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19 Sept 2002 : Column 49W—continued


Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to lower the statutory age at which a person can be prosecuted for rape. [69756]

Hilary Benn: None. The statutory age at which a person can be prosecuted for rape is 10 (which is also the age of criminal responsibility). The age was lowered from 14 to 10 by the Sexual Offences Act 1993.

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Crime Statistics

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's methodology for recording crime statistics; and when this methodology was last changed. [71013]

Mr. Denham: Police practice on recorded crime statistics has for many years been governed by Home Office Counting Rules. These rules have covered the counting and classification of crimes for statistical purposes, although the policy on whether to record crimes that have been reported has in the past varied from force to force.

The Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime were last revised with effect from 1 April 2002, principally to take account of the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard which was produced by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in consultation with the Home Office. The Standard aims to promote greater consistency between police forces in recording reports of crime and to take a more victim orientated approach to crime recording.

The latest change to the Rules is anticipated to impact mainly on the violence against the person, theft and handling and criminal damage offence groups, although all offence groups are potentially affected and the impact of the changes will vary between the different police forces.

The recorded crime statistics cover all indictable and triable-either-way offences, together with a few summary offences closely related to more serious ones.

A copy of the Home Office Counting Rules is available on the website at counting/index.html.


Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms are used for monitoring the usefulness and effectiveness of CCTV programmes. [71651]

Mr. Denham: Under the Crime Reduction Programme Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Initiative, a potential of £170 million will be spent funding 683 public area CCTV schemes.

As a condition of funding, each scheme is required to undertake an independent evaluation of its effectiveness as a tool to assist the police and reduce crime and the fear of crime. These evaluations will cover implementation, impact and cost effectiveness.

In addition, to help ensure maximum impact and sustainability of CCTV, a £1.5 million Home Office funded national evaluation programme is being carried out by the Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, on 17 approved CCTV Initiative schemes.

Attendance Centres

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the reform of attendance centres; [71486]

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Hilary Benn [holding answer 22 July 2002]: The Youth Justice Board has had central responsibility for commissioning and funding junior attendance centres since April 2000. We are, in consultation with the Board, reviewing existing arrangements.


Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 15 July 2002, Official Report, column 88W, on overstayers, what steps he plans to take to increase the rate of consideration and decision on applications under the Regularisation Scheme for Overstayers to meet his target date of April 2003. [71681]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 22 July 2002]: During the current financial year there has been a significant increase in the number of specialist caseworkers considering the applications under The Regularisation Scheme For Overstayers. The new staff are initially dealing with grants (which are easier to process) until they receive further training in September. It is expected that the output of the established staff will continue to increase with experience, and that the new staff will quickly come up to speed. Processes have been streamlined, best practice shared, and a pragmatic and sympathetic approach is being taken to any compassionate factors encountered. Processes and resources will be kept under constant review, and caseworkers are encouraged to make any suggestions for improvements in working practices that might further speed up decision making.

Parliamentary Answers

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) for how long he retains documents referred to in Parliamentary Answers on his Department's website; [72268]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Office aims to be as helpful as possible in responding to hon. Members' Questions. Where it is helpful to refer hon. Members to other documents as part of the substantive reply, this may be done by making hard copies of documents available in the Libraries of the House, or by reference to material available on the Home Office website. The Home Office adheres to the requirements for the types of documents which should be published on our website as directed by the Office of the e-Envoy. A copy of these is available at

The Home Office ensures that the content of the site as a whole is up to date and current.

There are no set time limits for documents to remain on the Home Office website. Where it is agreed with particular policy units that documents are no longer current but still of significant interest, the relevant material is archived and available to website users

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on Consultation documents are archived on the site after their closing date under

Sangatte Refugee Centre

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the arrangements made with the French Interior Minister for the closure of the Sangatte Red Cross refugee centre include, and if future arrangements made will include, (a) a right of appeal of immigration decisions taken in respect of the residents of the centre and (b) the provision of independent legal advice to the residents of the centre; and if he will make a statement. [72485]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 23 July 2002]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's discussions with his French counterpart have concentrated on agreeing a closure timetable for the Sangatte Centre and the range of measures to tackle illegal immigration which will allow the centre to close.

Travel Documents

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what measures the UK Government are taking to encourage the recognition of (a) the Convention travel document issued to refugees and (b) certificates of identity issued by the UK as official travel documents by countries that do not recognise them as such; and if he will make a statement; [72483]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 23 July 2002]: All countries which are signatories of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees recognise the travel document issued to refugees under Article 28 of the Convention. We are not aware of any particular difficulties encountered by refugees resident in the United Kingdom when using this travel document.

The Certificate of Identity (CID) is a travel document issued to foreign nationals who are resident here but unable to obtain a passport from their national authorities. It is issued on a discretionary basis, not under an international convention. Non-recognition of the document by a number of European Union Member States who are members of the Schengen Group, notably France, Germany, Greece and Spain, means that CID holders who want to travel abroad for short visits, or other temporary purposes, are often unable to do so. It is a matter for individual countries whether the CID is recognised as a travel document.

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The issue has been discussed regularly at meetings of consular representatives from the London Embassies of the Schengen Member States. At these meetings, and also in separate informal discussions, Home Office officials have given extensive assurances about matters relating to the CID, including particularly the re-admissibility to the UK of people who use the document to travel abroad.

Efforts to solve the problem and persuade objecting countries to recognise the CID are continuing.

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