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Paul Goggins: Information on the average waiting time for a digital hearing aid and the average waiting time for a first hearing aid is not collected centrally. However, information is collected on the number of people waiting for a hearing assessment/re-assessment at the end of each quarter, according to specified time bands. Waiting time is counted from the date a referral is received by the audiology department until the end of the quarter.
All new patients assessed as requiring a hearing aid are fitted with a digital hearing aid. Analogue aids are normally issued only as replacements to current users of analogue aids for whom a digital hearing aid is unsuitable. Preliminary information on the number of persons waiting for hearing assessment/re-assessmentis shown in the table, in respect of the position at31 March 2006, the date for which information has been first collected.
|Months||Persons waiting for hearing assessment/re-assessment at 31 March 2006( 1)|
|(1) Information refers to both children and adults waiting assessment.|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the recommendations from the Equal Lives report of the Bamford Review; and what steps he has taken to implement the recommendations of the report. 
Paul Goggins: Departmental officials have considered the recommendations in Equal Lives and many are outside the responsibility of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. The report calls for cross-departmental working, to support people with a learning disability. For this reason an Inter-Departmental Task Force is being established, to be chaired by the Northern Ireland Director for Mental Health and Learning Disability. A service framework will be developed to take forward the recommendations contained in Equal Lives.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people have been prosecuted in Northern Ireland for (a) benefits fraud and (b) illegal dumping in each of the last five years. 
|(a) Benefits fraud|
|Number of people prosecuted|
|(b) Illegal dumping|
|Number of people prosecuted|
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been recouped in fines for benefit fraud in Northern Ireland in each of the last two years; and what the total cost was of bringing prosecutions for that offence. 
Mr. Hanson: The Social Security Agency is committed to a robust approach to tackling fraud and deploys a series of sanctions against offenders including formal cautions, administrative penalties and prosecution.
The Agency refers the most serious cases of fraud to the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPSNI), which has overall responsibility for deciding whether a potential case meets both the evidential and the public interest tests, to consider prosecution.
The PPSNI holds no information on whether the fines imposed were paid or information on whether benefits fraudulently claimed were otherwise recouped. PPSNI does not hold information on the costs of prosecuting particular types of case. While some unit costs may be identifiable, the overall cost to the service of any case it prosecutes, as a percentage of the overall cost of its total workload, is not.
Where a criminal case is successfully prosecuted in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Court Service records the amount of fines imposed and paid. I have been advised that, while information is held on the amount of fines imposed and paid each year, information is not held on the reasons for fines such as benefit fraud. However, this information will be available in the future due to the implementation of a new court IT system, ICOS'.
Neither the Agency nor the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland keep information relating to the costs of individual prosecutions for particular types of cases. Information is therefore not available to answer the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland have been diagnosed with bowel cancer in each of the last 10 years; how many people died as a result of bowel cancer in each year; and if he will introduce a bowel cancer screening programme in Northern Ireland. 
Paul Goggins: The following table details the incidence and deaths due to bowel cancer (ICD-10 C18-C21) in Northern Ireland for the most recent 10-year period for which data are available. The incidence data have been provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and the mortality data have been provided by Demography and Methodology Branch, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
|(1 )The 2005 mortality data are provisional until the publication of the Registrar General's Annual Report at the end of November 2006. Incidence data are currently not available for 2005. Note: The data include the small number of cancers of the anus per annum.|
The UK National Screening Committee (NSC)has considered the case for bowel screening and recommended that a population programme should be introduced. I would wish to see such a programme
introduced in Northern Ireland. Before a programme could be implemented in Northern Ireland, significant planning, infrastructure development and capacity building are required to ensure that the necessary resources, people and skills are in place to ensure a quality service. My Department is working with the health service to enhance the capacity of the symptomatic service, with the aim to introduce screening in 2009.
Paul Goggins: Education about the harmful effects of cannabis is included in mainstream education. A range of information is provided by teachers, youth workers, voluntary organisations and the police.
We have commissioned the Health Promotion Agency to carry out research into the misuse of alcohol and cannabis by young people in Northern Ireland. This study will investigate the context in which alcohol and cannabis are taken by young people, as well as their attitudes, understanding and perceptions of risk.
Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps his Department is taking to tackle attacks on Cash in Transit crews; and whether tackling such attacks is part of his Departments wider strategies to combat organised crime. 
Paul Goggins: Police are working closely with representatives from the cash in transit industry within the framework of the Organised Crime Task Force Expert Group. They have developed a risk matrix which has helped to identify high risk delivery locations and a joint control room has also been established to co-ordinate deliveries. Additional police cover is provided as appropriate. The control room has been an important factor in helping to combat attacks and in reducing the amounts stolen and police will continue to work alongside the industry to ensure that the downward trend in such attacks is maintained.
Mrs. Iris Robinson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in each health trust area in the Province are waiting for cataract surgery; how many people in each area received such surgery in each of the last five years; what the average waiting
time for surgery was in each area in the last period for which figures are available; and what the longest timeis for which a patient has been waiting for cataract surgery in each area. 
|Patients waiting for cataract surgery at 30 June 2006|
| Source: Departmental Information Return PFA 211.|
The number of people who received cataract surgery in each of the last five years for which data are available is detailed in the following table, broken down by the health trust providing the treatment.
|Number( 1 ) of people who received cataract surgery each year|
|(1) The number of people who received cataract surgery has been approximated using postcode and date of birth as at present no unique identifier exists that can match individuals across hospitals. Source: Hospital In-patient System.|
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