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23 Feb 2004 : Column 227W—continued

Bail Hostels

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria are used to decide which sex offenders from outside the city are sent to Peterborough Bail Hostel. [153237]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 6 February 2004]: The decision to admit anyone to an approved probation and bail hostel is only taken after a careful consideration of risk. Peterborough Approved Premises is part of a national estate of 100 premises managed by the National Probation Service of England and Wales. From time to time offenders are released from custody who cannot return to their home area for a variety of reasons, including victim issues. As part of a national service, Peterborough Approved Premises, having taken into careful consideration all the relevant risks, will accept "out of area" referrals.

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Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are made to protect vulnerable young residents of bail hostels from residents who are known sex offenders. [153238]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 6 February 2004]: There are 100 approved premises (approved probation and bail hostels) managed by the National Probation Service for England and Wales. As a general rule, none of these approved premises admit anyone under the age of 18 years as a resident. In exceptional circumstances they may do so for short periods, but only if there were no Schedule I offenders at the approved premises at that time. The decision to admit anyone to an approved probation and bail hostel is only taken after a careful consideration of risk. This includes the risk to other residents.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what records are kept of the number of sex offenders resident in bail hostels; [153239]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 6 February 2004]: No published data is available on the numbers of offenders convicted or charged with sexual offences who are resident in approved premises.


Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research the Department is carrying out into cannabis-related psychosis. [152708]

Caroline Flint: None. We rely upon the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The Council's advice is based upon a wide-ranging review of the available research. The Council will continue to monitor the research carefully.

The Department of Health has commissioned research projects during 2002 and 2003 relating to cannabis and other substance misuse and harmful effects. Accordingly, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Miss Melanie Johnson), on 27 January 2004, Official Report, column 317W.

Centre for the 3Rs

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the recommendation in the House of Lords report on Animals in Scientific Procedures for a Centre for the 3Rs, with particular regard to its projected (a) terms of reference and (b) budget. [154277]

Caroline Flint: In its report published in July 2002, the House of Lords Select Committee on animals in scientific procedures recommended the establishment of a United Kingdom centre for research into the 3Rs—the replacement of animal use, reduction of the number of animals used and the refinement of the procedures

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involved to minimise suffering—consisting of a small, administrative hub co-ordinating research unit embedded in existing centres of scientific excellence.

In its response to the Select Committee's report, published in January 2003, the Government accepted this recommendation in principle and undertook to explore the case for such a centre. The Inter-Departmental Group for the 3Rs led by the Home Office, and including officials from the Department of Health, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of Science and Technology, the Food Standards Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, and other agencies, was tasked with taking this work forward.

The Inter-Departmental Group reported to me on its initial findings in September 2003 and I expect to receive its final report shortly, including advice on the possible activities of a centre and funding issues. Subject to that advice, we will announce how we intend to proceed with the Select Committee's recommendation in the next few weeks.

Child Curfew Orders

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many child curfew orders have been issued in England and Wales, broken down by local authority area. [152474]

Paul Goggins: Figures broken down by local authority areas are not available. The available information relating to the number of persons aged 10 to 17 years who have received a curfew order at court, by police force area, England and Wales 2002, is contained in the table.

Statistics on court proceedings for 2003 will be published in the autumn.

Number of persons aged 10 to 17 years sentenced to a curfew order at all courts for all offences, by police force area: England and Wales 2002(55)

Police force areaSentenced to a curfew order
Avon and Somerset67
Devon and Cornwall17
Greater Manchester309
London, City of
Metropolitan Police293
North Yorkshire16
South Yorkshire68
Thames Valley89
West Mercia61
West Midlands143
West Yorkshire177
Dyfed Powys4
North Wales58
South Wales87
England and Wales2,353

(55) These data are on the principal offence basis.

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Constituency Case

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his officials will make a decision on the application of a constituent of the hon. Member for Vauxhall (HO Ref: T1129612). [155580]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Office received the application on 27 January 2004. Officials will aim to make a decision on the application within the published 13 week target date.

Crime and Disorder Partnerships

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) anti-social behaviour orders, (b) acceptable behaviour contracts, (c) child curfew orders and (d) injunctions have been issued in the County of Denbighshire in each year since 1998. [154313]

Ms Blears: The information requested is as follows:

Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs). No notifications have been received by the Home Office of ASBOs issued within the county of Denbighshire since their introduction from 1 April 1999 up to 30 September 2003 (latest available).

Acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs). Data on the number of ABCs are not collected centrally.

Child curfew Orders. Data extracted from the Home Office Court Proceedings Database shows that, of juveniles (aged 10 to 17) sentenced to a curfew order, at all courts for all offences, in the Denbighshire Petty Sessional Area, between the years 1998 to 2002, there was one imposed in 2000 and six in 2002.

Injunctions. Data are not collected centrally by my Department on the number of injunctions issued.

Criminal Justice Act

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the sentencing arrangements in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. [152849]

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Paul Goggins: The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced wide changes to the sentencing powers of the courts;

For the first time, we have made explicit the purposes of sentencing and put them into statute. They are: public protection, punishment, crime reduction and reparation and the reform and rehabilitation of offenders.

We have also put in place key principles to guide the Court when determining the seriousness of the offence and the severity of the resulting sentence. The most important of these is that previous convictions (where they are recent and relevant) should be treated as an aggravating factor when determining sentence severity.

The courts must treat offences as aggravated, for sentencing purposes, where the victim's race, religion, sexual orientation or disability has been a contributing factor.

The Act establishes a new Sentencing Guidelines Council whose role will be to promote consistent sentencing and which will be responsible for issuing guidelines on sentencing for the range of criminal offences.

Magistrates will be able to sentence offenders for terms of imprisonment of up to 12 months instead of the current six months maximum.

The Act provides a new indeterminate sentence for dangerous offenders, which means such an offender can be kept in custody until the Parole Board assesses him as presenting a risk which is manageable in the community.

We are transforming the structure of short prison sentences so that they will be more effective at addressing the needs of offenders. New custodial sentences of less than 12 months will consist of a short 'custodial period' of between two weeks and three months followed by a 'licence period' of at least six months.

The Act introduces intermittent custody for low risk offenders where the term of imprisonment is between 28 and 51 weeks duration. Intermittent custody allows for the sentence to be served either during weekdays or weekends, so that offenders can maintain jobs and relationships that contribute to rehabilitation.

The generic community sentence will allow sentencers a much greater degree of flexibility in putting together tough community sentences that will be tailored to the needs of offenders at any level of seriousness. Where a court decides to impose a community sentence this can be tailored to fit the individual and may include an order to perform unpaid work or specific activities. It may also include exclusion orders or orders for treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.

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