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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the incidence of the illegal use of prison inmates as informants; what steps he is taking to reduce the incidence of the practice; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Home Secretary is aware that the Office of Surveillance Commissioners' inspection team found evidence that some information gathering in prisons ought to have had covert human intelligence source authorisation. The Prison Service is committed to address this in their action plan drawn up in response to the inspection undertaken in 2005.
Mr. Sutcliffe: Kelly Hutchinson, a 22-year-old prisoner at HMPYOI New Hall, tragically died in the early hours of 1 May 2006, following an incident in which she was found hanging. Ms Hutchinson was the first woman prisoner to apparently take her own life since October 2005. Ms Hutchinson's death will be thoroughly investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Stephen Shaw, who, since April 2004, has been investigating all deaths in custody. Her death will also the subject of a police investigation and a coroner's inquest before a jury. The Prison Service will be looking to act on any early lessons that can be learned from Ms Hutchinson's very sad death. My sympathies are with the family and friends of Ms Hutchinson at this time.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times covert surveillance has been used in investigations involving staff within the Prison Service in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether disciplinary proceedings were (a) instigated, (b) progressed and (c) successfully concluded against prison staff as a result of video evidence obtained by the prison service in a covert surveillance operation in the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many covert surveillance operations were deployed within each regional area of the Prison Service in each of the last 12 months. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: For reasons of operational security,I am unable to list the information in the manner asked. However, the numbers of prison surveillance operations remains low, not least because there continue to be other effective ways of either obtaining intelligence or stopping contraband from entering prison establishments.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms exist to authorise the appropriate use of covert surveillance techniques in the Prison Service; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Both public sector and contracted prisons have systems and audit trails to authorize staff to consider the use of covert investigative techniques. The policy, set out in function four of the National Security Framework, requires a local risk assessmentto be undertaken to consider the necessity; proportionality; and potential for unintentional intrusion that may be caused by any covert operation, before it is submitted to the area manager for approval.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the Surveillance Commissioner to discuss (a) the use of covert surveillance in the Prison Service and (b) the performance of the Prison Service in surveillance operations; and if he will publish the minutes of that meeting. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, met Sir Andrew Leggatt, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, on 2 February 2006. The meeting covered a number of subjects including the performance of the Prison Service. In view of the sensitivities of the subjects under discussion, I am not proposing to release the minutes of the meeting.
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Prison Service is implementing an action plan that addresses issues raised in the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner's report following an inspection in 2005. I am satisfied that the Prison Service is on course to delivering the action plan and the associated improvements to the use of covert surveillance.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether covert surveillance techniques in the Prison Service include the authorised use of in-cell surveillance; and if he will make a statement. 
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to improve levels of constructive activity and the availability of quality intervention programmes for 18 to 21-year-old prisoners. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government have invested considerable extra funds in improving rehabilitation regimes for all adults, including this age group, and we now spend £300 million a year on this in prisons alone. All establishments are required to provide constructive regimes which address offending behaviour, improve educational and work skills, and promote law abiding behaviour. To address the specific needs of this group, the National Offender Management Service has established a project to develop a strategy and standards for their management both in custody and the community. This is working with key interest groups who have experience of working successfully with this age group. It is due to report its findings to Ministers in the autumn.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement onthe work of the Rathbone charity at (a) HM Young Offender Institution Feltham, (b) HM Young Offender Institution Huntercombe and (c) HMYoung Offender Institution Warren Hill; what outcomes he expects the project to deliver; at what cost; and within what time scale. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Rathbone charity provides an employment, training and education service to young people to acquire the necessary skills for employment or further education courses upon release. Funding for the project is £300,000 from the Youth Justice Board for young people under 18, and £60,000 from the Learning and Skills Council, which can be used additionally to support young people aged 18 and over on transition. The initiative will run at Warren Hill young offender institution (YOI) between April and October 2006 and at Feltham and Huntercombe YOIs between May and November 2006.
|Number of extraditions|
Mr. Sutcliffe: Serious Further Offence (SFO) reviews are an internal process carried out by the probation service to quality assure its risk assessment, risk management and offender management procedures. The SFO review of the supervision of Stephen Ayre by West Yorkshire probation area is not yet fully complete, and as such, it would be inappropriate at present to discuss the conclusions of the review. The SFO review is likely to be complete at the end of May, and consideration will then be given to dissemination of the review's conclusions. I will therefore update the hon. Member further once the review has been fully completed.
Mr. Byrne: Data on the number of people prosecuted and convicted for evading a train fare are not held centrally on the Court Proceedings Database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform as prosecutions are brought privately by train operators.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made at each young offender establishment in the self-assessment against the code of practice outlined in Managing Children and Young People's Behaviour in the Secure Estate; and whether he plans to publish the results. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: With one exception, all secure establishments that accommodate sentenced or remanded young people under the age of 18 have now completed a self-assessment of performance against the code of practice. The remaining establishment is expected to complete its self-assessment shortly. These self-assessments have been validated, either by the Youth Justice Board or by Prison Service operational support staff. Additionally, the Prison Service has audited its national policies and procedures against the code of practice. By the end of May, each establishment is expected to have completed an action plan to address any areas of non-compliance. Once the Youth Justice Board has had the opportunity to analyse all the information gathered from establishments, it will consider how the results can be made more widely available.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff members employed by each local authority fire and rescue service are members of the (a) Retained Firefighters Union and (b) Fire Officers Association; and what mechanism she uses to verify the number. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many consultants her Department has employed on fire services-related projects, and at what cost, in each of the last five years. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was formed in May 2002 and expenditure prior to this date is not readily available. For the period May 2002 to March 2006 the figures are detailed in the following table.
|Number of consultancies||£ million|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many terminations of pregnancies were performed on (a) 13 to 14 and (b) 15 to 16 year olds in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Will be published in July 2006.
The Government's teenage pregnancy strategy aims to help young people delay early sex through its national media campaign and also improved sex and relationships education and support for parents in discussing relationship and sexual health issues with their children. However, it is very important that teenagers who are sexually active have access to contraception, including emergency contraception, and sexual health advice to minimise the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
Between 1998 (the baseline year for the strategy) and 2004 (the latest year for which data are available) the under-18 conception rate has fallen by 11.1 per cent. The under-16 conception rate has fallen by 15.2 per cent. over the same period. Both rates are now at their lowest levels since the mid-1980s.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 21 March 2006, Official Report, column 254W, to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley), on autism, what assessment the Government have made of the reasons for the trends in the incidence of autism; and what steps her Department is taking to expand the provision of care for autism sufferers. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: In March 2001, the Department commissioned the Medical Research Council (MRC) to produce a report on the prevalence and incidence (epidemiology) and causes of autism. This was published in December 2001 and provides an authoritative overview of the current state of knowledge on the prevalence, incidence and causes of autism.
The report considers recent studies which suggest a prevalence of autism in young children of approximately 60 per 10,000 population and finds that much of the headline rise can be accounted for by changes in diagnostic practice and public awareness. It is available on the MRC website at www.mrc.ac.uk/pdf-autism-report.pdf.
It is for local commissioners to ensure their populations benefit from improvements to the provision of care for people with autistic spectrum disorders using the increasing resources this Government have made available.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The detailed curricula for the education and training of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in treating and supporting those with autism is a matter for the relevant professional bodies.
The national directors for learning disability and mental health are commissioning a document to assist those working with people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This will clarify how existing policies apply to people with ASD and how these may best be delivered to this group.
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