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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on precautions to be taken by (a) Government Departments and (b) the public in relation to the threat of anthrax attack. [13410]

Mr. Denham: The Home Office is working very closely with the Department of Health on precautionary guidance that should be followed in relation to biological and chemical threats received by post including anthrax. The Home Office initially provided updated guidance in the form of a supplement to 'Bombs: Protecting People and Property' which was made available via the Home Office website. Departmental Security Officers in Government Departments have been issued with appropriate guidance by the Cabinet Office Security Division.

Using the Home Office guidance as a starting point, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were asked to prepare expanded guidance for members of the public, employers and workers on: general mail handling; identification of a suspect package; steps that should be taken if a suspect package is received or if somebody comes into contact

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with a biological or chemical substance and what to do if you are an employer. This information is now available on the website of the News Co-ordination Centre (part of the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat) and the HSE's own website. The guidance is also linked to other Government websites. The guidance will be kept under constant review in the light of developments worldwide.

Non-lethal Weapons

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent research his Department has undertaken on non-lethal weapons for use by the police in incidents involving (a) firearms and (b) other weapons as alternatives to firearms. [13260]

Mr. Denham: The Home Office, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Northern Ireland Office, is currently reviewing, as a matter of priority, the range of "less lethal" technologies that might be appropriate for use by the police in situations of public disorder as alternatives to the baton round or, where the police are faced with an armed assailant, as an alternative to the use of firearms. In April we published a full account of the less lethal technologies available setting out the different kinds of equipment under examination. These include certain impact devices, long range chemical delivery devices, water cannon, electrical devices, disorientation devices, malodorants, and tranquillisers. Phase II of this work prioritising these less lethal technologies is nearing completion, and the results will be published shortly. Those alternatives selected for immediate further research will be subject to further testing and independent medical evaluation.

Where, however, the police are faced with a situation where there is an immediate threat to life from a person with a firearm, firearms officers will be deployed to the scene and a firearms response will remain a primary option, in line with existing ACPO guidance.

Trial Drugs Policy (Brixton)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the trial drugs policy in Brixton; and what plans there are to adopt a similar approach in other parts of the UK. [16439]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to questions from my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones) on 29 October 2001, Official Report, column 500W.

Young Offender Institutions

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the quality of (a) care and (b) treatment being offered to (i) mentally and (ii) personality disordered prisoners held in young offender institutions; and if he will make a statement. [16342]

Beverley Hughes: Prison Service establishments, including young offender institutions, and the health authorities in which they are situated, have been jointly assessing prisoners' health needs, including their mental health needs, and identifying appropriate services to meet them and effective means of delivery. This process, which had been very largely completed by the end of March

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2001, was designed to lead to improvements in service provision, through the implementation of individual prison health plans, commencing from April 2001.

The Department of Health's National Service Framework for Mental Health (1999) and the National Health Service (NHS) Plan (2000) make provision for improving mental health services to prisoners, in particular the development of community mental health teams working in prisons. Delivery of these commitments will require prisons and their local health partners to conduct specific mental health needs assessments and identify the services that will need to be put in place to meet any deficits.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what targets he has set for mandatory drug testing at each young offender institution. [16343]

Beverley Hughes: The random mandatory drug testing targets for each male young offender institution and juvenile establishment are listed in the table.


EstablishmentMandatory drug testing target
Glen Parva15
Lancaster Farms6
Stoke Heath8
Swinfen Hall7.5
Thorn Cross15

Ashfield young offender institution is a private sector establishment. Financial penalties are incurred for each guilty adjudication following a positive random mandatory drug test.

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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) suicides and (b) incidents of self-harm have taken place at each young offender institution in (a) 1996–97, (b) 1997–98, (c) 1998–99, (d) 1999–2000, (e) 2000–01 and (f) 2001–02 to date. [16341]

Beverley Hughes: The available figures for each male young offender institution and juvenile establishment are listed in the tables. I regret that figures on self-harm are not available for the financial years 1996–97 and 1997–98 as data were not recorded centrally until January 1998.

Numbers of suicides in young offender institutions by financial year

Glen Parva32128
Stoke Heath11
Swiffen Hall33

(6) To date

Numbers of self harm incidents in young offenders institutions by financial year

Glen Parva56677824233
Lancaster Farms292620987
Stoke Heath2312191172
Swiffen Hall9712432
Thorn Cross00000

(7) To date

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