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Prison Transfers

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convicted offenders were transferred from prison to high security hospitals in each year since 1992. [68231]

Mr. Hilary Benn: Figures are available only for the years 1995 to 2000, and are given in the table:

200052
199944
199848
199734
199654
199547


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Prison Visitors

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the National Association of Prison Visitors. [68220]

Mr. Hilary Benn: I have yet to meet the National Association of Prison Visitors, having been unable to attend their annual general meeting this year. I look forward to meeting them at a suitable point in the future.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison visitors there were in each of the past 10 years; and what plans he has to increase their number. [68219]

Mr. Hilary Benn: Statistics on the number of official prison visitors are not collated centrally. However, the contribution of such visitors is highly valued and it is an

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audited requirement for prisons to run prison visiting schemes, where there is demand. Moreover, the Prison Service continues to provide an annual grant to the National Association of Prison Visitors, and is actively assisting that organisation and others to increase and broaden the range of prison visitors.

Prisoners' Mental Health

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of prisoners receive (a) anti-psychotic medication and (b) atypical antipsychotics. [68218]

Mr. Hilary Benn: This information is not available in precisely the form requested. A survey of mental ill health in the prison population of England and Wales, undertaken in 1997 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that four per cent. of remanded and two per cent. of sentenced men were taking anti-psychotic medicine. The comparable figures for women were 14 per cent. and eight per cent. respectively.

The ONS did not collect information about which prisoners were being treated with atypical antipsychotics.

High Security Hospitals

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average number of convicted offenders in high security hospitals was in each year since 1992. [68217]

Mr. Hilary Benn: Figures in respect of transferred prisoners are available only for the years 1995 to 2000. They are shown in the table:

2000235
1999223
1998214
1997219
1996233
1995231

Figures for the total number of convicted offenders detained are not available. For restricted patients, who are all convicted offenders, the average figures are:


20001,170
19991,193
19981,188
19971,201
19961,221
19951,245
19941,132
19931,187
19921,218

Biological Standards Institute

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the (a) staffing structure, (b) works and (c) funding of the Biological Standards Institute in Northern Ireland. [68262]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 July 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

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The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control is based in England and is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body accountable to Ministers, being the Secretary of State for Health, The Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and the Department of Health and Social Services, Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State assumes lead responsibility on behalf of the four United Kingdom health departments in dealing with the management issues of National Institute for Biological Standards and Control.

The functions of the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control are set out in Statutory Instrument 1976 No 917: to devise standards for the purity and potency of biological substances; to test biological substances; to prepare and distribute standards; to collaborate with the World Health Organisation, European Pharmacopoeia Commission and other international organisations; to carry out research.

Core funding from the Government for 2002–03 is £9.853 million. The Northern Ireland contribution to the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in 2001–02 was £261,000.

Details of the staffing structure, the work and the funding of National Institute for Biological Standards and Control are in the public domain and can be found on the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control website at www.nibsc.ac.uk or in any of the published annual reports.

Criminal Justice Centres

Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how criminal justice centres will assist in the processing of cases. [65337]

Mr. Hilary Benn [holding answer 9 July 2002]: Two innovative and integrated Criminal Justice Centres are being developed in Warwickshire. The Centres will speed up justice, give a better service to victims, witnesses and defendants and help in the local efforts to reduce crime and improve public safety by co-locating all of the county's criminal justice agencies.

Practitioners from the courts, Crown Prosecution Service, police, Probation Service and Youth Offending Teams will be working together with the National Health Service and voluntary organisations to create new partnership arrangements and modernise the existing single agency approaches. The Centres will deliver joined-up justice through improved business processes and Information Technology systems. This innovative approach will improve the quality and timeliness of prosecutions which should speed up the processing of cases.

Victims and witnesses will receive a better service through the new integrated Centres by receiving help and support at all stages of the justice process, especially while they are at court. Cases will be dealt with faster and more efficiently, so the stress of their involvement should also be reduced.

The project in Warwickshire is being reviewed as it progresses, so that the lessons learned can be applied quickly. This will allow us to examine the benefits of

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co-locating of all local criminal justice agencies and whether to extend this approach to other criminal justice system areas.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the re-offending rate of those leaving young offenders institutions was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [68630]

Mr. Hilary Benn [holding answer 9 July 2002]: Re-offending rates are not normally measured as they rely on the self-reporting of offending by offenders.

The Home Office does however keep information on reconviction rates. In relation to those leaving Her Majesty's Prison Young Offender Institutions during 1997, before the youth justice reforms took effect, 76 per cent. of male young offenders and 58 per cent. of female young offenders were reconvicted within two years of release from custody during 1997.

Reconviction rates for those sentenced in July 2000, shortly after the new Detention and Training Order was introduced, are due in early 2003. Meanwhile, for those juveniles receiving non-custodial sentences in July 2000, we achieved a 14.6 per cent. reduction against the predicted reconviction rate was achieved.

Eden Strang

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what role his Department has played in the (a) release and (b) post-release arrangements of Eden Strang; and if he will make a statement. [67855]

Mr. Hilary Benn [holding answer 10 July 2002]: The Home Office played no role in the release arrangements for Mr. Strang. I regret that because of an unfortunate administrative error in the Home Office, authority for his detention as a restricted patient lapsed on 2 August 2000. Accordingly, his discharge was a matter for his hospital care team. Since his discharge, the Home Office has liaised closely with the local Multi Agency Public Protection Panel and established what the arrangements are for his safe care and supervision in the community. We have also learned of the concerns of the victims about his offence.

I take these concerns extremely seriously. It is not right that victims of such terrible events should have to learn from the media that the offender has been discharged. We have therefore published proposals in the Mental Health Bill to bring the rights of victims of mentally disordered offenders into line with those of the victims of violent or sexual offending in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.

Helen Smith

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will order a new inquiry into the death of Helen Smith in Jeddah in May 1979. [68886]

Mr. Hilary Benn: An inquest was held into Helen Smith's death in 1982. Inquest proceedings can be reviewed by the courts and we are not aware of any grounds for the Government to take further action.

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