Previous Section Index Home Page

Lancet Inquiry

Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider referring the issues raised by the Lancet inquiry back to the Crown Prosecution Service. [36516]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 25 February 2002]: This is a matter for Cleveland Police.

Burglar Alarms

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department is taking to co-operate with the private security industry to reduce the number of false burglar alarm call outs in England and Wales. [37429]

Mr. Denham: The principal link for the security industry in the matter of false alarm calls is the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) through their Research and Development Committee. Home Office involvement includes an alarm technology programme which aims to define new ways in which the police service uses alarm systems to tackle burglary and volume crime. In addition, the Police Scientific Development Branch of the Home Office has published a number of papers on the subject and will carry out a study into false alarms in partnership with ACPO. This will investigate the causes of false alarms and highlight the need for best practice throughout the security industry. In the meantime Police Scientific Development Branch will continue work on alarm verification, expanding it to include all of the latest types of sensor devices and audio and imaging techniques.

Active Community Unit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what initiatives are planned for the constituency of Buckingham funded by the Active Community Unit; and what target he has for involvement in volunteering of residents in the constituency. [43285]

21 Mar 2002 : Column 478W

Angela Eagle: The Active Community Unit is not currently funding any projects based in the constituency of Buckingham. However the Unit funds a wide range of national voluntary and community sector organisations which benefit every area of England.

The Active Community Unit aims to achieve a step change in people's voluntary involvement in their communities. We want to encourage and enable more people to volunteer. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister (Mr. Blair) has laid down a challenge to one million more people getting involved in their communities, and the Home Office is committed to making significant progress towards this goal by 2004. This figure is not broken down by constituency.

Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rent will be paid for the premises of the Criminal Records Bureau in Shannon Court, Liverpool [21705]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 10 December 2001]: I understand that the rent payable by Capita, the private sector partner in the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) programme, for the Shannon court premises is £1,015,000.

Prison Service

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Prison Service will implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Body concerning pay for operational managers, prison officers and related grades. [40714]

Beverley Hughes: The report of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) on the pay of governing governors and operational managers, prison officers and related grades in England and Wales in 2002 was published on 30 January 2002 and copies placed in the Library.

The PSPRB has recommended a basic rise of 6 per cent. over a 15 month period. This is a significant award which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Blunkett) has decided will be implemented in full. The locality allowances to Prison Service staff in eligible areas in London and the south-east will be increased immediately by the full amount recommended, with effect from 1 January 2002. The general award will be paid in two steps, 3.5 per cent. backdated to 1 January 2002; the remainder in January 2003.

The key recommendations are:

Current arrangements for the performance pay of operational managers will remain unchanged. Various special allowances will be raised in line with the basic award.

21 Mar 2002 : Column 479W

Prison Population

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to deal with the rise in the prison population. [45391]

Beverley Hughes: The Halliday review of the sentencing framework has given us a unique opportunity to examine what we should do to prevent, tackle and punish offending behaviour. The recent rise in the prison population suggests that sentences are not currently being targeted as effectively as they could be. Prisons are focusing on housing more and more prisoners for whom it is not demonstrably the right option. The Government is currently considering how to take the sentencing reforms forward with a view to publishing our conclusions in a White Paper to be published in the Spring. Whatever the population pressures, the Government is uncompromising in its response to serious and dangerous offenders. Where there is a need to protect the public, this should take place in a secure environment. Communities must be protected from such offenders.

As part of this I am very keen to look imaginatively at alternatives to full time custody, and in particular would like to explore options for piloting intermittent custody and introducing a new suspended sentence (custody minus). These sentences, alongside the tougher and more flexible community sentences we already have, as well as those being proposed, will give sentencers the confidence to explore alternatives to short custodial sentences. Easing pressure on the shorter-term population will enable the Prison Service to focus on providing longer term prisoners with the regimes, training and programmes they need to correct their offending behaviour.

Home detention curfew (HDC) is a key resettlement tool which gives us the opportunity to monitor an offender during their transition back into the community. It is also a useful tool in helping us manage the prison population by reducing over-crowding at the same time as improving the resettlement and rehabilitation opportunities for less serious offenders. From the beginning of May prisoners serving sentences of between three months and under 12 months, with the exception of those convicted of violent or drugs offences within the previous three years, and prisoners who have any history of sexual offending, will be released on home detention curfew for the latter part of their sentence unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. All offenders not statutorily excluded will be subject to a risk assessment and released on HDC only where it is safe to do so. Under the HDC scheme released prisoners serve the remainder of their custody period at home under electronic curfew usually from 7pm to 7am. At any one time we expect that this measure will remove up to 1,350 prisoners from prison accommodation, in addition to the 1,800 who are already on the scheme. The impact of these arrangements and any further extensions of the HDC scheme will be kept under close review.

Yarl's Wood

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Lloyds Syndicate 962 D. J. Pye is acting for the Home Office in relation to a claim for compensation for damage following the incidents at Yarl's Wood Remand Centre on 14 and 15 February. [38778]

Angela Eagle: Insurance in respect of the Yarl's Wood Removal Centre and any claims arising from it is the responsibility of Group 4 Amey Immigration Ltd. in

21 Mar 2002 : Column 480W

accordance with the contract for the management and operation of the centre. The insurance provisions are in the joint name of the Home Office and the contractor.

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure the Bedfordshire Police Authority will not suffer a loss to its budget in the event of a successful claim against it by loss adjusters. [38779]

Mr. Denham: Any claim would be against the Bedfordshire Police Authority. Whether the authority is liable for compensation will depend on the circumstances. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made the Government's position clear in respect of any claims against the Bedfordshire police by the insurers for compensation in his statement of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 445 and at columns 450–51. We will work with the police to protect their interests and those of the people they serve in Bedfordshire.

Police Complaints

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if an investigator independent of the Metropolitan police has been appointed to investigate complaints by members of the public against officers below the rank of commander in Operation Helios; [39363]

Mr. Denham: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that, in light of the on-going proceedings involving Superintendent Ali Dizaei, the views of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have been sought. The issue of complaints will be a matter for consideration in the disclosure process within the criminal proceedings.

As the relevance and admissibility of these matters may well be an issue at the trial it is the view of the CPS, which has been accepted by the Commissioner, that to disclose information at this time would risk possible prejudice to the trial process.

Next Section Index Home Page