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15 Feb 2006 : Column 2117W—continued


David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he plans to undertake to highlight the risks of cannabis use. [47696]

Mr. Charles Clarke: On 19 January, I announced our intention to introduce a comprehensive package of education and public health measures, in partnership with DH, DfES and the police, including:
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The package of communications will ensure that no one, including young people, is left in any doubt about the harms and legal status of cannabis.

Child Protection

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he has taken to reduce the incidence of children accessing obscene images on the internet. [48164]

Paul Goggins: The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was formed following an agreement between the Government, police and the internet service provider industry that a partnership approach was needed to tackle the distribution of child abuse images online. It provides a 'notice and take down' service to UK ISPs so they can remove illegal content from their servers and works closely with law enforcement agencies to help them trace offenders. The IWF and ISPs have reduced the proportion of potentially illegal content found to be hosted in the UK from 18 per cent. in 1997 to less than 1 per cent. now. We have been working with the main UK ISPs as they put in place technical solutions to prevent their customers accidentally accessing illegal child abuse websites identified by the IWF.

In November 2005, we published the 'Good Practice Guidance for Search Safe Providers and Advice to the Public on How to Search Safely' document. This gives advice to the public on how to make good use of search engines to explore the internet and reduce the risk of being exposed to unwanted and unsuitable results. We are also working with industry to develop a BSI standard for software that helps parents control what their children access on the internet.

We launched a £1 million public awareness campaign on 15 January this year. The campaign is the latest wave of our awareness activity and includes advice for parents and children on how to use the internet safely, including how to avoid accessing illegal images.

We have announced the creation of the new Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which will be operational from April 2006. The centre will be a focal point for police, child protection and industry work to ensure that children can use the internet safely.

Commission for Racial Equality

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total budget for the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) was in (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06; how much funding the CRE has received in each year since 2000–01 to support its work with public bodies to promote race equality; and how much it will receive in 2006–07 for that work. [44875]

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Paul Goggins [holding answer 31 January 2006]: The total budget for the CRE comprises the grant-in-aid it receives from the Home Office plus income from other sources. In 2004–05, its total budget was £19.7 million, made up of £19.2 million grant-in-aid and £0.5 million other income. In 2005–06 its grant-in-aid is £19.1 million and Parliamentary Supply Estimates assume that the CRE will receive £0.5 million in other income. Estimates for 2006–07 are still in preparation.

In 2001–02 the CRE's grant-in-aid was increased by £3 million to provide for the cost of its new enforcement duties under the provisions of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, including its work with public bodies to promote race equality. As this sum was built into the baseline for subsequent years, it is not possible to identify how much of its grant-in-aid for later years relates to this work.


Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department takes to ensure that consultancies do not claim excessive expenses while working for the Department and its agencies. [29056]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Contracts provide that expenses are reimbursed on the basis of reasonable costs actually incurred within the standard limits of travel and subsistence rates paid to civil servants of equivalent status. Expenses will not be paid for assignments based within London. Claims are validated by Departmental supervisory staff. Invoices are paid in arrears and are monitored to ensure costs comply with the contract. Consultants are required under contract to retain records of reimbursable costs for two years for audit purposes.

Crack Cocaine

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of crack cocaine users in the UK. [47691]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The British Crime Survey (BCS) provides an estimate of the number of people in England and Wales who used drugs in the year before interview. The estimated numbed of people aged 16 to 59 in England and Wales who had used crack cocaine in the previous year obtained from the BCS for the year 2004–05 is 32,000.

The BCS is a good measure of drug use in the general population and provides a consistent measure of trends over time. However it should be noted that, as a survey of households, the BCS does not cover some groups who may have relatively high rates of crack cocaine use, such as the homeless and prisoners. Nor, in practice, will any household survey cover people whose lives are so busy or chaotic that they are hardly ever at home. Therefore these estimates may underestimate the number of crack users in the country. Home Office commissioned research to obtain better estimates of the number of problematic drug users, including crack users, on a regular basis is currently under way.
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Criminal Justice System (Ethnic Monitoring)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the level of ethnic monitoring at all stages of the criminal justice system; and how it has changed since 1997. [49127]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Government recognises the importance of ethnic monitoring in the criminal justice system and the necessity of continuing to improve this in order to ensure that the criminal justice system is fair and non-discriminatory.

Ethnic monitoring based upon visual perception began to be introduced in the criminal justice system in the 1980s. Since one April 2003 agencies have in addition introduced the recording of ethnicity based on self-classification using the 16 categories used in the 2001 census. The aim is to continue to work with agencies on implementing fully the 2001 categories across the criminal justice system over the next few years. The results from this monitoring are annually published by the Home Office in the report Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System". Up until 1997 the published data covered racist incidents, homicides, stop and searches, cautioning, persons under the supervision of the probation service or in prison as well as the ethnicity of criminal justice practitioners. Since 1997 the extent of the data published has expanded and now also includes arrests, court proceedings, police complaints and youth offending.

Crown Prosecution Service

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department had with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the prosecutions of (a) Otis Ferry and (b) Maya Evans; and if he will make a statement. [50832]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office has had no discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding these cases.

Custody Conditions

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the conditions in which people awaiting trial in custody are kept; and whether any changes are planned to the applicable standards. [50019]

Fiona Mactaggart: Unconvicted prisoners have a special status and as far as possible retain their rights as citizens. This includes arrangements to provide more visits and other privileges not available to convicted prisoners. There are no plans to alter the current Prison Service standard.

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