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Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance her Department has issued to (a) schools and (b) other organisations on the role of the Independent Safeguarding Authority; and if she will make a statement. 
Meg Hillier: A wide range of consultation and information events have been held with employers, volunteer organisers and other stakeholders to explain the role of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the new vetting scheme. Government guidance for schools on the role of the ISA is provided on the Every Child Matters pages of the DCSF website, which also directs readers to further guidance on the ISA's own website.
Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department has taken to provide for the security of data held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority; and if she will make a statement. 
Meg Hillier: The Independent Safeguarding Authority will operate from secure premises in Darlington, County Durham. A stand-alone IT system has been developed for the handling and storage of data, including the new barred lists, at Confidential level under the criteria of the Government Protective Marking scheme. Data transfers will take place across secure networks or will utilise approved encryption.
Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the performance of the Independent Safeguarding Authority in vetting overseas workers who work with children. 
Meg Hillier: The Independent Safeguarding Authority does not go-live in respect of new applications until October 2009. At that time it will take into account all information which is available in respect of applications from overseas workers. My Department is looking into how access to such information may be improved and will consider comments in this area from Sir Ian Magee's independent review of criminality information.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the effect of increasing maximum sentences for knife crime on the number of offences committed. 
Mr. Coaker: The maximum sentence for possession of a knife or sharp instrument in public was increased from two to four years as part of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and came into force in April 2007. The Government considered that it was necessary to make sure that there was a clear message about the seriousness with which knife possession should be considered, reinforced by the announcement on 5 June that all those aged 16 and over caught in possession of a knife should expect to be charged.
Figures for having an article with a blade or point in a public place show that in 2006, 6232 people were convicted, an increase of 5 per cent. on the previous year. Data relating to 2007-08, covering the period following the increase in the maximum sentence, are not yet available.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) arrests, (b) prosecutions and (c) convictions there were for offences of (i) possessing a knife in a public place and (ii) grievous bodily harm with a knife in (A) Lancashire and (B) England in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Coaker [holding answer 13 June 2008]: The arrests collection undertaken by the Ministry of Justice provides data on persons arrested for recorded crime (notifiable offences), by age group, gender, ethnicity, and main offence group, i.e. violence against the person, sexual offences, robbery, burglary, etc. More detailed data about specific offences do not form part of this collection.
Data showing the number of defendants proceeded against and found guilty of possessing a knife in a public place in Lancashire and England from 2002 to 2006 are in the following table. Data for 2007 will be available in the autumn of 2008.
The court proceedings database held by the Ministry of Justice does not hold details about the circumstances of the offences. It is therefore not possible to supply data for grievous bodily harm offences involving knives.
The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
|Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for possessing a knife in a public place( 1) , in Lancashire and England, 2002 to 2006( 2,3)|
|(1) Includes the following offences;|
Having an article with blade or point in public placeCriminal Justice Act 1988 S.139 as amended by Offensive Weapons Act 1996 S.3.
Having an article with blade or point on school premisesCriminal Justice Act 1988 S.139A (1)(5)(a) as added by Offensive Weapons Act 1996 S.4(1).
(2) These data are on the principal offence basis.
(3) 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 and police forces. 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.
Mr. Coaker: The arrests data collection held by the Ministry of Justice is based on aggregated data reported by the 43 police force areas in England and Wales. From these data we are not able to identify specific offences from within the main offence groups or to provide data at constituency level.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she takes account of the charges made for passports in other EU member states in determining the charge made for a UK passport. 
Meg Hillier: The UK passport fee is set at the level necessary to cover all the costs of passport issuing in the UK and the costs of providing emergency consular assistance to British passport holders travelling abroad. The calculation of costs on which the fee is based is checked and agreed by HM Treasury. Fees charged by other countries are monitored and the information is published on the Identity and Passport Service website but does not play any part in the calculation of UK fees.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the fingerprints of people applying for passports will be checked against the police fingerprint database; and if she will make a statement. 
Meg Hillier: At present, fingerprints are not recorded as part of the passport application process, although we intend to record fingerprint biometrics in future, as part of the development of the national identity scheme.
When fingerprint biometric passports are introduced, we do not plan to check fingerprints recorded during the application process against police fingerprint records as a matter of routine. However, in cases which cause particular concern (in the case of suspected fraud, for example), we may contact the police for information to support the examination of such applications and, depending on the case, this may involve conducting a search against police fingerprint records.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) mounted police officers and (b) dog handlers were employed by each police force in each of the last five years. 
|Police officers (FTE)( 1) whose primary function( 2) is dogs for 2002-03 to 2006-07|
|n/a = Not available.|
(1) This table contains full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Because of rounding, there may be an apparent discrepancy between the totals in this table and totals in similar published tables.
(2) Staff with multiple responsibilities (or designations) are recorded under their primary role or function. The deployment of police officers is an operational matter for individual chief constables. Dog handlers including those employed for general policing, drugs and explosive detection duties. Including staff who are predominately employed within dogs sections other that dog handlers. Including those officers in supporting roles.
Overall force totals including those on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave. The data in the function breakdown are from unpublished sources and therefore totals may not match totals found in the published data.
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