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6 Jul 2005 : Column 533W—continued

Jamaican Gangs

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate has been made of the number of Jamaican criminal gangs operating in the UK; what discussions have taken place with the
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Jamaican authorities regarding this matter; and what steps are being taken to tackle crimes perpetrated by such gangs. [8289]

Hazel Blears: There are no official estimates of the number of organised crime groups, by nationality or other categorisation, operating in the UK. The varying degrees of cohesiveness and difficulty in establishing nationality makes such estimates impractical.

The Government are in close and regular contact with Jamaican authorities about criminal activities which have implications for our two countries. We have provided assistance to the Government of Jamaica's Operation Kingfish which was launched last October and is targeting criminals on the island some of whom have UK connections. In addition there are UK liaison officers in Kingston providing links between the relevant law enforcement authorities of the two countries. Operation Airbridge which started in June 2002 has been very successful in reducing the number of cocaine couriers travelling by air from Jamaica to the UK.

Some forces such as the Metropolitan Police Service and Avon and Somerset Constabulary have set up operations (Trident and Atrium) which deal with particular crime difficulties in their areas in which there are links to Jamaican nationals or persons of Jamaican origin.

London Probation Service

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) budget and (b) expenditure of the London Probation Service was in each year since 1995; and if he will make a statement. [2864]

Fiona Mactaggart: The budget for the London Probation Service from 1995 is set out in the attached table and gives information relating to the London Probation Service prior to the establishment of the London Probation Board on one April 2001. Prior to 2001, the Home Office did not collect this information. Both the budget and expenditure for 2001–02 onwards are as set out in the table.
Budgetary Information for London Probation Service 1994–2005

Financial YearBudget £mExpenditure £m

Metropolitan Police (Compensation Payments)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was paid in compensation by the Metropolitan Police Authority in each year since 1997. [8325]

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Hazel Blears: The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis is responsible for the operational management of, and allocation of funding by, the force. I will ensure that he receives a copy of the question and replies to the hon. Lady directly in response to her concerns.

Mr. Thomas Maguire

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the enhanced disclosure application for Mr Thomas Maguire will be completed. [8263]

Andy Burnham: [holding answer 30 June 2005]: The Enhanced Disclosure for Mr Thomas Maguire was issued on 29June.

North Wales Police Authority

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the employment status of Mr Peter Bolton, Assistant Clerk to the North Wales Police Authority. [8248]

Hazel Blears: Mr Bolton remains an employee of the North Wales Police Authority.

Offensive Weapons

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance his Department has given on the standard of evidence that would be required to initiate a prosecution for an offence of using another person to hide or carry a gun or a knife; and if he will make a statement. [9348]

Hazel Blears: The Code for Crown Prosecutors provides for a two stage test before a criminal prosecution can be commenced. A case must firstly pass the evidential test. This requires that a crown prosecutor (or police officer) must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction. This is an objective test and means that a jury, or bench of magistrates or judge hearing a case alone, and properly directed in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged.

If the case passes the evidential test, crown prosecutors or (police officers) must decide if a prosecution is in the public interest. It would be very unusual indeed for there not to be a strong public interest in prosecuting a case involving firearms or weapons.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate his Department has made of (a) the number of fraudulent applications for passports and (b) the number detected in each of the last five years. [6946]

Andy Burnham: It is widely recognised that the very nature of identity fraud makes it difficult to be precise when estimating the scale of the problem in terms of the number of fraudulent passport applications. Based on the results of an exercise involving the detailed scrutiny of some 10,000 passport applications, extrapolated
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across a whole year, the UK Passport Service (UKPS) estimate that the level of fraud may run at around 0.18 per cent. of applications received. Approximately half of the cases identified in this exercise involved false declarations but the individual was otherwise entitled to a passport. The remaining cases featured identity fraud.

With around 6.5 million passports applications per year this suggests the possibility of around 11,700 fraudulent applications per year. Of these, half, around 5,850, might involve identity fraud with a similar number of cases in which deception has been practised but the individual would otherwise be entitled to a passport.

This exercise was run during a peak period of passport demand and represented a snap shot of the possible level of fraud at one particular time of year. UKPS is currently developing a more flexible and robust system for estimating the level of fraud which will take account of the seasonally of passport demand and other variables.

As regards the number of fraudulent applications detected, UKPS has recently introduced a new and comprehensive fraud casework and management information system. This system was rolled out and operational in all Passport Offices by the beginning of March 2005. It is now used for the progression of cases of suspected fraud and the collection, collation and analysis of information relating to passport fraud. Prior to the introduction of this system information relating to frauds detected was collated through manual processes. The figures which are available for the last five years are derived from those manual processes and are given as follows:

(80)Figure incorporates cases from major investigations not previously published

UKPS is committed to strengthening its fraud detection capability while maintaining an excellent standard of service to the public. As set out in the UKPS, Corporate and Business Plan for 2005–2010, the Agency is engaged in a range of initiatives to improve identity authentication and to increase its effectiveness in preventing and detecting fraud. These initiatives include:

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) lost, (b) stolen and (c) unavailable passports in circulation in the UK in each of the last five years. [6947]

Andy Burnham: The UK Passport Service is not in a position to provide information on the number of lost, stolen and unavailable passports in circulation in the last five years. The UK Passport Service can provide information on the number of passports reported lost, stolen and unavailable in those years, and this is shown in the following table. In December 2003 new more comprehensive arrangements for the reporting and recording of lost, stolen, and recovered passports were introduced. Prior to then information was not routinely collected.
UK passports lost, stolen and unavailable


Since 2000, 53,685 passports have been reported as found.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many claims for lost passports the Passport Agency has received in each of the last five years. [6959]

Andy Burnham: The UKPS does not routinely collect specific information on compensation claims for lost passports, where losses are due to failures by the UKPS and its contractors. The UKPS does keep information on passports lost to en route to customers. These figures are shown in the table.
Passport lost en route to customers

YearPassport lost
Feb 2004—31 March 2005683

The Royal Mail delivered passports until February 2004 when Special Mail Services commenced the secure delivery of passports.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2005, Official Report, column 167W, on passports, if he will waive the fee for nationality payable by those born in the Republic of Ireland and now residing in Northern Ireland before they may obtain a British passport. [9293]

Andy Burnham: To qualify for a British Passport, citizens of the Republic of Ireland now living in Northern Ireland, who do not have a claim to British subject status through birth prior to 1949, must apply to naturalise. The British Nationality Act 1981 requires that a certificate of naturalisation shall not be granted unless the fee payable has been paid. There is no discretion to waive the fee.
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