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Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many places are available in (a) residential and (b) other centres for the treatment of heroin addiction. [16022]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are approximately 3,100 residential places available across England for those requiring treatment for substance misuse problems. Although the majority of these places will be taken up by opiate users, they are also for those addicted to other drugs. It is therefore not possible to estimate how many of these places are taken up by heroin addicts.

As far as non-residential centres are concerned there are approximately 450 drug services across the country. As these centres respond to different levels of demand at different times it is not possible to put a figure on the number of places they provide.

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many addicts are receiving methadone replacement treatment for heroin addiction. [16023]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Since the Home Office Addicts Index closed in 1997, the Regional Drug Misuse Databases (RDMDs) have been the main source of information on people presenting to drug treatment services with a drug problem. During the six month period ending 30 September 2000, around 21,200 people were reported to the RDMDs in England as presenting for treatment with heroin recorded as their main drug of misuse. Around 6,200 of these people were reported as being prescribed methadone for treatment at the time they presented; other heroin users may subsequently have been prescribed methadone.

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his latest estimate is of the number of heroin users in the UK. [16202]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Drug misuse databases (DMDs) are the main source of information on the number of heroin users. These databases report on the number of persons presenting to drug treatment services. Data are not available for the whole of the United Kingdom, but separate figures for Great Britain and Northern Ireland are provided here. In addition, the British Crime Survey (BCS) 2000 calculated a population estimate for 16 to 24-year-old heroin users in England and Wales. There has also been a recent research report published by academics that estimates the number of problematic opiate users in the United Kingdom.

The table provides a summary of estimates from different parts of the United Kingdom by various methods.

Figures on the number of heroin users by area and data source

AreaYearData sourceEstimate
Great Britain2000DMD(23)25,000 new episodes of treatment in 6 months
Northern Ireland2000–01DMD(24)47 users reporting to agencies in 12 months
Northern Ireland2000Addicts Index(25)233 users registered
England and Wales2000BCS(26)46,000 users in the past year and 18,000 in the last month (by 16-to 24-year-olds)
United Kingdom1996Research report(27)162, 544 to 243, 820 problematic users

(23) Statistics from the Regional Drug Misuse Databases for six months ending September 2000. National Statistics/Department of Health Statistical Bulletin 2001 18 June.

(24) Northern Ireland Drug Misuse Database. Progress Report and Initial Findings 2000–01. Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit, September 2001.

(25) Northern Ireland Drug Addicts' Statistical Information Bulletin, 31 December 2000.

(26) Drug misuse declared in 2000: results from the British Crime Survey. Home Office Research Study 224.

(27) Frishcer M, Hickman M, Kraus L, Mariani F and Wiessing L (2001) A comparison of different methods for estimating the prevalence of problematic drug misuse in Great Britain. Addiction, 96, 1465–1476.

Overseas Adoption

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the countries from which young children up to the age of five years were allowed entry into the United Kingdom for legal adoption by citizens of the United Kingdom in the last three years. [15750]

Angela Eagle: Information on the number of children admitted to the United Kingdom from overseas countries for adoption is not currently available.

The information that is available covers the number of children up to the age of five years given indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom on the basis of adoption. This number excludes those children given limited leave to remain and who are subsequently adopted through the United Kingdom courts, becoming British citizens on the date that the final adoption order is made.

A total of around 20 adopted children up to the age of five were given indefinite leave to remain in 2000. The corresponding totals for 1999 and 1998 were 10 and 20 respectively. The nationalities of the children were:

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There were fewer than 10 cases for each nationality.


Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter of 25 September from the hon. Member for Putney with regard to his constituent Mrs. Kulsoom Begum Gill (Refs. G339000 and B523773). [14938]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 19 November 2001]: I wrote to my hon. Friend on 21 November 2001. I am sorry I did not send an earlier reply.

Mr. Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to secure a substantive reply from the National Asylum Support Service reference IMG/01247/1385/587 in relation to the letters of 18 October and 8 November from the hon. Member for Manchester, Central regarding his constituent Mrs. H. A. F. [16317]

Angela Eagle: An official from the National Asylum Support Service responded to my hon. Friend on 16 November.

Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress with work on the perimeter fencing at Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution. [16316]

Beverley Hughes: The latest position is that the work is scheduled to begin in March 2002, and will take approximately one year to complete. In the meantime, young prisoners requiring the highest level of physical security are not being held at Aylesbury.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the future of the healthcare centre at Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution. [16312]

Beverley Hughes: The health care centre is under used because of the success of the strategy for treating prisoners on the wings. The Governor is examining a range of options for converting part of the health care centre for other accommodation or activity uses.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his response to the annual report for 2000–01 of the board of visitors of Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution. [16314]

Beverley Hughes: I replied to the Chair of the Board on 13 November 2001 and I am placing a copy of my reply in the Library.

Sentencing Review

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the results of the public consultation on the review of sentencing. [15021]

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Mr. Keith Bradley: "Making Punishments Work", the report of a review of the sentencing framework undertaken by John Halliday—and known as the Halliday report—was published on 5 July and responses were invited by 31 October. The report was sent to a large number of individuals and organisations and a series of meetings were held with members of the public and representatives of the judiciary and other bodies to encourage consideration of the report and obtain views.

In order to encourage wider public involvement in the debate, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, launched the Fairer Sentencing website which contained a quiz, a facility to e-mail views and an on-line debating provision. In addition debate was stimulated in local, regional and national media and hon. Members were encouraged to initiate discussion in their constituencies. A number of conferences have also been convened.

The level of interest and response has been considerable. Over 120 detailed responses have been received from individuals or organisations with connections to the criminal justice system and even more from members of the public by letter or e-mail or through the debating channel. In addition, the website received 33,482 page hits, the home page was visited 5,831 times, 2,839 copies of the layman's summary of the Halliday review were downloaded, 1,171 copies of the Home Secretary's speech on sentencing reform were downloaded and 1,226 people completed the quiz on the website. This has been a unique opportunity to hold a public consultation on the point of sentencing and many members of the public have offered their own suggestions and alternatives.

There has been almost unanimous support for the need for change to the present sentencing framework, accompanied by a strong message that the change should be done well, properly resourced and then allowed to stand the test of time. There has also been broad support for the general thrust of the proposals, in particular the need for radical changes in the approach to short prison sentences. There is widespread recognition that it is unacceptable to have no supervision for an individual leaving a short prison sentence and that there are many opportunities for improving the effectiveness of both a prison sentence and a community sentence.

There has also been considerable support for greater transparency in sentencing.

There has been mixed support for the greater involvement of the courts in the management of sentences through review hearings. Many commentators have seen the strength of the arguments in terms of principle but have expressed doubts about whether the enormous practical difficulties could be overcome sufficiently well to justify that intervention in every case.

Officials are now analysing the responses in greater detail and a summary of the responses will be published, with copies in the Library, towards the end of January 2002. I then anticipate publishing a White Paper in spring 2002.

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