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Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has issued to police forces regarding the development of contingency plans for use in the event of an influenza pandemic; and what plans he has to update this guidance. 
Hazel Blears: The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has been alerted to the potential consequences of an outbreak of pandemic influenza, and has communicated this to police forces in order to inform contingency planning. This work will be guided by the Government's UK Influenza Contingency Plan (latest version 19 October 2005). The Home Office will continue to liaise with ACPO in the production of contingency plans as necessary.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) males and (b) females have been (i) charged and (ii) convicted in England and Wales of offences under sections (A) 35 and (B) 36 of the Malicious Damage Act 1861 in each year since 1984. 
Hazel Blears: Statistics on the number of males and females charged with an offence are not centrally collected. Information taken from the Home Office Court Proceedings database on the number of males and females found guilty of criminal damage at all courts England and Wales, 19842003 is contained in the table. It is not possible to separate data on convictions under sections 35 and 36 of the Malicious Damages Act 1861 from data relating to other offences of criminal damage. Court statistics for 2004 will be available in late November.
|Criminal damage endangering life (excluding arson)(18)||Other criminal damage(19)|
Fiona Mactaggart: Wherever possible, subject to the need to protect others, mentally disordered offenders receive treatment rather than punishment. Where they cannot be diverted to hospital at sentencing, the Home Secretary has power to direct their transfer to hospital from prison. Discharge or release from hospital is subject to statutory aftercare arrangements under s117 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Where mentally disordered offenders do receive prison sentences, Prison Mental Health In-reach teams work to link them with their home" Community Mental Health Teams before their release to ensure continuity of care under the Care Programme Approach and the Offender Mental Health Care Pathway.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how regional offender managers will be involved in contestability under the National Offender Management Service arrangements. 
Fiona Mactaggart: Regional Offender Managers (ROMs) will be commissioning services from the Prison Service and from Probation Boards from April 2006. Meanwhile, proposals for increasing contestability across the National Offender Management Service estate are being developed. Contestability is expected to result in ROMS commissioning correctional services from a range of public, private and voluntary and community sector providers.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to complete (a) assessment of and (b) consultation on the organisational design options to deliver (i) integrated offender management, (ii) increased contestability and (iii) the clear purchaser/provider split as set out in the 200506 Business Plan. 
Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 13 July 2005]: A consultation paper, Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-offending", was published on 20 October, setting out how we propose to introduce a clear purchaser/provider split and increased contestability of integrated offender management services (current legislation already allows for competition in the provision of prison services but not of probation services). The consultation period ends on 20 December and we will publish a summary of responses as soon as possible thereafter.
A wide range of powers are available to limit disruption caused by juveniles after 9 pm, these include powers given to the police to designate an area where there is persistent antisocial behaviour and a
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problem with groups causing intimidation. In these areas the police, in agreement with the local authority, have a power to disperse groups where their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being intimidated, alarmed or distressed.
The groups can then be excluded from a specified area for up to 24 hours antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) can also be used as an effective means of curbing disruptive behaviour in local neighbourhoods. ASBOs contain prohibitions which place restrictions on the behaviour of individuals. These prohibitions may include a curfew which ensures young people are in their homes by a given time.
In situations where groups of young people are causing disruption, targeting ringleaders with ASBOs may be a useful way of dispersing the group. acceptable behaviour contracts, which are voluntary agreements, may also be used to ensure young people are not causing disruption in their neighbourhoods.
Hazel Blears: In January 2005 there were 1,510 Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Lancashire as a whole, covering some 79,481 properties. The most recent available figures suggest that there are currently around 300 Neighbourhood Watch schemes operating in West Lancashire.
Hazel Blears: Neighbourhood Watch groups in West Lancashire, in common with Neighbourhood Watch organisations in other parts of England and Wales, can approach their local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) and local councils for financial and other support. The Home Office does not provide direct grant funding to local Neighbourhood Watch groups. Instead we provide other types of support such as the www.neighbourhoodwatch.uk.com website, free public liability insurance for local groups and free crime reduction literature for use by these groups.
Section 36 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 makes it an offence to use threats or force to obstruct or prevent ministers of religion in the discharge of their duties. The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment. In the years 1999 to 2003, there have been six cases proceeded against at magistrates courts under section 36 of the 1861 Act.
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