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Crime Statistics (Wales)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) robberies, (b) gun-related crimes and (c) recorded crimes there were in each police force area in Wales in each year since 1997. [100247]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 3 March 2003]: The requested information is given in the table. The figures include the number of recorded crimes in which Firearms were reported to have been used.

There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which would have the tendency to increase the number of offences counted. Numbers of offences before and after this date are therefore not directly comparable.

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As a result of three of the four police forces in Wales adopting the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in advance of its official introduction across England and Wales on 1 April 2002, numbers of offences recorded for 2001–02 may have been inflated.

Recorded crime: number of offences, by police force areas in Wales

RobberyOffences involving FirearmsTotal crime
Dyfed Powys
1997(17)346118,098
1998–99(18)426024,588
1999–2000284523,709
2000–01236822,878
2001–022624,003
Gwent
1997(17)15612947,268
1998–99(18)17321558,738
1999–200021624860,132
2000–0124419756,728
2001–0221546,938
North Wales
1997(17)11210940,684
1998–99(18)1279443,848
1999–200014610444,606
2000–011637447,708
2001–0219454,116
South Wales
1997(17)509295130,886
1998–99(18)511222134,820
1999–2000519315127,040
2000–01460275111,131
2001–02595116,708

(17) Offences were recorded on a calendar year basis up to 1997, and thereafter on a financial year basis.

(18) The number of crimes recorded in that financial year using the expanded offence coverage and revised counting rules which came into effect on 1 April 1998.

Notes:

1. Three of the four Wales forces adopted the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in advance of its official introduction across England and Wales on 1 April 2002; Dyfed Powys (January 2002), North Wales (October 2001) and South Wales (January 2002). This may have increased the number of offences recorded in 2001–02.

2. 2001–02 figures for Offences involving Firearms have not yet been published.


Criminal Justice Bill

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the desert model in appendix 8, paragraph 3 of Making Punishments Work, in the sentencing framework of the Criminal Justice Bill. [100137]

Hilary Benn: The Criminal Justice Bill adopts the approach to sentencing advocated by John Halliday in his report "Making Punishments Work", which is based on a modified version of the "just desserts" theory of sentencing. The set of principles which guide sentencers in determining the seriousness of the offence (in chapter 1, part 1 2) incorporate the principle that the punishment should always be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence, on which the "dessert" is

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based. They have been modified in one respect, again as advocated by John Halliday, so that recent and relevant previous convictions act as aggravating factors in determining sentence seriousness. The Government believes that persistent offenders must know that there will be a steady progress to custody, increasing in length, if they continually offend and fail to respond to previous sentences.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Clause 126 of the Criminal Justice Bill complies with Principle A2 of the Council of Europe's recommendation on consistency of sentencing 1992. [100138]

Hilary Benn: Clause 126 makes explicit the purposes of sentencing on the face of the Bill. We want to encourage sentencers to address more directly than at present the purposes of crime reduction (through reform and rehabilitation, and deterrence) and reparation, alongside the continuing key and prominent aims of public protection and punishment. These purposes are not in conflict and it will be up to sentencers to determine what weight to accord to each in a particular case. This may vary in different cases; for example a purely punitive intervention may be required, in others rehabilitation will feature more heavily.

We do not, therefore, consider Clause 126 to be in conflict with Principle A2 of the Council of Europe recommendation. Our goal is to achieve consistency of approach in sentencing, through the consistent application of explicit principles and standards, recognising that these may result in justifiably disparate outcomes. Clause 126 which sets out the general purposes of sentencing, and those that follow which establish a set of principles to guide the sentence in determining the seriousness of an offence, will help achieve this, as will the establishment of the new Sentencing Guidelines Council which I will produce a set of consolidated guidelines for all criminal courts.

Criminal Policy Group

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the purpose is of the Criminal Policy Group within his Department; what his estimate is of its cost for each year from 1996–97 to 2004–05 (planned); and if he will make a statement. [99804]

Hilary Benn: The Criminal Policy Group shared the purpose of the Home Office in building a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced and the protection and security of the public are maintained. The Group had responsibility to deliver two of the principal Home Office Aims, Aim 3 (To ensure the effective delivery of justice) and Aim 4 (To deliver effective custodial and community sentences to reduce reoffending and protect the public). Following changes in senior management arrangements in the Department on 5 February, the Group was renamed the Criminal Justice Group and its correction functions (including its responsibility for Aim 4) moved to report to the Commissioner for the Correctional Services and Permanent Secretary for Human Resources.

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Costs for the Criminal Policy Group each year are as follows:

£ million
1996–97 Outturn77
1997–98 Outturn90
1998–99 Outturn93
1999–2000 Outturn187
2000–01 Outturn159
2001–02 Outturn89
2002–03 Estimated Outturn109
2003–04 Planned177
2004–05 Planned195
2005–06 Planned217

Notes:

1. The outturn figures include expenditure on current (resource) and capital budgets. Figures prior to 2001–02 are taken from the Home Office Annual Report 2000–01 and 2001–02.

2. Planned figures are for the Criminal Policy Group before recent changes and include correction functions.

3. All figures exclude expenditure by non-departmental public bodies.


Custody

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what records are kept by the police of the time a person spends in custody (a) in England and (b) by Merseyside Police; for what period of time the police retain such records; who has access to this information; whether this information is publicly available; and within what period the police must respond to a request for details of custody. [100135]

Mr. Denham: The detention of people arrested for criminal offences in England and Wales is governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the PACE Codes of Practice. Merseyside Police record the detention of all persons in custody in accordance with this Act and Codes of Practice.

Section 37(4) and Section 39(1)(b) of the Act provides that custody records must be kept on all detained persons. PACE Code C Section 2 sets out the responsibilities of the custody officer and what details must be given on the custody record, including the time of a person's arrival in custody and either the time of subsequent release or transfer to court.

Police must retain custody records for 12 months after the detainee has been released from police custody (PACE Code of Practice C paragraph 2.4). No maximum period is specified. Merseyside police currently keep custody records for three years, but are considering extending this period to seven years.

While a person is still in detention, a solicitor or appropriate adult may inspect the record as soon as is practicable after their arrival at the police station. (This is provided for under PACE Code of Practice C paragraphs 2.4 to 2.5). When a person leaves police detention, he himself, his legal representative or an appropriate adult may request a copy of the original custody record for up to 12 months after release provided reasonable notice is given. The information contained in the custody record is not otherwise publicly available. The police must respond to requests for details of the custody record as soon as practicable (paragraph 2.4).

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