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6 Nov 2003 : Column 747W—continued

Domestic Violence

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he gives on the way the police deal with the perpetrators of domestic violence. [130990]

Paul Goggins: Home Office circular 19/2000 gives guidance on police handling cases of domestic violence.

The National Centre for Policing Excellence (NCPE) is currently developing updated guidelines for police handling of domestic violence cases.

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Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how the funding announced in January for domestic violence projects will be allocated; [134912]

Paul Goggins: Domestic violence accounts for around 25 per cent. of violent crime and tackling it effectively remains a priority for the Home Department.

In February this year my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced a £14 million funding package for domestic violence over a three year period. The first allocation from this funding—announced in May—was of over £2 million this year to domestic violence projects set up under the Crime Reduction Programme's Violence Against Women initiative. This included Gloucestershire's 'Co-ordinated Community Response' to domestic violence. This funding was to help these projects ensure that their services are work of local agencies and that they can secure sustainable ongoing funding for the longer term.

Further funding over the three years will be allocated to help improve local action on domestic violence through Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs). A 'mapping exercise' of CDRP activity on domestic violence has recently been conducted to help inform these further allocations. We will be making announcements on this shortly.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the trade in heroin emanating from Afghanistan since the defeat of the Taliban; and if he will make a statement on the trends in volumes of heroin arriving in the United Kingdom from Afghanistan. [135856]

Mr. Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement on 30 October 2003 regarding the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) survey results for the 2003 opium poppy crop in Afghanistan, Official Report, column 20WS.

The UNODC conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. It has reported levels over the past five years as follows:


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The UNODC figures for 2001 reflects the Taliban ban on opium cultivation. The ban did not however address the underlying causes of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and was enforced with a mix of serious violence and bribery.

Afghanistan is the world's leading producer of opium and the UNODC has estimated that, taking into account seizures in the region, the likely amounts available for shipment out of Afghanistan in 2002 were 685 tons of opium and 212 tons of heroin and morphine. Approximately 25–35 metric tons of heroin are targeted on the UK every year and we estimate that around 95 per cent. of this originates from Afghanistan. Trends have remained fairly static.

The UNODC poppy cultivation survey in 2003 has shown reductions in the traditional areas, which demonstrates that drug control policy has been effective where the Afghan Government have been able to exert control. Increasing security and stability in Afghanistan remains key to progress in reducing opium production. This in turn will also bring more stability to Afghanistan.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what is being done to combat the international drugs trade, particularly that emanating from countries of concern; and if he will make a statement on its impact upon the United Kingdom. [136478]

Mr. Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

The FCO's commitment to tackle international drug trafficking is set out in its Public Service Agreements. In line with the Government's 10-year drugs strategy, '1998–2008: Tackling Drugs Together to Build a Better Britain', the FCO's priority is to reduce the availability of Class A drugs in the UK. Through the Drugs and Crime Fund (£9.9 million in the financial year 2003–04), the FCO assists law enforcement and other agencies in key production and transit countries to improve their capability to disrupt the flow of Class A drugs to the UK.

About 95 per cent. of the UK's heroin comes from Afghanistan. Afghanistan's National Drug Control Strategy, agreed earlier this year, has set the target of eliminating opium poppy by 2013. The UK is investing £70 million on sustainable measures over the next three years to support implementation of that strategy. Additional staff are being deployed to Kabul to assist in the implementation. I will be co-hosting, with President Karzai and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), an international conference in Kabul in February next year to boost further the international counter-narcotics effort in Afghanistan.

In the financial year 2002–03 the FCO provided over £5 million in counter-narcotics related assistance to priority countries in South America and the Caribbean where illegal drugs are produced or trafficked. This assistance included funding for HMCE drug law enforcement training, provision of drug detection equipment, assessment of local law enforcement communications equipment and contributions to UNODC projects.

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Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are being taken to halt the illegal importation of fireworks, in particular through the internet. [136958]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have been asked to reply.

Talks are already under way between DTI and the principal Departments that deal with importation and storage issues, that is, Customs and Excise and HSE, respectively.

The Department, under the new Fireworks Act 2003, will bring in a raft of measures by the summer of 2004 and which will include a requirement on importers to provide information about their imports. The purpose of this would be to better track fireworks imports to help ensure that they are destined for legal (licensed) distribution and supply outlets.

Forensic Science Service

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the proposed Public-Private Partnership regarding the Forensic Science Service will require legislation. [132404]

Ms Blears: The transformation of the Forensic Science Service into a Public-Private Partnership will require the revocation of the Forensic Science Service Trading Fund Order 1998.

Information Technology

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent on purchasing and upgrading IT equipment by his Department (a) in 2003 and (b) in 2002; and what this cost per employee. [135895]

Fiona Mactaggart: The information requested is in the following table:

Time periodTotals (£)
Part FY01 January 2002–31 March 200236,464,010
Full FY01 April 2002–31 March 200313,017,585
Part FY01 April 2003–30 September 20039,127,403


(a) The figures are expenditure incurred by the Home Department, which excludes Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs).

(b) The figures exclude expenditure from the Department's Outsourced Managed Service Contracts for the provision of IT infrastructure services, where the assets have not transferred to the public sector.

The Home Department is unable accurately to reflect the cost per employee of purchasing and upgrading IT equipment due to differing commercial arrangements adopted in its contracts.

Jury Trial

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (a) in what circumstances and (b) for which criminal offences a jury trial may be refused to a person charged with a criminal offence. [135019]

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Paul Goggins: There are presently no circumstances in which a person charged with a criminal offence may be refused jury trial.

Certain offences are triable only on indictment, and must be heard by a judge and jury. Summary offences—which constitute the overwhelming majority of criminal cases—are triable only in the magistrates' courts unless they fulfil certain conditions (for example, because they are related to an indictable-only offence). Other offences are triable either way:

The Government have proposed in the Criminal Justice Bill that the prosecution should be able to apply for a trial on indictment in the Crown Court to proceed in the absence of a jury where the length and/or complexity of the trial is likely either to be so burdensome upon the jury trying it as to make it necessary in the interests of justice to conduct the trial without a jury, or to place an excessive burden on the life of a typical juror. The length or complexity (or both) must be caused by the need to address arrangements, transactions or records of a financial or commercial nature or which relate to property. The Bill also provides for a trial on indictment in the Crown Court to be conducted without a jury where there is a real and present danger of jury tampering, or to be continued without a jury where the jury has been discharged because of jury tampering. None of these provisions is restricted to particular criminal offences.

The provisions were defeated at Lords Committee stage of the Bill. The Government have indicated their intention to reinstate them when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

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