[holding answer 9 March 2009]: The information is as follows:
(a) The Department has taken a range of steps to deal with gun crime including setting up the Tackling Gangs Action programme, which ran from September 2007 to March 2008. The programme saw a reduction of 51 per cent. in firearms-related injuries and a 27 per cent. drop in all recorded firearm offences across the four TGAP areas. Communities in those areas reported being more aware of police activity during TGAP and a further £1.8 million has been allocated to build on these successes.
One of the key strands in our programme of work is prevention—empowering communities to work with local agencies to take action to prevent gun crime and gang culture and offering support to parents to challenge their children’s behaviour.
We have also been working with the police to develop state-of-the-art imaging technology to provide information and intelligence on firearms used in crimes.
NABIS, which went live in November, is an invaluable tool to police forces round the country. We are of course also continuing to work with SOCA and HMRC to prevent and detect illegal firearms entering the UK.
(b) and (c) The Government's current crime strategy 2008-2011 covers the spectrum of crime—from antisocial behaviour to serious organised crime—whether it takes place in an urban or rural setting. The strategy framework aims to: intervene early to prevent offending, take action to reduce opportunity through situational crime prevention, and ensure that there is robust enforcement and action to reduce re-offending. These are all applicable to both urban and rural settings. The strategy, which has been built upon by the Policing Green Paper and measures in the Police and Crime Reduction Bill, placed real emphasis on local flexibility to tackle local priorities to allow local partners to tailor their response to reflect local need (where issues arising from an urban or rural setting might occur).
(d) We are working closely with the credit card industry to encourage wider adoption by retailers and cardholders of new anti fraud initiatives, with particular emphasis on card not present fraud, such as verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode.
More generally, Government have allocated £29 million over three years to implement the recommendations of the fraud review. This includes the creation of a National Fraud Strategic Authority, launched last October; a new national lead force role for the City of London police; and a National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC), expected to be fully operational in 2010, which will radically streamline the way that the public report fraud to the police. The NFRC will also equip law enforcement agencies with a powerful intelligence tool and help form the basis of better prevention advice and alerts to fraud threats for business and the public.
(e) The Government introduced statutory controls in the UK on unsolicited spam e-mails under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, which came into force on 11 December 2003. They provide a first line of defence against the kind of unsolicited e-mails that many people object to where they have no knowledge of the advertiser or the products being marketed. The regulations require that unsolicited spam e-mails must not be sent to an individual subscriber unless prior permission has been obtained or unless there is a previous relationship between the parties. The regulations can be enforced against an offending company or individual anywhere in the European Union (EU).