methodology was used to calculate the cost. 
Mr. McNulty: The Regulatory Impact Assessment published alongside the Identity Cards Bill on 25 May 2005 contains the latest cost estimates. The current best estimate for the total average annual running costs for issuing passports and ID Cards to UK nationals is estimated at £584 million. The cost of operating and maintaining those parts of the central IT infrastructure which will support identity verification services is included within this figure, however the costs have not been disaggregated. The costs were calculated in accordance with Government accounting guidelines and Office of Government Commerce best practice.
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