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Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) on how many occasions the Sentencing Advisory Council has made proposals on (a) framing and (b) revising guidelines on sentencing since its establishment; and if he will make a statement; [142605]

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Mr. Boateng [holding answer 15 December 2000]: Section 81 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 established a new Sentencing Advisory Panel, to provide advice on sentencing to the Court of Appeal. The Panel must be informed when the Court is considering guidelines, and then provide advice, consulting with other interested parties. The Panel may also propose that the Court frame or revise guidelines if it considers this necessary or when directed to do so by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. These provisions came into effect on 1 July 1999.

The Sentencing Advisory Panel has made a proposal that the Court of Appeal should frame a sentencing guideline on four occasions. No proposals have yet been made to revise an existing guideline.

On 21 September 2000, the Panel issued a consultation paper on a proposal that the Court of Appeal frame a sentencing guideline on handling stolen goods. It is hoped that advice will be submitted to the Court of Appeal in the new year.

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the current mandatory sentences, including fixed penalty fines, and the date each came into force; and if he will make a statement. [142615]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 15 December 2000]: Life imprisonment is the mandatory sentence for murder. Section 109 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 provides for an automatic life sentence for a second serious sexual or violent offence. Section 110 of the 2000 Act provides for a minimum seven years imprisonment for a person convicted for a third time of a Class A drug trafficking offence. These provisions were both implemented on 1 October 1997. Section 111 of the 2000 Act provides for a minimum sentence of three years imprisonment for a third time domestic burglary. This was implemented on 1 December 1999.

There are a range of motoring offences that carry an obligatory period of disqualification from driving. A substantial number of motoring offences also carry obligatory endorsement of the offender's driving licence. Although a substantial number of offences may be dealt with by a fixed penalty, the majority of which are road traffic offences, this form of disposal cannot be regarded as a mandatory sentence.

The Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 also makes provision for mandatory referral of certain young offenders to Youth Offender Panels where the offender and Panel will discuss and seek to agree a youth offender contract.

Fixed penalty notices are issued at the discretion of the issuing authority. The offender is offered the choice of avoiding prosecution by paying the penalty or electing non-payment and attending court. Any sentence passed following conviction for the offence is entirely at the discretion of the court.

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Neighbourhood Warden Schemes

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the number of Neighbourhood Warden schemes in operation; what central Government funding has been (a) allocated and (b) spent on Neighbourhood Warden schemes since May 1997; what guidelines are in place relating to the operation of warden schemes; and if he will make a statement. [142606]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 15 December, 2000]: Neighbourhood Wardens are an important part of the Government's regeneration and neighbourhood renewal programme and of our partnership approach to tackling crime and disorder. The Policy Action Team Report 6 on Neighbourhood Wardens surveyed 50 schemes. Subsequently the Government have made funding available for Neighbourhood Warden schemes. In September this year I announced the first 50 successful new schemes, and that 42 further bids were being deferred for development. These enhanced bids have to be submitted for consideration by 15 December. I will make further announcements about these schemes in due course. It is too soon to make any formal assessment of how many schemes will be funded; we will however be evaluating the schemes in a similar way to other schemes funded under the Crime Reduction Programme.

We have allocated a total of £13.5 million (from the Home Department and the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions) for Neighbourhood Warden schemes over the period 2000-03. The total value of the first tranche of approved schemes is £7.6 million.

The Neighbourhood Wardens Unit is providing technical support and guidance notes to all schemes as they develop their implementation plans. Guidance is routinely placed on the crime reduction website ( Draft guidance on warden induction training has recently been circulated to successful schemes.

Domestic Violence

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures (a) have been and (b) are planned to be taken to (i) reduce the level of domestic violence and (ii) strengthen support for victims of domestic violence; and if he will make a statement. [142608]

Mr. Boateng: Since 1997, the Government have undertaken a broad range of measures to reduce the level of domestic violence and strengthen support for victims. Significantly, a £7 million violence against women initiative within the Crime Reduction Programme is designed to evaluate the most effective and cost-effective interventions.

Other recent measures include: the issue of multi-agency guidance to agencies dealing with domestic violence and of specific guidance to Health Service professionals; the issue of a new Home Department circular to the police; the inclusion of domestic violence within police Best Value performance indicators; the provision of £120 million additional capital funding for a new Safer Communities Supported Housing Fund for

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specified vulnerable groups, including the survivors of domestic violence; and, increased funding for Victim Support.

Other current initiatives include work with the Association of Chief Police Officers on a circular on effective use of provisions in the Protection from Harassment Act; the evaluation of probation service domestic violence perpetrator programmes; the development of a domestic violence toolkit on the Home Department's crime reduction website; planned research on possible future publicity work; and the inclusion in the British Crime Survey 2001 of a special module on domestic violence.

Public Disorder

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his definition is of a public disorder incident for the purposes of the performance measures and targets set out on page 4 of the Criminal Justice System Business Plan 2000-01. [143010]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 15 December, 2000]: The definition of a public disorder incident adopted for the purpose of the 2000-01 business plan is

The offence codes covered by the definition are disturbance in public place/licensed premises/private property; drunkenness; domestic incident; march/ demonstration; civil dispute; racial/homophobic incident; neighbour dispute; other unlisted disorder/nuisance; public/sports events and hunt saboteurs. We are however considering whether alternative ways of measuring public disorder, including possibly a measure based on people's perceptions of disorder, should be used in future years.

Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has issued to young offender teams about the implementation of drug treatment and testing orders. [143018]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 15 December, 2000]: General guidance issued to probation services about the drug treatment and testing order, in the form of probation circulars, has been widely circulated and discussed with youth offending teams (YOTs). A specific circular for YOTs managers has been developed jointly by the Home Office Probation Unit and Youth Justice Board to identify best practice for the implementation of the Order as it relates to young offenders. This is being finalised and will be issued to all YOTs early in the new year.

Court Sanctions

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases sanctions available to the courts in the event that a person convicted of a criminal offence fails to pay a fine were used in each of the last five years broken down by sanction; and if he will make a statement. [143004]

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Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 15 December, 2000]: Apart from information about the number of people imprisoned for fine default, the information requested is not available centrally. The most recent available figures for imprisonment are given in the table.

Receptions of adult fine defaulters into prison in England and Wales



Prison Statistics for England and Wales, 1999, table 1.14

Trials of provisions in the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 made additional disposals available to a small number of courts for a limited period to deal with fine defaulters who would otherwise have gone to prison. The use made of those disposals by the courts was published in the report of the trials, "New measures for fine defaulters, persistent petty offenders and others", in February 2000. A decision has not yet been taken about making these disposals available nationally.

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