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Metropolitan Police Informers

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the Metropolitan Police paid out to informers in the last year for which figures are available; how many informers received payments; and what was the average payment made. [15187]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis informs me that the total amount paid to informers for the financial year 2000–01 was £661,927. A total of 249 informers received payments during the course of that year. As some will have received multiple payments it is not possible to provide a representative average payment.

Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out the (a) essential characteristics and (b) definition of religious belief for the purposes of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill. [16225]

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Angela Eagle: Part 5 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill provides for the expansion of incitement to racial hatred and racially aggravated offences, to cover religious hatred and aggravated offences against members of religious groups.

The Bill defines "religious hatred" as hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. A "religious group" is defined as a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. It will be for the courts, if required, to interpret religious belief. This is in keeping with the approach taken in Northern Ireland since 1987 and the approach taken in international human rights instruments.

We do not believe that it is necessary in the criminal context to define religious groups. This law does not seek to defend religion or religious belief; instead it seeks to protect public order and religious groups from hatred and, in the case of aggravated offences, from violence and harassment. The Government do not intend to make value judgments about religions in this Bill. It is one thing to question, criticise or ridicule a religion and another thing to incite hatred against a group or to attack a person for holding beliefs.

Indefinite Detention

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about his powers in relation to persons detained indefinitely. [13861]

Angela Eagle: Powers of detention under the Immigration Acts are contained in Schedules 2 and 3 to the Immigration Act 1971. Those in Schedule 2 are exercisable by immigration officers, principally in relation to individuals liable to further examination or removal. Those in Schedule 3 relate to individuals subject to deportation action and are exercisable by the Secretary of State. There are no statutory time limits on the duration of detention although, as a general principle, it should continue for no longer than is necessary.

In addition, the provisions of the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Bill will allow for the detention under Immigration Act powers of persons the Secretary of State has certified as being suspected international terrorists who are a threat to our national security, despite the fact that their removal or departure may be prevented for the time being by a point of law relating to an international agreement or by practical obstacles.


Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact on availability of street heroin in the United Kingdom of the collapse of the Taliban regime. [15818]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We are keeping the situation under review but would expect any effects to take time to feed through.

Kainos Community Projects

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of the Prison Service's assessment of the Kainos community projects. [15819]

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Beverley Hughes: The Prison Service assessed Kainos on the basis of an independent evaluation of its operation in four prisons. The evaluation report is the property of the Kainos trustees. With their permission, a copy of the executive summary of the report is being placed on the Home Office website, and has also been placed in the Library.


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to tackle prostitution; and if he will make a statement. [13777]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 made kerb crawling an arrestable offence and created a new offence of placing prostitutes cards in telephone boxes. These measures came into effect on 1 October and 1 September respectively. They will assist police forces around the country to minimise the public nuisance caused by prostitution.

We are also funding 11 projects as part of the crime reduction programme to find out 'what works' in tackling the crime and disorder associated with legislation. The funding is being used to pilot new methods of combating the nuisance associated with prostitution, preventing children becoming involved in prostitution and helping sex workers to exit prostitution. All the projects are being independently evaluated so that we can make best practice available to all practitioners working in this difficult area.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are being taken to prevent people from entering prostitution; and if he will make a statement. [13775]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The Government are concerned to prevent vulnerable people, particularly children, from entering prostitution. They are therefore keen to ensure that the criminal law deals properly with those who seek to coerce or induce people into prostitution or exploit them as prostitutes. "Setting The Boundaries: Reforming the law on Sex Offences", published in July 2000, makes recommendations for new offences to deal with this and the Government are looking at these very carefully in the light of responses to the consultation exercise. A decision on all the proposals in the report will be announced in due course.

In addition, guidance on "Safeguarding Children Involved in Prostitution" was published jointly by the Home Office and the Department of Health in May 2000. One of its key messages is that those under 18 who engage in prostitution are almost invariably victims and must be treated as such. Agencies must work together to identify children at risk to prevent them entering prostitution and help them exit it.

Chemist Inspection Officers

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the work of chemist inspection officers in police forces. [12814]

Mr. Denham: Chemist inspection officers play an important role in enforcing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and associated regulations. They are responsible for inspecting retail pharmacies to ensure that controlled

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drugs are being supplied as authorised, and appropriate records are being kept; investigating breaches of the law; and ensuring that standards of security are maintained where drugs are stored.

The National Association of Chemist Inspection Officers was set up earlier this year with the support of the Association of Chief Police Officers in order to provide a forum for spreading best practice and understanding of the law on the possession, supply and destruction of pharmaceutical controlled drugs.

Golden Jubilee Medal

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the award of a Golden Jubilee medal to police; and if he will make a statement. [12665]

Mr. Denham: Representations have been received from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; the Police Federation of England and Wales, the chief constable, West Midlands police, the Police Superintendents' Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Representations have also been received from several hon. and right hon. Members of this House on behalf of their constituents. The Home Office is currently reviewing the position.



Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on the saving to public funds to be achieved by her Department's Private Finance Initiative contract with the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency to digitise and make available on the internet the population censuses which are open to the public. [14894]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The programme to make digital copies of 100-year-old census returns available on the world wide web is part of the Government's policy to use IT to provide integrated, imaginative and convenient public services, with a target of making all Government services available electronically by 2005. Under a PFI contract, funding for the census digitisation is being provided by QinetiQ, formerly part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. The project is intended to be self-financing through the sale of transcriptions and digital images of census pages.

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