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31 Oct 2002 : Column 945W—continued

Criminal Justice

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he will take to alter public perception found in Improving Public Attitudes to the Criminal Justice System, Home Office Research Study 245, that crime was increasing. [73782]

Hilary Benn: The Government believe that the key to improving public perception of crime and criminal justice is to continue to deliver reductions in crime and improvements in the way the criminal justice system operates.

The recently published White Paper, Justice for All, set out what needs to be done to modernise and improve the Criminal Justice System (CJS). The Home Office has been set targets for reducing crime and the fear of crime, improving the delivery of justice and increasing confidence in the criminal justice system.

The Government are committed to improving the prevention and detection of crime, convicting the guilty and rehabilitating offenders so they do not offend again.

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Reform will also ensure that justice is seen to serve and protect the interests of the community, and especially victims of crime.

The presentation of statistical information about crime has been made clearer and more comprehensive by combining publication of recorded crime statistics and information from the British Crime Survey. An objective in all our communication activity is to work with our partners to close the gap between the public perception that crime is rising against the reality of long term falls in crime. The media make an important contribution to public perceptions of crime, and efforts are being made to encourage responsible reporting of crime. We are also exploring alternative ways to provide accurate information about crime to the public.

The Government have made a commitment to increase the number of crimes that result in the perpetrator being brought to justice, an initiative called 'Narrowing the Justice Gap'. A co-ordinated strategy based on: tackling weaknesses in the criminal justice process; targeting types of offender, particularly persistent offenders; and targeting specific types of offence, aims to bring 1.2 million offences to justice by 2005–06. Narrowing the justice gap not only reduces crime but also demonstrates that the criminal justice system is effective and responsive to the needs and concerns of victims and witnesses. The perception that criminals are Xgetting away with it" is hugely damaging to confidence levels. The Government have made improvement in this area their key aim for the CJS.

We also have a responsibility to promote confidence in the CJS and we are actively working on a programme of work in this area. This will be based on ensuring that the public are aware of the impact of reform and improvements in the delivery of justice.

Entitlement Cards

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the consulation is due to end on the issue of entitlement cards. [78352]

Beverley Hughes: The consultation paper on Entitlement Cards and Identity Fraud published by my right hon Friend the Home Secretary on 3 July stated that the.consultation period would last until 10 January 2003.

The Government has decided to extend the consultation period to 31 January 2003 to allow organisations a little more time to prepare their responses.


Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deaths and serious injuries have been caused by fireworks in the UK in each of the last 20 years; and if he will make a statement. [76151]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

The years for which the number of deaths and injuries from fireworks are available are specified in the table. These figures are extracted from the annual DTI firework injuries statistics based on returns from the accident and emergency departments of hospitals in

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Great Britain. They are collected over a 4-week period in October and November each year. Serious injuries are not separately identified in the statistics.

Overall firework injuriesDeaths from firework injuries

Mal Hussain

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a public inquiry into the case of Mr Mal Hussain of the Ryelands estate in Lancaster and the role of the public authorities in protecting him from racial harassment; and if he will make a statement. [77338]

Beverley Hughes: This matter is under consideration and a decision will be announced shortly.

Registered Charities (Sports Clubs)

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1)if he will list community amateur sports clubs that are now registered as charities; [78012]

Beverley Hughes: This is a matter for the Charity Commission as the Government Department that registers charities in England and Wales. The Director of Operations of the Charity Commission will write to the hon Member and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.


African Natural Resources

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions her Department has had with the Governments of (a) Rwanda and (b) Uganda regarding illegal exploitation of natural resources by their citizens in the DRC; and what action these Governments plan to take; [77060]

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Clare Short: There have been regular discussions with the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda at both ministerial and official levels since the first UN panel report on exploitation of resources in the DRC was published. We have urged both Governments to work openly and constructively with the panel team and take seriously any allegations of exploitation. The final UN panel report was issued on 18 October. The Government of Uganda have already established a judicial enquiry into the allegations in a previous report, and this report is due on 15 November. The Government of Rwanda have rejected this report, as they did earlier ones, on the grounds that it is politically motivated and lacking in corroborative evidence. While we share many of the Government of Rwanda's criticisms of the report, we will continue to encourage the Government of Rwanda to take action to address the panel's accusations in an open manner. We believe the most important focus for future work is achieve peace and work to help the DRC and other Great Lakes countries put trade and the exploitation of mineral resources on to a well-regulated, transparent basis.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the peace process in Burundi and the assistance provided by the British Government to that process. [76899]

Clare Short: We are supporting all international efforts to promote an end to conflict and achieve a secure and lasting peace in Burundi, through full implementation of the Arusha Peace Accord, as a necessary prerequisite for sustained economic development. We are at the same time helping to address the immediate material needs of Burundi's people by supporting humanitarian programmes largely through non-governmental channels.

There have been some positive developments in the on-going peace process. The Regional Summit held in Dar-es-Salaam on 7 October welcomed the recent signing of a cease-fire agreement with the Transitional Government of Burundi by two of the remaining rebel forces not party to the Arusha Peace Accord, CNDD-FDD (Jean-Bosco) and PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Mugabarabona). The summit agreed an extension of 30 days to allow for the negotiation of similar cease-fire agreements with the two largest remaining rebel groups CNDD-FDD (Nkurunziza) and PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Rwasa).

The British Government have been co-ordinating with other donors to help the facilitation efforts of the South Africans, Gabonese and Tanzanians. We have committed #250,000 to this through ACCORD, a South African NGO involved in peace-building in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere. We are also providing support to peace and reconciliation activities in Burundi through other NGOs

Cote d'Ivoire

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the humanitarian impact of the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire; what response her

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Department and the international community have made to those needs; what steps are being taken to establish peace; and if she will make a statement. [76923]

Clare Short: We have not undertaken an independent assessment of the humanitarian impact of the conflict in Cote d'lvoire. However we are monitoring the situation closely and are in regular contact with UN agencies in the field. The UN held an Emergency Regional Contingency Planning meeting in Accra from 17–18 October to discuss the situation. We are awaiting their assessment of likely humanitarian needs.

We are working closely with the international community to bring about a swift and peaceful resolution to the conflict. We consider that the best hope for peace lies in an African led solution and we are supporting the efforts of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to mediate in the conflict. An ECOWAS mediation team has succeeded at establishing contact with the rebels and gaining commitment from both parties to a ceasefire and the start of negotiations. It is also proposed that an ECOWAS monitoring force be established to replace the French troops currently providing a buffer force between the two sides. The plans for this force are still under discussion. The UK has provided a military adviser to assist ECOWAS in their efforts.

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