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27 Oct 2005 : Column 536W—continued

Hizb ut-Tahrir

Mr. Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the activities of Hizb ut-Tahir in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [20731]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The activities of Hizb ut-Tahir and other extremist groups are kept under regular review. We will take action against them where it is appropriate.

Hunting Act

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been (a) arrested and (b) prosecuted, where all proceedings are complete, under the Hunting Act 2004. [20587]

Hazel Blears: The Hunting Act 2004 came into force on 1 February 2005. The summary offences introduced under the Act are non-notifiable and as a result are not covered by the Home Office statistical collection on arrests for notifiable (recorded crime) offences. Statistics on the number of people prosecuted during 2005 will be available in autumn 2006.


Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will (a) publish the results from and (b) respond to the consultation on immigration rules as they relate to ministers of religion which closed on 31 May. [18881]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 17 October 2005]: The consultation that closed on 31 May raised issues that prompted a second round of meetings with faith communities and a second phase of consultation that ended on 8 July. We have been collating and considering the responses to the consultation over the summer and we hope to make announcements shortly about the way ahead.

Institutional Abuse Investigations

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police investigations into institutional abuse have taken place since 1995; when each (a) commenced and (b) concluded; how many people have been arrested as a result of such investigations; how many complainants have been involved; how many cases have been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service; in how many cases charges have been brought; and what the result has been in each case where all proceedings have been completed. [19950]

Hazel Blears: The information requested is not held centrally by the Home Office and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Information provided
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previously to the Home Affairs Select Committee was supplied by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

National Alcohol Strategy

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding is available to implement the Government's National Alcohol Strategy. [16850]

Hazel Blears: The Government has significant funding, across several Government Departments, with specific projects in support of the National Alcohol Strategy. For example, the Home Office has funded Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaigns and the Tackling Violent Crime Programme, the Department of Health has funded an audit of treatment services and a Programme of Improvements will be supported from April. Both Departments are jointly funding the promotion of sensible drinking.

The Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England encourages the police, local authorities, primary care trusts and other groups to better utilise existing resources and powers and to encourage agencies to work together more effectively to combat alcohol harms.

National Firearms Register

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 12 July 2005, Official Report, column 909W, on the National Firearms Register, what progress has been made on testing the National Firearms Licensing Management System; what target date has been set for it to be available for forces to take up; and if he will make a statement. [21693]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 24 October 2005]: The live (Beta) pilot of the National Firearms Licensing Management System has been rescheduled to commence on Monday 14 November 2005 for the Metropolitan police and on Monday 21 November 2005 for the Lancashire police. Both the Home Office and the Police Information Technology Organisation who are taking the project forward are committed to commencing roll-out to all forces in the new year.

Neighbourhood Watches (Kent)

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to encourage the formation of neighbourhood watches in local communities in Kent. [20083]

Hazel Blears: The Home Office recognises the valuable contribution that neighbourhood watch and other watch volunteers make in the fight against crime. We encourage the formation of neighbourhood watch schemes throughout England and Wales by providing advice on how to set up and maintain a scheme and how to obtain funding. We also provide a free training package for neighbourhood watch co-ordinators and other advice and support as required, such as this year's national conference and officials' attendance at other conferences where possible.
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Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the question of 7 June, from the hon. Member for Eddisbury, on the number of designated education hours lost in the Prison Service due to staff shortages. [11102]

Fiona Mactaggart: I replied to the hon. Member on 6 July 2005, Official Report, volume 436, column 542W.

Persistent Offenders

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is for tackling persistent and prolific offenders. [19789]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 19 October 2005]: The prolific and other priority offenders (PPO) strategy is at the heart of the Government's efforts to reduce crime and disorder. This strategy, which was launched by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister in March 2004, targets not only existing prolific offenders but also those young people who are on the cusp of a prolific offending lifestyle. The strategy has three strands: prevent and deter—to stop young people becoming prolific offenders; catch and convict—tackling those who are already prolific offenders; and rehabilitate and resettle—working to increase the number of offenders who stop offending by offering a range of supportive interventions.

This multi-agency approach to offender management built on, and replaced, the previous persistent offender scheme. Since September 2004 PPO schemes have been established in each Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership area in England and each Community Safety Partnership in Wales. These schemes allow local partners, such as the police, prisons, probation and the local authority to concentrate their joint efforts on monitoring and rehabilitating the relatively small number of people who have been identified locally as causing most harm to their communities.

Over 10,000 existing prolific offenders have been identified by schemes across England and Wales. In addition, about 4,000 young people are likely to be identified as suitable for support as part of the prevent and deter strand. An initial impact evaluation for the strategy is currently underway. Guidance for all three strands, as well as monthly performance management framework reports, can be found on the website


Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers have been recruited in North Kent in each year since 1997. [20087]

Hazel Blears: The information requested is not collected centrally by the Home Office. The breakdown of the number of recruitments into Kent police as a whole is available, and provided in the table.
Police officer recruitment in Kent police

As at 31 MarchFull-time equivalent

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Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will expand the strength of the Merseyside police force. [20261]

Hazel Blears: The number of police officers and staff deployed by the Merseyside police is a matter for the chief constable and the police authority to determine, subject to the budget set by the authority.

At the end of March 2005 Merseyside police had 4,317 police officers, an increase of 195 since March 2004. The force also employed 2,114 police staff at the end of March 2005. At the end of June 2005 there were 164 community support officers. This is expected to increase to 191 by the end of March 2006.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to ensure, following the merger of police forces, that two seats on the new police authority will be provided for every top tier local authority within the area covered, to enable a majority party and an opposition party councillor to be appointed. [18765]

Hazel Blears: Following the recent publication of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary's report on police force structures, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has asked police authorities and chief constables to submit to him proposals for restructuring by 23 December. We will make a further announcement on the way forward, including the issue of any consequential changes to the membership of police authorities, once we have considered these proposals.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police vehicles in (a) Southend and (b) Essex were (i) purchased and (ii) hired in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [20632]

Hazel Blears: The information is not held centrally. The chief constable is responsible for the day to day operational management of the force. I am therefore sending a copy of this parliamentary question to the chief constable, so that he can respond to the question and copy his reply to me.

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