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Incitement to Racial Hatred: Prosecutions

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): My Written Answer on 13 December (WA 56), indicated that official records were kept from 1994 and that since then there have been 37 prosecutions for incitement to racial hatred offences. Further investigation has revealed that this information was inaccurate.

Statistics are in fact available from when the Act came into effect on 1 April 1987. In total, there have been 65 prosecutions for offences under Part III of the 1986 Act.
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The 65 prosecutions have resulted in 44 convictions, five acquittals, six cases dropped by the prosecution and 10 other outcomes.

The 10 "other outcomes" are as follows: two cases in which the defendant was bound over, two cases where the defendant absconded, two cases that are ongoing, one case where the defendant died before completion of the proceedings, one case where a nolle prosequi was entered, one case where the proceedings were stayed on the ground that the defendant was medically unfit to be tried and one case where the outcome is unknown.

Twenty-six convicted defendants received immediate sentences of imprisonment of the following lengths: three months (two defendants), four months (four defendants), six months (nine defendants), nine months (two defendants), 12 months (three defendants), 17 months (two defendants), 18 months (one defendant), 21 months (two defendants) and two years (one defendant).

Five convicted defendants received suspended sentences of imprisonment of the following lengths: six weeks, three months, six months (two defendants) and nine months.

One convicted defendant received an eight month sentence of imprisonment, part of which was suspended.

Two convicted defendants received community service orders (one with a fine in addition), one convicted defendant received a probation order and one convicted defendant received an attendance centre order.

Three convicted defendants were fined and five convicted defendants were conditionally discharged.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: Since Part III of the Public Order Act 1986 came into force (1 April 1987), the Attorney-General has declined to give his consent to a prosecution for offences of incitement to racial hatred on the ground that prosecution would not be in the public interest on three occasions. Two of those occasions were since 1994.

Firearms: Seizures

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The information is not available in the form requested. However, I understand from the Nottinghamshire Police that since August 2002 a total of 317 guns have been seized during Operation Stealth, as follows:
Section 1 handguns70
Converted handgun43
Rifles/machine guns17
BB gun27
Blank firing40
Air weapon41
Gas powered12
Stun gun19

Civil Partnership Act: Yukon Judgment

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are keeping the list of specified relationships in Schedule 20 under review, in order to take account of any legal changes that have occurred in countries such as Canada since the Civil Partnership Act received Royal Assent. We are aware of the recent case law in the Yukon territory of Canada. We are also aware that the federal government of Canada intend to introduce a Bill next month that would legalise same-sex marriage across Canada and that, if passed, would become law later this year.

It is too early to make any decisions about changes to the list in Schedule 20 at this stage, but appropriate changes will be made prior to commencement of the Civil Partnership Act.

National Asylum Support Service: Empty Properties

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The main focus has been to reduce the number of empty properties for which NASS pays. This work has been successful and the number of such properties under contract to NASS has been significantly reduced by the termination of two contracts and the non-extension of a third. Discussions are taking place with local authorities in whose areas there are empty properties, to make them available to meet wider community obligations.

Identity Cards: Fees

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Identity Cards Bill under Clause 37 provides a power to charge different fees for different circumstances. The Government have said that groups which may benefit from this flexibility include 16 year-olds, those on reduced incomes or those who have been in retirement for some time. The final decision on the fee structure and levels of fees will be for Parliament under the powers in Clause 37 of the Bill.

Firearms Certificates

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is for the chief officer of police for the area in which the person resides to determine whether to grant or revoke a firearms certificate. A certificate may be revoked if the chief officer has reason to believe that the holder is of intemperate habits or unsound mind or is otherwise unfitted to be entrusted with a firearm; or that the holder is a danger to public safety or to the peace. Decisions should be made on an assessment of all the relevant information and must be made on the individual merits of each case.

Drug Treatment

Lord Adebowale asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The most recent data for all arrest referral schemes in England and Wales shows that in the year to October 2002, 22,329 individuals were referred to specialist drug treatment.

We are moving away from the stand-alone arrest referral concept and developing contact in custody suites, courts and elsewhere as part of a wider range of entry points into the drug interventions programme to enable offenders to receive treatment.

More recent figures are available for the total number of drug users entering treatment through the drug interventions programme, many of whom will be either primary crack cocaine users, primary heroin users or poly-drug users but receive treatment for the range of substances used.

Between April 2003 and March 2004 an estimated 1,900 people entered treatment through the drug interventions programme in those 25 areas then operating the "intensive" programme. Between April 2004 and November 2004, over 9,000 people entered treatment through the 47 intensive areas in the programme, with 211 per cent more people entering treatment in November than in April.

From 2005 to 2007, we expect to achieve our ambition of getting 1,000 offenders a week into treatment by March 2008 and are currently running ahead of the interim target to get 1,250 offenders per month into treatment by March 2005.

The drug interventions programme is having a positive impact on drug treatment for all drug users and is acting as a catalyst to improve availability, accessibility and quality of treatment.

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