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20 Dec 2005 : Column 2878W—continued

Chemical/Biological Agents

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the research funded by his Department and conducted by the Food Standards Agency into the survivability of chemical and biological agents in bottled water and packaged food will be published; and if he will make a statement. [37899]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Information contained in this research could prove of value to individuals potentially wishing to tamper with food or drink products in order to pose a threat to the public for terrorist or other criminal purposes. Accordingly, it is not the intention of the Department to publish this research.


David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department is taking to celebrate and promote Christmas in 2005. [37286]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office is participating in a range of activities for its staff both to promote and celebrate Christmas.

Home Office staff have been invited to attend the Whitehall-wide Carol Service to be held on 15 December, organised and funded by the Whitehall Network of Christian Fellowships. Carol concerts are also being held in the main Home Office buildings in Croydon.

The Home Office has produced a corporate Christmas card to send to its external stakeholders, partners and contacts. The Home Secretary and permanent secretary will also send a seasonal message to staff. There will be Christmas trees and decorations in offices and reception areas in Home Office buildings. Staff restaurants in 2 Marsham Street and other buildings in the Home Office estate are providing a traditional Christmas lunchtime menu and individual prisons will organise a special Christmas dinner and other activities.

The Home Office is also participating in the Westminster Christmas Challenge organised by the Volunteering Centre Westminster to provide a range of practical assistance over the Christmas period to a number of local charities. Other individual areas of the Home Office are also organising fundraising and voluntary Christmas activities for a range of different charities.

Civic Pioneers Learning Network

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which local authorities (a) participate in and (b) used to participate in the Civic Pioneers Learning Network; and if he will make a statement. [33597]

Paul Goggins: There are 22 local authorities participating in the Civic Pioneer Network, shown in the list.
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The Civic Pioneers initiative was developed by the Home Office's Civil Renewal Unit in discussion with the Local Government Association and the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives. A Civic Pioneer is a local authority committed to the ethos of community engagement, and is willing to share its experience in empowering local people in shaping public policies and services. Local authorities were invited to put themselves forward in working with the Home Office to develop and promote effective practices in support of this agenda. The scheme is voluntary and there is no funding attached to membership.

Corporate Fraud

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to encourage firms to report incidents of corporate fraud to the police; and if he will make a statement. [38236]

Paul Goggins: Criminal offences, including incidents of fraud, should be reported to the police.

A large amount of fraud can be prevented if organisations have proper fraud prevention measures in place and individuals take simple precautions to protect themselves. Government therefore works closely with the finance and retail sectors as well as with the police to combat fraud and takes an active role in improving public awareness of fraud and how to avoid becoming a victim.

For firms which are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Financial Services and Markets Act gives the FSA a role in preventing financial crime, including fraud. The FSA handbook includes a
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requirement that firms take reasonable care to establish and maintain effective systems and controls for countering the risk that they might be used to further financial crime and there is also an explicit requirement to report significant fraud. The combined code on corporate governance similarly requires all listed companies to maintain sound systems of internal control so as to safeguard company assets against relevant business risks, including the risk of fraud.

Terms of reference for a wide-ranging cross Government review of fraud were announced by the Attorney-General on 27 October 2005. The review will look at the scale of the problem, the appropriate role for Government in dealing with fraud and how resources could best be spent to maximise value for money across the system.


Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green of 5 July, 19 July and 5 October regarding a constituent, Mr. Rastgouy; what the average response time to hon. Members' inquiries to the immigration and nationality directorate is; and if he will make a statement. [32003]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 12 December.

Credit Card Crime

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many stolen credit cards have been reported in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; [38312]

(2) how much has been reported as stolen through fraudulent use of credit cards in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [38316]

Paul Goggins: The Home Office does not keep statistics on the number of stolen credit cards or how much money has been stolen through fraudulent use of credit cards.

Industry figures produced by the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) show that UK plastic card fraud losses in the last five years have been:
£ million

The most recent APACS figures issued in November show that total card fraud losses in the six months to the end of June 2005 decreased by 13 percent. (from £252.6 million to £219.4 million) compared with the same period in 2004.
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Crime Rates

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the change in (a) recorded crime rates and (b) crime detection rates was between 2003–04 and 2004–05 in each basic command unit in the Northumbria police area. [34390]

Hazel Blears: The requested information has been published in the online statistical bulletin 11/05 'Crime in England and Wales 2004/05', and can be accessed via the following links:

From April 1999 to March 2004, Northumbria police force had fifteen basic command units (BCUs) within its area. With effect from April 2004, they were condensed to six BCUs by the force.

As a result of this action, Northumbria BCU figures for 2003–04 and 2004–05 are not directly comparable.

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