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19 Feb 2007 : Column 90W—continued

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what response he has made to the conclusion of the Independent Race Monitor in her 2004-05 and 2005-06 annual reports that Immigration and Nationality Directorate officers were under pressure to meet time targets; what time targets are set; how they are determined; and whether they have been changed in the last three years; [118851]

(2) what assessment he has made of the conclusions of the Independent Race Monitor that Immigration and Nationality Directorate officials showed a tendency to disbelieve the accounts of asylum seekers because of negative perceptions about specific countries; which countries these perceptions applied to; and what steps he is taking to eradicate them. [118852]

Mr. Byrne: The Government's responses to the reports were placed in the Libraries of both Houses and can also be found on the Home Office website. The response sets out in some detail the steps which are being taken to maintain and improve, where necessary, the quality of decision making by officials scrutinising claims for asylum. The relevant time target for the period 2002 to 2006 was to ensure that by 2004 75 per cent. of substantive asylum applications were decided within two months; and that 75 per cent., including final appeal, are decided within six months. Under the new asylum processes, with effect from April 2007 the target is for 35 per cent. of new asylum applications to be concluded within six months, rising annually to 90 per cent. by 2011. These targets are set on the basis of the Government's assessment of the quality of service which can reasonably be expected in the light of the resources available.

Officials are expected to reach their decisions on the facts of each case, underpinned by objective country of origin information, supplied by the Country of Origin Information Service. Knowledge of patterns of abuse of the asylum process by people of particular nationalities may well be relevant to the overall assessment of a claim, but could not in itself be grounds for its refusal. External assessment of asylum decisions is taken by Treasury solicitors and UNHCR and used to inform our ongoing work on decision quality.

Asylum: Deportation

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the deportation of failed asylum seekers (a) while representations are still in process and (b) before requested meetings with hon. Members have been held; and if he will make a statement. [119827]

Mr. Byrne: Chapter 9.10 and 43.3 of the Operational Enforcement Manual (OEM), available on the IND
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website at www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk, sets out the policy on the removal of individuals, including asylum seekers, while representations are still in process. These processes would also apply before requested meetings with Ministers have been held.

Asylum: Families

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of failed asylum seekers deported in the last 12 months were families with children. [119094]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not available; it would be available only by examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

Information on asylum removals, including and excluding dependants, is published quarterly and annually. Copies of these publications are available from the Library and from the Home Office's Research Development and Statistics website at:

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of asylum claims (a) made and (b) granted in the last 12 months involved families with children. [119095]

Mr. Byrne: This information is not available.

Information on asylum initial decisions, including and excluding dependants, is published quarterly and annually. Copies of these publications are available from the Library and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics website at:

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what percentage of cases where he ordered deportation in the last 12 months he later reversed his decision; and how many cases involved families with children. [119099]

Mr. Byrne: These data are not routinely collected and can be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of failed asylum seekers who were (a) accompanied children, (b) unaccompanied children, (c) spouses of failed asylum seekers, (d) single applicants and (e) failed asylum seekers with criminal records were deported in the last 12 months. [118284]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not available; it would be available only by examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

Published statistics on immigration and asylum are available on the Home Office's Research Development and Statistics website at:

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his comment made on the Today programme of 26 January 2007, that failed asylum seekers are being expelled at a rate of one every 26 minutes, over what period this rate was
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calculated; what the comparative rate was in (a) 2005 and (b) 2001; whether the figure takes account of spouses and children of failed asylum seekers; and whether (i) targets and (ii) incentives are set for Immigration and Nationality Directorate staff regarding expulsion of failed asylum seekers. [118288]

Mr. Byrne: Failed asylum seekers were expelled at a rate of one every 26 minutes for Q2 2006. There were 5,070 removals, including dependents, during this period.

The comparative rate in 2005 was a rate of one every 34 minutes based on 15,685 removals, including dependents, and one every 49 minutes for 2001 based on 10,780 removals, including dependents.

From April 2007, all new asylum applications will be dealt with by Regional Asylum Teams under the new asylum processes. The target is for 90 per cent. of new asylum applications to be concluded—granted or removed—within six months by 2011.

The new asylum process neither has nor intends any incentive for staff in relation to the expulsion of asylum seekers.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he authorises individual early morning immigration enforcement visits to detain failed asylum seekers. [118292]

Mr. Byrne: The factors to be taken into account when deciding the timing of a family detention visit are whether it is the best time of day to pick up the whole family as an entire unit, the sensitivity of the immigration visit, whether there may be community or other local difficulties, and whether the purpose of the visit would be frustrated if carried out at a different time. Chapters 46 and 47 of the Operational Enforcement Manual (OEM), available on the IND website, set out the levels of authority of enforcement visits, including when Ministers are advised of forthcoming operations.

Asylum: Iraq

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether (a) south and central Iraq, (b) northern Iraq and (c) the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government within Iraq are presently regarded as safe places to which forced removals from the UK can take place; and whether it is his policy to remove to northern Iraq Iraqi citizens whose original residence was in the south and centre. [119422]

Mr. Byrne: We closely monitor developments in Iraq, and will take decisions on a case-by-case basis in light of the most current situation. Returns will only be undertaken where we are satisfied the individual has no protection needs. During this early stage of the programme of enforced returns on charter flights, we are removing those individuals who are from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) area of Iraq.

Asylum: Malawi

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what checks are made with the
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Malawian authorities to ascertain that failed asylum seekers being deported to their country are (a) entitled to a Malawian passport and (b) will not be deported from Malawi to a third country. [119207]

Mr. Byrne: Malawian asylum seekers will be returned to Malawi only where the decision making and independent appeals system have found that this would be consistent with our obligations under the Refugee Convention and ECHR. Where an individual is not a national of Malawi but is entitled to reside there we would take into account any likelihood of their being onwardly removed to another country. The nationality or entitlement of an applicant to reside in a country is determined by looking at and weighing up all of the available documentary and oral evidence. Where a person holds a genuine Malawian passport or other identity document issued by the Malawian authorities, that would normally be enough to show that the holder is entitled to reside in Malawi.

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers claiming to be Zimbabwean nationals have been removed to Malawi since January 2003. [119208]

Mr. Byrne: Information on the destination of persons removed from the UK has only been collated since 2004. The latest published information on removal of asylum seekers covers the third quarter of 2006.

Fewer than three asylum applicants, who were recorded as nationals of Zimbabwe, have been removed from the UK to Malawi, from January 2004 to September 2006. This figure includes enforced removals, persons departing ‘voluntarily’ after enforcement action had been initiated against them, persons leaving under assisted voluntary return programmes run by the International Organisation for Migration, and (since 2005) those who it is established have left the UK without informing the immigration authorities. This figure is provisional.

Information on removals of asylum seekers for the fourth quarter of 2006 will be published at the end of February on the Home Office's Research Development and Statistics website at:

Asylum: Work Permits

Sir Peter Soulsby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers who have been waiting 12 months or more for a decision on their case have applied for permission for the right to work; and how many of these applications have been successful. [118508]

Mr. Byrne: The employment concession for asylum seekers was abolished in July 2002, but a change to the Immigration Rules in February 2005 made provision for claimants to apply for permission to take up employment if consideration of their case is delayed for more than 12 months and the delay is attributable to IND. Such permission is only given until the asylum application and any appeals have been determined.
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Those without authority to remain in the UK do not benefit from any concessions allowing employment.

Information is not held centrally on the number of applicants who have applied for permission for the right to work where consideration of their case has been delayed more than 12 months, nor on the number granted. The information could be obtained only by examination of individual case files, which would be at disproportionate cost.

Bokhari Family

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Bokhari family deported on 22 January 2007 were offered Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme financial help with resettlement in return for departing voluntarily. [118868]

Mr. Byrne: Throughout the asylum process individuals are made aware of the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP). The scheme is extensively promoted by IND but the onus is on individuals to apply to the scheme in order to benefit.

Burmese Embassy Demonstrations

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what restrictions have been placed on demonstrations outside the Burmese embassy in London; and why such restrictions have been made. [118623]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints (a) his Department and (b) the Metropolitan Police have received about demonstrations outside the Burmese embassy in London; and from whom. [118624]

Mr. McNulty: We are not aware of any complaints received by either the Metropolitan Police or the Home Office regarding the protests outside the Burmese embassy.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests were made during demonstrations outside the Burmese embassy in London in each of the last five years. [118625]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Cannabis

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the average cost of prosecuting an individual for possession of cannabis in the latest period for which figures are available. [117849]

John Reid: It is impossible to provide an accurate and meaningful estimate given the wide variety of circumstances in which prosecutions may take place.


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Child Sex Offenders

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 18 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1660-1W, on child sex offenders, what information the prison IT system holds on the time served by prisoners convicted of sexual offences against children. [116963]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The time served by prisoners convicted of sexual offences against children is not available because the offence codes contained on the prison IT system do not distinguish between sexual offences against children and other sexual offences.

Closed Circuit Television: Suffolk

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many publicly-funded CCTV cameras (a) there are in Suffolk and (b) there were in each of the last five years. [119530]

Mr. McNulty: This is a matter for the local authorities in Suffolk.

Committees: Ministerial Attendance

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what occasions (a) he and (b) departmental Ministers have been requested to appear before committees of (i) devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament since 2004; on what topic in each case; how many and what proportion of such requests were accepted; and if he will make a statement. [111578]

Joan Ryan: The information is as follows.

Community Support Officers: East Midlands

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police community support officers there were in each of the east midlands police forces in (a) 2001 and (b) 2006. [120733]

Mr. McNulty: These data are published in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin series—Police Service Strength, England and Wales. The latest available bulletin contains data as at 30 September 2006, is available in the Library and can be downloaded from:


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Table 3 in the bulletin contains the numbers of police community support officers in each of the east midlands police forces. Police community support officers were introduced in statute in 2002, therefore data are not available prior to 2002-03.


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