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Police: Fitness

16. Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of levels of physical fitness of serving police officers. [208960]

Mr. McNulty: Responsibility for the physical fitness of serving police officers lies with the chief officer of each force.

We are continuing to work with the police service to promote the good health of serving police officers.

Police Officers: Patrol

17. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to increase the amount of time that police officers spend on patrol. [208961]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are committed to delivering a visible and reassuring police presence. Since April there has been a neighbourhood policing team in every area.

The Home Secretary has already accepted Sir Ronnie Flanagan's recommendation to remove lengthy stop and account forms, and will also consider more proportionate and streamlined stop and search and crime recording forms.

We are continuing with consultation on reforms of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, streamlining the Criminal Justice process, and investing £50 million in new mobile data technology.

The forthcoming Green Paper will outline further measures for strengthened local accountability, further bureaucracy reduction, greater flexibility for officers and staff, and a reformed performance framework that will reflect local priorities.

Domestic Violence Courts

18. Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made on the introduction of specialist domestic violence courts. [208962]

Mr. Coaker: In the ‘Tackling Violence’ action plan (published February 2008), we committed to doubling the number of specialist domestic violence courts to 128, ensuring that even more sensitive domestic violence cases are heard in a safe court environment. In April this year, the number accredited by the national programme had increased to 98, with further expansion planned later this year.

Asylum: Afghanistan

19. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what Government policy is on asylum seekers from Afghanistan. [208963]

Mr. Byrne: The United Kingdom considers all asylum and human rights claims, including those from Afghan nationals, on their individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN
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refugee convention and the European conventions on human rights (ECHR) and against the background of the latest available country information.

101 Calls: Cardiff

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reasons were for discontinuing funding for the 101 number in the Cardiff pilot area. [203603]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 6 May 2008]: While the Government recognise the benefits that have been demonstrated by the 101 single non-emergency number service in the initial live areas, it is vital that we target our resources to those areas which will have the greatest impact and which will contribute most to the protective of the public and security of the country. It was on that basis and in the context of significant pressure on resources and competing policing and security priorities, it was decided not to continue to fund centrally the ongoing live operation.

However, the Home Office is continuing to provide funding for the national 101 infrastructure, which the Cardiff Partnership are continuing to use, and we have also made available a 101 Delivery Toolkit which captures the learning and good practice from 101 service to date. It is hoped that this toolkit will help and encourage local areas to embed the benefits in local services and to develop locally funded 101 services wherever possible.

The annual cost to the Home Office of maintaining the national 101 telephony infrastructure will be £950,000. This funding will ensure that the 101 number continues to be available for all local areas to maintain or develop their own locally funded 101 services, informed by the benefits and good practice successfully demonstrated in the initial live areas.

Alcoholic Drinks: Crime Prevention

Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of measures to combat alcohol-induced crime. [208943]

Mr. Coaker: The Government have made a number of such assessments. These include; the assessment of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on levels of crime and disorder, the evaluation of a multi-agency approach to tackle violence and disorder in the night-time economy, as well as reviewing the results of the British Crime Survey.

The Home Office conducted an assessment of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on levels of crime and disorder. A report: The impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on levels of crime and disorder: an evaluation (2008) by Hough et al was published early this year.

The main conclusion to be drawn from the evaluation is that licensing regimes may be one factor in effecting change to the country's drinking culture—and its impact on crime—but they do not appear to be the critical factor. The overall volume of incidents of crime and disorder remains unchanged, though there were signs that crimes involving serious violence may have reduced. There was, however, evidence of
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temporal displacement, in that the small proportion of violent crime occurring in the small hours of the morning had increased.

In surveys, local residents were less likely to say that drunk and rowdy behaviour was a problem after the change than before it, and the majority thought that alcohol-related crime was stable or declining. Police, local authorities and licencees generally welcomed the Act and the new powers it gave them once implementation teething problems were solved . In general they did not think that alcohol related crime had got worse.

In July 2007 the Home Office published findings from an analysis of data collected from a self-selecting sample of police forces (Violent crime, disorder and criminal damage since the introduction of the Licensing Act (2007) Babb et al).

The key finding from this study was when comparing the 12-months before and after the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003, there was a 1 per cent. fall in recorded incidents involving violence, criminal damage and harassment; and a 5 per cent. fall in serious violence. The findings also showed the timing of offence had changed; with a 1 per cent. increase in offences occurring between 6pm and 6am, and a steep rise in the small minority of offences occurring in the small hours between 3am and 6am—an increase which was large in proportional terms (25 per cent.) but relatively small with regards to the number of incidents (236).

The evaluation of a multi-agency approach to tackle violence and disorder in the night-time economy was assessed in the ‘Reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder: an evaluation of the TASC (2003) Macquire et al report. This report presented findings from a police-led multi-agency scheme launched in July 2000 under the Home Office with the aim of reducing alcohol-related crime and disorder in central Cardiff.

The findings from this study showed that there were significant reductions in violent and disorderly incidents occurring in or just outside individual pubs and clubs which were the subject of carefully targeted policing operations. The most successful of these, lasting eight weeks, was followed by reductions of 41 per cent. and 36 per cent. in such incidents in and around the two clubs targeted. The reductions were also sustained over time.

The Home Office also monitors the levels of alcohol-related violent crime and the perceptions of alcohol crime on an annual basis via the large-scale British Crime Survey (BCS). The results show that in 2006-07 46 per cent. of victims of violent crime perceived the offender to be under the influence of alcohol; a similar proportion to the previous year (45 per cent.). Additionally, the proportion of adults who perceived drunk and rowdy behaviour in public places to be a fairly/very big problem in the year ending December 2007 was the same compared to the year ending 2006.

Antisocial Behaviour

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of measures to combat anti-social behaviour. [208951]

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Mr. Coaker: Nobody should have to suffer antisocial behaviour. On 8 May the Home Secretary said we would not stand for it when she announced new measures to bear down on the most persistent offenders, tackle antisocial behaviour on public transport and make sure that the many tools and powers available to the agencies are being used appropriately and effectively.

Three independent reports including the Home Affairs Select Committee report (2005), the Audit Commission report (May 2006) and the NAO report (December 2006) have confirmed our approach to tackling antisocial behaviour is working. Indeed the NAO reported that 65 per cent. of people stop committing antisocial behaviour after intervention one rising to 93 per cent. after intervention three. Peoples’ fear of antisocial behaviour has fallen since ASBOs were introduced.

Community Policing

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date the decision was taken to commission and run her Department’s advertisements relating to neighbourhood policing teams; and who made the decision. [204932]

Mr. McNulty: Many decisions are made in the planning of the communications campaigns. It would be an unreasonable use of resources to be required to regularly comment on the decisions made to plan individual elements of campaigns.

Crime Museum

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will discuss the Metropolitan Police’s policy on access to its Crime Museum with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner; and if she will make a statement. [207681]

Mr. McNulty: This is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who the curator of the Metropolitan Police Crime Museum is. [207246]

Mr. McNulty: I understand from the Metropolitan Police Service that the name of the curator of the Metropolitan Police Crime Museum is Mr. Alan McCormick.

Criminal Records: Disclosure of Information

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what percentage of records of offences committed outside the United Kingdom held by the UK Central Authority were made available to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and used in CRB disclosures in the most recent period for which figures are available; [206850]

(2) whether there are any data on categories of offences held by the UK Central Authority which may not be passed to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for use in CRB disclosures; [206851]

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(3) whether the Government plans to make all records of crimes and offences held by the UK Central Authority available to (a) the Criminal Records Bureau and (b) other law agencies. [206855]

Meg Hillier: The UK Central Authority (UKCA-ECR) receives conviction notifications in respect of UK citizens who have been convicted of crimes in EU member states. Convictions that are recordable under the National Police Records (Recordable Offences) Regulations 2000 are added to the Police National Computer (PNC) and are therefore available to the CRB for disclosure purposes.

Between 1 January 2008 and 30 April 2008, the UKCA-ECR received 1,016 notifications, 220 of which were for non-recordable offences. All recordable offences were added to the PNC. It is not known what percentage of these were subsequently used in disclosures.

Under Section 113A (3) of Part V of the Police Act 1997 criminal record certificates—standard and enhanced disclosures—must contain details of “every relevant matter” recorded in “central records”. This means all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC), including spent convictions. Any EU conviction information added to the Police National Computer by the UKCA-ECR would be included on CRB disclosures.

We have no current plans to extend these arrangements.

Emergency Calls: Public Telephones

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many emergency services calls to police were made from a public payphone in (a) Cornwall, (b) each parliamentary constituency in Cornwall, (c) the South-West region and (d) England in (i) 2006 and (ii) 2007. [208345]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Extradition: United Arab Emirates

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions the Government has had with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on bilateral extradition arrangements; what agreements are in place with the UAE; whether these are under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003; and if she will make a statement. [208181]

Meg Hillier: A bilateral UK/UAE extradition treaty was signed by the then Home Secretary and the UAE Minister of Justice on 6 December 2006; instruments of ratification were exchanged on 3 March 2008; and the treaty came into force on 3 April. However, before extradition can be operated in a general way and without a special arrangement between the two countries it is necessary to designate the UAE under Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003. This requires secondary legislation under the affirmative resolution procedure, and debates in each of the Houses of Parliament are scheduled for 10 June. The provisions of the treaty are consistent with those in the Act.

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Currently the UK has extradition arrangements with the UAE for some categories of offence covered by international conventions, for example the Vienna Convention against drugs. The Extradition Act 2003 also enables “ad hoc” extraditions to take place if a special arrangement is set up. The designation of the UAE under the Extradition Act 2003 as a part 2 territory will be an improvement on the current arrangements, as the extradition of persons wanted for any offence punishable in both states with at least 12 months’ imprisonment will be possible, providing extradition is not barred by any of the safeguards in the Act.

Human Trafficking

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps (a) her Department and (b) the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre have taken to reduce demand for human trafficking in the UK in the last year. [208313]

Mr. Coaker: We recognise the need for a more sophisticated approach and understanding of demand factors if we are to successfully tackle human trafficking. To this end we have continued to develop both general and targeted awareness raising campaigns. In late 2007 we launched the “Blue Blindfold” campaign aimed at raising general awareness of human trafficking and are currently piloting a poster campaign in Westminster and Nottingham aimed specifically at those age groups more likely to be the purchasers of sex.

This builds on the innovative work undertaken as part of Operation Pentameter 1 and links in with the Government’s current review into tackling the demand for prostitution. This six-month review began in January and is looking at both legislative and non-legislative options available.

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police investigations of cases of human trafficking under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004 there have been; how many have resulted in papers being passed to the Crown Prosecution Service; and if she will make a statement. [208956]

Mr. Coaker: Investigations into human trafficking cases are ongoing throughout the United Kingdom. To date this has resulted in the convictions of 84 people for trafficking offences with a number of cases still in the process of investigation.

It is important to note that traffickers may not necessarily be charged with specific trafficking offences depending on the facts of the case. Crown prosecutors may identify alternative offences and bring prosecutions under non-trafficking offences such as kidnapping or facilitating a breach of immigration law under section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971.

The Home Secretary will announce the outcomes from Operation Pentameter 2 after the completion of the operation.

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