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9 Jan 2006 : Column 384W—continued

Preventing Extremism Together

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) role, (b) remit and (c) structure the Preventing Extremism Together working groups will have following the submission of their reports. [34583]

Paul Goggins: The Preventing Extremism Together working groups were disbanded after their final report was published in November.
 
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Prison/Resorative Justice

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the effectiveness of (a) prison and (b) restorative justice is measured; and if he will make a statement. [35445]

Fiona Mactaggart: The effectiveness of prison is subject to measurement by two public service agreement (PSA) targets. The first target is to maintain the level of escapes from prison and prison escorts to less than 0.17 percent. of the prison population and to ensure no escapes of category A prisoners.The most recent data show a rate of 0.025 percent. of the prison population. There has been no escape of a category A prisoner since 1995.

The second PSA target is to reduce the re-offending of offenders discharged from prison or starting community sentences by 5 percent., from a 2000 baseline. This is to be achieved by 2006. The most recent data are for adult offenders discharged from prison or starting a community sentence in 2001 and show a reduction of -1.8 percent. against the target. Owing to the administrative resources involved, these results are based on a sample of offenders from the first quarter of the calendar year.

The most common measure of the effectiveness of restorative justice (RJ) is re-offending rates (measured through reconviction rates, or sometimes re-arrest or re-sanctioning rates) and victim and offender satisfaction. Final results (including reconviction rates) from a large scale evaluation of three RJ schemes will be available in 2007.

Prisons

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the prison population are serving their first custodial sentence. [34423]

Fiona Mactaggart: Information on the proportion of the prison population serving their first custodial sentence is not routinely collated. The Social Exclusion Unit's 2002 report 'Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners' reported some results from internal Home Office research. This indicated that, in 1999, one third of adult male prisoners were serving their first custodial sentence.

Probation Services

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether faith-based organisations will be able to secure contracts for the end-to-end management of offenders as part of his proposals for reform of the probation service. [37788]

Fiona Mactaggart: Changes to the way in which probation services are provided will result in regional offender managers (ROMs) commissioning services from probation boards from April 2006. As this process develops, and subject to legislation, it is expected that ROMs will commission correctional services from a range of public, private and voluntary and community sector providers.

As part of this process different organisations can seek to provide services, including offender management services. Decisions in every case will be made on merit—
 
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on who offers the best service for the money—through impartial and objective evaluation successful bids will need to comply with the terms of the contract.

Quad Bikes

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase the number of quad bikes available to police forces to tackle criminal and antisocial behaviour. [38980]

Hazel Blears: Management of resources, including decisions on procurement of vehicles, are operational matters for the police authority and chief officer.

Racial Hatred

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he issues to police forces on dealing with incidents of incitement of racial hatred, with particular reference to cases involving the display of the St. George flag. [37896]

Hazel Blears: While it is not of itself unlawful to display any flag there are legislative powers to deal with those who cross the line from legitimate debate into inciting violence. A Code of Practice on the reporting and recording of racist incidents was issued in 2000. A racist crime and harassment toolkit was published in 2005.

Religious Hatred

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to collect centrally statistics on cases of religious hatred. [39525]

Paul Goggins: Incitement to religious hatred is not currently a criminal offence. Should it become so, the number of prosecutions and convictions would be centrally collected.

Rural Crime

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking (a) to tackle rural crime and (b) to improve detection rates in rural areas. [38172]

Hazel Blears: Effective and responsive policing at neighbourhood level, as well as robust partnership working, are both essential parts of our strategy to tackle crime and to sustain the confidence and trust of the public in all parts of the country.

We introduced the rural policing fund in 2000–01 specifically to enhance the visibility and accessibility of policing in rural areas. 31 police authorities with the most widespread populations have benefited from this additional funding. The annual allocation is £30 million. As part of the provisional police funding settlement for 2006–07 and 2007–08, we have decided to consolidate four specific grants, including the rural policing fund, into a single provision for each police authority to give authorities more control over how this money may be used. We do not intend to abolish or reduce rural grant allocations. Each authority will receive its current level of funding from the four grants.
 
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We have made a commitment that, by 2008, every area in England and Wales, rural as well as urban, will benefit from dedicated neighbourhood policing teams. These will be led by Police officers and involve special constables, community support officers, volunteers and neighbourhood wardens, amongst others.

The Government acknowledges the need to improve sanction detection rates across all police forces. For that reason, a major drive has been under way since last summer with the aim of achieving a significant increase in sanction detection rates. This includes a range of operational improvements intended to build the investigative capability of the police service, together with some targeted support for forces with performance concerns.

Secure Establishments

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the ratio of staff to residents is in (a) Home Office secure establishments, (b) secure training centres and (c) local authority secure accommodation. [33688]

Fiona Mactaggart: In Prison Service juvenile young offender institutions, for each member of staff the number of young people varies between 0.4 and 1.4. (These figures include all staff working in the establishment. Where a juvenile establishment shares a site with a young offenders institute for 18–20 year olds, the ratio is based on the combined figures for both staff and inmates.)

In secure training centres, the ratio of staff directly supervising the young people is: one member of staff to between 2.5 and 3.5 children. In addition, there are custody officers on site to cover admissions, movements and supervision of visits.

In local authority secure children's homes, the ratio of staff directly supervising the young people is: one member of staff to between 1.3 and two children.

Serious Organised Crime and Police Act

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue guidance on lone protesters in relation to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act; and if he will make a statement. [38871]

Paul Goggins: No. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act is clear. Within a public place in the designated area, any person who organises a demonstration, or takes part in a demonstration or carries on a demonstration by himself, is guilty of an offence if authorisation for the demonstration has not been given by the Commissioner.


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