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1 Sep 2008 : Column 1584Wcontinued
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the Oral answer of 14 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1-2, on sentencing guidelines, what the evidential basis was for her statement that someone is now three times more likely to end up in custody for possession of a knife. 
Mr. Coaker [holding answer 21 July 2008]: Figures show that in 1996, of 890 offenders sentenced for having an article with a blade or point in a public place, 56 received an immediate custodial sentence, comprising 6.3 per cent. In 2006, of 6,284 offenders sentenced, 1,070 received an immediate custodial sentence (17.0 per cent.): almost achieving a three-fold increase compared to 1996 figures.
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what account she took of academic research into the effects of Scared Straight programmes in formulating her policy that young people at risk of involvement in knife crime should visit convicted offenders in prison; what research papers on the subject her Department has evaluated; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Coaker [holding answer 17 July 2008]: The Government announced on 13 July new measures to tackle knife crime. Anyone under 16 years old convicted of possessing, but not using a knife, can expect to receive a warning coupled with referral to a knife education scheme to help them understand the dangers and consequences of carrying knives, and to reduce the chances of re-offending. These schemes for young people will make them understand the full consequences of their actions and will include weapons awareness sessions which provide detailed information on the risks and consequences of carrying knives; it may also include discussions with healthcare professionals and victims' organisations and offenders so that young people understand the full impact of carrying a knife and where it may lead.
The Government are aware of research on the impact of programmes such as Scared Straight. We have made it clear that meetings with offenders form part of this wider programme.
The Government are aware of research evidence on such programmes. This is based on a systematic review published by the Campbell Collaboration, by A. Petrosino, C. Turpin-Petrosino and J. Buehler (2003): "Scared Straight" and other juvenile awareness programmes for preventing juvenile delinquency. However, no UK evaluations were included in the Review.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what guidance (a) her Department and (b) the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner has provided to local authorities on
publishing inspection reports of the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner; 
(2) if she will ensure that inspection reports of local authorities produced by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner are published online. 
Mr. McNulty: Statutory responsibility for the oversight of covert surveillance lies with the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) which is independent of Government. The question of online or any other publishing of OSC inspection reports for individual public authorities is a matter for the chief surveillance commissioner. The Home Office has not issued any guidance on this matter.
Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate her Department has made of the number of organised crime gangs from (a) Poland, (b) Romania and (c) Bulgaria operating in England and Wales; what estimate she has made of the volume of criminal activity related to such gangs; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 June 2008, Official Report, columns 197-98W, to the hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis).
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of Post Office deliveries have been diverted to other passport offices from the Newport office since January 2008. 
Meg Hillier: As we do not hold that level of data on work transfers, we are unable to provide the percentage of Post Office deliveries that have been diverted to other passport offices from the Newport office.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passport requests were received by mail at the Newport passport office (a) in the latest year for which figures are available and (b) in each of the previous five years. 
Meg Hillier: The postal intake for the Newport passport office (based on each of the financial years).
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department plans to take to reduce the incidence of offences related to identity fraud. 
Meg Hillier: We are involved in a variety of activity to reduce the incidence of offences related to identity fraud, including through collaboration with public and private sector organisations.
We have sought to ensure better co-ordination in prosecuting fraudsters. This has involved the establishment of a network of Single Points of Contact in all police forces and a range of Government Departments and agencies dealing with identity fraud investigations and prosecutions.
Legislation has also been strengthened. Tougher criminal penalties have been introduced for driving licence and passport offences, alongside offences in the Identity Cards Act 2006 to target those who possess and use false identity documents and genuine documents belonging to someone else.
More powers to share data to combat fraud have been enacted. Provisions in the Serious Crime Act 2007 allow for the targeted exchange of data between the public and private sector through an antifraud organisation to highlight potentially fraudulent applications for goods and services. Provisions in the Police and Justice Act 2006 allow for the release of information on the recently deceased to the private sector to help prevent those identities from being used by criminals.
We have introduced systems to confirm the validity of UK passports presented to other organisations and interviews for first time passport applicants over 16 years old now take place to verify the identity of individuals.
A leaflet and a websitewww.identitytheft.org.uk;help to increase public awareness of the problem. The material advises on how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud, warning signs to look out for, and what someone should do if they do fall victim.
We have signalled our commitment to tackle fraud with the allocation of £29 million in new money over three years to implement the recommendations of the Fraud Review. A new National Fraud Strategic Authority will drive forward a comprehensive strategy for tackling fraud, bringing together the Government, criminal justice practitioners, business and the public. The money will also fund a new national lead force role for the City of London police and a National Fraud Reporting Centre which will equip law enforcement agencies with a powerful intelligence tool and help form the basis of better prevention advice and alerts to fraud threats for business and the public.
Finally, our plans for a National Identity Scheme will provide people with a highly secure means of protecting their identity and help citizens to prove their identities easily, quickly and with vastly improved security.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will issue guidance to chief constables on the prior notification to the public of implementation of local restrictions on photography; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: No. Police officers have the discretion to ask people not to take photographs for public safety or security reasons but the taking of photographs in a public place is not subject to any rules or statute.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations have virtual court facilities. 
Mr. McNulty: There are no active virtual court facilities in police stations at present.
At the end of 2008 a project will start to provide virtual courts facilities to 15 pilot police custody units in central and south-east London. If successful, the project will be expanded.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police forces in England and Wales are expected to reach their 2008 targets for the number of police officers employed that are from an ethnic minority. 
Mr. McNulty: Around 20 forces are expected to reach their 2009 local targets. A 2008 target has not been set for forces.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what average percentage of applicants for the role of sergeant in police forces was from ethnic minority candidates in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Applicants to the police service have to start as constables, and then officers achieve the grade of sergeant via promotion.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department is taking to ensure that police forces monitor the number of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds in their force. 
Mr. McNulty: As part of the Home Office Annual Data Requirement, police forces are required to record data on the number of officers broken down by ethnicity. Numbers are published annually in the Home Office Statistical bulletin and Home Secretarys Race Equality Employment Targets Report.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what records are kept by police forces in England and Wales on the (a) number, (b) distribution and (c) specialism of ethnic minority police officers; and what procedures are in place to ensure adequate records are kept. 
Mr. McNulty: As part of the Home Office Annual Data Requirement, police forces record data on the number of officers broken down by ethnicity who are predominately involved in a particular function. These specialisms are based on the HMIC function list, which can be down loaded from:
Procedures relating to the adequacy of record keeping are an operational matter for individual chief constables and police authorities.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the change in police numbers in each basic command unit over (a) the last year and (b) the last five years. 
Mr. McNulty: The number of police officers in each basic command unit has been centrally collected since 2002-03, and the number of police community support officers has been centrally collected since 2006-07; and this information has been published in the supplementary tables of the annual Police Service Strength, England and Wales statistical bulletin.
Previous years supplementary tables are available online from the following links and are in the Library of the House.
Over the year to 31 March 2007 there was an increase of 369 in the total number of police officers, and over the five years to 31 March 2007 there was an increase of 9,383 officers.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether (a) police officers and (b) youth participation officers are trained in interacting with young people when on the beat. 
Mr. McNulty: The information is as follows:
(a) All police officers undertake training as part of the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme; this includes training relating to interacting appropriately with all members of the community, including young people, for example to establish rapport, and/or to manage conflict. Subsequently, their interactions with members of the public, and appropriate use of police actions, are assessed against National Occupational and Professional Standards.
(b) The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Ministry of Justice have confirmed that some local authorities have established the post of youth participation officer to oversee the delivery of services for young people in their area. We would expect such professionals, or any other person appointed to work with young people, to have the appropriate range of skills for the post, including the ability to interact effectively with young people.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance is given to police apprehending suspected illegal migrants outside of port areas. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 22 July 2008]: The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) will respond to every police request where they encounter and arrest people who they have confirmed have been smuggled into the UK in lorries and take that person to immigration detention if appropriate. The UKBA have worked closely and in partnership with the Association of Chief Police Officers and have established immigration crime partnerships with 85 per cent. of constabularies in England and Wales with a target to increase this to 90 per cent. by 2008 and 100 per cent. by March 2009. The Governments plans, set out in Enforcing the Deal published on 19 June 2008, set a clear goal to target and remove the most harmful people first, working with local authorities and enforcement agencies to shut down the privileges of the UK to those breaking the rules.
Copies of this document are placed in the Library of the House. It is also available to view at:
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