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Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the (a) pub watch and (b) shop watch scheme in Workington; and what measures he plans to take to strengthen each scheme. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 7 March 2005]: Examples of partnership working, such as the pub and shop watch schemes in Workington, can contribute significantly to reducing levels of retail crime as well as combating alcohol-related violence and disorder.
The Government are working with the British Retail Consortium to increase the number and effectiveness of such partnerships, and has provided £899,000 to the Action against Business Crime (AABC) group to form a national association and set up 100 new business crime partnerships.
The North West regional manager for AABC has identified Workington as a strong scheme and a priority area for development. AABC are meeting with the Workington Town Centre Manager, alongside those from neighbouring towns, to encourage and assist the towns to achieve the Safer Business Award which will help identify Workington as a safer town centre and a successful, well run partnership.
Pub watches, like the one in Workington, can particularly help to keep troublemakers from pubs and clubs as well as providing early warning to bar staff, door staff and the police of instances of possible disorder. The Government welcome the contribution that pub watches can make to tackling alcohol-related violence and disorder.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of (a) the police service and (b) the Prison Service were (i) disciplined and (ii) dismissed for misuse of rail warrants in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Ms Blears: Information concerning the number of members of both the police service and Prison Service that have been disciplined and dismissed for misuse of rail warrants in each of the last five years is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans his Department has to introduce measures to increase levels of victim participation in restorative justice. 
Paul Goggins: The Government aim to promote the further use of restorative justice (RJ) in the adult criminal justice system, particularly as a service to victims. We know from research evidence that over 75 per cent. of victims who choose to participate are glad to have done so. On 16 March, we will issue RJ implementation guidance for Local Criminal Justice Boards and their constituent agencies, encouraging them to develop provision of restorative justice at local level, particularly as a service to victims. The implementation guidance will also include advice to local agencies about publicity and communications about RJ, so that more victims are aware of what it is and what is available to them locally.
We believe that the best way to encourage victim participation is through high quality, victim-sensitive provision of RJ services, and appropriate locally based communication about what is available for them.
In the youth justice system, RJ has been available Since l998. Youth offending teams reported that during 200304 over 16,000 victims were consulted or participated in restorative processes and over 90 per cent. expressed satisfaction. The Youth Justice Board has a target for youth offending teams that by 2005, 75 per cent. of victims of all youth crime will be offered the opportunity to participate in a restorative process and 75 per cent. of victims participating should be satisfied. The provisional figure for victim participation between April and December last year is 80.1 per cent.
The Government are committed to tackling all forms of homelessness and part of our approach to this has been focussed on developing measures to prevent rough sleepers from hitting the streets in the first place and to provide targeted help for those who are out on the streets.
We have successfully reduced the number of rough sleepers by 70 per cent. since 1998 and we are continuing to sustain this reduction. All local authorities had to appoint a rough sleepers' co-ordinator and we continue to work closely with local authorities to monitor their progress on their homelessness strategies and to offer them advice and support to prevent people from becoming homeless.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has produced a range of good practice material guidance and advice notes for local authorities, housing associations and other agencies on effective ways to tackle homelessness.
We are making around £60 million available in 200506, rising to £74 million in 200708, to help local authorities and voluntary organisations take action on homelessness prevention. In addition, we are investing £90 million in capital works over the next four years to bring older hostels up to 21st century standards so that they provide better opportunities for homeless people
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and prevent them from becoming homeless again. This will help sustain reductions in rough sleeping and go further in tackling single homelessness.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working closely with the Home Office in the delivery of the Reducing Reoffending National Action Plan. A number of developments are under way to ensure that all prisoners receive a housing needs assessment through custody and into the community. In addition the Prison Service will be introducing a shadow Key Performance Target in April 2005 to measure the housing need assessment at induction. Data will also be collected showing where prisoners at risk of homelessness will be returning to, so that housing authorities and advice agencies can plan services and support.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also working with the Home Office's Active Communities Unit and the voluntary sector to develop a new approach to capacity building and infrastructure support for the homelessness sector. The Change-Up programme will be providing additional funding of £650,000 to improve refuge provision for the victims of domestic violence and to strengthen the voluntary sector by improving leadership, information exchange and best practice, create regional and sub-regional support arrangements and develop practical support for smaller, harder to reach, frontline agencies.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the number of individuals under the age of 18 years who were sexually abused in each of the last five years. 
Paul Goggins: In the recorded crime series there are four sexual offences where, by definition, the victim is a child. The available statistics for the last two years are given in the table. It is not possible to identify the age of the victim for other offences within the sexual offences group.
|Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 13||184||212|
|Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16||1,515||1,907|
|Gross indecency with a child||1,880||1,942|
|Abuse of position of trust||678||792|
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make further funding available to chief constables to finance allowances under the Special Constables (Amendment) Regulations 2002 to assist schemes aimed at the recruitment and retention of special constables; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment he has made of local schemes introduced under the Special Constables (Amendment) Regulations 2002 to assess the effect of payment on recruitment and retention of special constables; 
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(3) how many police authorities have applied to his Department for approval to introduce an allowance for special constables under the Special Constables (Amendment) Regulations 2002; how many his Department has (a) approved and (b) refused; and what measures have been taken to monitor the scheme; 
(4) if he will discuss with the Chancellor of the Exchequer exempting special constables from income tax being levied on allowances paid under the Special Constables (Amendment) Regulations 2002; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: All schemes approved under the Special Constables (Amendment) Regulations 2002 are locally funded. It is for the police authority, following a recommendation by the chief constable, to decide whether an allowance scheme for specials offers value for money. To date, five forcesCumbria, West Midlands, Humberside, Thames Valley and Durhamhave put forward proposals for allowance schemes for specials. All the applications were approved. The schemes in West Midlands and Thames Valley operate in one basic command unit only. The Cumbria scheme has been discontinued at the request of the force in the light of evaluation results. The remaining schemes are subject to ongoing evaluation by forces.
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