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28 Nov 2005 : Column 47W—continued


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are being taken to tackle institutional racism in prisons. [29912]

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Fiona Mactaggart: The Prison Service Associate Race Equality Scheme published in May 2005 sets out the actions that the service will be taking over the next three years to tackle institutional racism in prisons. A copy of the scheme has been placed in the Library.


Ms Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms are in place to monitor the operation by the police of detentions and arrests under the Terrorism Acts. [21568]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 governs the treatment and review of persons arrested and detained under section 41 of the Act. There are appropriate safeguards in place and detention is subject to regular review.

There is also a limited power to detain in the case of a stop and search under the Act. Section 45 of the Act confers the power to detain a person only for the amount of time reasonably required to conduct a search authorised by virtue of section 44 of the Act. The Home Office stop and search manual provides guidance to police on all forms of stop and search to ensure the powers are used fairly and appropriately.

The use of counter terrorism powers is also subject to the same PACE codes of practice where appropriate and where specific counter terrorism guidelines are not already in place.

Under the Act, the Secretary of State is required to place a report on the operation of the whole Act before Parliament at least once every 12 months. The powers in the Act are thoroughly reviewed by an independent reviewer, currently Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, to ensure they are necessary, proportionate and used appropriately by the police.

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he had with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on extending the maximum pre-charge detention period for suspect terrorists to 90 days; if he will list each date the discussions took place; and who proposed that ACPO contact their members about possible correspondence with hon. Members. [30323]

Hazel Blears: Home Office Ministers and officials have had regular discussions with ACPO about the content of the Terrorism Bill.

In the debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, 2 November, my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary, suggested that over the weekend hon. Members discuss the counter-terrorism issues with their constituents, and highlighted the importance of professional advice from local police. On Thursday, 3 November, he suggested to ACPO that chief constables write to MPs in their police authority area, making themselves or relevant senior officers available to MPs, of all parties, who wanted to know their local police attitude to these issues. He naturally made clear that this should not be on a party political basis.

Chief constables responded to this in a number of different ways ranging from doing nothing to setting out their views. The Government believes that it is entirely proper for the police service—who are tasked with
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protecting our security—to make the case for new powers which they have sought and which they feel are necessary to protect the nation, as they have done since July.


Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions there have been for acts of vandalism in the West Lancashire area in each year since 1997. [27707]

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.

The available information from the Home Office court proceedings database on the number of offenders found guilty of criminal damage in Lancashire police force area is contained in the table. It is not possible to identify those convicted in the West Lancashire area, as the data is not collected at this level of detail.

Statistics for 2004 will be available late November.
Number of offenders found guilty of criminal damage at all courts: Lancashire police force area 1997–2003(43)

Offence descriptionNumber of offenders
Other criminal damage
Criminal damage (value of damage over £5,000)(44)
Criminal damage (value of damage £5,000 or less) and causing damage to an allotment through negligence or any unlawful act(45)

(43)These data are on the principal offence basis.
(44)Principal statute—Criminal Damage Act 1971; Explosive Substances Act 1883; Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979; Post Office Act 1953; Malicious Damage Act 1861.
(45)Principal statute— Criminal Damage Act 1971; Allotments Act 1922

War Criminals

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his Department's policy is on the bringing to justice of suspected war criminals where evidence exists. [30416]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Government takes all allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity very seriously and is fully committed to its obligations under international law, which it has implemented through the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, the International Criminal Court Act 2001 and section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
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The prosecution of particular cases in England and Wales is a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. The recent successful trial of Faryadi Zardad, found guilty in July 2005 of torture and hostage taking in Afghanistan, demonstrated the commitment on the part of the police and CPS to pursue major war crimes cases.


Departmental Assets

Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 14 November 2005, Official Report, column 963W, on departmental assets, what the (a) five items of art and antique furniture and (b) freehold properties are; and what the (i) value and (ii) annual cost of insurance is for each item or property. [32051]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The five items of art and antique furniture valued on the basis of insurance value are:

Insurance value represents our valuer's view of the likely cost of replacing the item valued with as near a comparable item as is available for purchase second hand. In many cases, direct replacement of the items would not be possible.

The freehold properties stated at accounting net book value are:

These properties are valued on the basis of existing use value. The Government are unlikely to place certain of these properties onto the open market for sale.

The Government do not purchase commercial insurance for the risks it faces as, in general, it is cheaper for the Government to cover its own risks.

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