asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will hold discussions with the British Broadcasting Corporation and independent television companies about increasing the use of subtitles on television to help deaf people;
The police national computer provides a wanted/missing persons' file, on which forces may record data about missing persons under the age of 18 and all adults who have disappeared or unaccountably left home in circumstances which make it seem likely that they have come to some harm.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the advice on the use and updating of information held on the police national computer regarding details of missing persons under the age of 18 years and of other vulnerable missing persons; and if he will make a statement.
Advice to chief officers on the use and updating of this file is contained in the code of practice for the protection of personal data held on the police national computer, a copy of which is in the Library. Records of missing persons are kept for a minimum of 10 weeks unless the subject is found. Individual records may be retained for a longer period at the discretion of the chief officer concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to the answer of 22 April, Official Report, column 323, he will provide a breakdown of the missing persons figures in each column of table 2 according to the following age groups: under 14, 14 to 16 and 16 to 18 years.
[pursuant to his reply, 14 May, c. 92]: I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that the available information is as given in the following table; statistics are not readily available for the age groups specified. The procedures for the recording of persons who were missing for only a short period were improved in 1984 and this may have increased the numbers recorded by the missing persons bureau; at the end of 1984 the numbers recorded as missing—150 aged under 14, and 240 aged 14 to 17—were lower than those a year earlier at the end of 1983—220 aged under 14, and 420 aged 14 to 17.(2) if he will make a special grant to the broadcasting authorities for the extension of subtitles on television to help deaf people.
As soon as teletext technology became available, both the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Broadcasting Authority recognised and began to exploit its potential for providing subtitles to television programmes in order to improve their enjoyment by deaf people. The broadcasting authorities are still developing their resources for this purpose. In 1984 subtitles were provided on averaged for about 26 hours per week, and I understand that there are plans over the next five years to subtitle all major pre-recorded programmes which are broadcast at peak times. Work is also in hand by the authorities to develop effective systems for subtitling live programmes.I do not believe that it is appropriate for the Government to grant-aid this work, nor do I see any necessity for the Government to discuss these matters with the broadcasters at the present time.