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23 Feb 2005 : Column 723W—continued

Litherland House

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide an account of expenditure on Litherland house, Bootle, since the start of his Department's occupancy. [216746]

Fiona Mactaggart: Home Office Pay and Pensions Service took occupation of Litherland house in June 1998. The following table details the combined rent and service charges that have been paid by the Department in each financial year since occupation. The figures quoted do not include capital expenditure or other costs such as furniture and staffing.
Litherland house—combined rent and building service costs

Financial yearCost (£)
2004-January 2005366,626.00

1.The figures reflect the dates that rent and service charge invoices were actually levied and paid.
2.There is an outstanding invoice for £35,000 (relating to the 2002–03 year) which is currently in dispute.
3.On 1 April 2002, additional space was rented in Litherland house as well as training facilities within The Triad office complex in Stanley road. The Triad accommodation is charged to the Litherland house budget.
4.HOPPS leased further accommodation in India buildings, in June 2004. This is charged to the Litherland house budget.

Ministerial Residence

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) is residing in the official residence of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. [209870]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There are a number of former Ministers and Prime Ministers who continue to receive special security requirements after leaving office. We therefore take into account the assessment of the threat to them. On this basis, the Prime Minister has agreed that the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside can continue to have use of the official residence while his security arrangements are reviewed, and appropriate measures can be put in place.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of maintenance of his official residence was in each year since 1997. [209872]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The costs of maintenance were as follows:
Maintenance (£)

(17)Includes roof works of £12,342
(18)to date
All costs exclude VAT as this is recoverable

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Miscarriages of Justice (Compensation)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedure (a) his Department and (b) the Assessor follows in assessing the compensation for victims of miscarriages of justice who are entitled to compensation under section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. [216087]

Paul Goggins: Although the Home Secretary decides in principle whether compensation should be paid, the assessment of the amount of compensation is undertaken by an Assessor, appointed by the Home Secretary under section 133(4) of the 1988 Act, who is experienced in the assessment of damages. The current Assessor is Lord Brennan QC. Each case is considered on the basis of the circumstances relating to that individual claimant.

The assessment is made on the basis of written submissions setting out the relevant facts. When the claimant or the claimant's representative is informed that a payment will be made, they are invited to submit to the Claims Assessment Team, in the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, any information or representations which they would like the Assessor to take into account when considering the amount of compensation to be paid. The Claims Assessment Team prepares a draft memorandum based on this material.

The draft memorandum will be sent to the claimant, or the claimant's representative, for their comments. Factual inaccuracies in the draft memorandum will be corrected and a copy of any comments made by the claimant will be sent to the Assessor with the memorandum. The Assessor may, through the Claims Assessment Team, seek further information or clarification arising from the material placed before him. For example, he may ask them to instruct independent accountants to advise him as to the reasonableness of certain pecuniary loss claims.

In reaching his assessment, the Assessor will apply principles analogous to those governing the assessment of damages for civil wrongs. The assessment will take account of pecuniary and non-pecuniary loss arising from the wrongful charge or conviction and loss of liberty that results from it. The Assessor will take into account any reasonable expenses, legal or otherwise, incurred by the claimant in reversing the conviction or pursuing the claim for compensation.

National Offender Management Service

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how a contestability model for the Probation and Prison Services in England and Wales will avoid increasing bureaucracy. [204974]

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Paul Goggins: The development of a contestability model, will be designed in order to drive up the quality of interventions and management of offenders.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Vision for the National Offender Management Service was endorsed at the NOMS Performance Board on 24 January. [215998]

Paul Goggins: The Vision for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) was endorsed at the NOMS Executive Board on 24 January 2005.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he expects the introduction of contestability in the National Offender Management Service to contribute to the Vision Statement aim of working together to reduce re-offending. [216001]

Paul Goggins: Contestability is the principle that best quality and best value for money is achieved through ensuring that services are opened up to competition. The procurement of high quality services to offenders will contribute to the reduction of re-offending.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who the employers will be of offender managers under the proposed National Offender Management Service structure. [216117]

Paul Goggins: As I announced on 20 July 2004, offender managers will remain employed by Probation Boards. As the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) develops, however, this will involve changes to the role of Boards and to the management relations between Regional Offender Managers (ROMs) and offender managers. Detailed feasibility work and consultation will be undertaken before any final decisions are made with regard to organisational change.

Neighbourhood Watch Scheme

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research he has evaluated on the effectiveness of the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in reducing crime. [216219]

Ms Blears: It is difficult to determine exactly the impact of Neighbourhood Watch activity in reducing crime in isolation from other crime reduction interventions. The 2000 British Crime Survey found that 75 per cent. of respondents thought that Neighbourhood Watch schemes were effective in preventing crimes such as burglary, the percentage being similar for members and non-members of Neighbourhood Watch schemes.

Home Office Research Findings 150, published in 2001, gives further information.

Opinion Polling

Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what areas his Department conducted opinion polling in each of the last three years. [200984]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 30 November 2004]: The Home Office undertakes a wide range of research activities that support the development of
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information led policy, including surveys of public perception and focus groups of the public that consider Home Office issues and its related areas of responsibility.

The department conducts or commissions such work only when it is justified by the specific needs of a particular policy or programme and when this is the most economical, efficient and effective way to achieve the purpose. Consulting and involving the public helps inform both policy formulation and the delivery of better quality public services.

Areas where opinion polls (as opposed to other forms of market and opinion research) have been conducted in the last three years are:

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