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British Council Annual Report

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): Copies of the British Council Annual Report, incorporating the Trustees' Annual Report and Accounts, for the year ended 31 March 2005 have been placed in the Library of the House. During the period the Council received £172.065 million grant in aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Ms Rosie Winterton): The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 8–9 December. The Secretary of State for Health chaired the meeting and I represented the United Kingdom. Items on the agenda relating to health were covered on 9 December. Items for discussion were: human health aspects of pandemic flu; proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on medicinal products for paediatric use; and the European Commission's Green Paper: "Improving the mental health of the population, Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union".
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The policy discussion on the human health aspects of pandemic flu focused on areas of EU co-operation to complement existing work on this topic. Member States acknowledged that the first and most vital step was the completion of national contingency plans. On the issue of risk communication with the public, Council agreed that, while this was primarily a Member State responsibility, there was a need for clear co-ordination between Member States, the Commission and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to avoid confusing messages. The Commission reported the experiences of the common ground simulation exercise on pandemic flu.

The Council also discussed the issue of increasing production capacity for both antiviral drugs and vaccines. On vaccines, Council stressed the importance of increasing the research effort into the development of new vaccines. On antivirals, Ministers agreed that building up production capacity was primarily for Member States, but outlined that further consideration should be given to the available options for dealing with a pandemic influenza outbreak including the feasibility and added value of the EU holding a targeted strategic stockpile of anti-viral drugs.

The presidency issued conclusions on the human health aspects of pandemic flu.

There was a qualified majority in favour of a political agreement to the proposed regulation on paediatric medicines.

The Council gave a supportive steer to the Commission on its recent Green Paper on improving mental health.

Ministers took note of Presidency information on: Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme of Community action in the field of Public Health and Consumer Protection; Health inequalities and patient safety; and Council Public Health Working Party meeting at senior level.

Member States also took note of information from the Commission on: A coordinated approach to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the European Union and the neighbouring countries; Commission High Level Group on Health Services and Medical Care; Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and International Health Regulations.

Ministers also had an informal discussion on promoting healthy diets and physical activity.


Antisocial Behaviour Orders

The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Hazel Blears): I am announcing today statistics relating to Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).

An ASBO is a civil order which protects the community from behaviour that has caused or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator.
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ASBOs were introduced under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and have been available since April 1999.

ASBOs can be issued to anyone aged 10 years or over. They impose restrictions on the behaviour of individuals who have behaved in an antisocial way and protect communities from often long-standing and highly intimidating activity.

Breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence and can lead to custody. The maximum penalty for breach of an ASBO is five years imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000 for an adult offender.

The Home Office is notified by all courts of ASBOs issued. As I indicated in my statement on 3 November, Official Report, columns 52–53 WS, a joint exercise between the Court Service and the Home Office is under way to refine and improve further the collection of these data.

Data on the number of ASBOs issued are updated quarterly. New figures for the period up to June 2005 are now available. These figures show that for the period between April 1999 and June 2005 the total number of ASBOs issued (as reported to the Home Office) was 6,497. The number of ASBOs issued in the quarter April to June 2005 is 14 per cent. of the total number of ASBOs issued over all quarters and represents an increase of 48 per cent. on the same quarter last year. However, this represents an increase of 1 per cent. on last quarter's figures so the rate of increase is slowing.

Of those ASBOs issued, 54 per cent. were to adults and 43 per cent. to juveniles (3 per cent. of ASBOs are age unknown).

Some 47 per cent. were orders on application and 53 per cent. were orders on conviction.

I have placed with the Libraries of both Houses a briefing note containing information about ASBOs and the ASBOs statistics issued today.

National Probation Service/National Offender Management Service

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart): The National Probation Service has today published its Annual Report for 2004–05. The Prison Service and the Office for Contracted Prisons published their Annual Reports and Financial Accounts for 2004–05 on 19 July. Copies of all the Annual Reports have been placed in the Library.

Performance against all the National Offender Management Targets for 2004–05 is indicated in the table below. A full breakdown of the performance of both public and contracted prison establishments, in relation to applicable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), will be placed in the Library. The breakdown includes updated figures for those establishments managed by the Office of Contracted Prisons.
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Performance Against the National Offender Management Targets for 2004–05
Public Protection Targets
Category A Escapes00
Total Escapes from Prisons and Prison EscortsLess than 0.05%0.03
Escapes from Contracted Escorts (NOMS)1:20,0001:38,894 REDUCING RE-OFFENDING TARGETS
Education Awards Basic Skills starts32,00034,199
(Probation Service)Basic skills awards achieved8,0009,451
Education Awards (Prisons) Basic skills awards achieved56,08063,628
Key Work Skillsawards achieved120,000170.558
Drug Treatment and Testing Orders13,00010,322
Of which lower intensity orders1,000329
Drug Treatment and Testing Order successful completions35%36%
Intensive Control and Change Programmes started1,790841
Intensive Control and Change Programmes completed1,100125
Enhanced CommunityPunishment completions30,00038,473
Offending BehaviourProgrammes completions(Probation Service)15,00015,595
Offending BehaviourProgrammes (Prisons)7,0008,364
Of which Sex Offender Treatment programmes1,1801,232
Of which Living Skills Programmes5,8207.132
Drug Treatment Programmes Completions (prisons)3,9004,902
Employment, Training and Education (ETE) place on release38,00041,146
Breach proceedings initiated within 10 days90%87%
Proportion of orders and licences in which the offender complies70%79% JUSTICE AND REPARATION TARGETS
Timely Arrival at Court (NOMS)75% .79%
Pre-Sentence Reports to the Magistrates courts within 15 days90%73%
Victim Contact85%93% DECENCY TARGETS
Mandatory Drug TestsLess than 10%11.8%
Self-inflicted DeathsLess than112.8 per100,000113.7 per100,000
Serious AssaultLess than1.56%1.56%
Overcrowding (publicprisons)Less than 24%23.7%
Overcrowding (contractedprisons)Less than34.5%26.1%
Staff Sickness (publicprisons only)Less than 12.5 days/person12.7
Staff Sickness (ProbationService)Less than 9 days/person12.3
Ethnic Minority Staff (public prisons only)At least 6%5.7%
Regionally setemployment targets for Ethnic Minority Staff8.4%10.91(Apr-Dec2004)
Clear proposals in court reports for minority ethnic offenders95%97%

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