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2 Nov 2004 : Column 196W—continued


Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what fire safety advice is made available to prisons; and whether there are regional variations in the advice made available; [189682]

(2) what the outcome was of the recent independent management review of Prison Service fire safety advisors; and if he will make a statement on its implementation, with particular reference to costs; [189683]

(3) what the cost was of the independent management review of Prison Service fire safety advisors; [189684]

(4) what apparatus is available to members of the Prison Service to deal with fires. [189685]

Paul Goggins: Each establishment has a dedicated fire officer, who has attended relevant training. This person acts as a first line of advice to the Governor of the establishment. This structure is supported by the Prison Service Fire Safety Section in which experienced and appropriately qualified fire professionals are available to offer support and advice on policy. There are no regional variations as policy is generated from the centre thereby maintaining a consistent approach.

There has been no independent review of Prison Service fire advisors. All reviews have been commissioned on an in-house basis by the Prison Service and after careful consideration Fire Safety Section has been restructured and the new arrangements started on 4 October 2004. The cost of work undertaken in assessing the work of Fire Safety Section is not available because the revision was part of the Prison Service's overall Human Resource programme.
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Within each establishment a range of fire fighting equipment is available for staff use, including fire reels, extinguishers, cell inundation points and use of short duration breathing apparatus.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the Prison Service has spent defending equal pay employment tribunal cases in each year since 1997. [189864]

Paul Goggins: On 9 September 2004 the Prison Service had spent £1,034,741 since 1997 on equal pay tribunal cases.

Racist Attacks

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many racist (a) attacks and (b) threats police authorities have recorded in 2004. [193801]

Ms Blears: The available information relates 2003–04 and covers offences of racially or religiously aggravated less serious wounding and common assault. There were 4,840 recorded offences of racially or religiously aggravated less serious wounding and 4,017 offences of racially or religiously aggravated common assault. Information on racist threats is not collected centrally.

Retail Crime

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what action the Government is taking on retail crime; [191509]

(2) what assistance is given to retailers to help tackle retail crime; and how retailers can receive such assistance. [191527]

Ms Blears: The Government recognises the detrimental impact that crime can have on retailers, their staff and the communities they serve and is taking positive action to reduce it.

On 12 October 2004 I met with senior retailers and their trade associations to discuss the key issues faced by retailers and to seek their views on joint action to reduce retail crime. Actions coming out of this will build on the work already under way.

The Home Office has supported the work of the British Retail Consortium in developing retail crime reduction partnerships and is providing £899 of funding for them to set up the Action Against Business Crime (AABC) Group. This Group will provide a national network of business crime reduction partnerships in town and shopping centres across England and Wales. 100 new partnerships will be set up in addition to the 100 or so already established, who will be provided with a support network.

Recognising that a large proportion of retail crime is drug related, pilot outreach schemes have been set up, with £170,000 Home Office funding, in Brighton and Northampton to tackle the link between retail crime and drugs misuse.

We have recently completed the 'Small Retailers in Deprived Areas' initiative which provided £15 million of Government funding to the most vulnerable businesses to enable them to install security measures. Over 12,500
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businesses benefited from the scheme which also included a training programme on crime reduction for retailers.

Advice on crime reduction information is available from the Home Office produced postcards 'Don't Discount Crime' and 'Putting Crime out of Business', both of which provide easily accessible crime reduction advice to small businesses. These are available on the Home Office website. The Health and Safety Executive has also produced specific advice on managing the risk of work related violence.

Retailers can obtain further specific advice and assistance on crime reduction from the Business Crime Reduction Advisers based in each of the Government Offices, the Home Office website and their trade associations.

From November 2004 the police will be able to issue fixed penalty notices for some cases of retail or commercial theft. This will ensure that more minor incidents of such theft are dealt with quickly and effectively and the £80 penalty will act as a strong deterrent for first time offenders.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many fixed penalty notices for shoplifting a repeat offender receives before being taken to court; [190704]

(2) what guidance his Department has issued about the proposed move to fixed penalty notices for shoplifting with regard to repeat offenders. [190707]

Ms Blears [holding answer 14 October 2004]: Operational guidance on issuing fixed penalty notices for disorder, as provided for under section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, was provided to the police for the pilots of penalty notices for disorder which commenced from August 2002.

10 new penalty offences were added to the scheme by Order 2004 number 2,540 made on 27 September. Theft is one of these offences. The operational guidance is now being revised and updated in consultation with the police, retail sector representatives and other stakeholders.

The amended guidance will provide advice on issuing fixed penalty notices for the new penalty offences coming into effect from 1 November 2004. The revised police operational guidance will be made available via the Home Office website for general access shortly, when it has been finalised.

The police operational guidance will advise that offenders who repeatedly shoplift will not be suitable for fixed penalty notice disposal.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether all fixed penalty notices for retail theft are made available to retail establishments when recruiting new personnel. [190705]

Ms Blears [holding answer 14 October 2004]: Retailers will be responsible for setting their own recruitment policies in respect of declaration of fixed penalty notices.
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John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances a repeat offender for shop-lifting receiving two or more fixed penalty notices is neither fingerprinted nor photographed. [190706]

Ms Blears [holding answer 14 October 2004]: Theft is a recordable offence. The police have the power to take fingerprints and DNA on arrest for all recordable offences. These will be logged against the individual's name on the police national computer (PNC). It is expected that most cases of shoplifting will involve the person's arrest. The police will check on PNC for previous offending. If the person is identified as having already had fingerprints and DNA taken and entered on the databases they would not need to be taken again.

Where a person has not been identified as a previous offender and has not been arrested, police may seek the person's consent to provide an identifying fingerprint.

Operational guidance provided to the police advises that offenders who repeatedly shop lift will not be suitable for being dealt with by fixed penalty notice.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were convicted of shoplifting in Waveney in (a) 2001, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003; and how many of these led to (i) a caution, (ii) probation and (iii) a custodial sentence. [189462]

Paul Goggins: The information contained in the table gives the number of persons cautioned and the number found guilty at all courts and those sentenced to a community rehabilitation order (formerly a probation order) or immediate custody for "stealing from shops and stalls" in the Suffolk police force area, 2001 and 2002.

The information collected centrally does not enable cases in the Waveney constituency to be identified.

Statistics for 2003 will be published in the autumn.
Number of persons cautioned, and the number found guilty and sentenced for "stealing from shops and stalls" at all courts, Suffolk police force area, 2001 and 2002 1

Found guilty771743
Of which:
Community rehabilitation order(29)9488
Immediate custody102112

(28) These data are on the principal offence basis.
(29) Formerly a probation order.

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