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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the
operation of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974; what recent representations he has received about the operation of this Act; and what amendments have been made to the Act. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act provides that, following a set period of time dependent on sentence, an offender must be regarded as a rehabilitated person and have his conviction treated as spent. Generally, a spent conviction does not have to be disclosed in reply to questions about a person's past, and the existence of a spent conviction may not lawfully be used to prejudice someone in securing employment.
These rules do not apply to offenders who have been sentenced to a custodial period of more than 30 months, or to those applying for professions, occupations and licences covered by the Exceptions Order to the Act.
There have been no substantial amendments made to the Act since it came into force in 1974. However, in order to increase public safety, we have made regular additions to the list of professions and occupations which, due to their sensitive nature, are excepted from protection under the Act.
The legislation is intended to provide a balance between resettling ex-offenders and protecting the public and we receive regular correspondence recommending ways to best achieve that balance. In 2002 the Home Office produced a report entitled Breaking the Circle which proposed substantial reform of the ROA. It remains the case that the Government accept the majority of those proposals.
We are now considering what is necessary to improve the disclosure regime in the light of the Bichard Report which dealt with criminal records in the context of the protection of children and vulnerable adults.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reported incidents there have been involving weapons at schools in England and Wales in each of the last five years, broken down by council area. 
Mr. Coaker: The Home Office collects recorded crime data on offences of possession of offensive weapons. Within that offence classification, there are two offences relating to possession of a blade or other offensive weapon on school premises. However, these offences cannot be separately identified from other possession of weapons offences.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many companies were visited by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) prior to the 20 March deadline as part of Operation Forewarn; how many of those have been revisited since 20 March; and how many enforcement personnel employed by the SIA have been employed in checking licences since 20 March. 
Mr. Coaker [holding answer 18 April 2006]: Operation Forewarn is one of a number of initiatives in a wider Security Industry Authority operation that will ensure senior employees of private security companies understand their legal obligations under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA 2001).
Since 20 March the SIA has been carrying out a series of visits to customer sites as part of the next phase of compliance initiatives. At 7 April, 52 sites operated by 20 security companies were visited and security operatives checked. 55 SIA warning notices were issued to individuals who were found to be working unlawfully. Further details cannot be provided as this may prejudice ongoing and future operations involving compliance and investigation. An update will be provided and placed in the Library by the end of June.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce a graduated sliding scale into sentencing guidelines for early guilty pleas in criminal cases; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 22 May 2006]: The Criminal Justice Act 2003 established the independent Sentencing Guidelines Council to frame sentencing guidelines. It issued a guideline on Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea in December 2004. A copy can be found at www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk.
Mr. Byrne: The non-agency Home Office conducted staff surveys in 2004 and 2005. The Prison Service held three staff surveys, the Identification and Passport Service and the Criminal Records Bureau held one staff survey jointly and one staff survey each individually in the last three years.
Mr. McNulty [holding answer 22 May 2006]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has not met with the police service to discuss the theft of works of art from private collections. However, I am aware that senior officers from a number of forces recently met with representatives of the art and antiques trade to discuss a range of issues.
The Government take all crime seriously and has a public service agreement target to reduce crime by 15 per cent. by 2007-08, and by more in high crime areas. This broader target gives police forces and authorities, together with communities and partners, flexibility to target the crimes that are of most pressing local concern.
Police authorities and chief constables are required to have regard to the national strategic priorities when drawing up their local policing plans. One of these is tackling serious and organised crime, which may include theft of works of art from private collections.
Both the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the National Crime Squad have in the past provided assistance to police forces in recovering art works and antiques. The Serious Organised Crime Agency will also play a role here.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many UK citizens have been extradited from the UK to the US in each of the last five years; and on what charges in each case. 
Joan Ryan: The Home Office does not keep a centralised record of the nationalities of those extradited from the UK. The Extradition Act 2003 contains a number of strong safeguards for all defendantsnationality itself does not determine an extradition request. Accordingly, while nationality may be noted in the records for some individual cases, complete figures of the type requested are not available.
Figures for all persons extradited from England and Wales to the US, for each of the last five complete calendar years, are given as follows. The figures do not include requests granted by Ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, who have devolved powers to grant requests.
The offences given in these figures do not represent detailed legal descriptions of all of the charges (which can be complex and multiple) within each request. Instead brief headline names are given for the principal offences in the requests concerned.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people aged (a) 0 to 17 and (b) 18 plus years were charged with criminal damage to cemeteries and subsequently convicted in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: It is not possible to separately identify convictions for criminal damage to cemeteries, as this information is not collected at that level of detail from the Court Proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform.
Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures are in place to ensure that victims of crime and their families are provided with all the necessary support throughout the criminal justice process. 
We fund the voluntary organisation Victim Support with £30 million annually to provide emotional support
and practical information to victims and witnesses of crime. Last year Victim Support helped 1.3 million people and their witness service supported almost 400,000 witnesses, victims, families and friends.
In addition there are 165 Witness Care Units in England and Wales, ensuring that witnesses receive a tailor-made service, with their individual needs considered from the time a statement is first taken.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were convicted of an offence involving (a) a knife and (b) a gun in (i)
Gloucestershire and (ii) Stroud in each of the last five years; and how many of those convictions resulted in a prison sentence. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Data from the court proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform on the number of people convicted of offences specifically relating to knives, firearms or offensive weapons in (i) Gloucestershire and (ii) Stroud, can be found in the table.
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