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17 Jun 2008 : Column 832W—continued


17 Jun 2008 : Column 833W

Independent Safeguarding Authority

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. [210607]

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.

Further meetings will be held and guidance provided, to schools and other employment sectors, well in advance of the ISA's go-live date of October 2009.

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. [210608]

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. [210609]

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.

Offensive Weapons

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. [208866]

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.


17 Jun 2008 : Column 834W

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. [210909]

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.


17 Jun 2008 : Column 835W
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)

Lancashire England

2002

Proceeded against

127

6,611

Found guilty

98

5,082

2003

Proceeded against

159

6,624

Found guilty

136

5,165

2004

Proceeded against

188

6,987

Found guilty

161

5,612

2005

Proceeded against

182

6,988

Found guilty

150

5,727

2006

Proceeded against

169

7,268

Found guilty

144

6,018

(1) Includes the following offences;
Having an article with blade or point in public place—Criminal Justice Act 1988 S.139 as amended by Offensive Weapons Act 1996 S.3.
Having an article with blade or point on school premises—Criminal 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.

Offensive Weapons: Arrests

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests have been made in West Chelmsford constituency for knife crimes in each of the last 10 years. [211238]

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.

Passports: Fees and Charges

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. [208966]

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.

Passports: Fingerprints

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. [202763]

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.


17 Jun 2008 : Column 836W

Police: Horses

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. [208829]

Jacqui Smith: The available data are given in the following tables.


17 Jun 2008 : Column 837W
Police officers (FTE)( 1) whose primary function( 2) is “dogs” for 2002-03 to 2006-07
Functions 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

Avon and Somerset

47

45

45

45

45

Bedfordshire

19

18

17

18

17

Cambridgeshire

19

18

18

19

19

Cheshire

24

23

22

21

25

Cleveland

18

19

19

17

21

Cumbria

20

21

19

20

20

Derbyshire

24

24

24

24

24

Devon and Cornwall

48

47

48

49

46

Dorset

22

20

21

22

23

Durham

26

27

24

25

24

Dyfed Powys

19

19

20

19

20

Essex

46

45

48

48

48

Gloucestershire

16

14

17

17

17

Greater Manchester

116

118

90

96

87

Gwent

16

15

15

16

16

Hampshire

28

35

36

36

33

Hertfordshire

27

26

26

29

28

Humberside

28

28

27

27

27

Kent

48

n/a

45

47

43

Lancashire

41

35

36

30

29

Leicestershire

n/a

25

24

22

23

Lincolnshire

22

22

22

19

17

London, City of

18

17

18

18

18

Merseyside

31

32

35

45

44

Metropolitan Police

205

237

241

251

251

Norfolk

19

22

20

20

20

Northamptonshire

14

13

13

13

12

Northumbria

54

60

61

60

61

North Wales

12

12

15

11

12

North Yorkshire

23

23

21

21

20

Nottinghamshire

30

32

33

33

34

South Wales

43

40

43

39

42

South Yorkshire

52

50

44

48

48

Staffordshire

27

28

27

25

26

Suffolk

14

14

13

13

13

Surrey

34

36

33

34

35

Sussex

49

48

51

47

48

Thames Valley

43

40

39

40

41

Warwickshire

15

15

16

16

14

West Mercia

35

37

38

37

37

West Midlands

69

69

67

69

66

West Yorkshire

62

68

61

58

56

Wiltshire

15

15

17

18

18

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.
Note:
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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