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2 Mar 2006 : Column 955W—continued

Home Detention Curfew Scheme

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been released on the Home Detention Curfew Scheme. [54927]

Fiona Mactaggart: According to the Prison Service IT system, by 31 December 2005 122,304 prisoners had been released under the Home Detention Curfew Scheme since the scheme began on 28 January 1999.

Identity Cards

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether radio frequency technology will be used in identity cards. [54928]

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Andy Burnham: It is currently planned that the ID card will be valid for travel within the EEA. As a result, they must comply with standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a branch of the UN. These standards stipulate that a travel document such as an identity card will need to have a proximity" chip, which will use radio frequencies to allow the card to be read at very short distances, approximately 0 cm-2 cm from a reader. Thus, one specific kind of radio frequency technology will be used in the proximity" chip in the identity card in line with their introduction into passports in many countries in the coming years.

However, the use of radio frequencies in the identity card should not be confused with other uses of radio frequencies in many different technologies, such as RFID tags. While both use radio frequencies, they use different operating systems, access controls and security requirements. For example, proximity chips include a far higher level of security protection than an RFID tag and can only be read at a very short distance. These differences are reflected in the fact that they operate to different standards set by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

Furthermore, proximity chips in the identity card will utilise Basic Access Control as a data access protocol in accordance with international standards as well as other cryptographic measures in order to prevent the information on the chip from being modified. In addition, it is planned that further advanced encryption will be utilised to secure biometric information on the chip of the card. This will comply with Extended Access Control standards that are currently under development at an international level.

Life Sentences

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of those sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment were released after less than (a) 12 years, (b) eight years and (c) six years in each year since 2000. [53355]

Fiona Mactaggart: The following table from the Prison Service IT system provides figures on the numbers of prisoners sentenced to mandatory life sentences released on licence between the years 2000 and 2005.
Prisoners sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment released(26) after (a) 8 years to less than 12 years, (b) 6 years to less than 8 years, and (c) less than 6 years, between 2000 and 2004

Time band/year200020012002200320042005
8 years to less than 12414037515642
6 years to less than 8367654
Less than 6 years23111

(26) Figures relate to first releases on licence only

National Youth and Community Service

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 14 February 2006, Official Report, columns 1982–83W, on the National Youth and Community Service, what the rationale was for setting up a new charitable company to implement the National Youth and Community Service Scheme. [53729]

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Hazel Blears: The Russell Commission report on youth action and engagement, published in March 2005, recommended the creation of a new national youth volunteering body, independent of Government. The report provided the Government with four options for the legal form of this body: a non-departmental public body, a company limited by guarantee, a community interest company, or an existing organisation, suitably adapted.

The Government decided to create a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. This was for three reasons:

It is also important to note that the charitable company will not be delivering the Commission recommendations itself, but will be contracting with existing voluntary and community organisations.

Operation Trident

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Operation Trident in reducing gun crime; and if he will make a statement. [54474]

Hazel Blears: Operation Trident, established London-wide in 1999, has had a significant effect on gun-enabled crime in London. While there have recently been increases in the number of incidents in some boroughs, others such as Tower Hamlets and Southwark have seen reductions (of 13.2 per cent. and 1.8 per cent. respectively in the 12 months to December 2005—MPS figures).

Community support for Trident is a vital component of its success and has been developed via the Independent Advisory Group (IAG), which remains at the heart of Trident strategy. We encourage the development of similar IAGs in other areas as a model of good practice in community engagement.

Passport Applicants (Personal Interviews)

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what calculation was used to arrive at the 19-minute average travelling time for first-time applicants for passports under the new arrangements involving personal interviews at offices; and what estimate he has made of the number of people who would have to travel for (a) less than and (b) more than 19 minutes who live in (i) Argyll and Bute constituency, (ii) Scotland and (iii) the United Kingdom. [51407]

Andy Burnham: The calculation of a UK wide travel average utilised the services of a specialist transport and locational analysis company, MVA Ltd. The company accessed Office for National Statistics census
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population data, and combined this with Department for Transport and other Government transport and travel data. By analysing trends in public and private travel patterns, MVA were able to advise the UK Passport Service on the average journey time for the anticipated catchment populations of each of the 69 proposed passport office locations. The catchment areas of the proposed 69 office locations are derived by determining the nearest convenient office. Therefore catchment areas cross parliamentary constituency and national boundaries so it is not possible, without incurring disproportionate costs, to calculate the average travel times for a specific population group (for example within a constituency) within the UK.

The choice of the proposed 69 locations was informed by this analysis; the locations chosen balanced the need for ensuring convenience for the customer with the operational efficiency of potential locations given the predicted number of adult first time passport applications within the catchment area. Applicants will be free to choose to be interviewed in any fixed office, enabling them to be interviewed near, for example, their places of employment or study, or to attend an interview in conjunction with travel for social or leisure reasons.

The arrangements for passport interviews will include, in addition to the network of permanent passport interview offices, different arrangements for people living more than an hour's journey time from one of these offices.

Police Restructuring

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Chief Constable of Kent about police restructuring since the consultation period on police restructuring closed on 23 December 2005; and when he expects the Government's response to the consultation to be completed. [43273]

Hazel Blears: The Home Secretary received a business case on police restructuring from the Chief Constable of Kent, Mr. Fuller, and the Chair of the Kent Police Authority, Mrs. Barnes on 23 December 2005.

The Home Secretary has not had any discussions about the restructuring process with the Chief Constable of Kent. However, Mr. Giffard, Chief Constable of Staffordshire and Programme Director of the restructuring process, met with the Chief Constable of Kent and the Chair of the Kent Police Authority. They have also spoken by telephone and in person on a number of occasions. In addition to this, there has been regular contact between the Kent project team working on restructuring and the Home Office Review Unit supporting the process.

We recognise that there will be issues that need further discussion and we have been working closely with forces and authorities to resolve these.

On 6 February the Home Secretary published a written ministerial statement setting out initial findings from the protective services assessments, in relation to five proposed force amalgamations. These amalgamations were identified as the solution able to provide the greatest operational benefit for those areas.
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The remaining forces will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and the final decision will be based on a range of factors, including affordability, organisational resilience and the impact of the changes on other parts of the Criminal Justice System. We expect this analysis to be completed shortly.

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