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It is difficult to see how any of those could be legally working in this country. Can the Minister reassure me that the Pentameter 2 operation will be following up
adverts like that and checking whether there is evidence that vulnerable women are being trafficked and forced into prostitution?
Mr. Coaker: Pentameter 2 will indeed listen to any intelligence that comes forward about women or others who may be trafficked, including using such adverts to assist its work. My hon. Friend may be interested to know that those adverts are a concern. My right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House and I and others met the Newspaper Society, the Advertising Association and others to discuss the very issue that she raisedadverts in newspapers and magazinesto see what more can be done about it.
Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes) (Con): Will the Minister confirm that if the women who were discovered during a police raid, in which I was involved, on a sauna parlour in Hackney 10 days ago had been trafficked, they will be issued with a temporary residence permit, as he is obliged to do under the European convention on action against trafficking in human beings, which will come into force on 1 February next? Is he aware that if he issues them with that permit, they are much more likely to come forward to give evidence against their traffickers?
Mr. Coaker: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. That is why, as he knows, we are looking to ratify the Council of Europe convention as soon as we can. To do that, we need to have in place all the various measures to ensure that we can legally meet the requirements of the convention. One of those requirements is that we have in place the various measures that he points out. He knows that when we ratify the convention, we will have to introduce temporary residence permits, periods of reflection and so on. We will do that as soon as we can. In the meantime, may I reassure the hon. Gentleman that, as he knows from the work that we do together on the issue, we will ensure that support is available for any victims of trafficking who are found through Pentameter 2-type operations or others?
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): The Minister kindly gave me a parliamentary reply showing that 16 men were convicted for trafficking last year and just 11 had been so far this year. Given that, according to Home Office estimates, 25,000 sex slaves currently work in the massage parlours and brothels of Britain, those conviction figures are derisory.
Does the Minister agree that it may be time to look at the demand side? Frankly, too many dirty old, middle-aged and young men think that by putting down a few pounds they can abuse women, often under the age of 18, who are trafficked into our country and appear in adverts such as the ones in the local papers of my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey). This is not a sniggering or laughing matter, but a desperately evil aspect of modern slavery. The demand side needs to be tackled; the men should be named and shamed. If necessary, the law should be changed so that they are put in front of the courts.
I do not think that anybody who listened to the remarks that my right hon. Friend has just made so powerfully and passionately would
disagree with any of them. The whole House finds how such women are trafficked and used repugnant. The issue for us is what we do about it. My right hon. Friend points out that we need to consider the demand side, and the Government will consider what more we can do on that side of the equation. There have been 67 prosecutions since we passed the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which allows us to prosecute people who traffic women for sexual exploitation. We want that figure to rise and we are working with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that that happens.
I say not only to my right hon. Friend but to the whole House that the issue is a real priority for the Government. We are considering what more can be done about it and will act as quickly as possible to take the matter forward.
Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD): The Minister will be aware that the Joint Committee on Human Rights identified the very real need to treat the victims of sex trafficking as victims. He will be aware that on page 57 of the UK action plan, he accepted that although previously there had been prosecutions of victims for immigration offences, the Government no longer considered that it was in the public interest to do so. If that is the case, will he explain why proceedings are still hanging over two womenvictims of traffickingwho are being assisted by the Poppy project? Will he have a word with the Attorney-Generals office so that it is absolutely clear that the Governments policy is to treat victims as victims and not as criminals?
Mr. Coaker: It is absolutely the Governments position that victims of trafficking should be treated as victims, and we are trying to establish processes to make sure that that happens. As the hon. Gentleman will know, to ratify the Council of Europe convention one of the things that we have to do is to put in place measures and processes that allow us to identify victims and refer them to the appropriate support. We are in the process of doing that. As the hon. Gentleman mentioned, we do not wish to treat such people as immigration offenders. If he has concerns about any particular cases, perhaps he will write to me about them.
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North) (Lab): In my constituency, there is a so-called massage parlour that my constituents tell me is simply a brothel; I am sure that there are similar establishments in many hon. Members constituencies. There is no doubt that in that brothel young women are being exploited, possibly after having been trafficked from abroad. However, after months of being told, the police are still finding it difficult to close the place down. Is my hon. Friend absolutely sure that nothing more could be done to provide more powers and resources to the police to ensure that such places are closed down and that the women are rescued from their appalling circumstances?
Mr. Coaker: We know that there is more to be done on this issue. We do not want brothels continuing to operate in the way that my hon. Friend has mentioned. All I can say is that the Government are considering a whole range of measures, including on demand and on what more can be done about the establishments that my hon. Friend has just mentioned.
Damian Green (Ashford) (Con): The Minister will know that his answer is disappointing on the specific point of ratifying the European convention against human trafficking. On 17 October, the Minister for Borders and Immigration said in a written answer to the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane):
some amendments to primary/secondary legislation will be required[ Official Report, 17 October 2007; Vol. 464, c. 1108W.]
The Minister has just agreed with that, so why has the legislation not been produced? Why are police officers like Chief Superintendent Paul Phillipson, the district commander in Peterborough, complaining that if they devote resources to clearing up the sex trade involving women trafficked from overseas, they get no credit from the Government because the Ministers Department does not make clearing up this type of crime one of the targets that it has to meet? Will he admit that this looks like another case of tough talk followed by a complete lack of effective action?
Mr. Coaker: The hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue. He should not underestimate the commitment of this Governmentand of this Parliament, it seems to meto ratify the Council of Europe convention. As many of his hon. Friends recognise, in order to make progress in this area in implementing the various processes that are necessary to ensure that we can ratify the treaty, we do not have to wait for ratification. We are taking this forward in terms of prevention, enforcement and all those matters, not waiting for the ratification process. At a time when people question the integrity and honesty of politicians, I do not want to recommend to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, or to the Prime Minister or to Parliament, that we should ratify the Council of Europe convention before I can honestly say that every single part of the necessary process is in place. As for whether we should get on with it, we are getting on with it.
7. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab): What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the effect of police community support officers on the regeneration of communities. 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): As we have heard, police community support officers have already had a positive impact in helping communities to work together, and we have plans to integrate neighbourhood policing and neighbourhood management. Only last week, I spoke to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and other colleagues about how to liaise with other Departments to improve the situation.
Ben Chapman: PCSOs have been very welcome in Wirral, South, where they have contributed a great deal to resolving problems, particularly those involving youths behaving badly. In my experience, they in no way merit the pejorative tags that have been attached to them by some parts of the press. However, they, like other parts of the network, find it difficult to solve the problem of displacement. What is the solution when effective police and partnership action results in badly behaving young people merely being moved from one area to anotherfor example, from Teehay lane in Bebington to Mayer park in Bebington?
Meg Hillier: My hon. Friend raises an important point. Clearly, moving a problem from one area to another does not solve it. The situation will be helped from April next year, when there will be a team in every area so that any displaced antisocial behaviour is picked up by the co-ordination of those teams. I already see that working to good effect in my own constituency, where we have a neighbourhood policing team in every ward. Sir Ronnie Flanagans interim report recommends the integration of neighbourhood policing and neighbourhood management, and we are making progress on that. We also hope to work with local area agreements, crime reduction partnerships and disorder reduction partnerships to ensure that co-ordination on displacement takes place.
Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): If anybody is attacking community support officers, they are not attacking the individuals who fill the jobs, who are doing a very good job under very difficult circumstances. However, it has to be recognised that they do not have the same training and powers as police officers. What can the Minister do to ensure that more people who are volunteering in this way can be taken into the full constabulary?
Meg Hillier: I am rather puzzled by the hon. Gentlemans comments. I will happily explain to him afterwards the exact role of police community support officers. They are not volunteersthey are paid officers trained to provide a different role to that of police constables. There are 16,000 PCSOshad it not been for this Government, there would be nonein addition to the already expanded numbers of police.
The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Liam Byrne): Recent Royal Assent for the UK Borders Act 2007 will allow the Government to introduce compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals from 2008. We shall publish our strategy for this rollout very shortly.
Mr. Byrne: The House will know that the Government are already deploying biometric systems in order to strengthen our border security. A system of biometric visas has been rolled out in about 117 countries around the world. Some time this week we will take our millionth biometric visa, and nearly 10,000 individuals have already been matched against existing watch lists that we hold, including lists with the fingerprints we have taken of those who have been deported. It is clear to me that biometric visas are already providing an extremely effective defence against illegal immigration and that they will be increasingly important in the future.
Patrick Mercer (Newark) (Con):
I am interested in what the Minister said, but he knows that those who are resident in this country for three months or less will
not be required to carry an identity card. A cursory understanding of the core al-Qaeda group makes it quite clear that its visits to countries such as ours will last a lot less than three months. Does that not drive a coach and horses through the whole concept of ID cards?
widespread use of false documents is an essential aspect of terrorist activities. Al-Qaedas own training manual requires its operatives to acquire false identities to hide their terrorist activities.
The only countries in Europe other than the UK that do not have identity cards in place, or which are not introducing them, are Ireland and Denmark, and even Denmark has a national civil register. Our concern is to multiply the tools to fight terrorism that we have at our disposal, but the important point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, West (Mr. Bailey) is the need for ID cards to allow us to come downharder on illegal immigration. That is why last week we introduced tougher penalties for businesses that employ people illegally, and as we increase the penalties for breaking the rules, we need to make businesses job easier. Biometric ID cards for foreign nationals will help with that.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): These illegal immigrants are here only because our border control failed in the first instance. Why does the Minister not strengthen the surveillance of passports and visas when people first apply for entry into the country, and ensure that people we do not wish to see here, or those who are a threat to this country, are not admitted in the first place?
Mr. Byrne: I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for saying that that is a slightly 20th-century way of looking at border control. If we are to have adequate defences against illegal immigration in the future, we need to strengthen our checks abroad. That is why biometric visas are preventing would-be illegal immigrants from coming to this country before they get on a train, plane or boat for the UK. We have to secure our borders in the UK even further, which is why we are introducing a single border force.
I do not think that we will make real headway against illegal immigration until we stop the cause of it, which is illegal working. That is why we have to increase the penalties for businesses that break the rules. It is also why we have to make it easier for businesses to know whether a foreign national is who they say they are, and whether they have the right to work. That is where ID cards will help.
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): Ministers regularly meet the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and other MPS officers and officials to discuss a range of matters, including police targets.
Tom Brake: Is the Minister aware that in London the police are working to two contradictory crime reduction targets: one set by the Home Office, and the other set by the Metropolitan Police Service? Why is that, and when will the police start working to just one crime reduction target?
Mr. McNulty: If the hon. Gentleman seeks to illuminate me about the contradictory targets, I shall look into the matter. As far as I am aware, there is no such contradiction in targets. The Metropolitan polices overall contribution to the public service agreement target to reduce crime by 15 per cent. stands. How they achieve that contribution is a matter for that service, just as it is for all other 42 police services.
Barry Gardiner (Brent, North) (Lab): On 19 October, my constituent, Mr. Alan Angel, was held up in his own home in Northwick Circle, Kenton by three youths armed with a firearm. I want to stress that Mr. Angel has thanked the police for their subsequent actions and response, and for the support that they have given. However, Mr. Angel found out that they were unable to access the CCTV footage from the station to which the three had fled until the Monday morning. Would my right hon. Friend check what protocols and targets are in place for the downloading of footage between London Transport police and the Metropolitan police?
Mr. McNulty: My hon. Friend raises a serious point, which I will look into. I can assure him that no national protocol or target restricts or limits in any way the operational efficiency of the police in disc-dumping CCTV footage. I am happy to meet my hon. Friend and the Brent borough commander, if we need to, to discuss the matter further.
Justine Greening (Putney) (Con): May I ask the Minister about the overall budgeted target work force for London? My local borough commander tells me that we are 700 officers below that target work force across London. Does the Minister really expect the Metropolitan police to hit their targets when they have not the targeted people to do so?
Mr. McNulty: As I have said in written responses, many of those comparisons relate to pre-1997 figures. They cannot be comparedthey are like apples and oranges. It is a matter of fact that the resources currently afforded to the Metropolitan police, whether for neighbourhood policing or any other aspects, are at absolute record high levels, as can be seen though their achievement of targets and the reduction of crime throughout London.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker):
The Government have committed to making consistent monthly local information on crime available throughout the country. My starting point is that the information should be
available at ward level and more locally where possible, subject to constraints around data availability. The Home Office is working with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities and other stakeholders to identify how that can be achieved.
Dr. Blackman-Woods: I thank my hon. Friend for that response. Does he agree that if crime statistics were more widely used and available at neighbourhood level it would help us to address the fear of crime in constituencies such as mine? In Durham, overall crime rates are low and falling, but the public are not necessary fully aware of that.
Mr. Coaker: I agree totally with my hon. Friend. That is one of the reasons why the Home Secretary announced that by July 2008 we want local crime statistics to be available to local areasat ward level, if possibleso that local people can make sense of what is happening in their areas with respect to acquisitive and violent crime. When people see those matters locally, the figures obviously become much more real to them than the national statistics. As my hon. Friend says, if people see the local figures, public confidence will rise and people will know more properly what is going on with policing in their area.
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