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2 Dec 2002 : Column 578Wcontinued
Hilary Benn: In July we started a phased implementation of special measures, such as live TV Links, video recorded evidence, and screens to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give their best evidence in court. The Criminal Justice and Sentencing Bill will introduce several changes to the rules of evidence and tighten up magistrates' granting of bail to encourage witnesses to give evidence. Guidance has been issued to the police on tackling witness intimidation in the community, and this is also reflected in the new Anti-Social Behaviour Order Guidance published on 12 November.
Hilary Benn: In July, we started a phased implementation of special measures, such as live TV links, video recorded evidence and screens to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give their best evidence in court.
any witness, if there is a good reason, will be able to give evidence by live television link; and
the defence will have to prove to the judge that evidence of a witness's previous misconduct, or other bad character evidence, is clearly relevant to the case before they bring it up.
Guidance has been issued to the police on tackling witness intimidation in the community. All forces have been issued with a training video and a series of prompts which should enable them to identify potential intimidated witnesses and how they should respond to reports of crime without themselves placing witnesses at risk. Home Office Circular Number 12/2001, issued in May last year, advised the police to take immediate positive action to prosecute offenders in cases of intimidation and harassment of witnesses.
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From 2 December, the courts will be able to order an immediate stop to anti-social behaviour. This should reduce the scope for witness intimidation. The new Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) guidance, published on 12 November, stresses the importance of offering protection and support to witnesses (as well as victims) of anti-social behaviour.
Mr. Denham: According to the most recent published recorded crime figures, in the 12 months to March 2002, crime in Gravesham fell by 4 per cent. This includes a fall of 8 per cent. in domestic burglary; a fall of 11 per cent. in thefts of a motor vehicle and a fall of 7 per cent. in thefts from a motor vehicle.
29. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of support for terrorism among fundamentalist Islamist sects in the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Denham: Our broad approach to preventing youth crime is to focus on those factors which research and experience, both from within the United Kingdom and abroad, tell us are most likely to increase the risk of criminality, as well as targeted preventative work with the most at risk young people in high crime areas. The risk factors are to do with the family, environment and school, and include behavioural factors such as early drugs and alcohol misuse.
In October this year we hosted an international seminar on youth crime, bringing together leading academics, practitioners and policy makers, to identify experience and evidence from across the world to inform our approach to youth crime. We shall take forward the outcomes of the seminar in the context of the Green Paper on children at risk announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 30 October, and they will inform other parts of our programme, such as our drive against antisocial behaviour.
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The number of prisoners sharing three to a cell designed for two is not collected separately. However, at the same date, 22.2 per cent. of the total population were held in overcrowded conditions. This includes prisoners doubled those held three to a cell designed for two and any prisoners overcrowded in dormitories and larger cells.
Mr. Denham: On 14 October 2002, my right hon Friend the Home Secretary announced the results of the Street Crime Initiative to date. The figures show that since the start of the Initiative, street crime has fallen by 16 per cent., during the period April to September in the 10 police forces which accounted for over 80 per cent., of the robbery problem. For robbery, the more serious offence, the number of offences in September 2002 was 25 per cent. lower than March for the 10 forces as a whole.
The figures illustrate that what was an escalating trend has been reversed over the period since the launch of the Street Crime Initiative. There has been a 10 per cent. reduction (4,600) offences in the number of robberies during the period April to September compared to the same period last year.
Mr. Denham: The Home Office does not provide funding to individual Watch schemes, but directs it towards national initiatives designed to support the sort of local activity which Neighbourhood Watch represents. It also pays for the production of a range of Neighbourhood Watch publications, including a training manual for scheme co-ordinators.
It would not be possible to fund every local scheme, invidious to choose between them. The essence of local partnership is local people getting together with the police and their local authority to solve local problems.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: Waiting times for drug treatment were not systematically reported before the establishment of the National Treatment Agency in 2001. Drug Action Teams are now required to report annually on their progress against NTA waiting time targets.
Waiting times for drug treatment have already been reduced considerably. In 2001, before the NTA was set up, the average waiting time for inpatient detoxification was 12 weeks. This had fallen to seven weeks by April 2003 and 31 per cent. of DATs have already achieved the NTA's 2003 target of a maximum four week wait. The NTA has set a further target of reducing this to two weeks by 2004.
Reducing waiting times is key element of our strategy to get more people into treatment. Between 1998 and 2001 the number of drug users entering treatment increased from 45,912 to 66,327. We are on track to meet our target of doubling the number of people in drug treatment by 2008.
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