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Crime (Wales)

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on trends in crime levels in Wales in the last 12 months. [53310]

Mr. Denham: The most recent data available are for the year ending 31 March 2001. The table compares the number of offences in the main crime categories for that year with the previous year.

Recorded crimes in Wales

Offence group1999–2000(14)hw2>2000–01(14)Percentage change
Violence against the person37,92238,2301
Sexual offences1,7491,702-3
Theft and handling stolen goods98,72789,035-10
Fraud and forgery11,88910,449-12
Criminal damage54,92653,287-3
Drug offences8,5208,351-2
Other offences4,0813,622-11
Total recorded crime255,487238,449-7

(14) Years ending March

Police Powers

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the ability of police officers to cross police authority boundaries when pursuing suspected criminals. [53115]

Mr. Denham: There is no restriction on police officers crossing police boundaries when pursuing suspected criminals. Guidance issued to police forces by the Association of Chief Police Officers advises that when police officers cross boundaries in such circumstances they should hand over the pursuit as soon as possible to the police force whose area they have crossed into.

Wolvercote Clinic

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is his policy that the Wolvercote clinic should close. [53222]

Beverley Hughes: It is our intention to maintain the services provided by the Wolvercote clinic but in a new location, as yet to be determined.

Air Weapons

Joyce Quin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the cost of introducing a certification regime for the holding of air weapons. [53453]

8 May 2002 : Column 228W

Mr. Denham: We have not made a detailed assessment of the costs of introducing a certification regime for air weapons, but as there are an estimated 4 million air weapons in circulation it is clear that the resource implications for police firearms licensing departments would be very substantial.

Antisocial Behaviour

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government have to introduce new measures to tackle antisocial behaviour. [53425]

Mr. Denham: Tackling antisocial behaviour calls for a cross-Government approach. Among the many actions we are taking are the introduction of community safety officers and measures in the Police Reform Bill to enhance the effectiveness of antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs). We are also consulting on further measures to deal with the problems of antisocial tenants and of abandoned vehicles.

Prison Service

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost to public spending was of the diversity training programme within the prison service; and how long it will take for all relevant prison staff to have completed the programme. [53419]

Beverley Hughes: The total cost, met from an award from the Cabinet Office Invest to Modernise fund, was £715,000. All staff should have been trained within the next two to three years.

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his department has contributed to the gays and lesbians in the prison service support group. [53420]

Beverley Hughes: Support from the prison service has largely been advisory for this staff support network. A small amount of funding (less than £2,000) has been given towards the cost of leaflets and posters.


Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many men held in prisons in England and Wales who are serving a sentence of over five years were charged with offences involving (a) violence and (b) non-violent crime. [53686]

Beverley Hughes: The table shows the number of males who were serving sentences of over five years in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales on the 31 March 2002, broken down by offence group.

Offence groupNumber of prisoners
Violence against the person6,126
Sex offences3,391
Drug offences3,341
Other offences638
Theft and handling137
Fraud and forgery76
Offence not recorded73

8 May 2002 : Column 229W

Car Theft

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cars have been stolen in the past two years for which figures are available; and what steps he is taking to reduce the incidence of car theft. [53748]

Mr. Denham: During the year 1999–2000 there were 374,686 recorded thefts and attempted thefts of motor vehicles in England and Wales and 338,796 during 2000–01. The information available does not distinguish between cars and other motor vehicles.

The Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team (VCRAT) was set up in September 1998 to develop and oversee the implementation of initiatives to meet the Government's target to reduce vehicle crime by 30 per cent. over five years. They published their proposals for achieving the target on 22 September 1999.

The main proposals include improved security on new and used cars; improved car park security; better policing and community responses which target prolific offenders and crime hotspots; and new procedures at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 took forward VCRAT recommendations for regulation of the motor salvage industry and controls on the supply of vehicle number plates and we expect to implement these provisions progressively between August 2002 and April 2003.

Prison Albany

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason the Prison Service's application for planning permission to extend HMP Albany was made under emergency procedures. [53706]

Beverley Hughes: The prison population has risen considerably, and on 30 April 2002 was provisionally estimated at 70,578, an increase of 7.5 per cent. (nearly 5,000 prisoners) on the number held in April 2001. Because of the urgent need to provide additional accommodation at existing prisons, including Albany, applications for planning clearance have had to be submitted under the special urgency procedure of Department of the Environment Circular 18/84 which gives the local planning authority 14 days from the date of receipt to submit any comments.

Planning clearance was requested on 11 April 2002 from the Isle of Wight council for the construction of Albany prison of one, two storey 40-place ready to use unit with a single storey ancillary building, within the secure perimeter of the prison. The council advised us on 24 April 2002 that their Development Control Committee had resolved to raise no objection to the proposal. The Prison Service will be writing separately to the hon. Member with further details of their proposals.

Racial Equality

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evaluation he has made of the quality of the consultation by the CRE on the draft code of practice on the duty to promote racial equality; how many consultees in each category responded; and what proportion they represented of all consultees. [53465]

8 May 2002 : Column 230W

Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) issued about 45,000 consultation packs to all listed public authorities and a range of voluntary sector organisations for information. The consultation pack was accompanied by a consultation feedback questionnaire which could be returned both via surface mail or completed on-line.

We are aware that of the 8,000 packs sent to parish councils, at least 27 were received only shortly before or even after the end of the consultation period. This was unacceptable. All parish councils who contacted the CRE to complain were given a two week extension and could respond until 15 March 2002.

The CRE received 974 responses to the consultation questionnaire including a number of collated responses from representative bodies and Government Departments. 87 parish councils responded.

In terms of clarity 85.6 per cent. of respondents found the draft statutory code mainly or completely clear. 82.8 per cent. of respondents found the draft code fairly or very easy to understand and 77.4 per cent. of respondents found the draft code either very or fairly easy to follow.

A range of promotional and consultative conferences with public and voluntary sector organisations complemented the written consultation exercise. The conferences and seminars were favourably received and were used to both inform the public sector of the new duty and to receive feedback and clarify issues raised in the consultation pack.

The following is the breakdown of the categories of responses to the consultation exercise.

Categories by sectorNumber of responsesPercentage
Central Government151.5
Local government(15)21822.4
Police/criminal justice242.5
Further/higher education 707.2
Non-departmental public bodies272.8
Voluntary sector181.8
Trade unions80.8
Total respondents974100

(15) Includes parish councils

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