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Police Paperwork

Roger Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reduce the paperwork of police officers. [75337]

Mr. Denham: We are committed to tackling the administrative burdens and inefficient working practices that keep officers off the streets. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary established a task force, under the chairmanship of Sir David O'Dowd, to identify ways in which forces can free up the time of front line officers. The task force's report was published on 17 September and contained 52 recommendations to increase the presence of police in communities. This is a vital opportunity to change the culture of the police service and bring about a real difference to the everyday lives of officers on the front line.

We have now set up a steering group, co-chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office, to take forward these recommendations. We are working with key stakeholders to reduce bureaucracy in police stations, on the streets and in court.

Police Vehicles

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what measures are being taken to reduce the number of collisions involving police vehicles which lead to injury and death. [75333]

Mr. Denham: Measures already in place include a new police driver training course, launched in December 2000, which introduced a universal standard for driving in England and Wales. An essential element of the course is that officers should recognise the need to give priority to public safety above all other considerations such as attending an incident or apprehending a suspect. Where pursuits are concerned, there is a nationally agreed ACPO Pursuit Code of Practice and it is already police policy to consider continuously the consequences

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of a pursuit and whether to break it off. In addition, all forces have adopted some or most of the recommendations from the 1998 Lind Report on Police Pursuit Driver Training.

Policing Charges

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review his guidance in respect of policing charges. [75324]

Hilary Benn: Guidance on recovering costs for the policing of football matches is set out in Home Office Circular 34/2000. We have recently set up a working group, with representatives of the Home Office, Department for Culture Media and Sport, Association of Chief Police Officers and the football authorities to consider a range of issues, including charging for the policing of matches, and the investment of football clubs in the wider community.

Prisons

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reduce the prison population. [75316]

Hilary Benn: The Government believe that prison is right for those convicted of an offence who are a danger to the public or who are serious or persistent offenders and that sentences served should be as long as necessary for punishment, public protection and rehabilitation but no longer. It also recognises that short sentences with no support and no supervision after release do not allow the correctional services to do effective behavioural or rehabilitation work with offenders. We set out our proposals for reducing the use of short sentences in the White Paper XJustice for All".

Home detention curfew plays an important role in managing the prison population by enabling prisoners to be released from prison early, while still subject to restrictions placed on their liberty. This facilitates a smoother and more effective integration back into the community and helps offenders to serve or resume employment or training as soon as possible.

As also announced in the White Paper XJustice for All" I have commissioned an independent review of the correctional services in England and Wales looking particularly at effectiveness and value for money in the delivery of services to reduce re-offending and how we improve our ability to manage the prison population. This review is in progress. As well as the correctional services, other professional and voluntary sector stakeholders have also been invited to submit their views.

Racial Equality Services

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much money has been spent on racial equality services by the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland in each of the last five years; [74979]

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Beverley Hughes: The total spend on racial equality services in each of the last five years broken down by spend in each area of Scotland served by a Racial Equality Council (REC) is as follows:

#

REC1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02
Central Scotland 54,500 55,700 56,700 45,400 74,500
Edinburgh and Lothian 16,900 50,900 57,900 61,400 77,800
Fife 24,200 22,200 36,300 61,20048,700
Grampian63,10061,200 52,000 61,600 80,100
Tayside 25,400 26,100 34,100 55,300 47,300
West of Scotland 79,200 73,500 90,000103,800114,300
Total spend263,300289,600327,000388,700442,700

Rape

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what his estimate is of the number of cases of rape that went unreported in (a) Lancashire and (b) the north-west of England in the last 12 months; [73866]

Hilary Benn: The number of rapes cases reported to the police is not available centrally. The following details the number of rape incidents (both male and female) recorded by the police in the 2001–02 financial year.

Recorded crimes of rape in Wales, Lancashire and the north-west of England

2001–02Number
Wales420
Lancashire194
North-west1,174

It should be noted however that the British Crime Survey (BCS) estimates that only 20 per cent. of rapes come to the attention of the police (Home Office Research Study 237). In the calendar year 1999 there were 8,281 incidents of rape recorded by the police in England and Wales; however the British Crime Survey estimates that there were 61,000 rape victims (once or more) aged 16 to 59, in this year.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action she plans to take to help protect female students from rape. [73799]

Hilary Benn: The Government provide targeted crime prevention advice to students regarding their personal safety. While not intending to cause unwarranted alarm, this advice aims to equip both male and female students with information to make themselves safer by taking some common sense precautions. The Government have undertaken a wide range of initiatives across the criminal justice system aimed at protecting women and men—including students—from rape.

One of the key parts of our preventative strategy is the management of previous offenders, to prevent re-offending. Recent legislative changes have provided an improved framework within which the Prison Services, the National Probation Service, the Police, the Youth Justice Board and others can work together to assess and manage the risk posed by sex offenders both in custody and in the community.

Other initiatives include the introduction of a rigorous assessment system throughout the Prison and Probation Services.

We have taken a number of key steps with regard to sentencing of sexual offenders. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced extended sentences for serious sexual and violent offences. Under the broad review of sentencing that began in July 2001, we are looking at tougher determinate sentences for sex offenders that will ensure that they stay in prison, up to the full term if necessary, so long as they present a risk of harm to our communities. We are also undertaking a root and branch review of sex offences legislation, in order to provide new, coherent, and clear law to protect individuals from abuse and exploitation. We will be publishing our proposals for legislative reform shortly.

The Violence Against Women (VAW) initiative is a key part of the Home Office's Crime Reduction Programme (CRP). The aim of the VAW initiative is to identify the most effective and cost effective approaches to reducing domestic violence and rape and sexual assault by known perpetrators.

In July of this year we published an inter-agency action plan ope, which details practical measures across the criminal justice system to:




Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government is taking to prevent rape and related crimes against women and to promote rehabilitation after the crime has occurred. [73845]

Hilary Benn: The Government has undertaken a wide range of initiatives across the criminal justice system aimed at preventing rape and supporting victims.The

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Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced extended sentences for serious sexual and violent offences. Under the review of sentencing that began in July 2001 we are looking at tougher determinate sentences for sex offenders. We have also undertaken a review of sex offences legislation. We will be publishing our proposals for legislative reform shortly.

An important part of our preventative strategy is the management of previous offenders to stop re-offending. Recent legislative changes, including the establishment of the multi-agency public protection panels, have improved the way in which public protection agencies—the prison services, the national probation service, the police, the Youth Justice Board and others—work together to assess and manage the risk posed by offenders both in custody and in the community.

The probation service has run sex offender programmes for many years, which aim to reduce the risk of re-offending by changing the offender's behaviour. The programmes have recently been researched and evaluated and three accredited programmes, which challenge conventional thinking regarding the deviance and social inadequacy of sex offenders, are now being implemented in England and Wales. The service is also working on an accommodation plan, since the provision of appropriate accommodation is essential to the management of sex offenders in the community. Other initiatives to prevent rape include the introduction of a rigorous assessment system throughout the prison and probation services.

The Violence Against Women (VAW) initiative is a key part of the Home Office's Crime Reduction Programme (CRP). The aim of the VAW initiative is to identify the most effective and cost effective approaches to reducing domestic violence and rape and sexual assault by known perpetrators. Its projects will be independently evaluated to provide evidence of impact and cost effectiveness, with a view to disseminating findings and recommendations from the successful projects as good practice.

In July of this year the Home Department published an action plan on rape, which details practical measures across the criminal justice system to: improve the investigation of rape cases; enhance the quality of advice, decision making, case preparation and presentation at court; and, provide better treatment of victims and witnesses in cases involving allegations of rape.

We are also continuing our work to reduce the occurrence of assaults against women through the provision of targeted crime prevention advice to women regarding their personal safety. While not intending to cause unwarranted alarm, this advice aims to equip women with information to make themselves safer by taking some common sense precautions.

The Government have also taken action to help the victims of rape. We have: provided grant support to the Rape Crisis Federation; more than doubled the grant to Victim Support, which has helped to introduce a national telephone helpline for victims in magistrates courts; improved payments made to victims of sexual offences by the criminal injuries compensation scheme; and, given victims in serious cases—where offenders are

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sentenced to 12 months or more for a violent or sexual offence—the right to be consulted about the release plans of those who attacked them.


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