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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there were for the illegal use of ball bearing guns in public places in (a) North Yorkshire and (b) in England and Wales in the last year for which figures are available. 
Hazel Blears: It is not possible for the statistics collected centrally on the Home Office Court Proceedings Database to distinguish ball bearing guns or more accurately, airsoft weapons from other imitation firearms.
Hazel Blears: The information requested is published in Table 2.04 of Home Office Statistical Bulletin 10/04 entitled Crime in England and Wales 200304". A copy of this publication is available in the Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has
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had with (a) his EU counterparts and (b) senior police officers on tackling (i) child prostitution and (ii) child trafficking; what proposals were examined; and if he will make a statement. 
Child prostitution and trafficking are abhorrent crimes, and the Government have acted swiftly to set tough penalties for these offences. There have been no recent discussions with EU officials or senior police officers on tackling child prostitution. However, guidance on Safeguarding Children Involved in Prostitution was circulated to the police and other agencies in May 2000 as supplementary to the wider Working Together to Safeguard Children. The guidance stresses the need to treat children involved in prostitution primarily as victims of abuse, provides advice to agencies on ways to work together to safeguard and promote the child's welfare and encourages proactive policing so that, wherever possible, action is taken against the exploiters through the criminal justice system. New offences with severe penalties were introduced in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to enable the police to take firm action against anyone paying for the sexual services of a child, causing or inciting child prostitution, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, controlling a child prostitute, or trafficking a child into or within the UK for sexual exploitation. The Government are currently conducting a review of prostitution which includes consideration of action on child abuse through prostitution and people trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The Association of Chief Police Officers has contributed to the review and will continue to be involved in discussions on how to tackle these issues. In the case of child trafficking, despite a few high profile instances of children being trafficked into and through the UK, there is insufficient information to say if this is a growing problem. However, the nature of the crime demands that is treated very seriously. Government have introduced criminal sanctions covering child traffickers. In addition to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, measures in the new Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 make it an offence to traffic for other purposes, for example, domestic servitude or benefit fraud. The Government have also tasked Reflex, the government's multi-agency response to organised immigration crime, with co-ordinating intelligence on the problem of trafficking. The Metropolitan Police led an Operation (Paladin) to profile unaccompanied children arriving at Heathrow. This threw up a number of child protection issues that
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might not otherwise have come to light. Officials from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate met the Metropolitan Police on 15 June 2005 and have agreed to take forward the creation of a permanent multi-agency partnership team based at Heathrow. The team will address the specific safeguarding needs of unaccompanied minors. We have made people trafficking a priority for our presidency of the EU. During our presidency we aim to improve co-operation among member states so that we achieve operational results and prosecutions, making it impossible for organised immigration crime businesses to operate within the EU. We want to encourage greater police co-operation through EUROPOL and the sharing of best practice on investigations and prosecutions by raising awareness of the role of Eurojust. We will also be working closely with our EU partners to ensure that the Hague Programme commitment for the EU Commission and EU Council to draw up an action plan on trafficking is met. In addition to discussions within the EU, trafficking is an important issue for the G8. Tackling trafficking and smuggling was discussed at the recent G8 ministerial meeting in Sheffield on 1517 June. Ministers considered progress with existing G8 initiatives which impact on trafficking, including tackling document fraud, information sharing and co-operation through Interpol.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to prevent the sale of (a) cigarettes and (b) alcohol to underage consumers, with particular reference to enforcement; and if he will make a statement. 
Hazel Blears: The sale of tobacco to children under 16 is prohibited by the Children and Young People (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1933 and the law is enforced by Trading Standards Officers. The sale of alcohol to people under the age of 18 is regulated by the Licensing Act 1964 (to be replaced by Licensing Act 2003 from November 2005), and the law is enforced by Trading Standards Officers and the Police.
In the Choosing Health" White Paper, the Government set out proposals for new powers to ban retailers from selling tobacco products, on a temporary or permanent basis, if they repeatedly flout the law. The Violent Crime Reduction Bill includes proposals for a new power for the Police and Trading Standards Officers to ban the sale of alcohol at licensed premises for up to 48 hours if they persistently sell to under-18s.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in the City of London Police in each year since 1994; and what projections there are for numbers of officers in the next 10 years. 
The table sets out police officer and police (support) staff strength for the 10 years to September 2004. The Home Office does not collect projections of police officer strength. It is for the Commissioner of the City of London Police to determine the number of officers, subject to the budget agreed by the City of London Corporation.
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(as at 31 March)
|2004 (30 Sept)||875||284|
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average clear-up rate for (a) murder, (b) assault and (c) burglary in (i) England and (ii) Wales has been in each year since 2001. 
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