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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 2 November 2009

Home Department

Olympic Safety and Security

The Minister for Policing, Crime and Counter-Terrorism (Mr. David Hanson): As part of our commitment to ensure the safety and security of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games a contract has been signed between Airwave Solutions Ltd and the National Policing Improvement Agency for the enhancement of the Airwave radio service, which provides core radio communications for police, fire and ambulance services.

This £39 million investment will fund an increase in the capability of the Airwave system in time for the 2012 Games which will mean it can cater for thousands more users from all of the emergency services. This will benefit all 2012 host venue police forces, fire and ambulance services.

This investment will provide capacity to support the additional policing requirements at all Olympic venues, coverage within Olympic venues, capability to support public order operational activities involving several thousand officers within confined geographical locations, and capability to address the risk of a spontaneous major incident while continuing to support business as usual and Olympics requirements.

UK Border Agency Guidance (Welfare of Children)

The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Phil Woolas): Together with the Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, Baroness Delyth Morgan, I have today issued statutory guidance to the UK Border Agency under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.

Section 55 comes into force today. It places a duty on the Secretary of State to make arrangements for ensuring that immigration, asylum, nationality and customs functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. A similar duty is placed on the Director of Border Revenue in respect of the director's functions. Subsections 55(3) and (5) require any person exercising any of these functions to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State for this purpose.

Section 55 is intended to have the same effect as section 11 of the Children Act 2004 which places a similar duty on a range of key public bodies. This guidance is an important step in the process of bringing the UK Border Agency within the family of agencies who, together, have statutory responsibilities to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when carrying out their duties. The guidance is supported by a programme of reform to improve the way in which children are treated in the immigration system, led by the agency's senior management, and
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which includes an extensive training programme for UK Border Agency staff. The UK Border Agency will be held to account by its new, independent Chief Inspector who will inspect and challenge us on our progress.

Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Openness of Family Courts - Family Courts Information Pilot

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor announced on 16 December 2008 a package of measures to improve the openness of family courts, and on 27 April 2009 he made a written statement to the House about the implementation of new court rules concerning media attendance at proceedings and disclosure provisions, Official Report, column 38WS.

I am now able to confirm that the next phase of the programme has been implemented today-the family courts information pilot. This pilot will test the provision of written judgments in more cases than now, and place anonymised judgments and written reasons in the public domain via the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website. The pilot will run from today in the magistrates courts in Leeds and in the magistrates court and county court in Cardiff, and it will run from the beginning of January at the magistrates court and county court in Wolverhampton.

The provision of the judgments and written reasons is being piloted in order that we can assess the benefits to parties to proceedings and the wider public, as well as the resource impacts on court service staff and the judiciary. The pilot is expected to run for 12 months, and evidence from the pilot will be evaluated to inform a decision on whether the arrangements should be implemented nationally.

The following types of cases fall within the scope of the pilot:

Cases where an interim care/supervision order or a final order has been made at a hearing in either:

Cases that fall under at least one of the following categories:

There will be other types of case in which publication of the judgment will be encouraged. The type of cases include:

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Annual Report of the Public Guardian Board

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): The Public Guardian Board has provided the Lord Chancellor with a copy of its annual report on the Public Guardian for 2009. A copy of the report is available in the Library of the House.

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