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HOME DEPARTMENT

Credit Card Fraud

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on trends in credit card fraud over the last 10 years; [59179]

Mr. Denham: The Government recognise that plastic card fraud has been a large and rapidly growing problem in the United Kingdom (UK) since the mid-1990s, with losses having increased from £165 million in 1992 to £411.4 million 1 in 2001. The steep rise has been caused by high levels of organised card crime alongside increases in the number and usage of payment cards.

Significant work is under way to combat plastic card crime. The Home Office has held discussions with the finance and retail sectors and the police to establish and promote best practice in protecting cards. A major initiative which has emerged is the planned introduction of microchips into payment cards to help authentication. This is to be combined with the introduction of PIN codes in place of signatures. The banking industry foresees that by 2005 the technology will have eliminated up to 80 per cent. of plastic card fraud in the UK.

The Government are pleased that the banks and retailers are committed to introducing new technology that is so vital in fighting plastic card fraud. The UK has been leading the world in creating a global standard for chip and design that guarantees very high levels of security whenever consumers use their cards. It is vital that we use this technology to combat fraudsters who find it all too easy to forge genuine cardholders' signatures.

The Home Office is also supporting a two-year pilot of a unique policing unit, the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit. The unit, based in London, is working closely with the banking industry to reduce organised card and cheque fraud across England and Wales. It is estimated that savings of up to £16 million per year may be achieved in each year of operation.



Cycling

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department is taking to deter adults from cycling on pavements in residential areas; and if he will make a statement. [59595]

Mr. Denham: Cycling inconsiderately or irresponsibly on the pavement is an offence under section 72 of the Highways Act 1835.

Enforcement of the legislation is an operational matter for individual chief officers of police. They are best placed to assess the nature and cause of specific local problems, to determine how most effectively to address them and to decide the best allocation of resources between different priorities. Short intensive enforcement campaigns are occasionally conducted to deal with persistent cycling offenders.

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To help the police deal with cyclists who use the pavement inconsiderately or irresponsibly, we are taking powers in the Police Reform Bill to enable Community Safety Officers (CSOs) to issue fixed penalty notices for this offence.

We recognise that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, cycle on pavements because they are afraid to cycle on the road. The cycling infrastructure and environment are currently being improved as part of our National Cycling Strategy, and the improvements will help reduce the incentive to cycle on the pavement.

Crime and Disorder Partnerships

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will bring forward proposals to ensure that local partners in crime and disorder partnerships must be consulted by the chief constables on significant changes in policing practice; and if he will make a statement. [60593]

Mr. Denham: Under Section 96 of the Police Act 1996, police authorities, in consultation with their chief officers, are already required to obtain the views of the people in their area on its policing and their co-operation in crime prevention.

As one of the responsible authorities under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, charged with drawing up and delivering a local crime and disorder reduction strategy, I would expect the police, as a matter of good practice, to discuss with their local partners any significant changes in policing which might affect how the partnership delivers its crime and disorder reduction strategy.

Asylum Seekers

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were granted leave (a) to enter and (b) to remain as refugees during March following a successful asylum appeal; and if he will make a statement. [60537]

Beverley Hughes: The information requested is not available and could be obtained only by examination of individual case records thereby incurring a disproportionate cost.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of persons granted leave (a) to enter and (b) to remain as refugees during March following a successful asylum appeal had had their asylum appeals disposed of as defined in section 94(4) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 within (i) 28 days, (ii) two months, (iii) three months and (iv) more than three months prior to the issue of papers granting leave to enter or remain; and if he will make a statement. [60538]

Beverley Hughes: The information requested is not available and could be obtained only by examination of individual case records thereby incurring a disproportionate cost.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of asylum seekers entered the United Kingdom lawfully in each year since 1997. [61333]

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Beverley Hughes [holding answer 13 June 2002]: I regret that information on the entry routes of asylum seekers, and whether they entered the United Kingdom lawfully, is not available. In 2001, 64 per cent. of applications for asylum were made in-country and 36 per cent. were made at port.

The 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees recognised that people trying to escape persecution often relied upon the use of false documents and unusual means of travel. Article 31 of the convention provides that refugees should not have any penalties imposed upon them as a consequence of entering the country of refuge illegally in order to seek sanctuary, provided that they travel to that country directly from their own country, present themselves to the domestic authorities without delay and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

Information on asylum applications is published quarterly. The next publication will be available from 30 August 2002 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http:// www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for asylum were made at UK (a) airports and (b) ports in each year since 1997. [61330]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 13 June 2002]: The information requested for the periods April 2000—March 2001 and April 2001—December 2001 is shown in the table. I regret that this information is unavailable for previous years, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

At port asylum applications(27),(28)

PeriodAirportSeaPortRailTotal
April 2000-March 200110,8505,4555,33521,640
April 2001-December 20019,6351,7405,79017,165

(27) Figures rounded to the nearest five

(28) Principal applicants only


This information was taken from manual counts of asylum applications taken at port, which do not reconcile with the quarterly asylum statistics published on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/ immigration1.html.

Asylum Accommodation Centres

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the offers he has received within the last two months of potential sites for asylum accommodation centres. [62422]

Beverley Hughes: Site searching for Accommodation Centres has continued since we made our initial announcement about the shortlist, as we said it would. In addition to the sites we have identified ourselves, a number have been put forward by potential bidders. We will not be putting into the public domain details of such sites unless and until they are considered to be a serious prospect for the siting of the Accommodation Centre.

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Nottinghamshire Constabulary

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last visited the City of Nottingham Division of the Nottinghamshire Constabulary; and if he will make a statement. [60592]

Mr. Denham: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Blunkett) regularly visits police forces. His most recent visit to Nottinghamshire police was on Thursday 18 April 2002 and it included time at the central police station in Nottingham.


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