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30 Jan 2006 : Column 225W—continued

Probation Service

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of how many probation hostel places will be required in each of the next five years; what effect he expects the establishment of the National Offender Management Service to have on demand; and if he will make a statement. [44335]

Fiona Mactaggart: There is a National Offender Management Service (NOMS) instigated review and scoping exercise currently being undertaken to ascertain the level of development required across the Approved Premises (formerly Bail and Probation Hostels) estate. Once complete, this information will be used to inform a national strategy for Approved Premises Development. This will take into account any potential impact of the creation of NOMS which is identified during the review.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms exist to ensure consistency in Probation Service assessments; and if he will make a statement. [44380]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Offender Assessment System (OASys) is the assessment system used across the whole of the National Probation Service. Having a single standard tool provides consistency. The National Probation Directorate has put in place measures to help ensure the quality of OASys completion.
 
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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the offender assessment procedures used by the Probation Service; and if he will make a statement. [44385]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Offender Assessment System (OASys) is a good system, as attested by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation. It is subject to ongoing improvement but there are no plans to replace it.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many responses were received in response to the consultation paper Restructuring Probation to Reduce Reoffending from Welsh-based (a) organisations and (b) individuals; and how many of these responses were supportive of the Government's position. [45401]

Fiona Mactaggart: Responses were received from:

We will be publishing a summary of all the responses along with our response to the key issues raised. We expect to publish it within the timescale set out in the Cabinet Office guidelines on public consultations.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in his proposals for restructuring the Probation Service in Wales he plans to allow (a) members of the public and (b) local organisations (i) to be made aware of the applicants for contracts to provide probation services and (ii) to make objections to those service providers' applications. [45402]

Fiona Mactaggart: There are no plans to publish the names of those tendering for a contract to provide probation services. Competitions will be organised in full compliance with the revised EU procurement directives; an objection to a bidder's participation in the competition would be considered in the light of the directives which allow for the disqualification of a bidder under specified circumstances such as fraud.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in the restructuring proposals for the Probation Service in Wales he plans to give offenders rights to object to being supervised by a particular provider of probation services under contract. [45403]

Fiona Mactaggart: No. Offenders will not be able to object to being supervised by any provider of probations services.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many responses to the consultation paper, Restructuring Probation to reduce Re-offending, were received from individual members of (a) the probation staff, (b) probation services and (c) probation boards in Wales; how many were supportive of the proposals; and if he will publish them. [45415]

Fiona Mactaggart: Responses were received as follows:


 
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Work analysing the responses is not yet complete. We will publish a summary of responses and the key points raised within the three-month timescale set out in the Cabinet Office guidelines on public consultations.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he can take during the restructuring of the Probation Service in Wales if employees refuse to accept the transfer of their employment from a probation board to a probation trust or private company. [45416]

Fiona Mactaggart: When probation trusts are established, most staff will transfer from probation boards to the new trusts on the same terms and conditions of employment. If, in due course, work transfers to an alternative provider, staff will generally transfer, with their pay, terms and conditions protected by TUPE and the recent extension of the Two Tier Workforce Agreement. Staff who do not wish to transfer will be free to terminate their contract of employment. The employment status of chief officers will change in the transition from boards to trusts: they will cease to be statutory office holders appointed by the Secretary of State and will instead be appointed and employed by the trust itself. If a chief is not appointed to the trust, he or she will be compensated accordingly.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what responses he has received from the judiciary in Wales to the publication, Restructuring Probation to reduce re-offending; and if he will place copies of those responses in the Library. [45417]

Fiona Mactaggart: Two responses were received from individual members of the judiciary in Wales. We will publish a summary of all responses following the procedures set out in Cabinet Office guidance on consultation.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the Secretary of State for Wales to discuss the Probation Service in Wales and the restructuring proposals for the service. [45418]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Wales meet regularly but have not specifically discussed the proposals for restructuring the probation service. The Minister of State for Offender Management has, however, discussed the proposals for restructuring probation with the Welsh Assembly Minister for Social Justice.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he expects resources allocated to the Welsh Regional Offender Manager under the National Offender Management Service arrangements to enhance services operationally in Wales. [45475]

Fiona Mactaggart: The prime focus of National Offender Management Service (NOMS) in Wales is to reduce re-offending. The Director of Offender Management Service Wales (directly equivalent to Regional Offender Managers (ROMs) in English regions) will do this through a number of mechanisms.

Over the next three years NOMS in Wales will establish a clear and effective commissioning relationship with service providers. Initially, these will
 
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be Prison establishments and Probation areas, although alliances with the voluntary and community sector will be strengthened at the same time.

Prison and Probation provision will be managed through Service Level Agreements with the Director of Offender Management Service Wales, with public protection and decency high on the agenda, alongside reducing re-offending through end-to-end offender management.

A Reducing Re-offending strategy has been jointly developed with the Welsh Assembly Government, work will be planned and carried out in close partnership with all relevant agencies to address the seven pathways which are thought to be most instrumental in improving offenders lives and reducing their criminality.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether contestability will be introduced into the provision of probation services in Wales. [45476]

Fiona Mactaggart: Proposals for the restructuring of the probation service were set out in the Home Office consultation paper Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-offending, published on 20 October. These proposals would enable the Secretary of State to contract with a range of different providers to deliver all probation services in England and Wales.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for the future of probation boards in Wales. [45477]

Fiona Mactaggart: Proposals for the restructuring of the probation service were set out in the Home Office consultation paper Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-offending, published on 20 October. Further announcements on our proposals will be made in due course.


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