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Older People

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out for each of the conclusions in section 6.4 of the Performance and Innovation Unit report, "Winning the Generation Game", (a) what progress his Department has made and (b) what future plans his Department has for acting on them; and if he will set out against each of the conclusions the targets and deadlines that have been set. [24207]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 19 December 2001]: The Home Office is committed to equality of opportunity for all staff, and our policies are designed to avoid unfair discrimination on any irrelevant grounds, including age. We are reviewing those policies in the context of the Performance and Innovation Unit recommendations, as follows:

Conclusion 6: Consider ways of increasing downshifting in the Civil Service.

The Home Office offers support to any member of staff who chooses to revert to a more junior grade for personal reasons, irrespective of age. Each application is given sympathetic consideration.

Conclusion 7: Consider creating a work pool of retired civil servants.

The Home Office uses retired civil servants for recruitment and selection boards on an ad hoc basis. We also invite retired members of staff with appropriate experience to carry out reports, enquiries and investigations from time to time.

Conclusion 8: Each Government Department should look at the case for allowing its civil servants to retire at 65.

The Home Office has recently completed a comprehensive review of age retirement, resulting in a change in age retirement policy throughout the Home Office, including agencies (except for the Prison Service,

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which will announce details of its own age retirement review in due course). The new policy, which will come into force on 1 April 2002, will allow staff the option of retiring at any point between the ages of 60 and 65.

Conclusion 9: Civil service departments should consider whether a short-service concession for those with less than 20 years' service should form part of its policy on normal retirement age as an interim measure.

Not applicable, as conclusion 8 recommendations have already been implemented.

Conclusion 10: Departments should take steps to integrate age into their equal opportunities policies.

We are currently drafting a new equal opportunities policy statement. We will consider carefully how to include age in this statement.

Conclusion 11: The Cabinet Office should develop a process for monitoring age-related employment practice.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 335W.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she expects to reply to the Question of 5 December, ref. 21346, from the hon. Member for Buckingham, on sickness absence. [24753]

Mr. Blunkett: The question to which the hon. Member is referring was answered on 17 December 2001, Official Report, column 91W.

Driving Disqualifications (EU)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the prospects for adopting mutual recognition of court-ordered disqualifications from driving across the EU. [24985]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government have consulted widely on options for ratification of the European Union (EU) Driving Disqualification Convention, which was signed by all 15 member states during the United Kingdom's Presidency of the European Union in 1998. The convention requires EU member states to enforce disqualifications imposed on their residents by other member states.

The Government are now considering the responses they have received to their consultation paper and will announce their decision as soon as possible. Ratification of the convention will require primary legislation. The convention will enter into force when it has been ratified by all 15 member states, but the Government intend to explore the possibility of early implementation on a bilateral basis with those countries that have ratified it.

Styal Womens' Prison

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the ratio of prison staff to inmates at Styal Womens' Prison in each of the last 10 years. [25494]

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Beverley Hughes: The information requested is shown in the table. Information is not held on staff numbers prior to 1997. Staff in post and prisoner population are shown as at 31 March each year and at the latest available date.

DatePrisonersStaff in postStaff: inmate ratio
31 March 19972542101:1.21
31 March 19982852351:1.21
31 March 19992773251:0.85
31 March 20004383291:1.33
31 March 20014363181:1.37
31 December 20013793351:1.13

Lewes Prison

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the prison population at HMP Lewes in each month since January 2001; and what the (a) recommended and (b) absolute capacity of the prison is. [25378]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The uncrowded capacity (Certified Normal Accommodation) of Lewes prison is 485 and the operational capacity is 496. The table provides the population figures during 2001.

January 2001411
February 2001414
March 2001445
April 2001446
May 2001435
June 2001443
July 2001471
August 2001478
September 2001471
October 2001468
November 2001467
December 2001(39)458

(38) Figures relate to the last day of the month

(39) Provisional data

Charter of Fundamental Rights

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the compatibility of the provisions within the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 permitting the blanket retention of data with the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights. [25817]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The provisions of Part 11 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 comply with all European and International binding conventions. It is not our practice to assess compatibility with other, non-binding conventions.

Sussex Police

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what funding has been made available to Sussex police specifically to combat drugs; [25762]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Within the police force grant, there is not a ring-fenced allocation for tackling the misuse of drugs. Neither is there additional money allocated for dealing with crack cocaine specifically.

In the year 2001–02, central funding was made available to the Sussex constabulary for specific drug-related programmes. This comprised £258,400 from the Crime Reduction Programme to deliver and maintain drug Arrest Referral schemes, and slightly in excess of £1 million from the Communities Against Drugs (CAD) programme, which can be used for more CCTV, funding for crime stopper schemes and working with pharmacists, to tackle drug-related crime at a community level.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his assessment is of the increase in the use of crack cocaine in the Sussex constabulary area in the last five years. [25764]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is not available in the form requested. The British Crime Survey (BCS) asks a representative sample of 16 to 59-year-olds (sample size of 13,300 individuals in 2000) about their drug use in the last year. The percentage who report using crack was 0.3 per cent. in 2000. Because of the small sample size and the low prevalence of reported crack use it would be unreliable to try to provide estimates for the numbers of crack users for small geographical areas, eg police force areas. Our best estimate of the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who used crack in the last year nationally is 50,000.

Again nationally, the BCS suggests that there has been a significant increase in crack use between 1996 and 2000. In 1996 0.1 per cent. of 16 to 59-year-olds reported using crack in the last year, but by 2000 this had increased to 0.3 per cent. The same figures for 16 to 29-year-olds show an increase from 0.2 per cent. to 0.8 per cent. of the age group.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of arrests have been made by Sussex police in the last year for drug offences. [25763]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Home Office Statistical Bulletin 19/01 "Arrests for Notifiable Offences and the Operation of Certain Police Powers under PACE, England and Wales 2000/01" shows that 6 per cent. of the total persons arrested for notifiable offences by the Sussex constabulary were for drug offences.

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