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23 Feb 2004 : Column 247Wcontinued
23 Feb 2004 : Column 248W
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what factors have been identified as accounting for the increase of self-harming incidents in prisons between 1999 and 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Goggins [holding answer 10 February 2004]: In December 2002 new procedures for reporting self-injury were introduced in prisons in England and Wales. The evidence suggests that much of the increase in reported self-harm in 2003 may result from this rather than an actual increase in the incidence of self-harm.
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Beyond that, the reasons for any increase in prisoner self-harm may be related to the fact that the prison population includes a large number of prisoners with a combination of psychiatric disorders, alcohol and drug dependency, family background and relationship problems, histories of self-harm and previous abuse, all of which raise their risk of suicide and self-harm. Additionally, the current operating environment is very challenging because an increased prisoner population and movement of prisoners puts a strain on resources and makes it more challenging to prevent suicides and self-harm. Long-term trends suggest that self-inflicted deaths have been increasing since 1988, broadly in line with the increase in prison population.
A number of intervention strategies have been introduced into establishments for people who self-harm. These include counselling, support groups, and specialised psychological interventions. A network of establishments has been set up to develop interventions, facilitate evaluation and share good practice, and guidance to staff on managing people who self-harm has been circulated to establishments.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the costs, and what extra resources will be provided, to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman's office when he takes on responsibility for investigating deaths of prisoners, residents of probation hostels and detainees in immigration removal centres from April. 
Paul Goggins [holding answer 26 January 2004]: Provisional estimates of the costs are in the region of £1.5 million a year. The Ombudsman's office is working on the detail of the new arrangements in consultation with my officials. The necessary extra resources will be provided as part of the Ombudsman's funding for the next financial year. In the meantime, we have provided an additional £100,000 for start-up costs in the current year.
All customers, including those leaving prison, may make a Housing Benefit claim up to 13 weeks in advance. Where there is continuous good cause for delay customers may also apply for their Housing Benefit to be backdated. We have no plans to change these arrangements at present.
Jobcentre Plus currently assist released prisoners by waiving labour market conditions for the first seven days of their claim and by providing pre-arranged work focused interviews through the Freshstart initiative. As many Housing Benefit applications are linked to claims
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These figures do not include the occasional use of RPM for small periods of remission to reward meritorious acts in prison (e.g. extinguishing a fire).
Mr. Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Russian citizens have applied for political asylum in the UK during the past five years; and how many have been granted political asylum. 
Beverley Hughes: The table shows the number of asylum applications and initial decisions for nationals of Russia (excluding dependants) in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and from January to September 2003, the latest period for which published data is available. Initial decisions do not necessarily relate to applications received in the same period.
Information on asylum applications and decisions is published quarterly. The next publication covering the fourth quarter of 2003, and provisional full year data, will be available on 24 February 2004 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
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|Cases considered under normal procedures|
|Applications received||Total initial decisions||Asylum||ELR||HP||DL||Totalrefusals(64)|
|Backlog clearance exercise|
|Grants of ELR under backlog criteria(65) , (66)||Non compliance refusals under backlog criteria(65) , (67)|
(61) Figures rounded to the nearest 5, with * = 1 or 2
(62) Decision figures do not necessarily relate to applications received in the same period
(63) Information is of initial determination decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions
(64) May include some refusals under non compliance grounds
(65) Cases decided under pragmatic measures aimed at reducing the pre 1996 asylum backlog
(66) May include a small number of cases where asylum has been granted
(67) May include a small number of cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds
(68) Revised figures
(69) Not applicable
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of crimes in each ward in each principal seaside town in England and Wales were drug-related, in the latest month for which figures are available, with figures for Welsh seaside town clusters disaggregated; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: There is currently no measure of drug-related offending at the local level. Existing data sources such as convictions, and recorded crime statistics are not available at ward level and do not contain information about offenders' drug use.
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