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12 Dec 2005 : Column 1711W—continued

Electronic Tagging

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people in Milton Keynes are electronically tagged on early release from prison. [20829]

Fiona Mactaggart: As of 13 October, the number of prisoners released on the Home Detention Curfew scheme (HOC) from HMP Woodhill was 12. The area in which electronically tagged prisoners reside upon release is not recorded centrally.

Freedom of Information

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Freedom of Information applications his Department has received;
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how many have taken more than 20 days to process; and how many of these gave rise to complaints about the time taken. [31218]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Freedom of Information Act came into effect on 1 January 2005. Between January and June 2005 the Home Office received 1,047 Freedom of Information requests. Of these requests 486 (46 per cent.) were replied to within deadlines permitted within the Act, 358 (34 per cent.) being within the 20 working day period. It took longer than 20 working days to process 561 (54 per cent.) of requests for information. The Department is aware of 11 internal review requests solely in relation to the time taken to respond to requests.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) is committed to publishing quarterly updates in relation to departmental performance under Freedom of Information, including information on both the volume and outcomes of requests. The bulletin for the second quarter was published on 30 September 2005 and can be found on the DCA website at and in the Library. The next bulletin will be published before Christmas, while an annual report will be published in early 2006.

Home Detention Curfew Scheme

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of prisoners released on the Home Detention Curfew Scheme in each year between 1999–2000 and 2004–05 had re-offended as at 31 August 2005; and how many offences such prisoners committed in each year. [30404]

Fiona Mactaggart: Information as to re-offending while subject to Home Detention Curfew (HDC) is set out in the following table. Statistics as to re-offending by prisoners released on HDC once they have left the scheme are not available.
Number released on HDC14,76015,51513,64920,45721,19719,31111,598116,487
Number of offenders who committed an offence while subject to HDC3192312183941,1961,3493484,055
Percentage of those released who committed an offence while subject to HDC2.
Number of offences committed by those offenders6483724086992,1382,2695377,071

(29)To 31 August 2005.

Independent Monitoring Boards

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many current independent monitoring board members have served (a) less than one year, (b) between one and three years and (c) more than three years; and if he will make a statement. [16381]

Fiona Mactaggart: On 3 October 2005, 274 current Independent Monitoring Board members had served less than one year; 509 members had served between one and three years; and 1,023 members had served more than three years.

Judicial Proceedings (Rights)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress towards his Department's target of increasing year on year the satisfaction of victims and witnesses while respecting the rights of defendants. [26697]

Fiona Mactaggart: Performance against my Department's targets is published in the annual report and the autumn performance report available in the Library and on the Home Office website (

Life Prisoners

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what conditions need to be met by a life prisoner to enable him or her to be considered for parole. [34499]

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Fiona Mactaggart: The question of a lifer sentence prisoner's suitability for release cannot be considered until the prisoner has served the minimum period of imprisonment considered necessary for the purposes of retribution and deterrence (the tariff period). Exceptionally, the Secretary of State may release a life sentence prisoner prior to tariff expiry where he is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist to justify such action on compassionate grounds. All life sentence prisoners are entitled to have their suitability for release considered by the independent Parole Board on, or shortly before, the expiry of their tariff. They will then be entitled to further reviews of their detention at no more than two yearly intervals thereafter.

There is no other specific condition imposed on a life sentence prisoner in relation to his or her consideration for release. Once the tariff has been served, the general issue governing release is the level of risk of serious harm that the prisoner may pose to others. The responsibility for assessing such risk and for directing the release of a tariff expired life sentence prisoner is now a matter for the Parole Board. The board is required by statute to satisfy itself that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should be confined", and to direct release when it is so satisfied.

The Parole Board will take relevant factors into account when making its assessments of risk in individual cases. The various key factors are set out in Directions given by the Secretary of State under section 32 (6) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. Copies of the latest Directions are available from the Library.

Murder Statistics

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women have been (i) prosecuted and (ii) convicted and given a custodial sentence for (A) killing and (B) murdering a child under 16 years in each of the past 20 years. [35278]

Fiona Mactaggart: It is not possible to identify those people prosecuted and convicted of killing and murdering a child under the age of 16 as the data collect on the court proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform does not have details as to age of the victim.

National Offender Management Service

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the business case for the National Offender Management Service. [19224]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 18 October 2005]: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Strategic Business Case was published on the NOMS website on 20 October.


Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how frequently he met his colleagues from other Departments to discuss the (a) education and training, (b) work prospects and (c) healthcare of offenders in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [34322]

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Fiona Mactaggart: Since his appointment, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has had a programme of regular bilateral meetings with his colleagues in other Departments to discuss cross cutting issues including those impacting on offenders. In the last 11 months, the Home Secretary met bilaterally with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Ruth Kelly) on one occasion: my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Hutton) on three occasions and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health (Ms Hewitt) on one occasion. These meetings are supplemented by regular and detailed discussions with Junior Ministers. The Government are committed to reducing re-offending by tackling accommodation, education and health issues that affect offenders as set out in the National Reducing Re-Offending Delivery Plan launched on 22 November.

Prison Service

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money the Prison Service has paid out in (a) out-of-court settlements and (b) other compensation for complaints of assault brought by inmates against staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [16362]

Fiona Mactaggart: During the financial year 2004–05, the Prison Service paid £69,083 in out-of-court settlements to prisoners following alleged assaults by staff. This figure excludes payments to prisoners alleging mistreatment at Wormwood Scrubs during the 1990s.

Statistics available centrally indicate that no other form of compensation was given to prisoners in response to complaints of assault by staff during the same period. Figures for previous financial years could be obtained only at disproportionate costs.

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