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Ex-servicemen (Convictions)

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans his Department has to identify the number of ex-servicemen who have been convicted of a criminal offence. [142140]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There are no plans to identify the number of ex-servicemen who have been convicted of a criminal offence.

Metropolitan Police (Thames Division)

Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) powered patrol and supervisory craft, (b) personnel broken down by rank, (c) other staff, (d) operational marine stations and (e) specialist divers of the Thames Division of the Metropolitan police there were in each of the years 1980, 1989 and 2000. [141365]

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Mr. Charles Clarke: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has provided the information. The force's records for 1980 are incomplete and therefore the information provided is for 1989 and 2000.

(i) 1989

There were 21 patrol boats and two supervision launches. The staffing in 1989 was as follows:

Number
Police officers
Superintendent1
Chief Inspector1
Inspectors8
Sergeants22
Constables114
Civilian staff and other staff
Civilian support staff6
Garage staff (including boatyard)12
Special constables29

In 1989, Thames Division operated from the following locations: Barnes, Hampton, Moorings and Shepperton, Wapping and Waterloo Pier.Metropolitan police service records in 1989 did not differentiate between divers and other specially employed officers. However, force duty records suggest there were nine officers employed as divers.

(ii) 2000

There were 11 patrol boats and three supervision launches. The staffing in 2000 was as follows:

Number
Police officers
Chief Inspector1
Inspectors5
Sergeants14
Constables67
Civilian staff and other staff
Civilian support staff6
Special constables11

In 2000, the Marine Support Unit operated from Wapping with satellite unstaffed bases at Waterloo Pier and Richmond.

There were nine divers (one sergeant and eight constables).

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department spent on support for asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, in (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99, (d) 1999-2000 and (e) the period since 1 April. [142445]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 12 December 2000]: The Home Department assumed responsibility for asylum support costs on 1 April 1999 as a result of the comprehensive spending review. These costs were previously the responsibility of the Department of Social Security and Department of Health. Their combined direct expenditure for supporting asylum seekers in 1996-97

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was £413 million, in 1997-98 was £375 million and in 1998-99 was £475 million. These figures include costs for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

The comparable costs in 1999-2000 to the Home Office budget of supporting asylum seekers in the United Kingdom was £537 million. The Department of Health incurred an additional cost of £52 million for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children, bringing the total costs in 1999-2000 for supporting asylum seekers to £590 million.

Expenditure by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate for asylum support from 1 April 2000 to 30 November 2000 was £463 million. This figure does not include costs for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children as the grant exercise for 2000-01 will be conducted later in the year.

Electoral Commissioners

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Electoral Commissioners are to be appointed; and if he will make a statement. [141388]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We intend to table a motion for an Address to be presented to Her Majesty, as required by section 3(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, soon.

Hare Coursing

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce a closed season for (a) hare coursing and (b) shooting; and if he will make a statement. [141748]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Hunting Bill, which received its First Reading on 7 December 2000, contains three options dealing with the issue of hunting with dogs in England and Wales. The option at schedule 3 of the Bill would provide for a ban on hare coursing.

There are no current plans for a close season for hare coursing should Parliament not introduce a ban, though the activity as regulated by the National Coursing Club should not take place for most of the period between March and August each year.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) inform me that a Biodiversity Action Plan for the Brown Hare was set up with the objective of maintaining and expanding existing populations. It does not, however, recommend introducing a close season for shooting hares (though there are restrictions on that under the Ground Game Act 1880), and there are currently no plans to bring in such a measure.

Close seasons for shooting a number of other species of wildlife already exist in the Game Act 1831 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. These are for conservation purposes, to allow numbers to recover and to ensure, in accordance with the European Community Wild Birds Directive, that hunting does not occur during rearing seasons.

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Vehicle-related Crime

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vehicle-related crimes occurred in Sussex in each year since 1979. [142137]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The number of thefts of vehicles and thefts from vehicles are given in the table.

Recorded crimes--Sussex

YearTheft of vehicleTheft from vehicle
19793,6854,144
19803,8644,302
19813,7175,162
19824,1577,278
19833,7297,363
19844,6867,716
19855,0098,238
19865,2908,870
19875,2629,167
19885,49710,065
19896,22611,051
19907,21015,465
19919,25121,020
19929,00622,981
19937,66420,703
19946,70118,286
19956,76319,263
19967,42420,217
19976,97919,188
1998-99(6)7,07618,258
1999-2000(6)7,72117,419

(6) Year ending March


Firearms and Knives

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offences involving (a) firearms and (b) knives there were in Sussex in each year since 1979. [142110]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The number of offences involving knives is not collected centrally. The number of firearms offences in Sussex for the years requested is given as follows, and is the total for all firearms, including air weapons.

YearNumber
197974
198063
198191
198263
198342
198465
198574
198674
198792
1988103
1989165
1990193
1991184
1992198
1993208
1994195
1995189
1996177
1997218
1998-99(7)315
1999-2000(7)377

(7) Year ending March. There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which increased the overall number of offences recorded, of which firearms offences are a subset


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Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to hold (a) a firearms and (b) a knife amnesty. [142111]

Mr. Charles Clarke: We are in favour in principle of periodic firearms amnesties, although the details and timing would need to be considered carefully in consultation with the police service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). A formal amnesty would raise a number of legal and practical issues which would need to be resolved in advance.

As regards an amnesty for knives, we are aware of the existence of some schemes which have apparently been successful locally in reducing the incidence of knife crime. However, knives are not subject to licensing or similar controls, and there are no current plans to introduce a national knives amnesty in this country. It will be for individual police forces and other interested parties to decide whether to have a knives amnesty scheme or not in their location.


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