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Anti-social Behaviour

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Home Office has not commissioned any research into the impact of dietary supplements on anti-social behaviour.

Mr Hadi Soleimanpour

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Argentinean request for Mr Soleimanpour's extradition remains under consideration. Bow Street Magistrates' Court has set 23 October as the date by which a decision must be reached as to the issue of an order to proceed.

Police: Sexually Discriminatory Behaviour

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken to discourage sexually discriminatory behaviour by male police officers towards women police officers and members of the public, in light of the 1997–98 and 2002–03 reports of the Police Complaints Authority. [HL4665]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Any sexually discriminatory behaviour such as that highlighted in the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) reports would breach the code of conduct for police officers as set out at annex 1 of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999. The code outlines the principles which should guide police officers conduct and includes the following:


    "Politeness and tolerance


    Officers should treat members of the public and colleagues with courtesy and respect, avoiding abusive or deriding attitudes or behaviour. In particular, officers must avoid: favouritism of an individual or group; all forms of harassment, victimisation or unreasonable discrimination; and overbearing conduct to a colleague, particularly to one junior in rank or service".

Any breach of the principles in the code of conduct may result in an officer facing misconduct proceedings under the Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999, which, in the most serious cases, could involve dismissal.

Under the new complaints system, which will come into force on 1 April 2004, it is more likely for conduct of this nature, whether or not a complaint is made, to fall to be recorded and referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and, in the more serious cases, can be investigated by the IPCC.

Furthermore, the Home Office is working very closely with the Women's National Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers on a number of projects designed to discourage sexually discriminatory behaviour by male police officers towards women police officers and members of the public. These include:


    The Gender Agenda—This document, to which the Home Office is a signatory, was produced two years ago by a number of groups with a stake in women's issues in the Police Service. It contains suggestions on what the police and individuals can do to improve the current situation. Advances have been made in a number of areas, including training methods, delivery and recruitment.


    Seen but not heard: Women's Experience of the Police report—This report was partially funded by the Home Office and was designed to look at gender issues, particularly how the police engage with different communities.

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Firearms: National Register

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 20 May (HL Deb, col. 685) what progress has been made in the establishment of a national register, as required by Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997; whether the project became operational on 31 August 2003 as predicted in the answer; and, if so, how many police forces are now able to use it.[HL4686]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The requirement under Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 for a central register of all persons who have applied for and been granted or refused a firearm or shot gun certificate is being taken forward as part of a national firearms licensing management system. I understand from the Police Information Technology Organisation that it expects to finalise the contract for taking this forward in the next few days. The prediction was and still is for the project to be operational by 31 August 2004 (not 2003) and no forces are yet able to use it.

Interfaith Consultations

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What persons and organisations are involved in the Government's interfaith consultations being conducted by Ms Fiona Mactaggart MP; and on what policy issues they have been invited to comment. [HL4746]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my honourable friend Fiona Mactaggart to the honourable Member for Rhondda (Mr Bryant) in another place on 30 June 2003, Official Report, column 12W, which sets out the membership of the steering group which is carrying out the present review of the Government's Interface with the Faith Communities. In addition, my honourable friend is holding meetings with organisations which have a relevant perspective on the review but are not represented on the steering group, for instance the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association.

The review is concerned with developing effective processes for consulting the faith communities and is not itself considering any specific policy issues. However, we are considering the feasibility of carrying out a pilot consultation exercise in a particular locality, which would test the effectiveness of various consultative mechanisms through consulting local faith communities on a developing area of Home Office policy.

Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001: Retention of Communications Data

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their intention to modify the code of practice on the retention of communications data

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    provided by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 in response to future developments in communications technology. [HL4758]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Yes, if appropriate. Section 103(8) of the Act provides for the code to be revised in whole or part as necessary.

Viscount Bridgeman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What period they think is sufficient to review the voluntary code of practice on the retention of communications data under Part 11 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 before concluding that it is necessary to make mandatory directions; and why that period is sufficient.[HL4759]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: No final decision has yet been taken as it will depend on the level of take-up for the voluntary code.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the legal risk to communications service providers of voluntarily retaining data under Part 11 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 makes the draft order to introduce a voluntary code of practice currently before both Houses unworkable; and whether they intend to invoke their reserve power provided in Section 104 of that Act.[HL4754]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have sought to provide reassurance to communications service providers on this point, but it is ultimately a matter for them to assess the extent of any legal risk entailed in complying with the code of practice. We will keep this under review.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the current arrangements for data retention under Part 11 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 are inadequate for national security purposes; if so, in what ways; whether they consider that the voluntary approach proposed will be applied consistently across the industry; and if there is no consistent approach, what implications this may have for the value of the whole exercise.[HL4755]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are so far satisfied, but will review these arrangements in the light of take-up of voluntary retention by communication service providers. The reserve powers under Section 104 will be invoked if necessary.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made to determine that the proposals in respect of Part 11 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 for the code of practice on data retention are necessary,

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    proportionate and justified as required by the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL4757]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: This was set out in the consultation paper on a code of practice for voluntary retention of communications data published in March 2003. Having given careful consideration to the responses received, we remain satisfied that our proposals satisfy the necessity and proportionality requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Viscount Bridgeman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funds they have set aside to meet their commitment to reimburse communications service providers for the additional costs they will incur in respect of Part 11 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 if they voluntarily retain data under the proposed code of practice.[HL4761]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: £4 million is available this year. Future provision will be reviewed in the light of take-up of the code of practice on voluntary data retention by communications service providers.


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