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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): I am pleased to announce today that the Government have issued two publications. One is a consultation document on guidance for conducting domestic homicide reviews across England and Wales, under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 and the second is our annual domestic violence progress report. Copies of both publications have been placed in the Library and are also available from the crime reduction website at www.crimereduction.gov.uk/dv01.htm.
Section 9 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, establishes a statutory basis for conducting domestic homicide reviews. The Act imposes a duty on named agencies to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State as to establishing or conducting such reviews. The named agencies are: chief police officers; local probation boards; local authorities; strategic health authorities; primary care trusts; local health boards and NHS trusts.
Under the Act a domestic homicide review is defined as a review of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by:
a person to whom he/she was related or with whom he/she was or had been in an intimate personal relationship; or
a member of the same household as himself/herself,
Identifying the lessons to be learnt from the death, in particular about how local professionals and agencies work together to safeguard victims;
identifying how those lessons will be acted upon and what is expected to change as a result; and
improving inter-agency working and improving protection for domestic violence victims to help prevent future deaths.
Domestic homicide reviews are designed to complement the existing serious case reviews (SCRs) that take place when a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to have played a part in the death or serious injury.
The Government want to ensure that the reviews do not simply become a bureaucratic exercise. We will
want to ensure that local agencies learn the lessons and implement any recommendations made by the reviews, and that findings with national relevance are shared and acted upon.
The progress report provides an update on the comprehensive framework set out in last year's national delivery plan for domestic violence and the Government's achievements on this. All the achievements outlined in the delivery plan have only been possible because of the close partnership working across Government and with the support and help of the public, private and non-Government sectors. Future developments are predicated upon partnership making. It also looks forward to activities planned in 2006-07 and gives direction to local partnerships, agencies and communities on how to protect adult and child victims of domestic violence and bring perpetrators to justice.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): I am pleased to announce that the fourth annual report of the appointed person under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will be laid before Parliament today. The appointed person is an independent person who scrutinises the use of the search power introduced to support the measures in the Act to seize and forfeit criminal cash.
The report gives the appointed person's opinion as to the circumstances and manner in which the search powers conferred by the Act are being exercised. I am pleased that the appointed person, Andrew Clarke, has expressed satisfaction with the operation of the search power and has found that there is nothing to suggest that the procedures are not being followed in accordance with the Act.
From 1 April 2005 to the end of March 2006 over £62 million in cash was seized by police and Customs Officers under powers in the Act. These sums are subject to forfeiture in the magistrates' court. These powers are a valuable tool in the fight against crime and the report shows that the way they are used has been, and will continue to be, closely monitored.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Hain):
The Government have received and welcomed the sixth and final report from the Justice Oversight Commissioner, the right hon. the Lord Clyde, on the progress achieved in implementing the recommendations of the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland. Consistent with his terms of reference, the report was submitted to the Attorney General, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, my hon.
Friend the Member for Lewisham, East (Bridget Prentice), who is the Minister responsible for the Northern Ireland Court Service and me in May.
Lord Clyde's sixth and final report acknowledges the significant transformation of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. He confirms that the majority of the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Review have been implemented and he considers that the completion of most of the few remaining individual recommendations is simply a matter of time. He concludes that throughout the course of his oversight work, there has been a steady momentum of progress, commenting that the institutional changes and the operational progress which have been achieved over the past three years have been remarkable. The key elements of reform have included, inter alia, the establishment of a Youth Justice Agency; a Community Safety Unit; a Criminal Justice Inspectorate; the introduction of new lay magistrates; a new Public Prosecution Service; an independent Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission; the signing of an Intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation on criminal justice matters; the Lord Chief Justice as the Head of the judiciary in Northern Ireland; the continued guarantee of judicial independence in Northern Ireland; youth conferencing; the introduction of victim information schemes and court witness schemes; and the bringing of 17-year-olds within the ambit of the youth court.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Derek Twigg):
The Government are aware of the concerns that have been expressed by the London Borough of Havering and others in the borough about the impacts of the proposed Crossrail
train depot at Romford. Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) have been working for many months to reduce those impacts and at the same time to identify whether there is a viable alternative depot strategy that would remove the need for facilities at Romford altogether.
Following a fundamental review of its depot strategy, in the light of changes in the occupation and expected future use of existing depots, CLRL has concluded that it is possible for Crossrail to operate entirely from the existing rail depots at Old Oak Common in west London and Ilford in east London. As a result Crossrail would not need to construct any of the proposed facilities at Romford or to make use of sidings at West Drayton in the London Borough of Hillingdon.
The revised depot strategy will reduce the overall environmental impacts of the Crossrail project by removing the need for the construction of new facilities at Romford. CLRL estimate that the cost of the revised strategy will be up to £80m lower than that of the Romford scheme.
The revised strategy will require the acquisition of a small amount of open land at Old Oak Common to allow for improved rail access. The land lost will be replaced by an equivalent amount from an adjacent brownfield site.
In order to implement the revised strategy, the Bill will need to be amended. The Government will promote an additional provision in due course (including a detailed environmental assessment), which will be subject to the agreement of the Select Committee. Those affected by the additional provision will be able to petition Parliament.
As part of the revised strategy, it is proposed to move EWS Limited from Old Oak Common to North Pole, which is to become vacant in 2007. It is also proposed to move Bombardier Transportation Ltd. from, or within, Ilford depot. CLRL will continue to work closely with these organisations to try to minimise the impacts upon them.
CLRL will in due course write to existing petitioners affected by this announcement and undertake information rounds in relevant areas to explain the details of the revised depot strategy and the implications for the local area.