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16 Nov 2005 : Column 1261W—continued

Missing Children

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in establishing a nationwide child rescue alert scheme to promote early notification of missing children. [28206]

Paul Goggins: The scheme operates in five forces. Engagement with other forces through the national centre for policing excellence indicates a wider interest in the scheme, with expectation of further significant take up by spring next year.

Farj Hassan Faraj

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he was informed by the Italian authorities of the relevant deadlines relating to the extradition request of Farj Hassan Faraj; [25927]

(2) when his Department first informed Farj Hassan Faraj that he was subject to an extradition request by the Italian authorities; [25928]

(3) what reasons the Italian authorities gave the Department for withdrawing their request to extradite Farj Hassan Faraj to Italy; [26816]

(4) when Farj Hassan Faraj was released from detention. [26820]

Andy Burnham: Farj Hassan Faraj was first informed that he was the subject of an extradition request from Italy on 24 July 2003, when he was arrested on a warrant issued pursuant to that request.

In 2004 the Italian constitutional court ruled that domestic time limits on pre-trial custody applied to people in custody outside Italy for whom a request for extradition had been made. This time limit would not however have applied in Faraj's case had he been notified by the relevant UK authorities of the
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completion of a pre-trial investigation on him in Italy. The Italian authorities requested on eight April 2003 that such notification be given urgently.

They did not specify a deadline. Unfortunately, although an earlier request for the transmission of evidence was acted on immediately, the notification was, by oversight, not made to Faraj. The fact, and significance, of this omission were not appreciated at the time.

The UK authorities were first alerted by the Italian authorities to the implications of the constitutional court's ruling on custody time limits for the Faraj case in October 2005, and notification was then immediately given. On 10 October the Italian authorities withdrew their extradition request, stating that the order for pre-trial custody in prison had been revoked following the dismissal of proceedings. Faraj remains in immigration detention in the UK, pending further consideration of his immigration position.

Feltham Young Offenders Institution

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total complement of permanent staff is in Feltham Young Offenders Institution; broken down by (a) juvenile and (b) young offender sections how many are employed; and how many are on long-term sick leave. [21782]

Fiona Mactaggart: Staffing levels at Feltham are set out in the following table.
Target staff numberStaff in postStaff on long-term sick leave
Juvenile area91883
Young offender area1591514
Other areas588548.4213

Forensic Science Service

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the effect of the work structuring project undertaken by the Forensic Science Service in response to the 7th Report of the Public Accounts Committee of 1999. [26701]

Andy Burnham: The Forensic Science Service (FSS) piloted the principles of work structuring in 2002 and subsequently adopted a more comprehensive programme of work early in 2005. Work structuring focuses on the key importance of staff and their positioning in terms of work organisation. Strategies, structures and systems are assessed and redesigned to support staff.

The effects of the work structuring project are measured in terms of business performance, staff motivation and morale. The work is currently in progress and it is expected that the realisation of the benefits identified will be spread within a two to three-year time period.

Identity Cards

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the role of biometric identifiers
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is in the solutions being considered for remote authentication for the proposed identity card scheme; and if he will make a statement. [26626]

Andy Burnham: At present, the identity cards scheme is looking at various alternatives that allow the implementation of secure remote authentication including use of one-time password technology. We are defining requirements which aim to evaluate the generation of one-time passwords via the use of both personal identification numbers (PINs) and biometrics in combination with an ID card and bidders will be invited to propose solutions meeting these requirements during the procurement stage.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what preparations have been made to recruit staff in anticipation of the introduction of identity cards. [26066]

Andy Burnham: The Home Office has undertaken planning and preparatory work to define an organisational structure, to define and agree the senior management roles within that structure and to define a remuneration structure for the chief executive officer. Work on recruitment of operational staff to administer the scheme will need to be informed by the procurement stage which will not commence before Royal Assent of the Identity Cards Bill.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the results of the identity card authentication pilot study undertaken by the Criminal Records Bureau and referred to on page 150 of the 2005 departmental report. [26778]

Andy Burnham: In response to the themes identified by the Bichard inquiry, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) embarked on a pilot exercise to explore and investigate the benefits and costs of facilitating the provision of an on-line identity authentication service to authenticate the identity of disclosure applicants.

To that end, in July 2004 the CRB posted a Government Opportunities Notice seeking expressions of interest from suppliers of on-line identity authentication services to take part in a three-month pilot to trial products, at the supplier's own cost, with CRB registered bodies. Following the application of a basic sift criteria the following suppliers were invited to take part in the pilot: BT, Call-credit, Equifax and Experian. The pilot involved each supplier providing his or her product directly to a registered body. No charge was made to CRB or the participating registered bodies for the use of the products deployed at the registered bodies. Importantly, the on-line authentication check did not replace the current CRB authentication rules—the check was conducted alongside the normal paper-based checks.

Each pilot ran for a period of 12 weeks, the start date largely dependent on the sector in which the body operated. Registered bodies held the responsibility for obtaining the applicants consent for the pilot, obtained through a 'Consent Statement' specifically developed by the CRB for the pilot exercise. The general view of registered bodies participating in the pilot was that, while they could see the benefits of deploying similar systems in support of the identity authentication process for disclosure applicants, the type of system trialled
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whereby electronic authentication is required did not in its present form add any significant benefit to the current authentication process.

It is important to note that the products deployed by the four pilot suppliers were 'off the shelf' for the purposes of the pilot although each supplier was keen to stress that bespoke solutions are available. Following the successful conclusion of the pilot exercise, the pilot report conclusions and the wider identity-related developments in government and commerce are currently under consideration by the CRB Management Board.

Licensing Act 1964

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted under (i) section 172, (ii) section 172A and (iii) section 173 of the Licensing Act 1964 in each year since 1997, broken down by (A) petty sessional division area and (B) police authority area; and if he will make a statement. [24117]

Paul Goggins: Statistics from the Home Office Court Proceedings Database on the number of people prosecuted and convicted under sections 172, 172A and 173 of the Licensing Act 1964, England and Wales, 1997–2003 are contained in the tables, broken down by police force area and petty sessional area a copy will be placed in the Library. Statistics for 2004 will be available later this month.

The offence of selling alcohol to a drunken person under s172(3) of the LA 1964 was added to the penalty notice for disorder scheme from 4 April this year. This enables the police to issue persons who commit this offence with an on the spot penalty of £80. Provisional data for 2004 from January to August show that 11 penalty notices were issued for this offence.

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