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21 May 2007 : Column 1060W—continued


Drug Seizures

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what total amount of (a) cannabis, (b) cocaine, (c) crack cocaine, (d) heroin and (e) ecstasy was seized in each of the last 10 years, broken down by police force area; [137163]

(2) how many grammes of illegal drugs were detected by (a) police officers and (b) police dogs in each of the last 10 years; and what percentage of the total drug seizures for each year each of those figures constituted. [137164]

Mr. Coaker: Latest drug seizures data for England and Wales relate to the calendar year 2004 and are published on the Home Office RDS website. The requested data for each year between 1995 and 2004, broken down by police force area, are provided in the tables. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Information about how, and by whom, drugs are detected is not collected centrally.

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts, police forces and other agencies. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Fingerprints: Fraud

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of whether individuals whose fingertips have been smoothed through manual labour could potentially have their identities forged more easily. [134398]

Joan Ryan: Damage to fingerprints may lead to poorer quality biometric records being registered in some cases, although this is dependent on the equipment and recording process deployed. The fingerprints of those working in certain kinds of manual labour could be subject to such damage.

However, there is no evidence that people with damaged fingerprints are more susceptible to impersonation. Where a difficulty is experienced in conducting a biometric match against previously enrolled biometrics, second line processes would be in place to deal with such circumstances as appropriate to that particular situation.

Human Trafficking: North Eastern Region

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the extent of human trafficking in the north-east of England; and if he will make a statement. [135677]

Mr. Coaker: While there are no firm figures given a regional breakdown of the problem, emerging findings from a Home Office research paper due to be published later this year estimates, that at any one time in 2003 there were in the region of 4,000 female victims of trafficking for prostitution in the UK.

The United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre in conjunction with the Serious Organised Crime Agency are working to improve intelligence collection across the UK on human trafficking. However the nature of the crime makes it difficult to make an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem in different areas.

Identity Cards

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how those liable for civil penalties under section 31 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 will be identified. [134399]

Joan Ryan: Any civil penalties will be determined in accordance with sections 31 to 34 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 and, in particular, the code of practice on penalties. This code will be published before the commencement of the national identity scheme and will set out the matters that must be considered when determining whether a civil penalty should be imposed and, if so, the amount of the penalty.

Precise details of how those liable for civil penalties will be identified are yet to be determined.


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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason the publication of his Department's six-monthly report to Parliament on the costs of the identity cards scheme has been delayed. [136992]

Joan Ryan: I regret that the latest report on the estimated costs of the identity cards scheme was not published six months after publication of the first report as not all the contents could be finalised in time. However, it was published some four weeks after the due date, on 10 May 2007, by way of a written ministerial statement, and this short delay must be seen in the light of the 10 year period covered by the report.

Offensive Weapons: Suffolk

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of knife crime involving under-18 year olds were recorded in Suffolk in each of the last five years. [138409]

Mr. Coaker: From the information collected on recorded crime, it is not possible to identify those offences which are knife related. Such offences are not specifically defined by statute and details of the individual circumstances of offences do not feature in the recorded crime statistics.

Figures are collected for homicides involving the use of sharp instruments but they do not separately identify knife-related offences. As from April 2007, police forces will provide data on offences of serious violence involving knives.

Passports

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether a person who meets the criteria to countersign passport applications is still eligible to countersign while on maternity leave. [138280]

Joan Ryan [holding answer 18 May 2007]: A countersignatory for a passport application must be a professional person, or a person of standing in the community, who holds a current British or Irish passport. This is not affected by maternity leave, but it remains essential that a person who countersigns a passport application must be contactable by the Identity and Passport Service.

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances difficulty in contacting a countersignatory who otherwise meets acceptable countersignatory criteria can constitute grounds for rejection of a passport application. [138281]

Joan Ryan [holding answer 18 May 2007]: The purpose of having passport applications countersigned by responsible persons is to enable the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) to confirm the identities of applicants. The work of the IPS includes contacting countersignatories for their confirmation that they signed an application in the identity shown on the form received by IPS. This is an essential safeguard against forgery of countersignatory details and other methods
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of identity fraud. If an application is countersigned by a person who the IPS cannot contact, the applicant may be asked to make a fresh application.

Police: Freemasonry

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police forces keep a register of declarations of freemasonry membership; and whether such declarations are required by (a) police officers, (b) prison officers, (c) probation officers and (d) other staff on appointment. [133307]

Mr. McNulty: Voluntary arrangements for the declaration of freemasonry membership were established for the police service in 1999. There is no statutory basis for the registers which are held internally by forces. We do not monitor centrally which forces continue to administer such registers. All recruits to the prison service are required, after the selection decision and before appointment is confirmed, to declare whether they belong to the freemasons. There is no national policy requiring probation officers to declare freemasonry membership.

Police: Interpreters

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of interpreters employed by the police in the last period for which figures are available were sourced from the recommended register of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters. [138287]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for the Chief Officer and the Police Authority.

Police: Road Traffic

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers were engaged as dedicated officers for policing roads and vehicles in (a) May 1997 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available; and what his policy is on the provision of such officers. [137877]

Mr. Coaker: The number of police officers dedicated to the policing of the roads and vehicles are not collected centrally. The available data are the number of full time equivalent (FTE) police officers primarily employed in the function “traffic”.

Data are not available for May 1997, but are given for financial year (as at the last day of the year, 31 March). Data for 31 March 1997 and 31 March 1998 are unavailable.

As at 31 March Officers

1996

8,084

2006

6,511

Note:
All figures are FTE rounded to the nearest whole number

As per the provision of such officers; the deployment of police officers is an operational matter for individual chief constables.


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Police: Training

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost is of training (a) a police officer, (b) a community support officer and (c) a special constable. [137165]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 17 May 2007, Official Report, column 903W.

Prisoners: Foreigners

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, columns 483-84W, on prisoners: foreigners, what the cost to the public purse was of imprisoning (a) non-British EU national prisoners and (b) non-EU foreign national prisoners in (i) 2005, (ii) 2006 and (iii) 2007. [136548]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have been asked to reply.

Cost data are not collated by nationality. Foreign national prisoners are spread across the estate. They are not managed as a separate group. The average cost of a prison place at Prison Service establishments in England and Wales was £32,888 and for the private contractual prison estate was £32,418 in 2005-06; these figures would apply equally to prisoners whether British or foreign national.

Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to introduce the Commencement Order to bring into effect the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006; and if he will make a statement. [138472]

Mr. Coaker: There is as yet no fixed date for the implementation of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. Officials are working on commencement and associated regulations and it is hoped that implementation will be in the summer of this year.

Theft: Mobile Phones

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps his Department is taking to reduce levels of mobile phone theft; [136441]

(2) what discussions he has had with mobile phone operators on reducing mobile phone theft. [136442]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 10 May 2007]: Mobile phone theft is a key driver for robbery. The Government, police and industry have developed a strong partnership which has been working together to tackle escalating mobile phone theft. The Mobile Phone Crime Reduction Charter was launched by industry leaders in July 2006 and successfully achieved its target of blocking stolen handsets within 48 hours, meaning they will no longer work in the UK. The Government and Metropolitan police fund a National Mobile Phone Crime Unit to provide a national centre of excellence and operational support around the country. We have robust legislation in place to target criminals who re-programme stolen handsets.


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Education and Skills

Assessments: Fees and Charges

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to publish its research into the fee level charged for GCSEs and A-levels; and what steps (a) the QCA and (b) his Department plans to take in response to this research. [136728]

Jim Knight: It is for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to decide whether it would be appropriate or lawful to publish any of the sources of evidence used in its review of fees. The Department and the QCA are considering what action to take in light of the review, and will announce next steps later in the year.

City Academies

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) which contracts have been placed by city academies with companies in which their sponsors have a financial interest; [127135]

(2) what restrictions apply to commercial involvement by city academies in companies with which their sponsors have a financial interest; [127136]

(3) what rules apply to the letting of contracts by city academies to companies in which their sponsors had an interest; [127137]

(4) what rules relate to declarations of interest in the tendering for contracts by city academies; [127138]

(5) how many requests he has received to waive rules on tendering contracts by city academies; and how many have been accepted; [127139]

(6) what rules govern the letting of contracts by city academies. [127140]

Jim Knight: Academies are charitable companies limited by guarantee, and are subject to the same regulatory framework as applies to all such organisations and to company law generally. The governors of an academy are also its charitable trustees.

The Charity Commission approves the governing documents of all companies proposed to be registered as charities prior to granting registration, to ensure that any provisions conferring authority on the charity to make a payment to one of the governors—or a company associated with a governor—deal with potential conflicts of interest in a transparent manner.

All academy trusts use the Department’s model memorandum and articles of association as a basis for their own, and these include standard conflict of interest provisions recommended by the Charity Commission. These typically require any governor/trustee of the company, who has an interest in a particular contract, to withdraw from discussions and voting in relation to such a contract. In order to comply with these provisions, a sponsor of an academy trust or a sponsor-appointee with an interest in a sponsor company would, for example, be required to withdraw from any meetings at which a discussion took place on
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the proposed remuneration of either themselves, or a company with which they are associated.

Furthermore, charity and company law place an obligation on charitable trustees and governors of academy companies to act at all times in the best interests of the company, and allowing the academy company to contract with another company in the knowledge that this might not be on the best terms available, would obviously be contrary to this obligation.

In addition, the general requirements relating to the procurement of goods and services are set out in the Academies Financial Handbook, which the Department issues to all academies. This includes the requirement for probity in procurement, to demonstrate that all parties are dealt with on a fair and equitable basis and to ensure that there is no private gain In particular, the Financial Handbook requires governors, including sponsor governors, to make formal declarations of their interests in external businesses and to withdraw from any discussions regarding potential contracting with that business.

In addition to any advice—or indeed directions—which the Department may give to academy trusts in relation to the procurement of goods and services, the law also precludes the payment of any charitable trustee unless and to the extent that legal authority for that payment is given in the charity's governing documents, or otherwise granted by a court or the Charity Commission.

Advice and guidance is also provided through the designated Project Lead within the Department and academies must also comply with the Public Contract Regulations 2006.

The Department cannot waive rules relating to the letting of contracts by academies, and does not keep a record of contracts that each academy enters into. However, academies are obliged by law to lodge their accounts with the Charity Commission and Companies House each year and these records are open to public scrutiny.


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