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Mr. Boateng: The next review will start in the autumn and is due to be completed by April 2001. It will be conducted under the terms of guidance for reviewing non-departmental public bodies (NDPB'S) included in the Government's Modernising Government White Paper. The review, which will be carried out by external consultants, is in two stages, in which the organisational options are considered first. Then, if NDPB status is confirmed, a forward-looking examination will be undertaken as to how to help develop and improve performance. An announcement of the results of stage one will also be made to Parliament. The senior officials responsible for the review will be the head of the Government's Active Community Unit based in the Home Office.
Mr. Charles Clarke: In accordance with the requirement of the Police Act 1997, I have received, from the Police Information Technology Organisation, a report on the discharge of its functions during the year 1999-2000. I am arranging for copies to be laid before Parliament and placed in the Library.
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Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in respect of the home detention curfew scheme (a) how many prisoners were released on the scheme, (b) how many prisoners convicted of each specific offence were released on the scheme, broken down by the offences committed, including the specific offences committed by prisoners normally classified under the categories (i) other homicide and attempted homicide, (ii) other violence against the person, (iii) drug offences, (iv) assaults, and (v) other offences, including a breakdown of the prisoners normally classified in the sub-category of other offences called other offences, (c) what the average sentence was (i) received and (ii) served, and what average period was spent on the scheme, in respect of each specific offence, (d) how many prisoners were released on the scheme, broken down by offences committed, who (i) breached the conditions of the curfew, (ii) disappeared and were recaptured, (iii) disappeared and remain unlawfully at large and (iv) had their licences revoked, and for what reasons, (e) what specific offences were committed by prisoners released on the scheme while on the scheme including all offences committed by prisoners who committed more than one offence and (f) what specific offences were committed by prisoners released on the scheme who committed a further offence while on the scheme that was similar in character to that for which they were originally convicted, including all offences committed by prisoners who committed more than one offence; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Boateng [holding answer 19 July 2000]: The information provided in this answer is for the period up to 30 June 2000. As of that date, a total of 22,777 prisoners had been placed on Home Detention Curfew since the scheme commenced on 28 January 1999.
The original offences committed by prisoners released under the scheme during the period, the number of prisoners convicted of each specific offence, the average sentence received and served for those offences, and the average period spent on the scheme in respect of the prisoners convicted of each specific offence are shown in Table 1. The data are taken from the Prison Service's inmate information system based on the data recorded by each prison. The table provides as detailed a breakdown of offences as is possible from central records.
Information on curfewees whose licences are revoked and who disappear before being recaptured is not held centrally. However, information is held on the number of curfewees unlawfully at large at any one time. On 30 June there were 41 curfewees who remained unlawfully at large. This represents fewer than 4 per cent. of the total number of revocations.
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As of 30 June 2000, 1,095 curfewees had their licences revoked, using the powers available to the Secretary of State under Sections 38A(1) and 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. The reasons for revocation were as follows:
the curfewee's whereabouts could no longer be electronically monitored (section 38A(1)b of the Criminal Justice Act 1991);
it was necessary to protect the public from serious harm (section 38A(1)c of the Criminal Justice Act 1991); and
the curfewee had committed an offence or breached any requirement of probation supervision (section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991). Curfewees who are charged with new offences may also be recalled on any of the preceding grounds depending on the circumstances of the case.
Table 5 gives a breakdown of all offences committed by prisoners placed on Home Detention Curfew while on the scheme. Where a curfewee has been charged with more than one offence, these have been shown separately.
Table 6 gives a breakdown of the specific offences committed by prisoners placed on the scheme who committed a further offence while on the scheme which was similar in character to the most serious offence for which they were originally convicted.
The scheme is designed to ensure a better transition for short-term offenders between custody and the community. Prisoners are placed on Home Detention Curfew only after a careful risk assessment and the safety of the public is paramount at all times.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, (1) pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2000, Official Report, column 496W, what the basis was for his statement concerning the overcoming of recruitment difficulties relating to Metropolitan Police security officers at the Palace of Westminster; 
(3) if he will make a statement on the difficulties encountered in attracting suitable candidates for posts of Metropolitan Police security officers at the Palace of Westminster; what posts elsewhere compete for the same candidates; and what their rates of pay and conditions of service are; 
(4) pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2000, Official Report, column 496W, concerning the retirement age of Metropolitan Police security officers at the House, (a) on what dates discussions took place with the security officers' trade union representatives, (b) when the trade union representative was shown the letters, prior to their
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(5) pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2000, Official Report, column 496W, concerning Metropolitan Police security officers stationed at the House, if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes or notes taken at the meeting between the Metropolitan Police management and the security officers' trade union representative; 
(6) on what dates Mr. G. Roylance met the Metropolitan Police security officers' trade union representative (a) prior to the dispatch of the letters declining an extension of service to those officers due to retire and (b) after the letters' dispatch; and if he will make a statement; 
(7) pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2000, Official Report, column 496W, when the decision was taken, and by whom, that the availability of recruits for Metropolitan Police security officers at the Palace of Westminster had improved; and on what basis an assessment was made that this situation would be sustained; 
(8) if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on age discrimination in relation to the recruitment and retention policy of Metropolitan Police security guards at the Palace of Westminster. 
Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 18 July 2000]: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis tells me that the Principal Security Officer and a member of the senior management team of the Palace of Westminster Security Force meets monthly with the Public and Commercial Services Union which represents the security officers. The minutes of these meetings are available to all staff. We are seeking the approval of the Public and Commercial Services Union to release the minutes of the meeting on 5 April 2000, at which the Principal Security Officer (PSO) informed the union representatives that it had been decided not to offer any further extension of service to staff over 60 years of age.
In the reply I gave on 24 May 2000, Official Report, column 496W, I acknowledged that the Metropolitan Police had experienced difficulties in recruiting security officers for the Palace of Westminster but that these have been overcome as a result of an external recruitment campaign.
Chief Superintendent Roylance of the Metropolitan Police (the officer in charge of policing the Palace of Westminster) met with the security officers' trade union representatives on 19 April after sending the letters on 13 April to those officers where a further extension of service had been declined. He did not meet them prior to the despatch of letters.
Internal selection within the Metropolitan Police Service is carried out at regular intervals by the local personnel unit at no additional cost. The recent external recruitment campaign for security officers was funded by the Metropolitan Police Service Central Recruitment Branch budget. The cost of the campaign advertisements was approximately £33,086. Planning for the campaign began in February 2000 and the advertisements were placed in May. Consideration of the applications and candidate interviews are now in progress. Some 212 applications were received in response to the campaign
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but it is not yet possible to say how many of the applicants are suitable. The total number of anticipated vacancies is 68, of which 17 were anticipated to be retirements of staff at or beyond the contractual age of retirement in 2000.
The Metropolitan Police compares favourably with other employers of security officers in terms of both salary and working conditions. The starting salary of a security officer is £10,911 per annum and, in addition, Palace of Westminster officers receive £1,622 per annum London Allowance and a Shift allowance.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment issued a publication: "Age Diversity in Employment: A Code of Practice" in 1999, a copy of which is in the Library. The code covers good practice in six aspects of the employment cycle, including retirement. I have no reason to believe that the retirement policy operated by the Metropolitan Police Service is not fairly applied in accordance with the advice given in the code.
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