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1 Feb 2007 : Column 519W—continued

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the merits of the use of
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magnetic resonance imaging as a tool in criminal investigations. [112129]

Joan Ryan: Magnetic resonance imaging was tried for explosives detection in suitcases about 10 years ago. It was found to lack specificity when compared with other techniques. The need for high magnetic fields and problems with commonly occurring metals also mitigated against its use. More recently, MRI has been looked at to examine liquid explosives. This system used the Earth’s field and was consequently very slow in its operation. An analogous technique, quadrupole resonance analysis, has been developed for detecting explosives containing nitrogen and systems are available commercially.

Additionally, magnetic resonance imaging is currently being considered as an alternative to using a polygraph, or, more probably, to use MRI scanning as an input to a polygraph to detect deception. Home Office scientists will be visiting King’s College London shortly to discuss the possibility of using MRI in this role.

National Identity Scheme

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) pursuant to the publication of the Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme, what quality assurance checks will be conducted on data held in existing databases which will form part of the National Identity Register; [111222]

(2) whether data forming part of the National Identity Register will be drawn from data held on existing databases. [111938]

Joan Ryan: An individual’s National Identity Register record will be created afresh, on the basis of an application for registration. This could be by way of an application for a designated document such as a passport or an immigration document.

Even though the register will include identity information of the kind that may already be held on existing Government IT systems, this information will not simply be copied to the National Identity Register. Information will be verified to the highest possible standard before being recorded on the register itself.

In accordance with Section 9 of the Identity Cards Act, information submitted for registration will be verified against information held on a number of other databases as part of a series of checks to confirm the authenticity of the identity claimed in the application. An assessment will be made to identify the quality of the data on the potential sources for use in such checks.

North Wales Police

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will conduct an inquiry into the Firearms Department of North Wales Police following the convictions for firearms offences of Martin Wynn Davies, William Charles Hughes and Neil Smith. [117721]

Mr. McNulty: It is for Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary to conduct detailed examinations of
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provincial police forces in England and Wales and to determine whether standards are being achieved and maintained.

Police

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) average and (b) target response time is for police attendance at the scene of an incident following a 999 call. [110257]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for the chief constable of each force.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cautions were issued by police in Essex in 2006, broken down by offence for which the caution was issued. [111824]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Data on the number of cautions issued in 2006 will be available in autumn 2007.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what standards are set out for kennelling facilities at police stations in England and Wales; and which body is responsible for ensuring that such standards are met. [111835]

Mr. McNulty: Police dogs are generally kennelled by their individual dog handler to the standards set by each police force. While central standards are not set for police kennelling facilities, police forces follow local authority guidance and animal welfare standards.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations in England and Wales have kennelling facilities; and which of these are open to accept dogs 24 hours a day. [111868]

Mr. McNulty: This information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints there were against (a) police officers, (b) police community support officers and (c) civilian staff employed by the police in each year since 2004. [112402]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 30 January 2007]: The Independent Police Complaints Commission is an independent body responsible for the management of the police complaints system. I will ensure that the chairman receives a copy of the question and replies to the hon. Gentleman directly. Copies of the letter containing the IPCC’s response will be placed in the House Libraries.

Police Cells

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cells there were in police stations in each force in England and Wales in each year since 1996; and how many were available for use in each year. [110568]


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Mr. McNulty [holding answer 23 January 2007]: This information is not held centrally.

Preferred Suppliers

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many preferred suppliers his Department has; how many such suppliers provide goods or services to the Prison Service; what checks are carried out on putative preferred suppliers to ensure the quality and reliability of their services; what criteria companies and sole traders have to meet in order to become preferred suppliers; and for how long the status of preferred supplier lasts. [111930]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Prison Service does not hold a preferred suppliers list. All procurement activity is conducted in accordance with the EU Public Procurement Directive.

Prison Service

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether steps are taken during the recruitment process for (a) staff, (b) officers and (c) governors of HM Prison Service to establish whether Prison Service job applicants are members of extreme right-wing organisations; and if he will make a statement. [111745]

Mr. Sutcliffe: All new members of staff are required to sign a declaration as part of the recruitment process that they are not members of any groups or organisations with racist philosophy, aims, principles or policies.

Prisoners Release

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2007, Official Report, column 1690W, on early release scheme, what definition of early release schemes he used in responding to parliamentary question 104193. [117711]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Further to question 104193, the early release scheme for which data was given related to the Home Detention Curfew Scheme. This is one of two discretionary early release schemes for domestic prisoners serving a determinate sentence, the other being release on parole licence (in respect of prisoners sentenced to four years and over under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991).

PrĂ1/4m Treaty

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department (a) has had and (b) plans to have with EU partners on the implementation of the PrĂ1/4m Treaty. [110808]

Joan Ryan: The information requested is as follows.


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Serious Crime Bill (HL) 2006-07

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whom he consulted on the compatibility of the Serious Crime Bill with the European Convention on Human Rights before 17 January. [112404]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 31 January 2007]: The Serious Crime Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on the 16 January 2007. A Section 19(1)(a) statement of compatibility with the Human Rights Act, signed by my colleague the right hon. Baroness Scotland of Asthal, was presented to the House Authorities to accompany the Bill. This statement of compatibility confirms that the Minister believes that the provisions within the Serious Crime Bill are compatible with convention rights. The explanatory notes for the Bill also include analysis of the provisions with reference to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The majority of measures within the Bill were included in a recent Home Office consultation paper ‘New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime’. The public consultation period ran from July 2006 to October 2006. The Department received more than 110 responses during that period from a range of individuals and organisations including law enforcement agencies, non-Governmental organisations, the judiciary, representatives of the banking and financial sectors and local authorities.

Serious Organised Crime Agency

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the ability of the Serious Organised Crime Agency to tackle level 2 crime. [112406]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 31 January 2007]: The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has been established to reduce the harm caused to the UK by serious organised crime. Its priorities, set by the Home Secretary, are Class A drugs trafficking and organised immigration crime, but it also devotes effort to other organised crime threats, including fraud against individuals and the private sector, hi-tech crime, counterfeiting, the use of firearms and serious robbery.

In terms of the National Intelligence Model (NIM), SOCA will concentrate its efforts at Level 3 criminality (usually operating on a national and international scale). However, to be effective in reducing harm, it will need to collaborate with and support the efforts of other agencies, including police forces.

SOCA supports police forces operationally in a variety of ways that bear on Level 2 criminality. For example, it provides expert advice and resources in cases of kidnap and extortion, sensitive technical support and a ‘flagging’ service that ensures that forces do not compromise one another's operations.


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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Sir Stephen Lander, chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), has made statements to (a) The Guardian and (b) The Observer newspapers on operational deployment of SOCA agents to Colombia; and if he will make a statement. [112622]

Mr. Coaker: Comments made by the chair or director general of the Serious Organised Crime Agency around the time of its launch last year relate to matters within their operational discretion. However, the Government strongly support the work that the agency is doing to counter the drug threat with international partners in Columbia and elsewhere.

Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Serious Organised Crime Agency staff have requested to return to their agencies of origin since 2 April 2006. [117041]

Mr. Coaker: Since the inception of SOCA, 72 directly employed staff have left the organisation, equating to an annual turnover rate in the order of 2.4 per cent. Of these 54 resigned to take up employment elsewhere. SOCA do not keep records on whether leaving staff have rejoined the agency they were employed with before SOCA.

Serious Organised Crime Agency: Northern Ireland

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Northern Ireland Executive will have political responsibility for the Serious Organised Crime Agency in Northern Ireland after the devolution of policing and criminal justice. [117619]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 30 January 2007]: SOCA is a national agency. Should the policing and criminal justice functions currently held by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland transfer to the Northern Ireland Executive in the future, the Executive would assume responsibility for SOCA as set out in the relevant legislation. This will in practical terms, give the Northern Ireland Executive the power to contribute to the strategic priorities and the annual plan of the Agency, in particular with regards to how SOCA exercises its functions in Northern Ireland, and to be consulted about the appointment to any assistant to the director with specific responsibilities for Northern Ireland.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the UK ratified the Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. [111418]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 25 January 2007]: The United Kingdom has not ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.


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The Government made clear that, before we could ratify the Optional Protocol, it would be necessary to conduct a thorough assessment to ensure that the measures needed to comply with it had been established. This assessment has been carried out and we are now in a position to commence the process of ratification. Steps are being taken to ensure this process is commenced as soon as possible.

Health

Acute Hospitals

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made of the minimum acceptable distance of a fully functioning acute hospital from Sellafield. [117166]

Ms Rosie Winterton: North Cumbria acute hospitals national Health service trust is currently developing proposals for a new acute hospital in West Cumbria in the context of the whole system review of health services in Cumbria. Any proposals emerging from this review will be subject to public consultation in due course.

Breast Treatment

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospital trusts in England perform mastectomies but do not offer breast reconstruction surgery. [106881]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on the treatments offered to a patient is not collected.

However, we do collect data on where procedures are carried out. The table shows the number of mastectomies and breast reconstruction performed in England in 2005-06 broken down by national health service trust.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) guidance on “Improving Outcomes for Breast Cancer”, published in August 2002, recommends that surgeons should discuss breast reconstruction with all patients.

Implementation of NICE guidance is a developmental standard as set out in “National Standards, Local Action” published by the Department in July 2004. Progress is expected to be made against the developmental standards across much of the NHS. In 2006-07, the Healthcare Commission will assess trusts against a sample of the developmental standards including those related to clinical and cost effectiveness, which covers the breast cancer guidance. The Healthcare Commission’s “Criteria for Assessing Developmental Standards in 2006-07”, is available at:


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