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Offender Management

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will carry out a risk assessment of (a) possible overlap of the National Offender Management Service with other Home Office programmes and (b) how such an overlap might affect programme effectiveness. [201432]

Paul Goggins: A comprehensive risk strategy for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is in place. This includes an assessment of the risk of overlap with other Home Office programmes.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of (a) the level of risk that his Department will fail to deliver the National Offender Management Service change programme and (b) the consequences of such failure. [201434]

Paul Goggins: An assessment of risk has been carried out for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). Contingency planning is in hand to manage this risk.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the implications for cost-effectiveness of the purchaser or
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provider model proposed for the Probation Service in delivering the proposed National Offender Management Service reforms. [204965]

Paul Goggins: The rationale for a purchaser provider split is contained in Lord Carter's review of correctional services. This split will enable the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to drive up the quality of work with offenders. Individual offender managers will be the users of services commissioned by the National Offender Manager (NOM) or Regional Offender Managers (ROMs), and accountable for the effective implementation of sentence plans.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the business case for the introduction of contestability and market testing into the National Offender Management Service is established in (a) Patrick Carter's independent report Managing Offenders—Reducing Crime and (b) the Government's response Reducing Crime—Changing Lives. [210786]

Paul Goggins: Yes. Lord Carter's report makes the case for contestability as one of its key recommendations and this recommendation was accepted in the Government's response published on 6 January 2004.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the provisions on the organisation of offender management set out in paragraphs 3.1 to 3.4 (page 35) of National Offender Management Service—Next Steps (published 27 October 2004) remain part of the plan for the Service; and if he will make a statement. [210788]

Paul Goggins: The paragraphs referred to remain relevant to the work of the National Offender Management Service.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the introduction of the National Offender Management Service on the input of the voluntary sector to the criminal justice system. [213551]

Paul Goggins: The creation of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) offers a unique opportunity to sustain and expand existing voluntary sector work with offenders, while opening up the prospect of new areas for partnership and engagement with the voluntary and community sector. A new Voluntary Sector Unit has been established to provide a national lead and, will work closely with the recently appointed Regional Offender Managers, assisting them in being able to reach, support and work effectively with voluntary groups in their regions. The work of the Unit will be overseen by an independently chaired Advisory Group drawn from the voluntary sector, prisons and probation. A voluntary sector representative has been appointed to the NOMS Board, voluntary groups are included in the working group on Offender Management and proposals are being developed for a voluntary sector stakeholder group to help develop the mixed economy of provision for NOMS.

NOMS published a draft strategy The Role of the Voluntary and Community Sector in the National Offender Management Service" on 31 January 2005. This has been sent to voluntary and community groups
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and staff working with them in prisons and probation for consultation. The consultation period will run to 25April 2005 and a revised strategy will be produced in the summer.

NOMS commissioned a study in Yorkshire and Humberside by Sheffield Hallam University entitled Enhancing the Role of the Voluntary Sector" The study examines the extent and nature of current voluntary sector involvement with correctional services, identifies good practice in working relationships, assesses the potential for extending involvement, identifies barriers and capacity building needs and suggests ways to help to overcome these.

Copies of these reports have been widely circulated and are also available on the Home Office and Prison Service websites.

A major conference and exhibition was held on 22 November 2004, to highlight the contribution made by voluntary and community groups to support the delivery of services to prisoners, offenders and their families. The event was attended by over 500 delegates.

Funding for 2005 and 2006 has been secured from the Home Office Active Communities Directorate's Change Up programme to support the development of the voluntary sector in this area. This includes training, advice and support to help the voluntary sector prepare for contestability. We will also encourage projects where large organisations work with smaller, local groups; and a project to address the needs of under-represented groups, particularly those from the black and minority ethnic sector.

A Strategic Partnership Project has been established, led by Clinks, the organisation that supports voluntary and community groups working with offenders and their families. This has provided NOMS with a network of organisations and a quick and easy route to consultation. NOMS has been able to fund a Partnership Manager to support and service this work.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether offenders assessed as requiring specific offender behaviour programmes will be placed by regional offender managers in establishments that do not offer the specific programme. [201052]

Paul Goggins: Offender managers will be responsible for the delivery of sentence plans for the whole of the offender's sentence. It is expected that in the majority of cases individuals will be placed in establishments which can meet their needs during the custodial part of the sentence. It is possible that a single establishment will not be able to meet all the needs identified for an individual, particularly for longer custodial sentences, and in these cases the sentence plan could involve the identification of other establishments which met specific needs.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of whether the purchaser/provider split for the Probation Service in England and Wales will create a conflict of interest. [211568]

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Paul Goggins: NOMS is committed to delivering the purchaser/provider split as a means of driving up the quality of work with offenders and will be looking to develop the best possible model for doing so. There will be a clear separation between purchasing and providing roles in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the role will be of the 10 regional offender managers as employers for offender management of the Probation Service. [211569]

Paul Goggins: Under the existing board structure of the Probation Service, offender managers will remain employed by boards and therefore line managed by chief officers. ROMs will not formally employ offender managers but arrangements are being agreed with boards and chief officers which will allow ROMs to direct the work of offender management through chief officers.

Student Visas

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost of processing visa applications from overseas students coming to study at universities in the UK. [214264]

Mr. Browne: On 1 August 2003 the Home Office introduced charges for leave to remain applications, including those from international students. Fees were calculated to recover the full administrative costs (including staffing and overhead costs) of processing applications to the point of conveying a decision.

We have recently consulted stakeholders on proposals to extend the principle of cost recovery charging, to include the costs of providing an appeal function and the costs of delivering enforcement activity. The consultation closed on 8 December 2004. The outcome of the consultation and the final fee levels have been announced on 7 February 2005.

The fee ranges have been calculated using the full cost recovery formula approved by HM Treasury. A full explanation of how the costs are calculated will be laid before Parliament when the Fees Regulations are amended.

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