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Children's Commissioner

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the benchmark criteria his Department uses to evaluate the performance of the children's commissioner for Wales for the purpose of considering and evaluating the need for the creation of a children's commissioner for England. [29330]

Jacqui Smith: All parts of the United Kingdom are united in a common aim to improve safeguards for children. However, devolution means that we can each take different paths to achieve that common goal.

We are committed to learning the lessons from the Welsh experience of appointing a children's commissioner that prove relevant to England. To this end, departmental officials will continue to liaise with officials in the National Assembly for Wales, in order specifically to learn more about how the commissioner in Wales may be adding value to children's lives in Wales and improving outcomes for Welsh children.

Here in England, we have made major advances through the creation of the children and young people's unit, the children's rights director and the national clinical director for children.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Intrusive Surveillance

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many intrusive surveillance operations were authorised by (a) chief officers of police and (b) customs officials in the United Kingdom in each year from 1995. [28326]

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Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 January 2002]: No records are centrally held of the number of intrusive surveillance operations authorised by chief officers of police or customs officials from I January 1995 to 22 February 1999. The number of intrusive surveillance operations authorised by the chief officers of police and customs officials since 22 February 1999 are as follows:

Chief officers of policeCustoms officials
22 February to 31 December 19991,432346
1 January to 31 December 20001,609523
1 January to 31 December 200145838
1 January to 17 January 2002207

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what controls govern the monitoring of conversations by equipment which picks up vibrations in window panes. [28625]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 January 2002]: The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 provides a statutory basis for the authorisation of intrusive surveillance. RIPA also provides for independent oversight of such authorisations by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if use by the law enforcement agencies of technology which remotely takes a phone off the hook and thereby allows the monitoring of conversations close to that phone requires authorisation as if it were a telephone intercept; and whether the use by others of such technology constitutes a criminal offence. [28328]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 January 2002]: The monitoring of conversations by law enforcement agencies which are not conducted on a public or private telecommunication system fall within the surveillance provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000. RIPA provides a statutory basis for the authorisation of intrusive surveillance. RIPA also provides for independent oversight of such authorisations by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner.

Schengen Information System

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer of 17 December 2001, Official Report, column 84–85W, if she will list (a) the areas in which the Justice and Home Affairs Council is examining the scope for SIS II to have an increased range of functions and (b) the authorities being considered eligible for access to SIS data. [28321]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 22 January 2002]: This work is at a very early stage. Officials in the relevant council working group are examining the possible future requirements for SIS II and proposals will be submitted to the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council at key stages in the process. A first discussion of this work was held by the Mixed Committee with Norway and Iceland, meeting at ministerial level in the margins of the JHA Council on 6–7 December 2001 and reported to the House in my reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) on 14 January 2002, Official Report, column 89W. The authorities which

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would be considered eligible for access to SIS data will be determined according to the purpose for which it is agreed that data will be stored. This work will require amendment to the Schengen acquis and will thus be the subject of formal decisions at European Union level; these will be subject to United Kingdom parliamentary scrutiny in the normal way.

Asylum Seekers

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average time taken from receipt of an asylum appeal by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and to (a) the ending of the appeal to the Immigration Appellate Authority, (b) determination of the appeal by an adjudicator and (c) where leave to appeal is granted final determination of the appeal by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. [28778]

Angela Eagle: For the 12 months ending 30 September 2001, data from the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) for those cases where data are available indicate that the cumulative average times taken from the receipt of an asylum appeal by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to:




Crime Reduction Violence Against Women

Initiative

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the projects financed under the Crime Reduction Violence Against Women Initiative until March. [28905]

Mr. Denham: The information is as follows:


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Child Curfew Orders

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many child curfew orders have been issued in Essex in each of the last five years for which records exist. [28418]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 January 2002]: No applications have been received to impose child curfew schemes under section 14 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Sections 48 and 49 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, which took effect on 1 August 2001, extended the upper age limit to 15 and allowed the police, as well as local authorities, to initiate schemes. Local areas are assessing the implications of these changes and we know that local consultation is taking place.

Community Sentence Orders

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is the practice of the Probation Service not to exercise arrest warrants for those breaking the terms of community sentence orders if they have been outstanding for more than a year; and if he will make a statement. [30117]

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is the practice of the Probation Service not to exercise arrest warrants for those breaking the terms of community sentence orders if they have been outstanding for more than a year; and if he will make a statement. [29824]

Beverley Hughes: Each case is dealt with on it merits. There is no general policy that a warrant outstanding for a year, or indeed any particular period of time, should be returned to the court to consider withdrawal.

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many outstanding arrest warrants issued for those breaking the terms of community sentences there are; and if he will make a statement. [29829]

Mr. Wills: I have been asked to reply.

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Lead responsibility for execution of community penalty breach warrants was transferred from the police to magistrates courts committees on 1 April 2001. Prior to the transfer, statistics on community penalty breach warrants were not routinely kept. The Lord Chancellor's Department is now collecting data but complete figures are not yet available. Of the community penalty breach warrants issued since the transfer 8,014 were outstanding as at 28 December 2001.


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