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3 Jun 2008 : Column 833W—continued

Zimbabwe: Economic Situation

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the economy of Zimbabwe. [207176]

Meg Munn: The Zimbabwean economy continues to collapse. Whereas prices had been doubling once a month, they now double once a week. Inflation for February was officially 165,000 per cent but according to leaked Government figures for March it has now risen to 355,000 per cent. Unofficial estimates are much
3 Jun 2008 : Column 834W
higher. Scarcity of basic food supplies, petrol and simple household goods continue due to price controls, making the black market the only option—but only for those who can afford it. Recent partial liberalisation of exchange control mechanisms is too little too late to make any real impact on the economy—and could be reversed. The continued printing of money by the Reserve Bank is fuelling further hyperinflation. There is also the prospect of new, flawed indigenisation law being implemented aggressively and further damaging the private sector.

International Development

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the costs of the Park for Women in Lashkar Gah have been; and what assessment he has made of its performance against its objectives. [207786]

Mr. Douglas Alexander [holding answer 2 June 2008]: The Bolan Park was built in Bolan, Lashkar Gah, with funding from the UK Government in 2007. The park was built at the request of the Governor of Helmand and relevant government of Afghanistan line departments, by the Afghan NGO Helping Afghan Farmers Organisation (HAFO). Much of the work was carried out using local labour. Funding for the project was provided through the UK-led provincial reconstruction team from a pool of funding jointly provided by the MOD, FCO and DFID.

This park is open to men, women and children with one day each week being set aside for women's exclusive use. The park cost around £420,000 and was built alongside the Helmand river. The costs of the park reflect the fact that during construction gabion walls were put in place to support the river bank, which helps prevent erosion, and to support the Bolan bridge. In addition, the park has extensive lighting which at night is important for improving security.

The park is popular and is in constant use, with children using it every day after school. It functions as a symbol for security and development in the area. One of the first major events hosted at the park was a US-funded agricultural fair to promote legal livelihoods attended by 1,700 Afghans. Recently the park was the venue for a successful cultural event organised by the Governor which attracted more than 2,000 local people.

Northern Ireland

Crimes of Violence

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations he has received on trends in the level of violence in Northern Ireland. [205358]

Paul Goggins: Efforts are being made across the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland to drive down crime and make Northern Ireland safer for
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everyone. As the PSNI crime statistics for 2007-08 show, violent crime is 7.6 per cent. lower than the previous year.

Findings from the 2006-07 Northern Ireland Crime Survey and British Crime Survey suggest that violent crime victimisation (prevalence) rates have fallen in both jurisdictions.

I meet with the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board on a regular basis to discuss their assessment of crime levels and trends.

Prisoners: Foreigners

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many foreign national prisoners were transferred from Northern Ireland to serve their sentence in their home country in the last year for which information is available. [206897]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Prison Service has not transferred any foreign national prisoners from Northern Ireland to serve their sentence in their home country in the last year.

Shoplifting

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were convicted of
3 Jun 2008 : Column 836W
shoplifting offences in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years, broken down by (a) sex and (b) age; and what average sentence was imposed on those who were given custodial sentences. [207750]

Paul Goggins: Table 1 outlines the number convicted of shoplifting broken down by sex while Table 2 shows the same information broken down by age group. The average custodial sentence lengths for shoplifting offences are documented in Table 3.

Data cover the calendar years 1997 to 2006 (the latest available years) and are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1: Number convicted of shoplifting offences by sex 1997 to 2006
Male Female Total

1997

543

247

790

1998

571

240

811

1999

469

164

633

2000

512

231

743

2001

453

178

631

2002

409

162

571

2003

417

183

600

2004

392

170

562

2005

354

203

557

2006

349

146

495


Table 2: Number convicted of shoplifting offences by age group 1997 to 2006
Age group
10-17 18-24 25-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 and over Missing( 1) Total

1997

175

214

93

167

83

41

12

5

790

1998

162

227

104

157

105

47

9

0

811

1999

111

173

79

138

74

40

11

7

633

2000

167

189

90

155

82

43

17

0

743

2001

166

171

65

108

80

37

4

0

631

2002

149

158

59

100

69

29

7

0

571

2003

119

176

61

110

88

42

4

0

600

2004

118

163

58

112

62

39

10

0

562

2005

73

189

59

108

86

39

3

0

557

2006

60

152

61

107

64

40

11

0

495

(1) Missing data relate to those offenders for whom age information is not available.

Table 3: Number sentenced to immediate custody and average sentence length (in months) for shoplifting offences 1997 to 2006
Number sentenced to immediate custody Number for which sentencing length data are available( 1) Average sentence length (in months)

1997

79

66

3.9

1998

100

89

4.2

1999

101

98

5.5

2000

119

107

4.0

2001

82

76

3.2

2002

85

84

3.4

2003

82

78

4.1

2004

74

67

3.6

2005

73

68

3.4

2006

58

57

3.3

(1) The difference in the number sentenced to immediate custody and number for which sentencing data are available relates to the number sentenced to training school orders (1997-99) and Juvenile Justice Centre orders (1999 to 2006). Data on sentence lengths for these types of disposal are not available. In 2000, there is one additional offender for whom the sentence length is not available.

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