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Mobile Phones

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mobile phones were stolen in (a) Wales, (b) the North West, (c) Lancashire and (d) Ribble Valley in each year since 1997. [44047]

Mr. John Denham: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Estimates of the number of mobile phone thefts in England and Wales as a whole in 2000–01 vary widely, depending on the source of the data used to produce the estimate. A recent research study "Mobile Phone Theft" (by Victoria Harrington and Pat Mayhew, Home Office Research Study 235) contained a number of estimates. On the basis of figures from six police forces extrapolated to England and Wales, there were an estimated 330,000 offences recorded by the police in 2000–01, while the best estimate from analysis of data from three surveys indicates that there were some 710,000 phone thefts occurring annually at this time.

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We are working with the police and the mobile phone industry to reduce mobile phone robbery, undertaking public awareness campaigns and joint tracking exercises. Our discussions with the operators have recently borne fruit. By the summer all five of the main operators will be able to bar stolen handsets by reference to the unique IMEI number which identifies the handset. All of the operators are also working together to develop a shared database of stolen phones, which will allow them to disable stolen phones if there is an attempt to use them on a different network. We believe that this is a very important step forward, as it should remove one of the major incentives for robbery.

Operators have also agreed to improve security as they invest in new systems. We are pressing the handset manufacturers for similar commitments. A start has been made, but more needs to be done before Britain's mobile phone system can lead the world in security. The mobile phone industry needs to show more interest in the security of phones they are selling to British consumers and, as the motor industry has done, do more to prevent their customers from becoming the victims of crime.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will prohibit the sale of separate SIM cards for mobile phones. [56274]

Mr. John Denham: There are no plans to prohibit the sale of separate SIM cards for mobile phones.

Community Wardens

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the funding of community wardens in Chorley. [45871]

Mr. John Denham: There is no central Government funding for neighbourhood or street wardens' schemes in Chorley. As no applications were made from Chorley for funding under either the Neighbourhood Wardens' or Street Wardens' programme it was not possible for Government funding to be allocated.

Burglary

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of whether the PSA target for the reduction in recorded burglary crime in households covered by burglary schemes will be met. [47407]

Mr. John Denham [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Following the latest spending review, our target for reducing burglary has been incorporated in a wider crime reduction Public Service Agreement (PSA) target:

"Reduce crime and the fear of crime; improve performance overall, including by reducing the gap between the highest crime, Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership areas and the best comparable areas; and reduce:
vehicle crime by 30 per cent. from 1998–99 to 2004;
domestic burglary by 25 per cent. from 1998–99 to 2005;
robbery in the 10 Street Crime Initiative areas by 14 per cent. from 1999–00 to 2005;
and maintain that level.

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In the 12 months to March 2002, there was a reduction of 9.1 per cent. in the numbers of recorded burglaries compared to March 1999. The introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard appears to have had some impact on the recording of domestic burglary.

The British Crime Surveys show that between 1999 and 2001, the estimated number of domestic burglaries in England and Wales (including those not reported to or recorded by the police) fell from 1.284 million in 1999 to 0.991 million in 2001—a reduction of 23 per cent.

Maladministration

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what payments have been made to individuals following finding of maladministration by ombudsmen with responsibility for agencies under the remit of his Department; and what plans he has to review powers to increase the level of awards that can be made in the last 12 months. [47978]

Mr. Hilary Benn [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Over the last 12 months, no payments to individuals in cases where the Parliamentary Ombudsmen or the Prison Service Ombudsman has completed an investigation and issued a formal report have been recorded for the United Kingdom Passport Service the Forensic Science Service or the Prison Service.

The levels of awards made for maladministration are not subject to a tariff or statutory limit. All payments are based on the merits of individual cases.

Police Strength

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which (a) divisions (i) of the Metropolitan Police and (ii) elsewhere and (b) constabularies outside the Metropolitan Police numbers are lower than in 1997. [52337]

Mr. John Denham [holding answer 25 April 2002]: Information on police numbers within the territorial divisions of the Metropolitan Police and other police forces is not collected. On 31 January 2002 12 forces had fewer police officers than in March 1997. They are:

ForceStrength as at 31 January 2002Decrease since March 1997
Bedfordshire1,077-17
Cleveland1,437-22
City of London740-119
Cumbria1,117-27
Lincolnshire1,190-6
Merseyside4,113-117
Metropolitan Police(95)25,878-799
Nottinghamshire2,313-10
Staffordshire2,109-102
Sussex2,878-207
West Mercia2,012-28
West Yorkshire4,899-310

(95)Comparisons between 31 March 1997 and 31 January 2002 in the Metropolitan Police are affected by boundary changes with Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey in April 2000 when resources were transferred from the Metropolitan Police. Where police numbers are used in the police funding formula a reduction of 887 officers was applied.

(96)These figures have not yet been validated and published by the Home Office.

In March 2001 more than half of all the forces (24) had fewer officers than in March 1997. The Crime Fighting Fund has been a major contributory factor in improving the position.

Today there is a recorded number of police officers in England and Wales and we are on target to have more than 130,000 by April 2003.


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Child Protection

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when guidelines will be issued for police authorities on child sex abuse cases; and if copies of the guidelines will be published. [51632]

Mr. John Denham: Much guidance relevant to this subject has already been issued by successive governments to the police and other agencies responsible for the protection of children. Inter-agency guidance on the management of complex child abuse investigations was published on 13 June. Copies have been placed in the Library and it is also available on the Home Office website.

Professor Michael Barber

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Professor Michael Barber will produce his report on ways to curb mugging; and if he will make a statement. [51213]

Mr. John Denham [holding answer 19 April 2002]: My officials have been working with the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (PMDU) on a variety of issues.

The PMDU has been working with my officials on street crime. The Street Crime Action Group has been convened by my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to tackle the problem. Announcements have already been made on video ID, fast tracking robbery through the court.

Criminal Justice Revenue (Expenditure)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his statement of 17 April 2002, Official Report, column 589, how much of the £100 million drawn down from the criminal justice revenue for addressing street crime, policing and counter-terrorism has been spent. [52440]

Mr. John Denham: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the member for Milton Keynes South West (Dr. Phyllis Starkey) on 1 May 2002, Official Report, column 822W. Of the funds allocated to the Home Office from the Criminal Justice Reserve, £10.7 million has been spent to date.


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