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22 Jan 2004 : Column 1436W—continued

Coroner's Court Hearings (South Gloucestershire)

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that coroner's court hearings affecting residents of South Gloucestershire will take place at locations convenient for residents of South Gloucestershire; and if he will make a statement. [148620]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 19 January 2004]: Any decision to hold an inquest at a particular location is a matter for the coroner concerned. I understand that following the closure of the coroner's court in Bristol the office has transferred to a site in Long Ashton. However, the inquest may be held at other locations subject to the needs of those wishing to attend and availability of accommodation.

Crime (North-West)

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of (a) theft and (b) robbery of school property there were in (i) St. Helens, (ii) Merseyside, (iii) the north west region and (iv) England in each year since 1997. [147168]

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Ms Blears: The Home Office does not collect information on the type of location for recorded crimes, except where it is implicit in the crime type (e.g. theft from a shop, or shop-lifting). It also does not collect information on ownership of property stolen. For these reasons, numbers of robberies and thefts involving school property are not collected separately.

Disability Discrimination Act

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what incentives he is giving trusts to stay within the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 not to discriminate against deaf people in terms of equitable access. [147695]

Dr. Ladyman: I have been asked to reply.

Trusts are responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), including the provision of equitable access for deaf people. There are a number of means by which the Department and others continue to help them.

In 1999, the National Health Service Executive issued management guidance to NHS trusts, health authorities and primary care groups in implementing Part III of the DDA and a guide "Doubly Disabled" was published to increase managers' and staff's awareness of disabled people.

Currently, the Department is developing with the Disability Rights Commission a framework for partnership action on disability, which identifies key areas for joint action. This will deliver real improvements for disabled people as users and providers of health and social care. Access and communication has been identified as a priority and the Department is establishing a working group to oversee a range of initiatives on access, including the production of sector-specific guidance on good practice, and a programme to promote awareness of the access duties set out in the DDA. The NHSU is also working closely with the Disability Rights Commission and others to develop a framework and programme to address training on disabilities issues in health and social care.

Ford Open Prison

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners absconded from Ford Open Prison in each year since 1990. [146473]

Paul Goggins: Information is available from 1992. The information recorded at Prison Service headquarters on the reported numbers of absconds from HMP Ford is set out in the following table:

YearNumber of prisoners absconding from HMP Ford
199259
199339
199440
199520
199646
199751
199841
199956
200069
200150
200286
2003127

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Figures are as recorded on the Prison Service incident reporting system and may not be entirely reliable, particularly prior to 1998 when changes were made to the electronic database.

Forensic Science Service

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the Forensic Science Service is contracted out to private operators in (a) Lancashire, (b) Cumbria, (c) Cheshire, (d) Greater Manchester, (e) Merseyside and (f) North Wales in 2003–04. [148212]

Ms Blears: The Forensic Science Service (FSS) has not contracted out any work received from the named police forces to private sector forensic service providers in the financial year to date.

Home Detention Curfew Scheme

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the Home Detention Curfew. [148890]

Paul Goggins: The operation of the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme is monitored on a weekly basis. Between January 1999, when the scheme was introduced, and 9 January 2004, over 86,000 prisoners have been released under the Home Detention Curfew scheme. At any one time about 3,600 low risk prisoners, who would otherwise be filling prison places, are serving the last part of the custodial portion of their sentence on HDC.

Since the scheme began 90 per cent. of those granted HDC have completed their curfew period without any problems at all and 2 per cent. are reported as having been convicted, cautioned or are awaiting prosecution for an offence committed whilst subject to HDC.

In addition, the Home Office published an evaluation of the operation of the first sixteen months of the scheme in June 2001 (Home Office Research Study 222: "Electronic Monitoring of released prisoners: an evaluation of the Home Detention Curfew scheme").

I am satisfied that the scheme continues successfully to provide suitable prisoners with a smoother and more effective re-integration back into the community by enabling them to be released from prison early while still subject to restrictions placed on their liberty.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department further to his written statement of 14 January, Official Report, column 31WS, what other recent exceptional cases may be deemed unsuitable for the Home Detention Curfew Scheme. [149304]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 20 January 2004]: No cases have, so far, been referred to the Chief Executive, of the National Offender Management Service. The

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policy will apply to any case where the applicant for Home Detention Curfew has been involved in a notorious crime or crime of concern to the public, where release would bring the scheme in to disrepute. Prisoners affected by this change will be able to make representations supporting their release to the Chief Executive of NOMS.

We expect that only a small number of cases will be referred to the Chief Executive.

Imprisonment (Costs)

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total cost to public funds of the imprisonment of Sally Clarke, Angela Cannings and Trupti Patel has been. [144523]

Paul Goggins: The Prison Service does not maintain information on the cost of imprisonment of specific prisoners. However, as an alternative it is possible to provide the average cost of keeping a prisoner in the establishments in which the particular prisoners referred to in this question served their sentences. This suggests that the total cost to public funds of the imprisonment of Sally Clarke was in the region of £111,000. The cost of detaining Angela Cannings was approximately £57,000.

Trupti Patel did not spend time in prison custody, as she was bailed upon charge and subsequently acquitted.

Juvenile Prisoners

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to ensure that juvenile prisoners are fed adequately while being transported from court to prison. [144358]

Paul Goggins: Escort contractors have a contractual responsibility to provide meals to all prisoners, including juveniles, who are in their custody between 11:30 hours and 14:00 hours; and also in circumstances, such as a late court sitting, which would result in prisoners arriving at the prison after mealtime. The contract requires that meals must be sufficient to sustain the prisoners and meet dietary needs.

Mr. Liton Miah

Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons the application by Mr. Liton Miah for a work permit under the business and commercial arrangements on Form WP1 (REF ISCO/BO 69511) was refused on the grounds that he was of too high a level of skill; for what reasons he was subsequently refused after applying for a work permit under the sector based schemes on the grounds that he was of too low a level of skill (REF DWA/BO 69511); and if he will make a statement. [144082]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 17 December 2003]: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 22 January 2004.

Police National Computer

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many updates of the Police National Computer took place in each of the last three years; how many people are authorised to insert, delete

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or change data on the Police National Computer; what checks are in place to ensure the accuracy of (a) data changes and (b) the data held; and if he will make a statement. [148414]

Ms Blears: The number of updates of the Police National Computer for the past three years is as follows:

Number
200114,733,611
200215,185,975
200315,194,333

I regret that information on the number of people authorised to insert, delete or change data on the Police National Computer is not available. It is the responsibility of the Chief Officer of each police force to make the necessary arrangements.

It is also the responsibility of Chief Officers to have in place checking processes to ensure the accuracy of the data held and any changes that are made to it. All the Forces are inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to ensure compliance with the Association of Chief Police Officers and Police National Computer Compliance Strategy. The Chief Constables' Council agreed the strategy on 27 April 2000. The Compliance Strategy sets a number of standards that forces are required to meet, in particular the entering of data on to the Police National Computer in a timely manner.


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