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The Metropolitan Police Service has stated clearly that they have no evidence that any of these boys have come to any harm. They believe this type of crime to be extremely rare and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the same fate has befallen any other child.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that adequate counselling is in place for staff working in the Prison Service who deal with a fatality or a serious case of self-harm. 
The public sector Prison Service has in place an established package of measures to support staff in such circumstances. In particular, all staff have access to post trauma counselling if they have been involved in a traumatic incident on duty. This includes attending the scene of a serious self-harm or suicide. Staff can self-refer for counselling, or be referred by management. The process is handled by the public sector Prison Service occupational welfare service, who source a local, external counsellor who is accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy or equivalent professional body.
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Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ask the Sentencing Guidelines Council to (a) create aggravating factors, (b) lengthen jail sentences and (c) increase fines for assaults against public sector workers; and if he will make a statement. 
Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 27 June 2005]: The Government made a commitment to ensuring tougher sentences for those involved in attacks on public sector workers. The Sentencing Guidelines Council, which was established by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, has a remit to issue sentencing guidelines for the range of criminal offences, which courts must take into account.
The Council issued a guideline entitled 'SeriousnessOverarching Principles' on 16 December last year. It outlined a number of aggravating factors that would indicate a higher than usual level of culpability on the part of the offender (such as vulnerability of the victim), or a greater than usual degree of harm caused by the offence. One aggravating factor set out in the guideline is that
The Sentencing Advisory Panel is currently preparing a public consultation paper on sentencing for assaults and other offences against the person. It will consider the most common offences, aggravating or mitigating factors, and the degree to which such factors should impact on sentence. The Panel will report to the Council, which will, in due course, produce a guideline.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions have been made to protect the victims of crime and their families from the individuals responsible for the crimes when they are released (a) temporarily, (b) conditionally and (c) permanently. 
Fiona Mactaggart: Local probation boards have a statutory duty to work with victims of sexual or violent offences where the offender receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. Victims are provided with a single point of contact with the Probation Service, through Victim Liaison Officers (VLOs), from whom they can receive information and make representations about key stages in an offender's sentence, such as temporary leave and release on licence.
When an offender is being considered for release on temporary licence, a prison governor will seek information from the supervising probation officer about appropriate licence conditions. The probation officer, having consulted the VLO, may recommend that there be conditions not to contact the victim or not to enter a specified area where the victim resides.
Prior to the offender's conditional release, the supervising probation officer, having taken into account the victim's representations, may recommend that conditions be imposed forbidding contact with the victim, members of the victim's family or other named individuals, or may prevent the offender entering a specified geographical area.
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During the period of the licence, the VLO will maintain contact with victims and their families. If, after offenders have been released, victims have concerns about offenders breaching conditions not to contact them or entering an exclusion zone, they should inform the VLO. The VLO will, in turn, notify the offender's supervising officer of this breach and the offender may either be warned about his/her behaviour or recalled to custody.
The Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), introduced in April 2001, play an important role in assessing and managing the risk of harm an offender presents to a specific person, such as a victim of his/her previous offending. A VLO will liaise with the MAPPA Responsible Authority, which in turn has a duty of care to existing victims, and should take all reasonable steps to protect people from being re-victimised.
Once statutory supervision of an offender ends, the conditions put in place to protect victims will no longer apply. Where, however, an offender is regarded as posing a risk of harm to an individual, such as a victim of a previous offence, MAPPA may recommend that the police continue to monitor that offender.
The probation VLO should also provide victims with information about voluntary organisations, such as Victim Support, which may offer support once statutory supervision of the offender comes to an end.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria were used in making the decision not to include measures to create aggravating factors for assaults against public sector workers in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill; and if he will make a statement. 
Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 21 June 2005]: The Government are committed to ensuring tougher sentences for those involved in attacks on public sector workers. But we are not convinced that further legislation is necessary to achieve this. The Sentencing Guidelines Council, which was established by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, has a remit to issue sentencing guidelines, which courts must take into account. Sentencing guidelines in respect of an offence or category of offences must include criteria for determining the seriousness of the offence or offences. The council issued a guideline on 'seriousness' at the end of last year; this included aggravating factors applicable to offences generally such as the vulnerability of the victim. One aggravating factor is that the offence is committed against those working in the public sector or providing a service to the public". The Sentencing Advisory Panel is currently preparing a public consultation paper on sentencing for assaults and other offences against the person. It will consider the most common offences, aggravating or mitigating factors, and the degree to which such factors should impact on sentence. The panel will report to the council, which will, in due course, produce a guideline.
Hazel Blears: Part two of the Bill is aimed at tackling the misuse of firearms and imitation firearms and will not greatly affect legitimate shooting sports. Although the age for acquiring and possessing an air weapon will increase from 17 to 18, young people will still be able to use air weapons under adult supervision, at approved shooting clubs or, if they are 14 or over, on private premises with the owner's consent.
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