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Organised Crime

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on European Union initiatives to combat organised crime. [143611]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The European Council agreed a comprehensive action plan for a co-ordinated approach to the fight against organised crime at its meeting in Vienna during the Austrian Presidency in 1998. In support of this plan, the European Union has developed and implemented a significant number of proactive initiatives. The European Council Meeting in Tampere in October 1999 focused on justice and home affairs in the European Union, in particular the problems presented by organised crime. Subjects covered included human trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering, crime prevention, and the tools available to fight these crimes--mutual recognition of judicial decisions, EUROJUST, Europol, and the European Chiefs Task Force. Major progress was made in strengthening and implementing existing initiatives and developing new ones. The United Kingdom attaches considerable importance to this work. It has played, and will continue to play, a major role in developing and putting forward initiatives designed to strengthen European Union action and co-operation in this field. Copies of European Union Documents relating to these initiatives, which have been considered by the House European Scrutiny Committee, are available in the Library.

Modernising Government White Paper

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list, for each financial year from 1998-99 until the latest date for which sums have been allocated, the amount his Department has spent and expects to spend on the implementation of the White Paper on modernising government. [143604]

Mr. Straw: Amounts used by my Department for the implementation of the White Paper on modernising government are integral and not separately identifiable within resources allocated in the comprehensive spending review and the spending review 2000. These and departmental plans are set out in the respective White Papers, "Modern Public Services for Britain", Cm 4011, and "Public Services for the Future", Cm 4181; and "Spending Review 2000", Cm 4807 and Cm 4808. Details

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of the spends for the Home Office are available in the public expenditure outturn White Paper for 1999-2000, Cm 4812.

Prison Hostel (Tooting)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consult with local residents on the opening of a hostel for former high-risk convicted prison inmates in the Bedford ward, Tooting. [143757]

Mr. Boateng: The hostel in question was, between 1976-2000, an approved probation and bail hostel managed by the Inner-London Probation Service (ILPS), on behalf of the Home Office. We are proposing to refurbish and reopen it in February 2001 under the management of the Langley House Trust. The essential functions of the hostel will remain unchanged, but security and staffing provision will be considerably enhanced. Preference will be given to the accommodation of London offenders and we are satisfied that the hostel will effectively contribute to public protection and the reduction of reoffending. ILPS have arranged a public meeting for 18 January to inform the local community about the proposals.

Football Violence

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many public order offences have been committed (a) in and (b) in the close vicinity of football stadiums in (i) 2000 and (ii) the previous 20 years; and if he will make a statement. [143643]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Information is collated centrally on arrests for football-related offences as defined in Schedule 1 of the Football (Spectators) Act 1989. No distinction is made between offences committed in stadia and those committed elsewhere in connection with football matches. The data, which are shown, cover arrests for each football season for the period 1986-87 to 2000-01 (up to 18 December 2000).

I will make a statement once a clear indication of the impact of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000 becomes available.

Data on football-related arrests for the period 1986-87 to 2000-01 (as of 18 December 2000)


(29) Up to 18 December 2000


1986-87 to 1992-93--The Football League; 1993-94 to 18 December 2000--National Criminal Intelligence Service

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Essex Police

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that emergency calls dialling 999 from Essex addresses are routed to Essex police. [143665]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Arrangements for the day-to-day policing of an area, including the handling of emergency calls to police force incident rooms, are operational matters and, as such, the responsibility of the chief officer of the force concerned. Emergency calls within a police force area should normally be routed to the appropriate police force by the telephone service operator, and every effort is made to ensure that this is the case.

I understand that problems may arise when mobile phones are used to make emergency calls. When an emergency call is made on an mobile phone the service provider identifies the location as precisely as possible and directs the call to the police area from which they understand the call to have emanated. If the signal is received in a different policing area, the caller may be put through to the wrong switchboard.

Although this problem is less likely to occur when calls are made on land-line phones, it may occur when calls are made from addresses on the borders between two police areas. When calls are routed to the incorrect switchboard for any reason, the protocol is that the receiving police force will take details and pass them to the appropriate force as quickly as possible. This practice has been developed over several years and normally works very effectively.

When a force is particularly hard pressed following a major incident, arrangements may be made for new emergency calls to be routed to a neighbouring force.

Some parts of Greater London have Essex postal addresses, although they are in the area for which the Metropolitan police are responsible.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations closed in Essex in each year since 1997. [143666]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) on 13 November 2000, Official Report, column 539W.

Asylum Seekers

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the number of asylum seekers' vouchers presented at designated stores; and if he will make a statement. [143639]

Mrs. Roche: The national asylum support service does not hold information on the number of vouchers presented to shops participating in the voucher scheme.

At the end of November, the voucher supplier, Sodexho Pass United Kingdom Ltd. had issued a total of 4,247,819 vouchers, which included 390,017 of the £10 vouchers, which can be exchanged for cash at the Post Office. By the same date, a total of 2,307,645 vouchers had been redeemed, including 210,521 of the £10 cash-vouchers and a small number of vouchers from local authority schemes, which the voucher supplier does not distinguish from national asylum support service vouchers.

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The substantial difference between the number of vouchers issued and the numbers redeemed is accounted for by the time lag between issue and redemption. Vouchers are valid for up to four weeks and retailers then have an additional four weeks in which to redeem them, so vouchers issued at the end of November will not necessarily be redeemed until the end of January. We would expect vouchers issued at the end of September to be redeemed by the end of November. At the end of September, 2,047,088 vouchers had been issued, including 189,536 cash vouchers.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the evidence which has been submitted to him in relation to his review of the voucher scheme for asylum seekers. [143927]

Mrs. Roche: As I said when I wrote to all Members on 28 November 2000, we intend to publish the evidence submitted to us during the review. Unless respondents have specifically advised us that they wish their submissions to remain confidential, I will place copies in the Library.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Mr. Jim Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Brussels on 30 November to 1 December; and if he will make a statement. [141624]

Mrs. Roche: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, together with the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, and the Deputy First Minister and Minister for Justice for the Scottish Executive, represented the United Kingdom at the 30 November and 1 December Council. The business of the meeting was divided into two halves, justice and general issues and interior issues. A summary of the main matters dealt with at the meeting have been placed in the Library.

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