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HMP Woodhill

Mr. Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the general regime at the high-security disruptive prisoner unit at HMP Woodhill; and whether there are facilities, including treatment facilities, for prisoners detained in that unit who have significant mental health problems. [98449]

Mr. Boateng: There are three close supervision centres (CSCs) in Woodhill prison offering restricted, structured and intervention regimes. These provide a co-ordinated range of regimes to manage seriously disruptive prisoners. The regimes aim to facilitate change and encourage improved behaviour.

Prison doctors are encouraged to identify prisoners who need to be detained for medical treatment for mental disorder and to initiate action to effect their transfer to a suitable facility under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983.

There are no specific facilities for prisoners at Woodhill who have significant mental health problems. However, there is a CSC support centre at Durham prison for prisoners who may benefit from psychological support with psychiatric advice where appropriate.

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Police Funding

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his reasons were for not changing the formula for police funding relating to sparsity factor. [99055]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The findings of the independent research report on policing sparsely populated rural areas were considered by a Home Office chaired Working Group, which included representatives of the police service, police authorities and local authorities, in the summer. There was no single view within the Working Group on the conclusions of the report. There was general agreement that a scarcity factor had been detected, but less agreement about how to include it appropriately in the police funding formula.

We have also taken into consideration the need for stability in the police funding system to enable police authorities to plan ahead. In the July 1998 White Paper, "Modern Local Government--In Touch With the People", my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister said that we would not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs) whilst a fundamental review of the SSA system across local government is conducted. This applies equally to the method of police grant distribution, as a common formula is used for distribution of police grant and SSA.

In the light of these factors our present intention is that, subject to consultation and parliamentary approval, we shall not make any changes to the method of police grant distribution for 2000-01. We do not therefore propose to make any substantive changes to the operation of the police funding formula for next year.

Rural police forces will continue to benefit from the existing 'scarcity' element of the funding formula. This element allocates 0.5 per cent. of the available funding (about £35 million) on a judgmental basis.

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will assess the impact of his funding policies on the number of police officers there will be in Gloucestershire in the financial year 2000-01; and how many additional police officers he estimates there will be in Gloucestershire in 2000-01. [99056]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The powers of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to set police establishment levels for each force were removed under the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994. It is for the chief officer to determine staffing levels within the overall resources available. We will be announcing shortly the proposed funding allocations for police authorities in England and Wales for 2000-01.

In addition, the Government are making available additional resources, in a new ring-fenced Crime Fighting Fund, to enable the police to recruit 5,000 more officers, over and above the number that would otherwise have been recruited over the next three years.

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish his recommendations following the Home Office Working Group report on additional costs associated with the policing of sparsely populated rural areas. [98586]

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Mr. Charles Clarke: The findings of the independent research report on policing sparsely populated rural areas were considered by a Home Office chaired Working Group, which included representatives of the police service, police authorities and local authorities, in the summer. There was no single view within the Working Group on the conclusions of the report. There was general agreement that a sparsity factor had been detected, but less agreement about how to include it appropriately in the police funding formula.

We have also taken into account the need for stability in the police funding system to enable police authorities to plan ahead. In the July 1998 White Paper, "Modern Local Government--In Touch with the People", my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister said that we would not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs) while a fundamental review of the SSA system across local government is conducted. This applies equally to the method of police grant distribution, as a common formula is used for distribution of police grant and SSA.

Rural police forces will continue to benefit from the existing 'sparsity' element in the funding formula. This element allocates 0.5 per cent. of the available funding (about £35 million) on a judgmental basis.

Our present intention is that, subject to consultation and approval by the House, we shall not make any changes to the method of police grant distribution for 2000-01. We do not therefore propose to make any substantive changes to the operation of the police funding formula for next year.

Handcuffs

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the UK police or prison services use oversize cuffs; and what research and policy guidelines the Police Scientific Development Branch has issued on the standards of handcuffs, oversize cuffs and other restraining equipment. [98540]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 22 November 1999]: The purchase of handcuffs and other equipment is an operational matter for chief officers of police. I understand that the handcuffs normally in use are rigid speedcuffs, sometimes known as quick-cuffs. The Police Scientific Development Branch has not issued guidelines on standards for handcuffs or other restraining equipment, but guidelines on the use of handcuffs has been issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

I understand that each Prison Service establishment in England and Wales is issued with two sets of oversize cuffs for use as necessary with prisoners with exceptionally large wrists.

British Summer Time

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the advantages of abandoning British summer time in England and Wales. [98582]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The advantages of maintaining British summer time in the winter in terms of increasing the amount of afternoon daylight would be offset by the equivalent loss of morning daylight, which would have

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added impact for the northern areas of England as well as for Scotland. The issues remain as set out in a consultation document published by the Home Office in 1989.

Burglary Prevention

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to make it easier for individuals to use reasonable force to prevent burglars entering their property or removing items from it. [98490]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 provides that a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime. I have no plans to amend that legislation.

Passport Agency

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from the Passport Agency concerning changes to the fees it charges to the general public. [99383]

Mrs. Roche: Passport fees are reviewed on an annual basis and a number of options regarding fee levels for this year have been submitted for consideration.

Trial by Jury

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will place in the Library the conclusions of his consideration of the financial implications of the Government's proposals to change the right of defendants to elect trial by jury; [99059]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 22 November 1999]: It is estimated that around 12,000 fewer defendants will be tried in the Crown Court annually. These defendants would instead be tried in magistrates' courts. We estimate that the savings to the criminal justice system will be £105 million, taking into account the costs of appeals against the magistrates' decision.


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