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14 Jun 2005 : Column 298W—continued

Regional Offender Managers

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the salary rates are for regional offender managers; and whether they have been awarded salary increases in the last financial year. [1835]

Fiona Mactaggart: The regional offender managers are paid on senior civil service (SCS) pay band one which ranges from a minimum of £54,788 to a ceiling of £115,616. They will be due an increase on 1 April each year in line with the SCS pay award.

Sentencing Guidelines

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Sentencing Guidelines Council plans to produce guidelines on sentencing of (a) sex offenders and (b) persons found guilty of robbery. [1381]

Fiona Mactaggart: The role of the Sentencing Guidelines Council is to issue guidance on all aspects of sentencing. It is assisted in formulating its guidance by the sentencing advisory panel.

The panel submitted advice on sexual offences to the council for consideration in March 2005. The advice on offences relating to robbery was presented in April 2004, and the advice itself was published in May 2004.

It is anticipated that the guidelines for both sexual offences and robbery will be in place by the end of 2005.

Teenage Girls (Grooming)

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to tackle the grooming" of teenage girls on the internet; and if he will make a statement. [2905]

Paul Goggins: The Task Force on Child Protection on the internet was established in March 2001 in response to concerns about the possible risks to children after a number of serious cases where children had been groomed" via the internet.

The work of the Task Force have focused on the needs of children and in particular teenagers, under the age of consent, who are considered to be most at risk from paedophile grooming".

Arising out of its work, we introduced legislation to tackle the sexual grooming of children under 16 both online and offline in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Section 15 of the Act makes it an offence for a person aged 18 or over to meet intentionally, or to travel with the intention of meeting, a child under the age of 16 in any part of the world, if he has not met or communicated with that child on at least two prior occasions, and intends to commit a sexual offence against that child either at the time of the meeting or on a subsequent occasion. The offence has a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

To cover the kind of behaviour which might precede a meeting, and enable the police to take action at an earlier stage, Sections 123 to 129 of the Act provide for a new civil preventative order, the Risk of Sexual Harm Order (RSHO). The police can apply for this civil order against any person aged 18 or over who is thought to
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pose a sexual risk to children under 16, provided that on at least two occasions, the defendant has done one of the acts listed. The acts include, among other things, communicating with a child, where any part of the communication is sexual. The minimum duration of an order is two years. Breach of an order, without reasonable excuse, is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty on indictment of five years' imprisonment.

The work of the Task Force has also extended to four national awareness campaigns since 2001 at a cost of over £3 million. These campaigns, carried out through cinema, radio and online advertising, have highlighted the measures that can be taken to promote safety online, and the new risks posed by emerging technology. In addition, over 1.5 million copies of a leaflet for parents called Keeping your Child Safe on the Internet" have been distributed to schools in conjunction with the campaign. The Government have also provided online advice for children, parents and carers, in particular at and

Trafficking in Human Beings

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ratify the Warsaw Convention on trafficking in human beings. [3861]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 13 June 2005]: The UK has not yet taken a decision on whether or not to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which opened for signature in Warsaw in May. There are certain provisions in the Convention which present concerns for the UK and which remain under active consideration. We want to resolve these issues before taking a decision on signature. We support fully all of the aims of the Convention and we too want to see widespread action to tackle this abhorrent trade at source, to protect and support the victims and bring those responsible to justice.

War Crimes

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made in the investigations for war crimes into the former members of the SS Galician division believed to be resident in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [2681]

Andy Burnham: The enquiries into the Galician division continue. We have identified several hundred individuals in the UK who may still be alive. We are working with other Government agencies to explore lines of enquiry to gather any available evidence.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will assess the merits of professional historians assisting the Metropolitan police in war crimes investigations; and if he will make a statement. [2684]

Hazel Blears: The Metropolitan police have in the past and continue to work closely with experts who provide valuable assistance to a wide range of investigations.
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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the resources available (a) to the Metropolitan Police to investigate and (b) to the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute alleged Nazi war criminals resident in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [2683]

Hazel Blears: The Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit was disbanded in 1999. Responsibility then passed to the Anti-Terrorist Branch, which has a dedicated section to deal with Crimes Against Humanity. Expenditure is met from normal Metropolitan Police budgets. There are no current prosecutions.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether a list of suspected Nazi war criminals believed to be resident in the UK was supplied to the UK by the USSR in 1988; and if he will make a statement. [2686]

Paul Goggins: A list of 34 suspects was supplied by the Soviet Union in June 1988, having originally been sent to Scottish Television. All of those names were investigated as part of the War Crimes Inquiry.

Weapon Sales (Prosecutions)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many businesses have been prosecuted for the illegal sale of (a) knives, (b) replica guns and (c) firearms in (i) Brent East and (ii) each London borough in the last 12 months. [2549]

Hazel Blears: The available information on the Home Office Court Proceedings database shows that for Greenwich and Woolwich petty sessional area 2003 there were two defendants proceeded against for Selling a firearm to a person without a certificate" (Firearms Act 1968 Sec 3(2) as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 8, part III). There were no other prosecutions in London magistrates' courts for the requested offences as notified to the Home Office Court Proceedings database.

Witness Protection

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further measures he plans to bring forward to prevent criminals and terrorists using coercion to obtain access to the identity of persons within witness protection programmes. [2780]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 9 June 2005]: Police forces and other law enforcement agencies are responsible for providing witness protection and they make full use of measures such as relocation and identity changes where the risk to the safety of a witness is serious or life threatening.

The provisions we have introduced in the Serious Organised Crime and Policing Act 2005 will greatly support this work. They provide an additional safeguard in the form of two new offences of disclosing information about protected witnesses or protection arrangements.

Law enforcement agencies believe that the legislation will also assist them in a number of other ways, most importantly in placing a statutory duty on public and private bodies to assist protection officers in setting up protection arrangements. This will overcome many of
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the difficulties they face in obtaining the cooperation of such organisations. The provisions will also help programmes run more effectively by exempting protected witnesses who have had an identity change from criminal or civil liability in respect of failure to declare their original identities when asked to do so by these organisations.

We also provide more practical support to protection officers through the Witness Mobility Service, which has helped speed up the completion of witness protection arrangements and ensure that witnesses are moved to a place of safety as quickly as possible. We are planning to expand on this service through the establishment of a central services unit which will provide law enforcement agencies with other essential witness protection needs. Work is now under way to set up the unit, which we hope will be operational by spring 2006.

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