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Crime (South Tyneside)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of CCTV on crime in south Tyneside. [32093]

Mr. Denham: There are currently five Home Office funded closed circuit television (CCTV) systems either in operation or in the process of being installed in the south Tyneside area. These cover, South Shields Foreshore, south Tyneside hospital, Tyne Dock Housing Estate, south Tyneside Control Room and the south Tyneside Mobile scheme.

No evaluation results for these particular schemes are yet available, but Home Office research and other evaluations show CCTV can be effective in reducing crime and helping the police detect crime and convict offenders. CCTV is most effective when used as part of a wider local crime reduction strategy.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the timescale is for the replacement of SALS for asylum applicants with identity cards; and if he will make a statement. [31945]

Angela Eagle: Applicants Registration Cards (ARC) were first issued to new asylum seekers on 31 January 2002. The ARC will replace the standard acknowledgement letter (SAL) and will be initially issued to new asylum applicants as they apply for asylum. The issuing of ARCs is to be undertaken in a range of locations throughout the country from March 2002, ensuring that all new asylum applicants receive an ARC as the technology is established.

The asylum audit, planned in the new financial year, will undertake the replacement of the SAL with a new ARC. It will be completed as soon as possible. ARC issue is just one of a number of tasks to be undertaken within the audit, for those applicants already in the asylum system.

Dangerous Driving

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many car drivers were (a) banned and (b) received points on their licence, in the last 12 months for dangerous driving, broken down by region. [32541]

Mr. Denham: The available information relates to the number of offences of dangerous driving for which disqualification, and endorsements without disqualification, were imposed in England and Wales in 2000.

Statistics for 2001 will be available in the autumn.

Departmental Retirement Age

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the retirement ages that apply to the employees of his Department and its agencies, including how many and which categories of employees are affected by each; and if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on flexible retirement. [32821]

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Angela Eagle: The normal retirement age for non-industrial staff is 60, and for industrial staff 65. However, the Home Office's age retirement policy has recently been reviewed and from 1 April 2002 non- industrial staff up to Grade six will have the option to remain beyond the age of 60 and to retire at any point between the ages of 60 and 65. A temporary relaxation to the normal retirement age of 60 is currently in force until 31 March 2002 for grades between Administrative Assistant and Executive Officer (including equivalent grades, except certain Prison Service specific grades). Staff at Higher Executive Officer and above can also apply for extensions of service subject to business needs.

A variation to this policy is applied in the Prison Service where pre "fresh-start" Prison Officers employed before 1987 retire at 55, and Operational Support Grades retire at 65. A formal review of age retirement policy is now taking place within the Prison Service.

The number of staff affected in each of these categories is set out in the table.

Category Retirement ageNumber of staff
Non-industrial6032,002
Industrial652,997
Operational Support Grades656,475
Prison Officers6016,461
Prison Officers(12) 556,721

(12) Pre "Fresh Start"


Muslim Prisoners

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received about the treatment of Muslim prisoners from Dr. Siddiqui; and if he will make a statement. [32834]

Beverley Hughes: Dr. Siddiqui wrote to the Prime Minister on 21 January 2002 raising concern about the treatment of those detained at Belmarsh prison and I have replied on the Prime Minister's behalf.

On 25 January, the detainees at Belmarsh were visited by the National Council for the Welfare of Muslim Prisoners. In a subsequent press release, the Council expressed general satisfaction with the overall provisions available to Muslim prisoners.

Brixton Police

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 355–56W, on Brixton police, for what periods during 2001 Brixton police were unable to accept reports of minor crime over the telephone. [31332]

Mr. Denham: I understand that Brixton police were unable to accept telephone reports of minor crime for various short periods in 2001. Other methods of reporting crime were not affected. The periods in question would have been no more than a couple of days at a time.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 355–56W, on Brixton police, what operational reasons rendered Brixton police unable to accept reports of minor crime over the telephone between 2 and 8 January. [31337]

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Mr. Denham: I understand from the Commissioner that staff absences accounted for the inability of police in Brixton to accept reports of minor crime over the telephone for the period concerned. A decision was made to use the available staff to ensure continuity of service in the Crime Management Unit. Leaving the Crime Management Unit inadequately staffed would have had a greater adverse effect on the investigation of crime. Throughout this period members of the public were able to report minor crime in writing or in person at police stations.

Terrorism Costs

(Avon and Somerset Police Authority)

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to make additional funds available to Avon and Somerset Police Authority to recognise extra security duties and costs post 11 September 2001; [31825]

Mr. Denham: We are currently considering how additional funding for costs incurred since September 11 should be distributed between police authorities. A decision will be made soon.

Police Support Staff

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase and enhance the role of support staff in the police. [31675]

Mr. Denham: Proposals for new and enhanced functions to be carried out by civilian support staff were set out in "Policing a new century" (CM5326). The Police Reform Bill sets out the limited police powers that may be needed by support staff to enable them to carry out these functions.

Asylum Accommodation Centres

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the eight sites under consideration for the proposed asylum accommodation centres; and in which parliamentary constituencies they are located. [31731]

Angela Eagle: They are as follows:


11 Feb 2002 : Column 57W

We also expect to identify any further sites which are available through the procurement competition which we will be launching shortly.

Private Medical Insurance

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statistics he has collated from English police authorities on their expenditure on purchasing private medical insurance for staff in each financial year since 1998–99. [32873]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 6 February 2002]: Surrey is the only police authority which currently makes private medical insurance available to all its staff. The cost of the scheme, which began in November 2001, is about £550,000 a year.


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