Previous Section Index Home Page

21 Nov 2005 : Column 1778W—continued


Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research he has commissioned on the effect on the re-offending rate of (a) penal custody, (b) restorative justice programmes and (c) local authority-run secure accommodation. [24290]

Fiona Mactaggart: The information requested is as follows.

(a) No recent research has been commissioned on the direct effect of penal custody on re-offending rates (as measured by reconviction); however research (Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction) is being undertaken on the link between interventions received in (as well as outside of) prison, and outcomes (including reconviction). Research has also been commissioned (building on the three Resettlement Surveys undertaken in 2001, 2003 and 2004) to provide information on the links between resettlement factors and reconviction. A large scale sentencing survey is also being undertaken which will provide information about the relative effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness) of different sentences.

(b) Research was commissioned in 2001 to provide robust evidence on the impact of restorative justice (RJ) alongside the criminal justice system (pre and post sentence) on reconviction rates. Other recently conducted research on RJ has included a study examining the impact of a restorative cautioning scheme (Wilcox et al., 2004) and an exploratory study on the effectiveness of RJ schemes (Miers et al., 2001). The evidence from both of these studies on the effect of RJ on reconviction was inconclusive.

To follow up earlier research on the introduction of referral orders (which follow the principles of restorative justice), a reconviction study on those offenders subject
21 Nov 2005 : Column 1779W
to referral orders has been commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB). Further Youth Justice Board research is being undertaken to evaluate the enhanced effectiveness of using Family Group Conferencing in conjunction with Youth Inclusion and Support Panels to divert highest risk children from offending.

(c) No recent research has been conducted by the Home Office or the Youth Justice Board assessing the effect on the re-offending rate of local authority run secure accommodation.

Secure Training Centres

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times noise distraction has been used in each of the four secure training centres in each of the last three years. [25601]

Fiona Mactaggart: Information is not held centrally for the entire period. The following table gives details for the period October 2004 to September 2005:
Use of noise distraction technique

(97) Figures for Oakhill do not include the period 1–18 October 2004.

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to publish the full report of the review of the use of physical control in care in secure training centres. [25602]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Youth Justice Board plans to publish a full report of the review in the near future. A summary of the recommendations of the panel of experts who undertook the review is available on the Board's website.

Shoot to Kill Policy

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long he expects the police to maintain the shoot to kill policy for suspected suicide bombers. [27138]

Hazel Blears: Operational tactics to deal with suspected suicide bombers are a matter for the police. All police use of firearms is subject to the usual law on the use of force. In particular, the Criminal Law Act 1967 provides that the police may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to effect an arrest or to prevent crime.

Similar Fact Rules

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes have been made to the similar fact rules since 1990; and if he will make a statement. [26690]

Fiona Mactaggart: The common law similar fact" rule allowed the prosecution to rely on a defendant's previous misconduct in certain circumstances. However the Bad Character provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which were implemented in December 2004, abolished this and other common law rules governing the admissibility of such evidence in criminal
21 Nov 2005 : Column 1780W
proceedings. In their place the Act sets out a number of gateways" through which evidence of a defendant's bad character may be admissible, where relevant and probative. One of these is where such evidence is

The Act makes clear that such

include the question whether the defendant has a propensity to commit offences of the kind with which he is charged.

Slavery Memorial Day

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had about setting up a national slavery memorial day; and if he will make a statement. [17846]

Paul Goggins: Home Office Ministers have had a number of discussions in recent years with individuals and organisations advocating the setting up of a national slavery memorial day. I am currently discussing with ministerial colleagues how the Government will develop their contribution to the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007.


Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the implications of the political instability in Somalia for his policy of repatriation of Somalian asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement. [27216]

Mr. McNulty: We continue to monitor closely political developments in Somalia and the progress of the transitional Somali Government. The new Somali Government is in the process of deciding where in southern Somalia to base itself and we are aware of the ongoing difficulties it faces in establishing its authority in the country.

Each application is considered against the background of the latest available information about the situation in the country of origin. These sources include intergovernmental organisations, governmental sources and human rights organisations. Full account is taken of the ability of the individual concerned to reside safely in other parts of Somalia where it is not safe for them to return to their home area. Caseworkers have access to the Somalia Country report produced by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate Country of Origin Information Service as well as the Somalia Operational Guidance Note which assesses the most common types of asylum claims received and the circumstances in which they are likely to prove well founded or unfounded.

Stolen Artworks

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to establish a national database for stolen art and artefacts. [20542]

21 Nov 2005 : Column 1781W

Hazel Blears: As a result of work to consider the business case for such a database, we have decided not to proceed with establishing one at this time:

A letter explaining our decision in more detail was sent to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in October 2004.

Instead of the database, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published on 25 October guidelines to museums on the acquisition of cultural property. They have also provided funds and are working with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council on the production of a website that will offer advice to anyone wishing to purchase art and antiquities, to help them avoid purchasing illegally traded items.

We are also considering other options for tackling the wider market for stolen goods.

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions his Department has had with the Council for the Prevention of Art Thefts on the establishment of a national database for stolen art and artefacts; [20543]

(2) what discussions his Department has had with (a) the Council for the Prevention of Art Thefts and (b) the Association of Chief Police Officers on maintaining and publicising websites detailing lost or stolen artefacts. [20546]

Hazel Blears: During 2003, we received a proposal from the Council for the Prevention of Art Thefts (CoPAT) for the provision of a database of stolen artefacts, which my Officials discussed with them at the time. It did not, however, contain any provision for a publicly accessible website.

Options of the type proposed by CoPAT were also considered as part of work carried out during 2004 to investigate the options and business case for such a database. Discussions were held with both CoPAT and representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) as part of this work.

ACPO is represented on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's Enforcement Steering Group (along with the Home Office). The purpose of that Group is to discuss issues relating to the illicit trade in cultural property, including the possible provision of databases and websites. The decision not to proceed with the database was discussed in that forum.

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of (a) the website of the Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Squad, (b) the website of TRACE and (c) the website of the Art Loss register in recovering art and artefacts stolen in the UK. [20544]

21 Nov 2005 : Column 1782W

Hazel Blears: As part of work to consider the business case and options for a national database for stolen arts and artefacts, the degree to which stolen arts and artefacts were currently recovered and to what extent this would be improved by the provision of a national database was investigated.

A number of forces were consulated, as well as the Art Loss Register. The two forces that responded on this issue did suggest that the database could improve rates of recovery. However, in each case this was based on very small numbers, so the overall impact would be small. The Metropolitan Police Service were not able to respond on this issue in the time available.

The Art Loss Register stated that a significant proportion of property was recovered in 5–10 per cent. of their cases. They considered that this could be increased by up to 30 per cent. but only if the database was supported by experts who offered a service to the police, trade and public. We have not made any assessment of the effectiveness of TRACE.

Next Section Index Home Page