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Citizen's Arrests

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No information is held about the numbers of citizen's arrest. A citizen's arrest which is carried out in good faith can still be unlawful if it is not adequately based on relevant statutory or common law powers.

Commonwealth Games: Air Rifles and Air Pistols

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The reply referred to was to a Question relating to firearms to be used at the Commonwealth Games in 2002. In that context the reply was correct. None of the air rifles and air pistols to be used in the Commonwealth Games shooting events will require any form of visitors permit.

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Animals used in Licensed Experiments

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many animals were used in licensed experiments in (a) the public sector and (b) the private sector for the most recent 12 months for which figures are available. [HL265]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The number of procedures conducted by each type of organisation in 1999 is given in Table 19 of Statistics of Scientific Procedures on living animals, Great Britain, 1999, a copy of which is in the Library. This table shows the number of procedures carried out by:

Public sector organisations (including universities) 1.44 million
Private sector1.10 million
Non-profit-making sector (which can be either private or public sector) 0.12 million

There is no information readily available on the number of animals actually used by each type of organisation, but it is similar to and very slightly less than the number of procedures shown above, since nearly all animals are used once and once only.

Dangerous People with Severe Personality Disorder

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have to quantify the proportion of the 2,000 plus "dangerous people with severe personality disorder" identified in the White Paper, Reforming the Mental Health Act, who have caused "serious physical or psychological harm from which the victim would find it difficult or impossible to recover"; and what proportion of such people (other than those in prison) may be expected to cause such harm in an average year. [HL266]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The estimates made up to now of the number of dangerous people with severe personality disorder present in the wider population have been based in part on population information derived from the 1998 Office of National Statistics (ONS) survey of psychiatric morbidity among prisoners in England and Wales. The survey information does not make it possible to identify actual DSPD individuals currently in detention or to provide information about the nature of their offending behaviour to date.

Based on estimates of reconviction rates (following release or discharge) of sentenced prisoners and hospital patients subject to restriction orders, the Government estimate that if the population currently estimated to be dangerous and severely personality disordered were to re-enter the community only when it is judged safe for them to do so, a reduction of nearly 200 violent or sexual crimes a year could be expected. This does not include offences committed but not detected or cleared up.

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It is estimated that approximately 200 of those released or discharged will be reconvicted for a sexual or violent crime in an average year. This represents over 50 per cent of the number of such people released from prison or special hospital in an average year.

The Government recognise that further work is required to refine these estimates and this will be taken forward as part of a wider research strategy during the period of piloting and service development.

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Handguns: Use in Serious Crime

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What statistics they have on the use of handguns in serious crime in England in each of the last 10 years for which statistics are available. [HL267]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Figures for England and Wales for the number of offences in which handguns were used, in various categories of recorded crime, are given in the table.

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Notifiable offences recorded by the police in which handguns were reported to have been used by offence group
England and WalesNumber of offences

Violence against the person
All offencesHomicide(1)Attempted murder and other acts (including wounding) endangering lifeOtherRobberyBurglaryOther offences excluding criminal damageCriminal damage

(1) year ending March.

There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998. Figures before and after that date cannot be directly compared.

Indecent and Obscene Material on the Internet

Lord Hylton Asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether offering or down-loading pornography on the Internet is a criminal offence throughout the United Kingdom; if so how many persons have been (a) charged, and (b) convicted in each jurisdiction in each of the most recent three years; and whose responsibility is it to check whether pornography is offered on the internet. [HL276]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The term "pornography" is not recognised in legislation, which in England and Wales covers indecent material (particularly indecent photographs or computer generated images of children) and obscene material, There are separate common law and statutory offences in Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, obscenity legislation, such as the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the Protection of Children Act 1978, applies equally to material placed on the Internet as to material published and distributed in other media; what is illegal off-line is illegal on-line.

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Under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 it is an offence to publish an "obscene article", as defined in the Act. Under Section 2 of the Act a person who publishes (distributes, circulates, sells, lets on hire, gives or lends it, or who offers it for sale or for letting on hire) an obscene article, or transmits obscene data electronically may be guilty of an offence.

Under the Protection of Children Act 1976, there is an absolute prohibition of the production, circulation and possession with a view to distribution of any indecent photograph of a child under 16. The simple possession of an indecent photograph of a child is also an offence under Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Section 84 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 updated these controls to include indecent computer-generated photographs of children, and they have been successfully applied to child pornography transmitted over the Internet.

The Government support the work of the Internet Watch Foundation which was set up in 1996 by Internet service providers to enable members of the public, via a hotline, to report potentially illegal material in a newsgroup or website. If the material is considered illegal, the foundation passes details to the United Kingdom police to initiate action against the originators and asks British Internet service providers (ISPs) to close down links to the site. If the originators are abroad, the foundation passes the report to the National Criminal Intelligence Service

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(NCIS) which liaises with the enforcement agencies of the countries concerned.

The way in which records are held for those initially charged by the police and those convicted by the courts in England and Wales differs. Offences involving "obscene publications, etc and protected sexual material" became notifiable offences from 1 April

1998. The number of offences recorded in England and Wales for year ending 31 March 1999 was 603 and for year ending 31 March 2000 was 643.

The numbers of convictions for offences under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, Protection of Children Act 1978 and Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 for each of the last three years are contained in the table.

Number of persons Cautioned and Convicted at all Courts for various offences
England and Wales 1997-99

Found Guilty Cautioned
CodeOffence description199719981999199719981999
86/01Obscene Publications Act 1959
Sec(2)(1) as amended by Obscene Publications Act 1964 Sec 1(1)--Prohibition of publication of obscene matter18617696544441
86/02Protection of Children Act 1978 S.I. as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 Sec. 84-Take, permit to be taken or to make distribute or publish indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children10382139142631
181/06Criminal Justice Act 1988 Sec.160 as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Secs. 84(4) and 86(1)--Possession of an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph8110599171934

Source: Crime and Criminal Justice Unit, Home Office.

With regard to Northern Ireland, the equivalent legislation is the Protection of Children Act (Northern Ireland) 1978 (as amended) and the common law offence of publishing an "Obscene Libel". Prosecution data under this legislation are not currently available.

The equivalent law in Scotland is devolved. The Scottish Executive will respond directly to the noble Lord as soon as possible.

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