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19 Mar 2003 : Column 831W—continued

Probation Service

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average number of offenders under supervision per probation officer was in each probation area in each of the last five years. [102451]

Hilary Benn: The average number of offenders under court order supervision per maingrade probation officer as at 31 December in each of the last five years is given in the table.

Since 1998 there have been significant changes in the way in which the services of the National Probation Service (NPS) have been delivered, with increasing

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growth in the use of probation service officers (PSOs) and trainee probation officers to support the work of the trained probation officer. Both the numbers of PSOs and trainees have increased significantly in the last few years, meaning that there has been a significant increase (20.09 per cent.) overall in the numbers of probation staff with direct responsibility for the supervision of offenders. While the figures published in Probation Statistics may reflect the average numbers of offenders who are assigned to each probation officer, they do not accurately reflect the supervision work delivered by the Probation Service for offenders. I will arrange for a short briefing note prepared by the National Probation Directorate (NPD) which explains this situation more fully to be placed in the Library.

Average caseload(22) of criminal court orders per maingrade officer in post at 31 December
England and Wales

Cases per officer
Avon and Somerset15.8
Devon and Cornwall19.1
Hereford and Worcester(23)11.713.013.914.7
West Mercia16.3
Greater Manchester18.022.326.227.223.7
Oxford and Buckingham(23)14.816.916.515.2
Thames Valley19.0
East Sussex(23)14.515.414.813.5
West Sussex(23)16.817.517.313.7
West Midlands17.719.518.818.922.8
North Yorkshire25.017.220.516.514.7
South Yorkshire18.419.319.417.219.1
West Yorkshire17.617.819.015.715.5
Inner London(23)17.117.416.315.8
NE London(23)14.618.619.420.4
SE London(23)15.414.112.611.0
SW London(23)14.413.511.911.4
North Wales16.218.523.420.122.2
South Glamorgan(23)14.117.618.115.7
Mid Glamorgan(23)19.317.418.321.0
West Glamorgan(23)1.6.918.217.814.1
South Wales16.8
All areas16.918.519.017.719.0

(22) Excludes community punishment orders and drug treatment and testing orders. Includes cases supervised by staff other than maingrade officers.

(23) Under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, the following probation areas were amalgamated on 1 April 2001: Devon and Cornwall merged; Avon and Somerset merged; Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire became West Mercia; Oxford and Buckinghamshire and Berkshire became Thames Valley; Dyfed and Powys merged; East and West Sussex became Sussex; Mid, South and West Glamorgan became South Wales; and Inner, North East, South East and South West London merged with Middlesex to become London.

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Sexual Offences Bill

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the impact of the Sexual Offences Bill for (a) naturists and (b) those who (i) work as nude models and (ii) paint and draw nudes. [102437]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 12 March 2003]: We neither expect nor intend the proposals in the Bill to have any impact on naturists, or those who work as nude models or who paint and draw nudes.

Clause 70 of the Sexual Offences Bill proposes to make it an offence for someone to expose their genitals knowing or intending that someone will see them and knowing, intending or, in certain circumstances, being reckless as to whether the person seeing them will be caused alarm or distress. People who are "flashed" at in

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the street often find this a disturbing experience. It follows that anyone who wishes to be naked in situations where others will see them must continue to give careful consideration as to the effect that might have on those others.

The Bill is not intended to restrict the normal leisure activities of naturists who are exercising their preference for being naked among others who feel the same. Exposure will only be an offence where the person knows or intends that a person who sees his or her genitals will be caused alarm or distress or where he or she foresees a risk that such a person will be caused alarm or distress and acts unreasonably in running that risk. We do not expect the introduction of the exposure offence to have any impact on the way in which nudity in public is currently regulated by the police.

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Similarly, the exposure offence will not affect models who are invited to pose naked for an art class because such models will not have the criminal state of mind in relation to causing others alarm or distress.

As for people in an art class who paint or draw nudes, the Bill will have no impact on them either as they will not be committing any offence. Although the Bill does introduce an offence of voyeurism at clause 71, for such observation to be an offence, it must be done for sexual gratification, while the other person is within a structure which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and without that other person's consent. None of these factors will be present where an artist is openly painting a nude model who is posing for that artist.


Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to make it unlawful to require Sikhs to remove the kirpan when entering public places. [103035]

Beverley Hughes: There are no plans to introduce new legislation in this area. Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which makes it an offence to have an article with blade or point in a public place, provides that should a person possess such an article for "religious reasons or as part of any national costume" he would not be guilty of an offence under the Act. This does not provide a licence for anyone to use kirpans for unlawful purposes and any person carrying such an article for the purpose of religious observance or national costume must be able to satisfy the police, and ultimately the courts, on this count.

Small Charities

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when a decision will be made on whether to exempt small charities, with an annual income under £10,000 per annum, from current legislation with regard to charitable file status. [102407]

Beverley Hughes: The Strategy Unit's recent review of charity law and regulation ("Private Action, Public Benefit") included a proposal to change the registration rules for small charities.

The proposal would mean that no small charity with an annual income under £10,000 would be required or allowed to register with the Charity Commission. But the proposal would not take away any small charity's charitable status or its right to receive tax reliefs due to charities.

The Strategy Unit's review was put out for public consultation late last year. My officials are part way through the process of analysing responses to the consultation. Once that process is complete Ministers

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will consider whether or not to include the proposal on small charities registration in a draft Charities Bill. We are hoping to make an announcement in the summer.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the subject of exempting small charities from charitable status legislation; and how many were (a) for and (b) against. [102408]

Beverley Hughes: The Strategy Unit's recent review of charity law and regulation ("Private Action, Public Benefit") included a proposal to change the registration rules for small charities. The review was put out for open public consultation late last year.

There have been more than 1,100 written responses to the consultation. My officials are part way through the process of carefully analysing these responses. It will be possible accurately to judge the overall level of support or opposition to each proposal only when this process has been completed.

In accordance with the Cabinet Office's Code of Practice on written consultations the Government will in due course be publishing a summary of the views expressed by respondents on each proposal. We are hoping to make an announcement in the summer.

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