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19 Jan 2006 : Column 1584W—continued

Probation Officers

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the complaints made by (a) members of the public, (b) hon. Members and (c) members of the House of Lords in each of the last 10years for which figures are available; and what the outcome of each complaint was about the conduct of probation officers. [37548]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Department does not collect the information in the form requested. A National Complaints Procedure, agreed by the Secretary of State, enables local probation areas to handle complaints. Complaints must be from offenders or their nominated representatives. Unresolved local complaints are escalated to the independent Prison and Probation ombudsman. The following table details the number of complaints received by the Prison and Probation ombudsman since 1 September 2001, the date on which the NPS complaints procedure, and the ombudsman's responsibility for investigating complaints about the probation service were implemented.
Complaints made by offenders or their representatives about the Probation Service, received by the Prison and Probation ombudsman since 1 September 2001

Number receivedNumber
September 2001 to March 2002835
April 2002 to March 200319131
April 2003 to March 200427928
April 2004 to March 200530741

The number eligible column shows the number of complaints out of all those received that have been eligible for the ombudsman to investigate. The ombudsman's terms of reference (and the NPS complaint procedure) require that all three stages of the complaint procedure must have been completed before the ombudsman may investigate a complaint. The three stages are: informal investigation by the local office, formal investigation by the Chief Officer or a senior officer nominated by the CO, and finally the appeal stage when a panel of three Board members hears the appeal. The ombudsman may accept complaints that are referred to him within one month of the complainant receiving the result of the appeal.

Security Guards

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will extend the 20 March deadline for the licensing of security guards. [43105]

Paul Goggins: From 20 March 2006 it will be an offence to work as a manned guard (security guard, CCTV operative, Cash and Valuables in Transit, Close Protection) without a licence from the Security Industry Authority. Keyholders will also need to be licensed from that date. This date will not be extended beyond 20 March.

Serious Organised Crime and Police Act

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance his Department has issued to the police on the implementation of the Serious
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Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 in the vicinity of Parliament since the recent arrest and conviction of Maya Anne Evans. [38812]

Paul Goggins: No guidance has been issued on the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime Act dealing with Parliament Square. Home Office officials have worked closely with the Metropolitan police on the implementation of this legislation. We do not consider that written guidance to the Commissioner is necessary. However, we keep the need for guidance under review, in the light of operational experience.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions will be affected by the Law Lords ruling that evidence extracted under torture is inadmissible in judicial proceedings. [39751]

Fiona Mactaggart: We have no reason to believe that any convictions will be affected by this ruling. In criminal proceedings in England and Wales, the courts have a range of powers to prevent the admission of evidence that may have been obtained improperly or illegally, including through means of torture. Courts have the discretion to exclude evidence if it is unduly prejudicial or unfair, and a judicial discretion to stay proceedings if they are considered to be an abuse of the court's process. Defendants also enjoy the protections afforded by Article six of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the right to a fair trial. Article three of the ECHR also prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

In addition, a confession is not admissible unless it meets the requirements set out in sections 76 and 78 of Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). That is, the evidence will not be admissible if it is unreliable or has been obtained by oppression. Section 76(8) of PACE states that oppression includes torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and the use or threat of violence

Young Offenders

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the recidivism rate among young offenders was in each of the last eight years. [42168]

Fiona Mactaggart: Reconviction rates for young offenders following a pre-court disposal, a non-custodial sentence at court or discharge from custody have been published as part of the Home Office's monitoring of its PSA (Public Service Agreement) target on reducing reoffending. The most recent data were published in Juvenile reconviction: results from the 2003 cohort". The report shows one year reconviction rates for juvenile offenders (those aged 10 to 17) for 1997 and 2000 to 2003.

Some statistics on reconviction rates for young offenders released from prison or starting a community sentence have been published in Prison Statistics: England and Wales" and Probation Statistics, England and Wales" but these are on a different basis from the PSA results. These publications are available in the House of Commons Library.
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Reconviction rates should be used with caution as a number of different factors can influence them. Reconviction rates can be adjusted to take account of the changing characteristics of offenders and these adjusted rates are published on the Home Office's website. The most recent data show that there has been a reduction in re-offending for young offenders of 2.4 per cent. against the 2000 baseline. The Home Office Public Service Agreement target is to reduce re-offending by 5 per cent. by 2006.

Youth Resettlement Action Plan

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his Department expects to publish the Youth Resettlement Action Plan. [42164]

Fiona Mactaggart: A National Youth Resettlement Framework for Action is in the final stages of development by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. The framework should be ready for publication by the end of February. I will ensure the hon. Member receives a printed copy and will arrange for copies to be placed in the House Libraries.


Benefit Fraud

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland were prosecuted for illegally obtaining benefits in each year since 1999. [43628]

Mr. Hanson: The total number of people who have been prosecuted for illegally obtaining benefits in each year since 1999 is:

(35)To 17 January 2006.


Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police-monitored CCTV cameras are in operation in (a) East Belfast District Command Unit, (b) South Belfast and (c) North Belfast. [22883]

Mr. Woodward: The following table provides the number of PSNI monitored CCTV cameras in East, South and North Belfast District Command Units:

District command unit
Number of CCTV cameras monitored by PSNI
South Belfast29
North Belfast36
East Belfast11

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Hospital Staff (Working Hours)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for NorthernIreland what progress has been made in the implementation of the European Working Time Directive in relation to the working hours of (a) consultants, (b) junior house doctors and (c) nursing staff in hospitals in Northern Ireland. [42415]

Mr. Woodward: The latest information on junior doctors indicates that 71 per cent. of junior doctors are compliant with the European Working Time Directive. Information on consultants and nursing staff is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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