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17 Nov 2004 : Column 1601W—continued

Police Paperwork

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the evidence of the Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing, Community Safety and Counter-Terrorism to the Home Affairs Select Committee of 26 October, if he will list the items of police paperwork which have been reduced since 1997. [197464]

Ms Blears [holding answer 15 November 2004]: We have eliminated over 7,700 forms. Details of the forms made obsolete by individual forces are not held centrally. We remain committed to reducing the administrative burdens and eliminating the unnecessary paperwork and inefficient working practices that keep officers off the streets.

Police Recruits

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applicants accepted to
 
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join each police force are waiting to start their training course; what the longest period is that an applicant in each force has been waiting to start the training course; and if he will make a statement. [187975]

Ms Blears: Data on how many applicants, accepted to join each police force, are waiting to start their training course and what the longest period is that an applicant in each force has been waiting to start the training course is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Police Stations

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations have opened since 1979. [194379]

Ms Blears: The management of the police estate and allocation of resources are matters for each police authority and the Chief Officer, who are responsible for assessing and responding to local needs. The ownership of police stations is vested in the local police authority, not the Home Office. Their use and disposal are a matter for local decision-making.

From March 1993 to March 2003 data are available for 33 police authorities. During that time 247 police stations were opened. Consistent information is available only from 1993.

Police Time

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time spent by a police officer is between arrest to a charge cleared by the Crown Prosecution Service; what this represents as a percentage of the officer's working day; and if he will make a statement. [193878]

Ms Blears: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer provided on 15 November 2004, Official Report, column 1020.

Police Training

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions have taken place with Centrex on the funding available for police training; and if he will make a statement. [183043]

Ms Blears: In line with general reductions in public spending, Centrex has received a reduction in its Home Office grant for the current financial year. Centrex are also liable to pay VAT this year, which they did not have to pay last year.

However, the Home Office have been working closely with Centrex on managing the implications of the reduction in grant, and significant efficiency savings have been made. We are confident that the quality of training provided by Centrex has not been impaired.

It should also be recognised, however, that forces allocate significant resources to training and development locally. This is separate from the Centrex allocation.
 
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Prison Education Programmes

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the use of the internet in prisons for learning and training programmes. [198039]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 15 November 2004]: As part of the development of an integrated education and training service for offenders in custody and the community, provision will be made for e-learning, including an exploration of ways to give offenders access to the web. Currently under construction is a prison pilot involving three computer terminals, from which offenders will have closely monitored and carefully controlled access to specific websites for the purpose of learning, with a view to extending this if successful.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the pay differential for prisoners who (a) work and (b) take part in education or training. [198040]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 15 November 2004]: I have no plans at present to change the Prison Service pay scheme. The policy contained in Prison Service Order 4460 sets national criteria that include minimum rates of pay; but individual schemes are the responsibility of prison governors. They must publish annually the rates of pay for all activities, whether work or education, in their prisons. Pay is an integral part of the Prison Service Incentive and Earned Privileges scheme designed to motivate prisoners to achieve a range of personal targets set by their sentence plans and tailored to their needs. Prison staff will continue to develop a range of methods to encourage prisoners to take part in education.

Prison Service

John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost of compensation paid to inmates who have become ill due to smoke inhalation caused by fires in Prison Service buildings in each of the past five years. [196710]

Paul Goggins: The Prison Service records do not identify claims that relate specifically to smoke inhalation. To provide this information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effects of section 126 of the Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994 allowing privatisation of the prison service. [181105]

Paul Goggins: There has been no assessment of the effects of section 126 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

The most recent assessment of contracting out prison management to the private sector forms part of the report by Lord Carter of Coles entitled "Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime" which was published by the Home Office on 11 December 2003. In that report Lord Carter recommended that contestability should be introduced across the whole of prisons and community interventions, with outcome based contracts in place within 5 years. The Government's response, "Reducing
 
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Crime—Changing Lives", accepts the central role of contestability in the operation of the National Offender Management Service. Privatisation was not put into effect by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. No public assets have been sold to the private sector.

Prisoner Parents

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to allow prisoner parents to retain responsibility for their children during imprisonment. [146230]

Paul Goggins: The Prison Service helps prisoners to maintain parental responsibility through social visits, telephone calls, letters, and a number of specific programmes including Family Man, Fathers Inside, and Storybook Dads. Establishments are encouraged, often in partnership with voluntary organisations, to develop new practices to improve family ties.

The Government have also introduced the new sentence of intermittent custody that enables suitable offenders to serve their sentence while continuing to fulfil parental responsibilities.

Prisons (Fire Safety)

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what comparative studies have been carried out during the last two years of the public sector and private finance initiative prisons; and what the results of the studies were. [179150]

Paul Goggins: National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee reports, both entitled "The Operational Performance of PFI Prisons", were issued during the 2002–03 session and both drew comparisons with public sector prisons.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 18 October 2004, Official Report, column 486W, on prisons, if he will list the sites for the 1,300 new places announced on 29 September; on what dates each is expected to be useable; if he will list the sites for the 2,400 places planned over the next 18 months; and on what dates they will be available for use. [193741]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 3 November 2004]: It is proposed that the 1,300 new places announced by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 29 September will be created in existing prisons by a combination of houseblocks, ready-to-use units and the reclamation of accommodation that has been out of use. The final locations and functions of the new places will take into account the projected need, costs and the outcome of applications for planning clearance. Work will start during 2005–06.

Around 2,400 additional places are due to be completed and usable over the next 18 months and summarised in my previous reply are set out in the table:
Proposed(50)EstablishmentPlaces
November 2004Blakenhurst180
November 2004Wellingborough120
November 2004Swinfen Hall180
March 2005Gartree240
June 2005Everthorpe120
August 2005Nottingham180
December 2005Whatton400
December 2005Chelmsford120


(50) These are proposed dates that may be subject to change.



 
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Also included within the package of around 2,400 places is a new 840 place private sector prison, HMP Peterborough, which is due to open on 28 March 2005.


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