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6 Mar 2003 : Column 1224W—continued

Custody Suites

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he gives on the health and safety requirements for custody suites. [100337]

Mr. Denham: There are no health and safety organisations with a specific interest in custody suites of which I am aware. The management of health and safety within police forces, including custody suites, is the responsibility of the chief officer, employing specialist advice from the Home Office, force health and safety advisers and the Health and Safety Executive as appropriate.

In police forces where custody suite provision has been contracted out to a service provider, the organisation which owns the custody suite premises is responsible for health and safety.

The Home Office has published a generic risk assessment relating to hazards which may arise in the custody of detainees. Generic risk assessments are available on the Home Office website.

The Police Buildings Design Guide 1994, together with the draft 2001 Custody update, provides guidance in respect of the design and construction of custody suites to ensure the health and safety of police officers and detainees alike.

Electronic Finger Printing

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police forces have introduced electronic finger printing scanning; what proposals he has to encourage other forces to do so; and if he will make a statement. [99642]

Mr. Denham: There are currently 175 electronic fingerprint scanning units (known as Livescan) deployed across 27 police forces in England and Wales.

The Police Information Technology Organisation has established the central capability to handle Livescan data (known as NAFIS—the National Automated Fingerprint Identification Service), and set up the Framework Agreement under which forces contract for the Livescan service. However, the decision to use Livescan is an operational matter for each police force, based on its own business case.

Due to economies of scale, the business cases for the deployment of Livescan are generally stronger in larger forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, which has 53 units.

The use by the police of Livescan and NAFIS will also be included in an analysis of forensic performance by police forces to be undertaken by the Police Standards Unit in the Home Office.

Firearms

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the number of illegally held firearms in each police force area in Wales. [100148]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 21 January 2003, Official Report, column 295W.

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Guide Dogs

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) guide dogs for the blind and (b) hearing dogs for the deaf are employed in the UK. [100372]

Beverley Hughes: I understand that there are about (a) 4,800 guide dogs; and (b) 600 hearing dogs currently at work in the UK with their blind or deaf owners.

These figures have been supplied by (a) the charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association; and (b) the charity, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

HMP/YOI Holloway

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to reopen the Bail Office at HMP/YOI Holloway; and if he will make a statement. [100226]

Hilary Benn: The Bail and Legal Aid Office at Holloway will reopen as soon as a member of staff is in place. A candidate has been selected and is due to start work at Holloway on 7 April 2003. After a period of induction and suitable training, the Bail and Legal Aid office should be fully operational from early June.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Youth Justice Board will announce its decision on funding for HMP/YOI Holloway's work with prisoners subject to detention and training orders; if he will investigate the reason for (a) previous lack of funding for this project and (b) the delay in the announcement; and if he will make a statement. [100237]

Hilary Benn: The Youth Justice Board (YJB), as purchaser and commissioner of juvenile secure accommodation, are currently negotiating with the Prison Service the content of the Service Level Agreement for the coming financial year. They expect to include funding for a limited number of juvenile girls to be held in Holloway this year, including those who require facilities for continuing medical treatment.

The decision had previously been delayed because of changes last year in overall population levels and the need to review the timetable for meeting the commitment to remove 15 and 16 year old girls from Prison Service custody. The Board have announced that this will be met later this year, but Holloway will continue to hold 17 year old girls and some 15 and 16 year olds in the meantime.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the Prisoners Advice and Care Trust to take over the running of the visitors' centre booking line at HMP/YOI Holloway; and if he will make a statement. [100238]

Hilary Benn: Holloway will have its telephone system upgraded in July 2003 and the Governor will then introduce changes to the existing arrangements. Proposals include the separation of professional and social telephone booking line arrangements whereby prison staff will continue to organise and run professional visits but a separate line for social visits will be staffed by a telephone operator. The system will be

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based in the prison and will have a line which would enable people who are finishing their visits to book the next visit before they leave the prison.

Discussions with the Prisoners Advice and Care Trust are not yet concluded but the Governor of Holloway expects to finalise arrangements in the next month ahead of the new system being put in place later this year.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners at HMP/YOI Holloway have been detained longer than necessary because home detention orders paperwork was not completed correctly, since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [100239]

Hilary Benn: Specific information about the number of prisoners detained longer than necessary because home detention orders paperwork has not been completed correctly is not available without disproportionate cost. However, an area-wide review of home detention order paperwork was conducted by the Female Estate Operational Office in August 2002, and the arrangements at Holloway were found to be of a high quality.

HMPs Garth and Wymott

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the provision of a hospital wing at (a) HMP Garth and (b) HMP Wymott. [99908]

Hilary Benn: There is a small in-patient healthcare facility at Garth prison to which Wymott prison has access as appropriate. There are no plans to expand this unit as a new health care facility is currently scheduled to open at neighbouring Preston prison at the end of 2004. This is to be an area-wide facility, which can be utilised by both Garth and Wymott as necessary.

Metropolitan Police

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the resources made available to the Metropolitan police in the current financial year. [100602]

Mr. Denham: The police resources made available to the Metropolitan police authority by Central Government in 2002–03 are set out in the tables.

Revenue funding

£ million
Home Office specific grant1,015.9
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Revenue Support grant476.9
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister National Non Domestic Rates183.5
Crime Fighting Fund62.0
Free travel for officers2.45
London Allowance20.0
Street Crime Initiative14.2
DNA processing and support costs7.1
Airwave Revenue5.0
Counter terrorism and Community Support Officers46.0
Loan charge grant3.6
Total1,836.7


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Capital funding

£ million
Capital Grant and Supplementary Credit Approvals44.5
Premises Improvement Fund1.0
Command Control and Communications Information System(19)10.0
Airwave Capital40.7
Total96.2

(19) To date.

Note:

In addition, the Metropolitan police authority will raise around £361.4 million through the police precept on council tax.


Midnight Basketball Scheme

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding his Department will be providing (a) in 2003–04 and (b) in future years to the Midnight Basketball Scheme run by the National Playing Fields Association; and if he will make a statement. [100328]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 3 March 2003]: Midnight Basketball has received funding locally in recent years from the Communities Against Drugs fund, the Children's Fund, from the Youth Justice Board and from Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships. Local partnerships are currently at the point of developing their funding plans for next year and it is open to them to provide funding for Midnight Basketball from Home Office funding streams, for example for the purposes of reducing youth crime, anti-social behaviour or substance misuse. Midnight Basketball is, therefore, unlikely to receive central Home Office funding.

In addition, from May this year, there will be a new single programme of positive activities for young people to provide year round out of school activities for eight to 19-year-olds. This will deliver activities to more young people than in previous years, providing support for those most at risk. It will be open to schemes such as Midnight Basketball to bid to provide diversionary, activities for young people as part of this programme.


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