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15 Dec 2008 : Column 512Wcontinued
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) families and (b) children under the age of 18 years were detained within Dungavel detention centre on 1 December 2008. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 11 December 2008]: On 1 December 2008 there was one family with two children under the age of 18 years in detention at Dungavel House.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long it took on average to process a (a) short-term and (b) long-term visa application in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Woolas: Average processing times for visa applications received in August 2008 are shown in the following table:
|Length of stay||Visa applications received in August 2008||Number resolved||Percentage resolved||Average processing time (days)|
There data are unpublished and should therefore be treated as provisional.
Central Reference System, 8 December 2008
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the operation of the UK visa system. 
Mr. Woolas: The UK Border Agency operates a robust visa system that protects the UK border while taking fast and fair decisions.
The range of procedures in place, including taking of fingerprints and checking of watch lists, help ensure that only those who should be able to come to this country are granted visas.
Already the UK Border Agency have fingerprinted more than 3.5 million visa applicants and identified 4,900 cases of identity fraud. So far this year they have refused visas to nearly 20 per cent. of applicants.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 1054W, on Kyrgyzstan: entry clearances, what critical IT failures were responsible for frustrating the efforts of the entry clearance team in Almaty in respect of the application made on behalf of Kyrgyz musicians and performers invited to the UK by the Kyrgyz Ambassador; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: When the musicians first attempted to submit their biometrics on 10 October there was a problem with the biometrics IT and consequently their biometrics results were not processed successfully.
When they returned on 28 October the satellite system of the Almaty office failed for reasons which have not yet been fully identified. This failure meant that post were unable to receive the results of any biometrics checks and were unable to send e-mails.
The following week (between 3-10 November) Almaty was to be transferred from a satellite connection to a leased line connection. The purpose of this connection is to provide a more robust carrier for the IT applications that are used by such a post. The supplier of the FTN service, Global Crossing (GC) has worked closely with telecom providers in the local region to allow such a connection to be possible as well as working with the technical teams within FCOS. During this installation, unforeseen technical problems were encountered by the local telecom provider that resulted in the new leased line being delayed until being made operational on the morning of 21 November.
Any loss of service is taken extremely seriously and reasonable efforts were taken to restore the service at the earliest opportunity.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the application for entry clearance to the UK in respect of musicians and performers invited by the Kyrgyz Ambassador was first received; and on what dates the application was processed in (a) Kyrgyzstan, (b) Almaty, (c) Astana and (d) London. 
The visa applications submitted by musicians and performers invited by the Kyrgyz Ambassador were received at the British Embassy Office Almaty on 10
October 2008. Due to technical difficulties the three musicians were asked to re-submit their applications on 29 October. That same day a further, but different failure in the IT system meant that post was unable to process any visa applications for two weeks. The musicians elected to retrieve their passports during this time. Their applications have yet to be processed and the British Embassy Office in Almaty is awaiting further instructions from the musicians as to whether they wish to proceed with their applications or withdraw their applications (with a full refund). Applications from these musicians and performers have not been received or processed in (a) Kyrgyzstan, (c) Astana and (d) London.
The UK Border Agency has reviewed whether it is possible for a Visa Application Centre, operated by its Commercial Partners, VFS, to open in Bishkek. On average, six applicants from Bishkek apply for visas every day. This low number means that it is not economically viable to operate a Visa Application Centre, although we are exploring whether we are able to partner with other countries and open a shared centre.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons, following the move of the British Embassy in Kazakhstan from Almaty to Astana, entry clearance to the UK is being processed in Almaty rather than Astana; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Although Astana does not process visa applications, staff there are able to accept applications from Government officials, which are then processed in Almaty. Given the number of applicants, it was not considered viable to run visa processing operations in both Astana and Almaty. It was concluded that because Almaty is a more accessible regional hub than Astana - important when considering how to deal with Kyrgyz applications, given that there is no Embassy there - and that the city is significantly larger than Astana, it was considered to be the most appropriate centre.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many suspected cases of forced marriage were reported to (a) the UK Border Agency and (b) UK agencies abroad in the last 12 months; 
(2) what timetable she has set for taking steps to assist victims of forced marriage with no recourse to public funds; 
(3) what progress has been made towards full implementation of the scheme to give victims of domestic violence with no recourse to public funds access to assistance with their housing and living costs; 
(4) what steps her Department is taking to prevent forced marriage by raising public awareness of the matter. 
Mr. Woolas: During the first three quarters of 2008 the Forced Marriage Unit provided support in 196 reluctant visa sponsors cases that were dealt with by the UK Border Agency and provided consular assistance overseas in 192 cases.
Since January this year the Forced Marriage Unit has participated in over 90 outreach events to raise awareness of forced marriage in the community.
Over the next two years the Forced Marriage Unit will continue to provide a programme engagement, including rolling out pilot surgeries in selected areas in order to raise awareness and provide support around forced marriage directly to local communities and participating in a further series of regional "honour" based violence roadshows.
In March, the Home Office announced a new scheme where those supporting victims of domestic violence who have no recourse to public funds may be eligible to receive financial support towards their housing and living costs. If someone is a victim of forced marriage and has no recourse to public funds then they will be able to apply for ILR under the Domestic Violence Rule. They may also be eligible to apply for support under the new No Recourse to Public Funds scheme, in order to receive support for their housing and living costs.
We continue to work closely with colleagues in the UKBA, the No Recourse to Public Funds Network and stakeholders, on the detail of the scheme to give victims of domestic violence with no recourse to public funds, access to assistance with their housing and living costs, if their application for indefinite leave to remain is successful. The scheme is currently being negotiated and will be implemented shortly.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who is on the board which monitors the development of the DNA database. 
Mr. Alan Campbell: The National DNA Database Strategy Board has responsibility for oversight of the National DNA Database, including the development of the database. Its current membership is set out in the following table.
|National NDNAD strategy boardmembers|
Mr. Gary Pugh, Director of Forensic Services, Metropolitan Police
Mr. Stephen Webb, Home Office Policing Policy and Operations Directorate
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been (a) eliminated from inquiries and (b) charged as a result of the police DNA database in the last year for which figures exist; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Alan Campbell [holding answer 11 December 2008]: People may be eliminated from inquiries by the use of the National DNA Database (NDNAD) by two different methods.
The first method is by the standard operation of the NDNAD. When DNA profiles derived from traces found at crime scenes are loaded on the NDNAD they are automatically searched against the DNA profiles of all persons with a record on the NDNAD. If there is no match between the crime scene profile and the persons record the NDNAD provides no reason for the police to investigate that person. In that sense, all 4.6 million persons on the NDNAD are eliminated by every search of a crime scene profile which does not match them. If there is a match, a report is sent to the police who can carry out further investigation of this lead.
The second method is by the use of intelligence led mass screens. These take place if the police may ask members of the public in a particular area to provide their DNA voluntarily. For example, all males under the age of 40 residing within five miles of a murder might be asked to provide a DNA sample to see if it matched DNA found at the crime scene. A cumulative total is kept of the number of such screens kept since the NDNAD was set up in 1995, rather than figures for particular years. Between 1995 and 31 October 2008, there have been 391 screens resulting in the elimination of 95,629 samples. DNA provided voluntarily is used only for that particular investigation and then discarded, unless the person concerned gives explicit written agreement for it to be retained permanently on the NDNAD.
Records are not kept of the number of persons charged as a result of use of the NDNAD, as charging reflects integrated criminal investigation which may involve both DNA and non-DNA evidence. However, records are kept of the number of DNA matches and detections. Matches refer to crimes where there is a match between DNA found at the crime scene and the record of a persons DNA on the NDNAD. A detection means that a crime with a DNA match has been cleared up by the police. Crimes with a DNA match often also result in further detections for other offences (known as additional DNA detections) as a result of further investigation linked to the original offence (in other words, the detection
of one offence through a DNA match may also lead to other offences being solved e.g. because an offender on being presented with DNA evidence linking him to one offence confesses to other offences). In 2007-08 there were 37,376 matches, 17,614 detections, and a further 15,420 additional detections.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if she will bring forward proposals to remove from the national DNA database profiles of people who have not been convicted of an offence; 
(2) if she will bring forward proposals to limit the length of time an individual's profile may be retained on the national DNA database based on the seriousness of the offence the individual was convicted of; 
(3) if she will bring forward proposals to prohibit genetic research with material from the national DNA database. 
Mr. Alan Campbell: DNA and fingerprints play an invaluable role in fighting crime. We are carefully considering how best to give effect to the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. We recognise the importance of the judgment and will publish our response to the court's findings as soon as possible.
Section 64 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides that fingerprints, impressions of footwear or samples shall not be used for any purpose other than that related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution, the identification of a deceased person or the person from whom a body part came or in the interests of national security.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate her Department has made of the number of people who have been trafficked who are (a) in the UK and (b) working as prostitutes in the UK. 
Mr. Alan Campbell: The covert and deceptive nature of the crime make it difficult to provide an accurate assessment of the numbers of people who have been trafficked into the United Kingdom.
However, we estimate that at any one time in 2003 there were up to 4,000 women who had been trafficked into the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research her Department has used to estimate the number of people who have been trafficked into the UK. 
Mr. Alan Campbell: The current estimate is that at any one time in 2003 there were up to 4,000 women who had been trafficked into the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation. This was a result of work by Home Office officials which formed part of a wider piece of work on the economic and social costs of organised crime.
The UK Human Trafficking Centre, in conjunction with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Police Regional Intelligence Units, continues work to build a
clearer picture of the nature and scale of the threat posed by all forms of trafficking.
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