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Terrorism (Internet Access)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the security implications of access by terrorists to UK media reports via the internet. [13676]

Mr. Blunkett: Information is available on the internet as it is in the media generally.

There is no specific assessment made by the Government. Those placing material on and therefore responsible for the information given on the internet, are subject to the same security rules and regulations as print or broadcast media. No assessment has been made by the Government although the security and intelligence services do of course monitor such information and make their own assessment.


Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research has been done to evaluate the potential health risks caused by TETRA masts; and if he will make a statement. [14621]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 14 November 2001]: In areas accessible to the public, TETRA base station operators must ensure that they comply with all relevant guidelines on exposure of the public to signals from radio masts. Operational guidelines on health and safety are in place for instances where the emergency services need to operate in restricted areas around base stations.

Police (Early Leavers)

Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the percentage of police officers who leave the police force after (a) two years, (b) five years and (c) 10 years. [10672]

Mr. Denham: As part of the process of monitoring progress on "Dismantling Barriers", Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has requested information from forces about the number of officers who left during 2000–01.

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This is the first year for which information has been collected in the current format and some forces have been unable to provide the information requested. The following table is based on the information so far available. It covers only 26 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales and may not be representative of the police service as a whole.

Percentage of officers leaving the police service by length of service 2000–01(36),(37),(38)

Percentage of total leavers
Less than 2 years7
2 years—less than 5 years12
Five years—less than 10 years13
10 years and over68

(36) Percentages calculated using data from 26 forces in England and Wales: Avon and Somerset, Bedfordshire, Cheshire, City of London, Cleveland, Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Sussex, Thames Valley, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Wiltshire.

(37) Leaving: all leavers, medical or ordinary retirement, dismissals, resignations, transfers and deaths.

(38) Length of service is calculated as at 31 March 2000 and includes service in other police forces as well as in the force an officer left.

Police Numbers (Nottinghamshire)

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on police numbers in Nottinghamshire. [10383]

Mr. Denham: I understand from the Chief Constable that on 31 August the force had 2,285 police officers. This is 63 more officers than the force had in March 2001. Nottinghamshire Constabulary has set a budgeted work force total of 2,347 officers for 31 March 2002. On 31 March 2001 the force had 2,039 civilian support staff, 36 more than in March 1997.

Fifty-eight recruits to Nottinghamshire Constabulary were funded by the crime fighting fund (CFF) in 2000–01 and the force expects to recruit 47 CFF officers in 2001–02.

Terrorism (Civil Response)

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's plans for co-ordinating the civil response to a major terrorist attack. [13338]

Mr. Blunkett: As Chairman of the Civil Contingencies Committee, I have been leading a comprehensive review of our contingency plans. We are taking all sensible steps to make sure the country is well prepared to handle all eventualities, including a major terrorist attack.

Building on the extensive work which was already in place, including leading up to the millennium, my right hon. and hon. Friends, the Ministers of State for policing and for local government, and the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office have also led working groups reporting to the committee on arrangements for key resilience and reassurance issues.

Women Prisoners

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the prospects

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for the rate of change in the number of women prisoners since 1 May 1997 to be sustained; what assessment he has made of the reasons for the change; and if he will make a statement. [14302]

Beverley Hughes: The female prison population has increased by 52 per cent. between 30 April 1997 and 30 September 2001.

The main reason for the growth in this period is the rise in the custody rates at the courts. Around half the increase is accounted for by women imprisoned for drug offences; mainly unlawful importation of drugs, supplying class A drugs and possession with intent to supply class A drugs. During 2001, a rise in remands has also been a contributory factor.

Projections of long term trends in the prison population to 2008 were published on 23 May 2001 (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 8/01). The central scenario assumed that the custody rates for females would increase at a rate of 4.5 per cent. per year until 2008. Both short and long-term prison population projections are currently under review, and a revised projection will be incorporated in the "Prison Population Brief, England and Wales" shortly. This is available on the Home Office website.

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the capacity of each women's prison in the United Kingdom. [14303]

Beverley Hughes: The information sought is listed in the table and relates to female prisons in England and Wales. Information relating to prisons in Scotland and Northern Ireland should be sought from the Scottish Executive and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland respectively.

Female Prisons: capacity on 12 November 2001

NameCertified normal accommodationOperational capacity
Askham Grange135135
Bullwood Hall180180
Cookham Wood120150
Drake Hall267267
East Sutton Park94100
Eastwood Park291324
Foston Hall214219
Low Newton255285
Morton Hall192192
New Hall327386

Roger Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to (a) ensure that adequate provision has been made for the accommodation of women prisoners, (b) reduce the risk of suicide among women prisoners and (c) ensure the safety of prisoners at Downview prison in Surrey. [15288]

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Beverley Hughes: The Prison Service Management Board continuously monitors the changes in population in order to ensure sufficient accommodation is provided for each group of offenders sent into prison custody. The change of function at Downview is one of the actions that was taken to provide adequate accommodation for women prisoners. Consideration is currently being given to the need to change the function of another male prison to accommodate women prisoners.

Following the Prison Service Internal Review, "Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm in the Prison Service", a new three-year strategy to reduce prisoner suicides and self-harm was announced by my predecessor on 5 February. The main principles of the strategy apply across all types of prisons and prisoners whether male or female. Implementation of the strategy is being taken forward as part of a long-term programme aiming to reduce suicides and self-harm. This is an all-round approach to encourage a supportive culture in prisons based on good staff-prisoner relationships, a constructive regime and a physically safe environment. Among the five establishments chosen to pilot this programme is the women's prison and young offender institution Eastwood Park. The Prison Service has a duty of care to all prisoners in its custody, and recognises that self-harm is a particular problem among women offenders. The review highlighted the need for specific interventions for repetitive self-injury and a number of steps are being taken to address this issue. The Prison Service is considering alternative care pathways for those who injure themselves. After development, piloting and evaluation it is intended that specific interventions will be introduced in those prisons with a specific need.

All prisoners are assessed for the potential for self-harm before allocation to Downview. Prisoners who have been identified as being at risk of self-harm are only being allocated to Her Majesty's Prison Downview if this provides additional support and is specified in their individual support plan. Prisoners exhibiting the potential for self-harm while at Downview are closely monitored.

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