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Sentencing: Domestic Violence

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what research has been used to formulate sentencing options in cases of domestic violence where there are (a) male perpetrators with female victims, (b) female perpetrators with male victims, (c) male perpetrators with male victims and (d) female perpetrators with female victims; what sentencing options are available in such cases; what training is provided to magistrates in each category of domestic violence; and if he will make a statement. [163733]

Mr. Hanson: There are no specific offences of domestic violence and violent offences that take place in a domestic context will be charged as general offences of violence. No specific research has been undertaken to inform sentencing of offenders who have committed domestic violence. However, the Sentencing Guidelines Council has made clear in its Definitive Guideline Overarching Principles: Domestic Violence, effective from 18 December 2006, that offences committed in a domestic context should be regarded as being no less serious than offences committed in a non-domestic context; rather that, because an offence has been committed in a domestic context, there are likely to be aggravating factors present that make it more serious. Magistrates receive general training in application of sentencing guidelines.

Sentencing: Firearms

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many and what percentage of people convicted of carrying an illegal firearm under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 received the mandatory sentence established by the Act in (a) 2003, (b) 2004, (c) 2005 and (d) 2006, broken down by age group; [163963]

(2) what the average sentence of those convicted of carrying an illegal firearm under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was in each of the last four years. [163964]

Maria Eagle: The minimum five year sentence (three years for those aged 16 or 17) came into force on 22 January 2004. The available information, relating to England and Wales for 2004 and 2005, is contained in the table as follows.

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Figures for 2006 will be available in December.

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Persons( 1) sentenced for firearms possession offences involving mandatory custodial sentences, England and Wales
Of which: 5 years or over( 2)
Offence Statutes Year Age group Total persons sentenced Persons given immediate custody N umber Percentage of total sentenced Average custodial sentence length (months)

Possessing or distributing prohibited weapons or ammunition or firearm disguised as other object.

Firearms Act 1968 sections 5(1)(a), (ab), (aba), (ac), (ad), (ae), (af) or (c) and section 5(1 A)(a) as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 section 287.














21 +

























21 +












(1) Principal offence basis.
(2) 3 years in the case of persons aged 16-17.
(3) Many of the persons dealt with in 2004 will have committed their offences prior to the mandatory sentence being introduced in January 2004.
RDS-NOMS, Home Office

Television: Licenses

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the reasons for applying a victim surcharge on fines for a non-payment of a TV licence are. [163738]

Maria Eagle: At present, the surcharge is payable by all offenders who commit an offence on or after 1 April 2007 and whose sentence is, or includes, a fine, irrespective of the offence or offences that led to conviction. Offenders who are fined for TV licence evasion are accordingly treated in the same way as offenders who are fined for other offences. We do not think they should be treated differently.

Victims: Compensation

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the purpose was of the internal audit of the operation of the victim's surcharge; whether magistrates were involved in the audit; and what conclusions have been reached. [163731]

Maria Eagle: The internal audit is being conducted as part of a 2007-08 annual audit programme. The purpose of the audit is to review the application and effectiveness of procedures applied in magistrates’ courts in relation to the processing and accounting of the victim's surcharge. Magistrates have not been directly involved in the audit. Court records are being examined to establish that the surcharge has been ordered in all appropriate cases and that all judicial cancellations of the surcharge are supported by sufficient and appropriate evidence. The internal audit is still in progress and no final conclusions have been reached. It is anticipated that the results of the internal audit will be reported in December.

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been collected via the victim's surcharge since inception; where the funds raised are held; what plans there are for use of such funding; and if he will make a statement. [163732]

Maria Eagle: As at the end of September some £695,323 in receipts have been collected, since the victims surcharge came into operation on 1 April 2007. Arrangements have been made in the impending winter supplementary estimates for the receipts in question to be appropriated in aid against the Ministry of Justice estimates.

Money from the surcharge is being used to help fund organisations and schemes providing a range of emotional and practical support services to victims of crime and witnesses.

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of the representations he has received on the victim’s surcharge since its inception were in favour of it . [163833]

Maria Eagle: Since its inception, we have received 90 pieces of correspondence about the surcharge, 76 through MPs. Of the 90, 12 pieces of correspondence were pursuant to earlier correspondence on the matter.

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Of the 90, one correspondent expressed support and three expressed no view. The rest expressed some unhappiness with, or opposition to, at least one aspect of the surcharge on fines.

Violent and Sex Offender Register

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which police forces in England and Wales have (a) declined to deploy, (b) not yet begun to deploy and (c) not yet completed deployment of the Violent and Sex Offender Register; and how the work of the Probation Service has been affected by declinations to deploy. [163917]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

ViSOR (formerly known as the Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register) is deployed in all police forces in England and Wales.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how the ability of the police in England and Wales to access, evaluate and share information with probation services in the United Kingdom has been affected by the establishment of the Violent and Sex Offender Register. [163918]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

Roll-out of ViSOR (formerly known as the Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register) to the Probation Service is in its infancy, so there is yet to be a marked effect on information sharing between police and probation services. However, in areas where the system has been piloted, the key benefits have related to having a single, confidential database of information and intelligence on persons posing a risk of harm to the public and the probation service having more timely and full access to data that would have previously been held within police systems.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the training database for the Violent and Sex Offender Register is available to all police forces in England and Wales. [163922]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

The training database for ViSOR (formerly known as the Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register) is available in all police forces in England and Wales.

Home Department

Anti-Terrorism Control Orders

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what restrictions may be placed on an individual who is the subject of a control order. [162219]

Mr. McNulty: Obligations may be imposed by a control order if they are considered necessary for purposes connected with preventing or restricting involvement, by that individual, in terrorism-related activity. An illustrative, but not exhaustive, list of obligations is set out in section 1(4) to (8) of the Prevention of Terrorism
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Act 2005. Specific conditions imposed under a control order are tailored to the individual concerned and must be necessary and proportionate in each case.

Asylum: Homelessness

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of asylum seekers living on the streets; and if she will restore the provision of section 95 support to refused asylum seekers. [162775]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 12 November 2007]: The Government do not keep figures of the number of asylum seekers living on the streets in the UK. However, destitute asylum seekers may apply to the Border and Immigration Agency for support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Where support is provided under section 95 it continues throughout the duration of an asylum claim provided the person remains eligible.

Where an asylum claim is unsuccessful, section 95 support is discontinued for single people and childless couples. However, it continues for those unsuccessful asylum seeking families with a child, until the child reaches the age of 18 (provided the youngest child was under 18 at the time of final determination of the asylum claim).

There is no reason why any asylum seeker should be living on the streets, as they may apply for support if they are destitute. Those whose application has failed who are temporarily unable to leave the UK may be eligible for support under section 4 of the 1999 Act. Otherwise they are expected to return home.

Border and Immigration Agency

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people the Border and Immigration Agency employs in (a) Gloucestershire, (b) the South West and (c) Wales to ensure that foreign workers are employed legally. [162611]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 12 November 2007]: The Border and Immigration Agency Wales and South West Region employs a total of approximately 350 staff in six offices in Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Poole, Plymouth and Mostyn (North Wales). In addition there are 21 police officers seconded to assist with enforcement operations. Enforcement officers carried out 286 illegal working operations in the region between April-October 2007, 221 of which were successful in terms of locating illegal foreign workers. In addition there are a total of 11 managed migration staff attached to the region who carry out work in relation to the points-based system for grading bona-fide employers. Further to this both intelligence and operational staff carry out visits to employers that are both educational and operational in that they instruct employers with regard to their obligations under the 1996 Immigration Act and obtain details of staff in order to carry out checks on their immigration status.

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British Nationality: English Language

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the pass rate in the English language tests for those seeking UK citizenship has been in each year since the inception of the tests. [162682]

Mr. Byrne: The knowledge of life (KOL) test was introduced in November 2005 for citizenship applicants. The pass rates for the tests are as follows:

The information is based on the information provided by applicants when taking their test. In April 2007 the Home Office extended the knowledge of life test to those applying for settlement in the UK.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link: Security

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements the Government has made to maintain and improve immigration and security operations on the Channel Tunnel rail link in preparation for Ebbsfleet International Station opening; and if she will make a statement. [163137]

Mr. Byrne: Following agreements signed with the French Government in 2000 and the Belgian Government in 2004, UK immigration controls on Eurostar passengers from Paris, Lille, Calais Frethun and Brussels are now undertaken at those stations prior to the train departing for the UK. As a result of the introduction of these juxtaposed controls immigration officers are now able to stop individuals with false, stolen or inadequate documents or those who do not have permission to enter the UK before they can board trains to any of the Eurostar stations in Britain; this includes the new stations of St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet. The opening of these new stations does not reduce the effectiveness of juxtaposed controls. We are also able to deploy immigration officers to any UK Eurostar station to mount inbound controls, either to test the risk on certain services or, if necessary, as an emergency response.

The Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994 requires the operators of Channel Tunnel businesses to have in place security measures to protect the travelling public and the Tunnel. Department for Transport officials have worked closely with Eurostar on security in preparation for the new station openings. Site visits have taken place to inspect security arrangements and security equipment has been upgraded. Government and industry have well rehearsed procedures for preparing for and dealing with immigration and security threats to the Channel Tunnel rail link.

Kent police have been working with the border agencies, industry and other stakeholders over the past few years to prepare for the opening of the station. As a result, policing plans are now in place to cover both the operational requirements for the station and the rail links.

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