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Sure Start

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the impact of Sure Start programmes on the (a) development, (b) language and (c) behaviour of under-fives; and on what evidence the assessment was based. [18840]

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Beverley Hughes: A large scale, comprehensive evaluation of Sure Start local programmes is under way which will assess, among other outcomes, the cognitive, behavioural and language development of 8,000 children living in communities served by Sure Start. Children have been assessed at 9 months and will be assessed again at age 3 and 5, and compared to children in similar circumstances who do not live in an SSLP area.

Assessments of children's development are made using standardised assessment scales. These include a measure of how many words a child uses, their ability to recognise numbers and shapes and observing the child's behaviour. These assessments are undertaken by trained researchers. Parents are also interviewed and other background characteristics of the family are collected.

An assessment of speech and language development in SSLPs showed that the proportion of children with a high number of words at age 2 and whose parents had no concerns about their child's language, rose from 70 per cent. to 76 per cent. between 2001 to 2004.

University Endowments

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made on the pilot scheme for matched funding to help universities build up new endowments. [20324]

Bill Rammell: In our response in December 2004 to the Voluntary Giving Task Force report, we announced that we would make available pump-priming" matched funding of £7.5 million over three years to help English institutions build their capacity to raise income from donations and we invited Universities UK to bring forward suitable proposals and administer the scheme. Universities UK, having invited applications, are currently considering an encouraging number of proposals from institutions, and expect to announce allocations before the end of this financial year.


Algerian Nationals

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Algerian nationals have been removed from the UK in each of the last eight years. [18991]

Mr. McNulty: The exact information requested is not available. Removals from the UK are split into two separate categories, asylum removals and non-asylum removals. Information on non-asylum removals, broken down by nationality, prior to 2004 is not available. Only information on asylum removals, broken down by nationality, is available for each of the last eight years.
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Information on non-asylum removals, broken down by nationality, is only available from 2004. In 2004, there were 335 non-asylum, Algerian nationals, removed. This figure has been rounded to the nearest five and is provisional.

The most recently published statistics on asylum removals, which includes voluntary departures and assisted returns, covers the second quarter of 2005, this has been published in the quarterly asylum statistics bulletin available from the Home Office website. Also, information on removals, including voluntary departures and voluntary returns, of asylum seekers, 1996 to 2004, has been published in the asylum statistics United Kingdom 2004 statistical bulletin. These publications can be found on the Home Office website:


Anti-social Behaviour (Gravesham)

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance the Government have given to local authorities concerning vandalism in Gravesham. [20079]

Hazel Blears: In July 2004 the Government restated its commitment to tackling crime and disorder through the publication of the 2004 spending review, which included a Home Office target to bring crime levels down by a further 15 percent. between 2002–03 and 2007–08, and more in those areas with the highest crime. The crimes covered by this target include vandalism. Through the Government Offices for the regions and the Welsh Assembly Government, we have negotiated three year targets with each crime and disorder reduction partnership (CDRP) in England and community safety partnership (CSP) in Wales as their contribution to the delivery of the national target.

In the south-east, the Government Office has taken forward these arrangements via a series of communications with partners, including a regional target-setting event. They also spent time with Gravesham CDRP discussing the targets to be achieved by 2007–08. In terms of volume, criminal damage was the largest contributor and the importance of reducing this type of crime was therefore stressed. Gravesham subsequently set a target to reduce criminal damage, including vandalism, by 30 percent.

As part of the TOGETHER campaign, we have also published a range of step-by-step guides on tackling various aspects of antisocial behaviour, with two more in preparation. Much of the advice in these documents is applicable to vandalism. We are also currently collecting examples of good practice that will be disseminated to all partnerships later this year to help them drive down vandalism in their areas.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions there have been for acts of vandalism in the Gravesham area in each year since 1997. [20081]

Hazel Blears: There is no specific offence of vandalism. Most behaviour which we understand as vandalism would probably be covered by the offence of criminal damage, although the two might not always be exactly the same.
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The available information from the Home Office Court Proceedings database on the number of offenders found guilty of criminal damage in Kent police force area is contained in the table. It is not possible to identify
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those convicted in the Gravesham area, as the data is not collected at this level of detail. Statistics for 2004 will be available mid November.
Number of offenders found guilty of criminal damage at all courts, Kent police force area 1997–2003(10)

Offence descriptionPrincipal statute1997199819992000200120022003
Other criminal damage Criminal damage (value of damage over £5,000)Criminal Damage Act 1971.
Explosive Substances Act 1883
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979
Post Office Act 1953
Malicious Damage Act 1861
Criminal damage (value of damage £5,000 or less) and causing damage to an allotment through negligence or any unlawful actCriminal Damage Act 1971
Allotments Act 1922

(10) These data are on the principal offence basis.

Child Abuse Investigations

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the interviewing techniques used with possible victims in child abuse investigations. [20171]

Hazel Blears: Guidance on interviewing vulnerable or intimidated witnesses (VIWs) is contained in 'Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses, including Children' issued in January 2002. This guidance became operational in May 2002 when it superseded Memorandum of Good Practice on Video Recorded Interviews with Child Witnesses for Criminal Proceedings". Victims in sexual offence proceedings are considered to be intimidated. Other witnesses in these cases—but not the accused—may also be treated as vulnerable or intimidated.

Achieving Best Evidence covers preparing and planning for interviews with VIWs, decisions about whether or not to conduct an interview and decisions about whether the interview should be video recorded or whether it would be more appropriate for a written statement to be taken. It covers the interviewing of such witnesses both for the purposes of making a video-recorded statement and also for taking a written statement, their preparation for court and any subsequent court appearance.

Other guidance includes: 'Guidance on the Recording of Interviews with Vulnerable and Significant (Key) Witnesses' issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers; and 'Complex Child Abuse Investigations: Inter-agency issues' issued jointly by the Home Office and Department of Health.

Community Support Officers

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many community support officers are in post in (a) each police force area and (b) each district council area in England and Wales. [20436]

Hazel Blears: Information on the number of community support officers (CSOs) for each force at 30 June 2005 is set out in the table. We do not collect the number of CSOs at district council level.

Data on CSOs at basic command unit level for each force can be found on the Home Office website at
Community support officer numbers as at 30 June 2005

Avon and Somerset144
City of London14
Devon and Cornwall78
Greater Manchester263
Metropolitan Police2,105
North Wales60
North Yorkshire75
South Wales120
South Yorkshire124
Thames Valley113
West Mercia82
West Midlands259
West Yorkshire413

1. Figures are full-time equivalent, therefore because of rounding, there may be discrepancy between totals and the sum of the constituent parts.

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