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10 Jan 2005 : Column 365W—continued


John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will bring forward plans to ensure the courts, when imposing a non-custodial sentence for non-violent offences, record specific reasons for that sentence and make them public; [204479]

(2) if he will bring forward plans to ensure that when the courts impose a short custodial sentence they state publicly why a community sentence was not identified as feasible in that case. [204480]

Paul Goggins: Section 174 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 places a duty on the court when passing sentence to state in open court, in ordinary language and in general terms, its reasons for deciding on the sentence passed. Where the Sentencing Guidelines Council has issued definitive guidelines relevant to the sentence and the court departs from them it must give reasons for doing so. In the case of a custodial sentence or a community sentence, the court must explain why it regards the offence as being sufficiently serious to warrant such a sentence.

We aim to commence the relevant provisions in April 2005.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to prevent courts from imposing a custodial sentence following the breach of a community punishment order where the original offence did not merit imprisonment. [206147]

Paul Goggins: Within the broad statutory limits set by Parliament, sentences in individual cases are a matter for the courts alone, taking into account all the circumstances of the offence and the offender. Prison sentences should be reserved for those who are serious, dangerous or seriously persistent offenders. Equally, offenders cannot be allowed to flout the order of the court and to default on their obligations to abide by the terms of a community sentence.

The Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, Schedule 3, contains the provisions relating to breach of community orders. Where an offender aged 18 or over and subject to a community order has failed without reasonable excuse to comply with any of the requirements of the relevant order, the magistrates court dealing with the offender must impose a sentence of imprisonment, unless either the court is of the opinion that the offender is likely to comply with the requirements of the order during the period for which it remains in force or that there are exceptional circumstances which would justify the court's not imposing such a sentence.
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If the court does not impose a sentence of imprisonment, or if the obligation to do so does not apply, it may alternatively deal with the offender by making a curfew order, a community punishment order, or an attendance centre order, or (where it has the power to do so) by revoking the order and dealing with the offender as though he had just been convicted of the offence.

Sex Offenders

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has issued on the advice which should be given to local schools if a sex offender deemed by police to be a danger to children absconds from an open prison. [205492]

Paul Goggins: No central guidance has been issued. Sex offenders in open conditions will have completed sex offender treatment and have been assessed as suitable to be held in open conditions. If it was judged that local schools needed to be informed about an abscond the local education authority (LEA) would be informed through the Multi Agency Protection Panel process (MAPP It would then be for the LEA to notify local schools directly.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the weekly reports he has requested on the management of sex offenders at HMP Prescoed. [205493]

Paul Goggins: Each week I receive from the Governor of Prescoed prison a report on the number of sex offenders held there. This report includes details of the sentence each prisoner is serving, the offence and the time served, the progress the prisoner is making and the type of work the prisoner is doing. The report also includes the same details for any prisoners expected to transfer to Prescoed from Usk in the following week.

These weekly reports enable me to monitor the arrangements for sex offenders placed at Prescoed and to ensure that those transferring to Prescoed meet the criteria which the Prison Service set, and which I endorsed, namely that life sentenced prisoners should have received a Parole Board recommendation for open conditions, and that determinate sentenced prisoners should be within one year of release.

Sexual Offences Act

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals have been (a) arrested and (b) convicted under section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. [201390]

Paul Goggins: The information requested is not available.

Information on arrests collected centrally is based on persons arrested for "notifiable" offences by main offence group and so does not identify individual offences.

Information on convictions for offences under section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 only became identifiable in the statistics collected centrally in January 2004. Statistics for 2004 will be published in the autumn of 2005.
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Smartcards Scheme

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money has been allocated to the Smartcards scheme for young persons' cultural activities; and from which budget it will come. [206383]

Margaret Hodge: I have been asked to reply.

Details of the new Youth Offer will be set out in the Youth Green Paper, which we expect to publish in the new year.

Spot Fines

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many on the spot fines had been issued for each police area by the latest date for which figures are available. [205066]

Paul Goggins: The latest provisional data shows that 40,765 penalty notices for disorder have been issued by police forces in England and Wales up to 31 October 2004. Details are shown in the table.
Number of penalty notices for disorder given for all offences from 1 October 2003 to 31 October 2004 by police force area, England and Wales (Provisional)

Police force areaNumber of PNDs
given for all offences
Avon and Somerset243
City of London33
Devon and Cornwall1,218
Greater Manchester1,214
Metropolitan Police8,423
North Yorkshire493
South Yorkshire1,046
Thames Valley352
West Mercia121
West Midlands4,836
West Yorkshire2,453
North Wales881
South Wales110
Total England and Wales40,765

(5507180120) Commenced issuing penalty notices from 1 November 2004.

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Staff Training Courses

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) cost to the Department, (b) title and (c) location was of each training course organised by his Department for its staff in each financial year since 1997–98. [200393]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office accounts system does not capture centrally the cost of all training which is provided to its staff, especially where that training is provided either by contract staff or its own staff.

In addition there is no central register of courses attended or their locations.

This information cannot be provided except as a disproportionate cost.

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what financial penalties were paid in each financial year since 1997–98 to training providers by the Department for training courses prepared for its staff which were subsequently cancelled at the Department's request. [200413]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office accounting system does not separately capture in its accounting system, expenditure on courses which have been cancelled.

This information cannot be provided except as a disproportionate cost.

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