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Information Technology

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether (a) his Department, (b) MI5 and (c) the Metropolitan Police (i) uses and (ii) has used (A) TeraText and (B) Latent Semantic Indexing programmes. [87622]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 24 July 2006]: MI5 neither confirm nor deny their use of TeraText and Latent Semantic Indexing programmes. The Metropolitan Police does not use either of these programmes. Home Office Corporate Services report that they use Latent Semantic Indexing in Meridio as part of the Electronic Document Record Management Project. None of the other constituent parts of the Home Office uses either of these programmes.

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Nomis, Visor, CRAMS and OASys IT systems are compatible. [88307]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The C-NOMIS, CRAMS, VISOR and OASys IT systems are compatible from business, user and technical perspectives. They provide complementary support for the management of offenders now and for the future. C-NOMIS is planned to replace the CRAMS case management system (which dates back to the mid-1990s) and is needed to support end-to-end offender management. Data are shared electronically between some of these systems already. Data sharing is planned to be extended as part of the development of C-NOMIS. All these systems operate according to the requirements of GSI, the government secure intranet, which provides common standards for infrastructure and security.

International Migration

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) mechanisms are in place and (b) methodology is employed to assess the impact of international migration on (i) cultural and community cohesion, (ii) housing demand and (iii) the economy, wage-levels and unemployment when determining (A) his policy on immigration and (B) the accepted number of migrants to this country. [85905]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 17 July 2006]: The Government set no target figure for the number of migrants to Britain, but shapes their policies regarding admission to the country on the basis of their international and humanitarian obligations and of the interests of the nation. In doing so they do not rely on any single mechanism or methodology, but draw on a wide range of statistical and other data to reach their assessments.

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Internet Child Safety

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will move the information on his Department’s website on internet child safety away from the section marked ‘police’ into a section where it can easily be found by those seeking information. [88385]

Mr. McNulty: The main Home Office website for the public——was redeveloped in October 2005. The information published on it follows a design and navigational structure that was heavily tested on actual public users of the website, who helped dictate its user-friendly structure. Indeed the main Home Office website was recognised in a recent independent report published by Precedent Communications as being the best of the 32 UK public sector websites they assessed.

The main information on child protection on the internet is held in the ‘police’ area of the site as most of it is aimed at practitioners. But, in addition to this the information aimed at the general public is cross- referred on the main site. Under the top-level navigational title ‘Crime & victims’, there is a section that describes what government is doing to reduce crime (which has a page dedicated specifically to internet crime) and another section that describes what members of the public can do to prevent crime (which in turn has a page on how to stay safe online).

In both of these cases there is a wealth of useful information about how to keep children safe online, as well as a link under ‘Related Documents’ to a document called ‘Guidance on how to search safely’.

Also, using terms such as ‘child protection’ or ‘internet safety’ in the Home Office site search will readily find this key information.

In addition about 70 per cent. of traffic to most websites comes from Google and other search engines, so someone interested in child safety online is very likely to type a set of keywords to find what they are looking for. If that person is very distinctly interested in the guidance issued by the Home Office on child safety online, and typed ‘internet child safety, Home Office’ into Google, the ThinkUKnow website and the Home Office Child Protection pages on the police website are the first two entries delivered.

Invest to Save Funding

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance his Department plans to afford to officials of local authorities who are in receipt of Invest to Save funding prior to the withdrawal of that funding to ensure the continuation of projects supported by it; and if he will make a statement. [83821]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 10 July 2006]: The Home Secretary has no plans to make a statement on Invest to Save Budget (ISB) funding. The ISB exists to provide funding to help innovative projects get off the ground. ISB funding is explicitly time-limited and is not intended to sustain a project over the long term.

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IT Systems

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether (a) VISOR, (b) Exhibit, (c) Libra and (d) other Home Office IT systems are accessible to disabled staff and those who regularly use assistive technology. [24448]

Mr. Byrne: ViSOR (Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register) user interface has been favourably assessed by accessibility consultants, particularly with regard to its suitability for use with screen reading software. Both xhibit (exchanging Hearing Information By Internet Technology) and Libra are Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) IT systems.

Justice and Home Affairs Meeting

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the agenda is for the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers' meeting on 1 and 2 June; and if he will make a statement. [69449]

Joan Ryan [holding answer 8 May 2006]: The agenda for the JHA Council meeting on 1 and 2 June is set out as follows. A letter was sent to the chair of the European Scrutiny Committee on the 1 June, in order for the information to reach Parliament in a timely manner. The text of the letter is also set as follows.

2732nd Meeting of the Council Of The European Union (Justice and Home Affairs)

1. Adoption of the provisional agenda.

2. Approval of the list of "A" items.

3. Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the European Evidence Warrant (EEW) for obtaining objects, documents and data for use in proceedings in criminal matters.

4. Draft Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union.

5. Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on certain procedural rights in criminal proceedings throughout the European Union.

6. Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Small Claims Procedure.

7. Draft Council Decision concerning arrangements for cooperation between Asset Recovery Offices of the Member States.

8. Intelligence-led law enforcement - Council conclusions setting the EU priorities for the fight against organised crime based on OCTA.

9. Counter-Terrorism: - Report on the implementation of the EU-Counter-Terrorism Strategy/Action Plan and the EU Strategy on Radicalisation and Recruitment

10. Future of Europol.

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11. JHA External relations (a) Ministerial Conference on the "Role of internal security in relations between the EU and its neighbours" (4-5 May 2006, Vienna) (b) Action Oriented Papers Western Balkans and Afghanistan (c) EU-US JHA Ministerial Troika (3 May 2006, Vienna) (d) Meeting between the EU presidency, the Russian Federation and the United States of America at Ministerial level on a Tripartite Cooperation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs, four May 2006 - "Vienna Initiative".

12. Follow-up to Hampton Court: Implementation of priority actions in the area of migration. - Information from the Commission'.

13. A.O.B — Security arrangements in relation with World Cup Football Championships and other major sports events in the margins of the Council—Meeting of the Mixed Committee at Ministerial Level.

l. Level. Adoption of the provisional agenda

2. SIS II - Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen information system (SIS II).

3. Common Visa Application Centres - Presentation by the Commission.

4. A.O.B


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the amount of money leaving the UK to fund terrorist groups in Kashmir, with particular reference to the activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba; and if he will make a statement. [88187]

Mr. McNulty: The Government do not comment on specific intelligence and security matters. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were proscribed in 2001 and are one of a number of organisations whose activities are routinely monitored by the Security Service and law enforcement agencies.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many knives were handed in during the recent amnesty in (a) Waltham Forest, (b) Redbridge, (c) London and (d) in total. [87697]

Mr. Coaker: Figures for the knife amnesty which ran from 24 May to 30 June have been collated by police force area. The total number of items surrendered in London to the Metropolitan police and City of London police was 9,205. On figures recorded by police forces, the total handed in in England and Wales was 89,864.

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Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of illegal knives in circulation after the knife amnesty; and if he will make a statement. [88922]

Mr. McNulty: There are no reliable estimates for the number of knives or offensive weapons in circulation. Knives have many legitimate purposes and, with a few exceptions, can be purchased legally. It is an offence to carry an article with a blade or point in a public place without good reason.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to reduce the number of illegal knives in circulation. [88923]

Mr. McNulty: We held a nationwide knife amnesty from 24 May to the end of June during which just under 90,000 items were surrendered to police forces in England and Wales. Following the amnesty, many forces are focusing on enforcement operations, targeting those who carry knives without good reason. Operation Shield, run by the British Transport Police, continues to operate at mainline and underground stations using search technology to detect people carrying weapons on the transport network. Police, in conjunction with Trading Standards officers, have also carried out test purchase operations to identify retailers who are not abiding by the law and selling knives to young people under 16.

In addition, we are tightening legislation through the Violent Crime Reduction Bill, with new powers for Head Teachers to search pupils for knives, a new offence of using someone to mind a weapon and an increase in the age at which someone can be sold a knife from 16 to 18. We have also announced that we will increase the maximum sentence for carrying a knife in a public place without good reason from two to four years.

We are also supporting organisations such as Be Safe, which provide in-school training to young people on the dangers of carrying knives. Through our Connected Fund, we support small community-based organisations working on gun crime, knife crime and gangs issues. The fund is currently running its fifth round, with a closing date for bids of 4 August 2006.

Laptop Document Theft

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many documents on laptops within the possession of (a) Ministers and (b) officials have been stolen since 1997. [69520]

Mr. Byrne: It is not possible to determine how many documents may have been taken from Home Office laptop computers reported as stolen or lost since 1997, but none of these were in the possession of Home Office Ministers.

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To minimise the risk of document theft, laptop computers containing sensitive Home Office material are encrypted in accordance with UK Government security requirements.

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