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Visas

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that the hon. Members' hotline is kept up to date with the latest information on those seeking visa applications. [26782]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 14 January 2002]: The MPs hotline staff answer a large range of queries from hon. Members regarding those wishing to remain in the United Kingdom. The MPs hotline staff seek to ensure that all information provided to hon. Members is up to date. None the less, we are looking at improvements in process and equipment to ensure that the service provided is as rapid and accurate as possible.

Naturalisation Applications

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications were made for naturalisation; and what was the (a) average and (b) upper decile time taken to determine applications, in each year since 1997. [25999]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 11 January 2002]: Information on naturalisation applications received and on the upper decile time to determine applications is not available.

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Statistics on the total number of applications for British citizenship received, 1997 to 2000, are given in the table. Data for 2001 will be published in the Home Office statistical bulletin "Persons Granted British Citizenship, 2001" in the summer this year.

Information on the average waiting time for citizenship are not routinely published. The most recent published information relates to March 2001, when the average waiting time was 11.6 months.

One of the Government's Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets is to reduce the average time taken to grant citizenship (naturalisations and registrations) to six months by the end of 2001–02. It is expected that performance on this target will be reported on in due course.

Applications for British citizenship received in the United Kingdom, 1997–2000
Number of persons

Applications received
199766,000
199868,030
199967,400
2000(7)63,700

(7) Provisional


Correspondence

Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Broxbourne will receive a reply to her letters of 12 October, 16 November, 12 December 2001 and 9 January 2002, relating to her constituent, Ms Audrey Stanley of Cheshunt. [26777]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 14 January 2002]: My right hon. and noble Friend Lord Rooker replied to the hon. Member on 10 January 2002.

Sex Offenders

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to her statement of 17 December 2001, Official Report, column 7, on sex offenders, for what reason she has concluded that it is not in the interests of child protection to make people's names and addresses widely accessible in the community; and if she will make a statement. [25515]

Beverley Hughes: The police already have and use the power to disclose information to members of the public about sex offenders in the community where, in their judgment, it is necessary to do so to prevent a crime from being committed. We believe, in common with the public protection agencies, that making information about sex offenders widely available would hinder child protection rather than helping it. Offenders subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 would be less likely to comply with those requirements if they knew their details would be publicly available, and might be driven into hiding due to fear of vigilante action. Sex offenders in this situation would not then be subject to the inhibiting controls of the public protection agencies and, for example, would be less likely to undertake treatment due to a fear of being identified. As a result, they would pose a greater risk to children.

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This conclusion is borne out by the experience following the News of the World's sex offender campaigns in 1998 and 2000. The Association of Chief Officers of Probation provided anecdotal evidence about the effects of those campaigns, including that a number of high risk sex offenders lost contact with the public protection agencies; many others who were previously participating in treatment programmes stopped doing so for fear of being identified; a number of serious assaults on people who were mistaken for sex offenders took place; and the families, who in some cases had been the victims of sex offenders, were also assaulted and abused by members of the public. All these factors are deeply regrettable but perhaps the most regrettable potential consequence of community notification is that children will be placed at greater risk from sex offenders who are not complying with the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act.

The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has also recently published a report on the community notification system in the United States (Megan's Law). That report concludes:


Trial in Absentia

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the offences for which trial in absentia is permitted in the United Kingdom. [26603]

Mr. Keith Bradley: There is no list of offences; an accused can plead guilty in writing to a magistrates court if the offence is liable for a sentence of less than three months' imprisonment.

A magistrate may proceed with a hearing if the accused fails to appear, or if (s)he is satisfied that there is no good reason for their absence.

As a general rule, the accused is required to be present during Crown Court trials. There are, however, exceptional circumstances when the accused's presence

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may be dispensed with. Such decisions are at the judge's discretion, and include situations such as misbehaviour by the accused or his/her voluntary absence.

Child Protection

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are registered on the Sex Offenders List that have been found guilty of child abuse. [26609]

Mr. Keith Bradley: Until March 2001, data on the number of registered sex offenders were collated biannually on a national basis from the police national computer. However, this arrangement was overtaken by guidance issued by the Home Office in respect of the statutory provisions in section 67 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. The guidance requires information about the number of registered sex offenders in each police area to be published. This will take place from April 2002 and local systems are being put in place to deliver it. A collated report on the national situation should be available during the summer. However, until these systems are in place such information could be obtained only by a specific research exercise.

There is, in any case, no specific offence of child abuse as many sexual offences are capable of being committed against either adults or children. Indeed some sex offences against children are committed by children. The statistical information which will be required of Chief Officers of Police and Probation in relation to their work on Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPPs) is one of the areas which are currently being developed.

Animal Welfare

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) prosecutions and (b) convictions for animal cruelty there were in each year since 1990. [24904]

Mr. Keith Bradley: Information taken from the Home Office Court Proceedings Database showing the number of prosecutions and convictions for offences relating to animal cruelty during the period 1990–2000 is given in the table.

Number of defendants prosecuted at magistrates courts and offenders convicted at all courts for offences relating to animal cruelty,
England and Wales 1999–2000

1990 1991 1992
LegislationProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictions
Protection of Animals Act, 1911 (as amended)1,1679681,2028621,154926
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 8771044
Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925110000
Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) Act, 1933614833253127
Protection of Animals Act, 1934111111
Docking and Nicking of Horses Act, 1949000000
Pet Animals Act, 1951961062318
Cockfighting Act, 1952000010
Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1954212139302926
Animal Health Act, 1981, Secs. 40–42, 46 and 49 and Orders made under Secs. 8, 9, 37, 38, 39 and 43534398787362
Slaughterhouses Act, 19741284455
Abandonment of Animals Act, 1960, Sec. 1524147416254
Offences against other enactments000000
Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act, 1962002255
Animal Boarding Establishments Act, 19634310955
Riding Establishments Acts, 1964 and 19701078654
Slaughter of Poultry Act, 1967002233
Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1967, Secs. 1, 2 and 6131118171612
Badgers Act 1973 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1991 Sec. 26 and Badgers Act 1991 Sec. 1)422624175028
Protection of Badgers Act, 1992 (except Sec. 13)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 9664265
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 11434433
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 199111101192318
Diseases of Animals Act123123169136128105
Wild Birds Protection Acts81112109879261
Total1,6781,4451,7961,3381,7191,372

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1993 1994 1995
LegislationProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictions
Protection of Animals Act, 1911 (as amended)1,084861908731927754
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 8320033
Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925100000
Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) Act, 1933(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Protection of Animals Act, 1934984322
Docking and Nicking of Horses Act, 1949000000
Pet Animals Act, 195198131276
Cockfighting Act, 1952110000
Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1954393333271817
Animal Health Act, 1981, Secs. 40–42, 46 and 49 and Orders made under Secs. 8, 9, 37, 38, 39 and 43423437264942
Slaughterhouses Act, 19741133
Abandonment of Animals Act, 1960, Sec. 1533821161813
Offences against other enactments000000
Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act, 1962751100
Animal Boarding Establishments Act, 1963430053
Riding Establishments Acts, 1964 and 1970320053
Slaughter of Poultry Act, 1967224352
Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1967, Secs. 1, 2 and 6353432211813
Badgers Act 1973 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1991 Sec. 26 and Badgers Act 1991 Sec. 1)482239274127
Protection of Badgers Act, 1992 (except Sec. 13)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 91557400
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 11003366
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 1991532211
Diseases of Animals Act674856484843
Wild Birds Protection Acts117751199412693
Total1,5451,1851,2821,0211,2791,028

1996 1997 1998
LegislationProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictions
Protection of Animals Act, 1911 (as amended)9677641,0518671,107889
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 8218822
Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925000000
Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) Act, 1933(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Protection of Animals Act, 1934326444
Docking and Nicking of Horses Act, 1949000000
Pet Animals Act, 1951554476
Cockfighting Act, 1952000000
Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1954181634302320
Animal Health Act, 1981, Secs. 40–42, 46 and 49 and Orders made under Secs. 8, 9, 37, 38, 39 and 43584376688773
Slaughterhouses Act, 1974110033
Abandonment of Animals Act, 1960, Sec. 1251926213626
Offences against other enactments000000
Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act, 1962001110
Animal Boarding Establishments Act, 1963442277
Riding Establishments Acts, 1964 and 197064111
Slaughter of Poultry Act, 196755631815
Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1967, Secs. 1, 2 and 6231610955
Badgers Act 1973 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1991 Sec. 26 and Badgers Act 1991 Sec. 1)3119(8)(8)(8)(8)
Protection of Badgers Act, 1992 (except Sec. 13)(8)(8)4425194
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 9635300
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 11112033
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996(8)(8)7387
Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 1991445454
Diseases of Animals Act5243978110380
Wild Birds Protection Acts20318484636842
Total1,4141,1341,4691,1961,5071,191

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1999 2000(9)
LegislationProsecutionsConvictionsProsecutionsConvictions
Protection of Animals Act, 1911 (as amended)1,0508281,074861
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 81164
Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 19250000
Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) Act, 1933(6500800008)—>(8)(8)(8)
Protection of Animals Act, 19340011
Docking and Nicking of Horses Act, 19492022
Pet Animals Act, 19511091914
Cockfighting Act, 19520000
Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 195425212415
Animal Health Act, 1981, Secs. 40–42, 46 and 49 and Orders made under Secs. 8, 9, 37, 38, 39 and 4356513123
Slaughterhouses Act, 19744400
Abandonment of Animals Act, 1960, Sec. 117122613
Offences against other enactments0040
Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act, 19620000
Animal Boarding Establishments Act, 196386114
Riding Establishments Acts, 1964 and 19700032
Slaughter of Poultry Act, 19678700
Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1967, Secs. 1, 2 and 615111610
Badgers Act 1973 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1991 Sec. 26 and Badgers Act 1991 Sec. 1)(8)(8)(8)(8)
Protection of Badgers Act, 1992 (except Sec. 13)3010214
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 93000
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Sec. 114300
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 19960054
Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 19915432
Diseases of Animals Act72532622
Wild Birds Protection Acts1571189680
Total1,4671,1381,3681,061

(8) Not available

(9) Staffordshire police force were only able to submit sample data for persons proceeded against and convicted in the magistrates' courts for the year 2000. Although sufficient to estimate higher orders of data these data are not robust at a detailed level and have been excluded from this table.



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