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Jill Dando

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the recent progress of the police investigation into the murder of Jill Dando. [107257]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The investigation of crime within the Metropolitan Police District is an operational matter for the Commissioner. He informs me that the investigation into the murder of Jill Dando is continuing.

Metropolitan Police

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of police officers as at 1 January in each of the last five years in each police division in London (a) for each area, (b) for each borough and (c) in total. [107152]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on 19 January 2000, Official Report, column 457W.

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in each London borough per 10,000 of population as measured in the 1991 Census, on 1 January in each of the last five years. [107174]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Figures provided by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police are shown in the following table:

Numbers of locally based police officers per 10,000 of population

London borough19951996199719981999
Kensington and Chelsea42.541.644.241.939.3
Hammersmith and Fulham34.934.135.934.733.2
Tower Hamlets37.736.535.533.833.4
Waltham Forest22.421.321.921.321.2


These numbers exclude officers deployed on non-local duties, e.g. on Areas or specialist Units.

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 431W

Electronic Tracking

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many early release prisoners have been fitted with an electronic tracking device; and how many have been given permission to breach the evening curfew restrictions. [107169]

Mr. Boateng: Up to midnight on 26 January, a total of 16,242 offenders had been placed on Home Detention Curfew since the commencement of the scheme on 28 January 1999.

The electronic monitoring service is provided by private sector contractors operating to strict Home Office guidelines. The contractors may grant "one-off" absences in specified circumstances, which must be capable of being verified and documented. The circumstances are clearly laid out in their contract and are currently as follows:

    An irregular or unexpected medical appointment for the offender or his/her immediate dependants;

    A requirement, as part of the curfewee's permanent employment, to work at short notice, and where there would be insufficient time to contact the prison governor. The contractor is required to receive written verification from the employer that the work was required and took place;

    Any absence caused by the curfewee being detained in police custody;

    Attending the marriage or funeral of a close relative;

    Attendance at a job interview, job club or benefit office, or elsewhere to "sign on" in connection with any claims for financial assistance; and

    Attendance at court as a witness or as a defendant.

Other than in the event of these "one-off" absences, contractors have no discretion to grant permission to be absent from the place of curfew during the specified curfew period.

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 432W

Information about the number of cases in which contractors have agreed to a "one-off" absence is not held centrally.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions in each of the past five years computer systems in his Department have been illegally accessed by computer hackers (a) within and (b) outside his Department. [106236]

Mr. Straw: Official records compiled under the Government scheme for reporting Information Technology (IT) security incidents show the following attempts were made to gain unauthorised access to the Department's systems over the past five years:


None of these attempts resulted in any damage to the integrity of IT systems.

Police (Hearing Impairment)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 16 December 1999, Official Report, column 273W, concerning hearing impairment of police officers, (a) how many Metropolitan Police officers in the last two years have received negligence compensation payments due to developing a hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of their work duties and (b) what is the total amount that the Metropolitan Police Force have paid out in the last two years in compensation payments to police officers who have developed a hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of their duties. [107302]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District tells me that details of the number of negligence compensation payments or the amounts paid to officers who have developed a hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of their duties are held on individual case files, but are not aggregated in the form requested.

Departmental Consultation

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the public consultation exercises on policy matters carried out by his Department and its agencies in each of the last five years; who was consulted and by what means; how responses were analysed; how and in what form the results were transmitted to those responsible for the consultation; how the results of the consultation were published; and what analysis has been carried out of the extent and nature of policy changes resulting from the consultation. [106298]

Mr. Straw: The information requested is not available centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 433W

Since May 1997, the Home Office has, however, consulted on a wide range of issues. The Government welcome the views of the public on proposed new policies and initiatives and is committed to consulting through a variety of means, including Consultation Documents, Green Papers and documents published on the internet. Consultation Papers have included papers on: Tackling delays in the youth justice system (1997); Racial violence and harassment (1997); Supporting families (1998); Juries in serious fraud trials (1998); New measures to control prostitutes' cards in phone boxes (1999); and Possible changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (1999).

Between 1995 and May 1997, the Consultation Papers published by the Home Office included papers on: Identity Cards (1995); Proposed changes to betting licensing (1995); Casino deregulation (1996); and, Clarification of the law relating to the bribery of Members of Parliament (1996).

Women Prisoners

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to ensure that women sentenced to prison terms are allowed time to put their families' affairs in order before their sentences begin. [106187]

Mr. Boateng: Section 1 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 enables a court to defer passing sentence on an offender only to enable it to have regard to the offender's conduct after conviction or to any change in circumstances. There is no power to defer sentence to enable people to arrange child care, and such a change would require primary legislation.

Where a custodial sentence is likely to be imposed, National Standards require the writers of pre-sentence reports to identify any expected adverse effects for offenders and their family, including the issue of child care where appropriate.

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to remodel under-used open prison facilities for the use of women prisoners and their children. [106186]

Mr. Boateng: In September 1997 the Director General of the Prison Service announced a review of five open prisons. The review was initiated against a background of a rising prisoner population which indicated the need to provide more spaces in secure accommodation, in particular the creation of more female places.

The review is specifically required to consider the feasibility of re-roling Morton Hall male open prison to a closed female prison, and upgrading the security of Drake Hall open female prison to that of a closed female prison. The review is also looking at Kirkham, North Sea Camp and Standford Hill. All three establishments are currently open prisons for adult males. The work of the review team will not conclude until the spring and no decisions in respect of the open estate are expected before then.

The provision of mother and baby units is being considered in plans for any new prison for women.

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 434W

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