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12 Sept 2005 : Column 2554W—continued

Careless Driving

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the results of his consultation exercise on careless driving will be published; and if he will make a statement. [14649]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Review of Road Traffic Offences involving Bad Driving consultation paper was published on 3 February. The consultation paper included a proposal for a new offence of causing death by careless driving. The consultation period ended 6 May. We have received 185 responses from individuals and organisations and the consultation has also been the subject of 11 petitions.

We are now in the process of carefully analysing all the responses received and we will publish a summary in due course alongside our plans for addressing this issue.

Cash in Transit Attacks

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how cash in transit attacks are classified in the recorded crime statistics. [15147]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 20 July 2005]: Such offences are recorded by the police as robbery of business property. They cannot be separately identified from other offences which are recorded under this classification.

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether there is a national strategy for dealing with cash in transit attacks; and if he will make a statement. [15148]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 20 July 2005]: The Home Office has been in discussion with the British Security Industry Association and the police to consider ways of reducing cash in transit robberies in England and Wales.

The industry has committed itself to tackling this crime through the spreading of good practice and the use of technology to protect cash in transit deliveries. They are also working closely with the police to share intelligence relating to such robberies.

In addition, the police are developing a menu of options to address commercial robbery more generally, including those relating to cash in transit vehicles and personnel.

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will allocate greater police resources to tackle cash in transit attacks. [15149]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 20 July 2005]: The Government has put significant resources into the police service in England and Wales over the last few years. Expenditure on policing supported by Government grant or spent centrally on services for the police has risen by over 39 per cent. or £3 billion between 2000–01 and 2005–06.
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Operational issues, such as tackling cash in transit attacks, are matters for the local chief constable.

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many passers-by have been injured in cash in transit attacks in each year since 2000. [15150]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 20 July 2005]: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Child Abuse

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress the Senior Investigating Officers Handbook on abuse investigations' review group has made; and if he will make a statement. [13644]

Paul Goggins: The Senior Investigating Officers' working group is making steady progress in revising and updating this manual of guidance. It deals with the investigation of allegations of historical, institutional and complex child abuse. A conference involving relevant practitioners is due to be held in September and the target is to submit a draft of the revised guidance to the Association of Chief Police Officers in April 2006.

Child Protection

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to strengthen child protection on the internet. [13641]

Paul Goggins: The Government are determined to do everything they can to protect children from the insidious use of the internet by paedophiles.

We have established the Task Force on Child Protection on the internet which includes representatives of the industry, the police, children's charities, MPs from the main parties and others, as a forum where ideas to protect children and promote safe use of the internet can be discussed and developed. Among the many initiatives to come out of the task force's work, the Home Office has run four public awareness campaigns to reinforce the basic safety messages to parents and children, has developed various models of good practice including access to content through mobile phones, and is close to finalising documents covering moderated chat and search services. The industry has worked, through the Internet Watch Foundation, to virtually eliminate hosting of illegal images of child abuse by UK companies and a number of providers have developed solutions to block access to material hosted overseas.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003, which came into force on 1 May 2004, made grooming a child, both offline and online, an offence, punishable by up to 10 years in jail. We have increased the maximum sentences for possession and distribution of indecent images of children (offences for possession from six months to five years and for production and distribution offences from three years' imprisonment to 10 years).

We also announced in April that we will set up a new Centre for Child Protection on the internet to support the police and child protection agencies. The centre will target paedophiles using the internet to distribute illegal images and groom" children, and aims to reduce the
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harm caused to children, families and the wider community by child abuse facilitated by misuse of the internet. The centre will also include the Secretariat to the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies seeking to share lessons learned from investigations into on-line child abuse around the world.

This is an international issue and we continue to take a lead within international fora in tackling this problem, for example through the G8 where Ministers have recently committed to the development of an international database of child abuse images, and through initiatives such as a joint EU Presidency/Virtual Global Taskforce Conference to be held on 14–16 November in Belfast.

Civil Participation (Faith Communities)

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policies he is pursuing to encourage greater participation in civil society by faith communities; and if he will make a statement. [3893]

Paul Goggins: Faith communities play an important role in building strong active communities and provide benefits to wider society.

Through the Working Together" framework Government are improving consultation and engagement with faith communities across Whitehall.

In addition, the Government actively encourages and supports faith communities to contribute to community cohesion through its strategy Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society", which focuses on improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged communities. The £3 million capacity building fund, announced as part of this strategy, will assist faith communities to participate more effectively in civil society.

Community Orders

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of community orders since their inception. [11812]

Paul Goggins: Community penalties can be an effective alternative to short term custodial sentences. The actual reconviction rate within two years for adults commencing an order in 2001 was 51 per cent., 1 per cent. lower than the predicted reconviction rate.

Community penalties also display a high compliance rate. Figures for May 2005 show that the compliance rate is 74 per cent. Community penalties allow offenders to maintain employment, education and family links, all factors which are important in reducing the risk of reoffending, whilst punishing the offender and delivering interventions to address offending behaviour.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 changes the structure of community sentences by providing a single order made up of one or more requirements. This allows the court greater flexibility in tailoring the sentence to the offence and the offender in each case, enabling a greater prospect of effectiveness.
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