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31 Jan 2007 : Column 356W—continued


Prisons

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the cost of a new adult male prison to replace the existing prison at Magilligan, County Londonderry. [117347]

Paul Goggins: At this early stage a design team has yet to be appointed and the brief developed. However, for the purposes of strategic planning the indicative cost of construction is envisaged as £150 to £175 million.

Rates Collection Agency

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff are employed by the Rates Collection Agency to process owner occupier housing benefit applications. [111096]


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Mr. Hanson: There are 71.5 posts allocated to processing housing benefit applications. Currently 53.5 of these posts are filled.

Serious Organised Crime Agency

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether it is his policy that the Serious Organised Crime Agency should come under the remit of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. [117620]

Mr. Hain: In line with changes to criminal justice and policing structures across the United Kingdom, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has already been given the power to investigate serious complaints made against the Serious Organised Crime Agency while SOCA is engaged in activity in Northern Ireland. This authority is by way of an agreed protocol between the Ombudsman and SOCA, facilitated by provisions under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

Home Department

Absconding Prisoners

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many adult prisoners absconded from prisons in Lancashire in each of the last five years, broken down by category of conviction; how many such prisoners are still at large, broken down by category of conviction; and if he will make a statement. [111016]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 29 January 2007]: The following table sets out the number of adult prisoners who have absconded from Kirkham open prison in Lancashire for each of the last five financial years. It would be possible to obtain information concerning each individual prisoner’s category of conviction only at disproportionate cost.

Accurate figures for recaptured prisoners are currently available only at a disproportionate cost. However, a special exercise earlier this month has shown that around three quarters of all absconders are returned to prison within 12 months of absconding.

Adult prisoners who have absconded from Kirkham open prison for each of the last five financial years
Number of absconds

2001-02

163

2002-03

208

2003-04

213

2004-05

120

2005-06

74

2006-07(1)

36

(1)April to December 2006

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many acceptable behaviour contracts were issued in Essex in 2006. [111825]


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Mr. McNulty: Data on numbers of ABCs are not collected by the Home Office as they are voluntary agreements and therefore not suitable for central data collection.

However, three annual surveys carried out by the Home Office of the crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) indicated that in England and Wales a total of 18,349 ABCs were made between October 2003 and September 2006.

Alcohol Disorder Zones

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress towards the introduction of Alcohol Disorder Zones. [111194]

Mr. Coaker: Sections 15-20 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 provide for local authorities, in certain circumstances, to designate Alcohol Disorder Zones (ADZs) where some alcohol licensees can be charged for additional enforcement.

The Act provides for regulations and guidance to cover the use of ADZs. Work is well in hand, with statutory and industry stakeholders, on developing draft guidance and regulations which will be subject to a formal public consultation in the spring. Following the consultation, regulations will be placed before Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

The earliest possible date for commencement of ADZs will be 1 October 2007, in line with the Common Commencement Date (CCD) initiative for regulation bearing on business.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make individual support orders a compulsory component of antisocial behaviour orders. [112407]

Mr. McNulty: When making a stand-alone antisocial behaviour order on a person aged 10 to 17 the court must consider making an individual support order (ISO) if it believes that an ISO would help prevent further antisocial behaviour. The youth offending team provides advice to the court on whether an ISO is necessary which is based on a needs assessment of the young person. This arrangement allows for local discretion on a case by case basis, and acknowledges that in some cases an ISO might replicate, or conflict with, an existing support programme.

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department collects data on the (a) age, (b) ethnicity, (c) criminal record and (d) educational record of each person subject to an antisocial behaviour order. [112408]

Mr. McNulty: Antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) are civil orders for which age data are collected centrally. Ethnicity, criminal record and educational record are not collected centrally as part of the statistical data collection of ASBOs issued.


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Asset Recovery Agency

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Asset Recovery Agency’s costs and revenue recovery data will continue to be published on a quarterly basis after its absorption into the Serious Organised Crime Agency. [112199]

John Reid [holding answer 29 January 2007]: The Assets Recovery Agency’s costs and revenue recovery data are at present published annually in its Annual Report and Resource Accounts. The Director monitors and manages performance against targets throughout the year. Similar information on the recovery of criminal assets will be included in the Annual Report of the Serious Organised Crime Agency when both agencies are merged.

Biometric Data

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have shared biometric data with private sector organisations. [111212]

Joan Ryan: The Home Office does not share biometric data with any private sector organisations except where such organisations are providing technology services, so that the Home Office may gather and use that data, under contract. Those contractors are required to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, as is the Home Office, and may not use the biometric data for any purpose other than those specified under the contractual arrangements.

Child Sex Offenders

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 18 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1660-1W, on child sex offenders, how many people were (a) sentenced to immediate custody and (b) sentenced to life or indeterminate sentence for sexual assaults against children in each of the last 10 years; and what the average sentence was over that period. [116964]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The information requested is shown in the table. Data for 2004 and 2005 are not comparable to data from previous years given changes in offence classifications in May 2004. This is confined to offences of indecent assault on male and female persons under 16 years (to May 2004) and sexual assault on male and female persons under 13 (from May 2004) but excludes offences of sexual assault against persons aged 14 and under 16 since May 2004 as these cannot be separately distinguished on the Home Office Courts Proceedings Database.


31 Jan 2007 : Column 360W
Persons sentenced to immediate custody and average custodial sentence length( 1) for sexual assaults against children( 2) , England and Wales, 1996 to 2005
Persons sentenced to immediate custody Of which, sentenced to life or indeterminate sentence Average custodial sentence length( 1) (months)

1996

1,133

24.8

1997

1,128

25.2

1998

1,100

25.7

1999

1,090

25.7

2000

1,030

26.2

2001

941

27.4

2002

956

28.5

2003

902

28.5

2004

959

28.7

2005

571

2

32.8

(1 )Excluding life and indeterminate sentences.
(2) Offences of indecent assault on male and female persons under 16 (to May 2004) and sexual assault on male and female persons aged under 13 (from May 2004). Sexual assaults on persons aged 14 and under 16 since May 2004 are excluded.
Notes:
Although care is taken in collating and analysing the returns used to compile these figures, the data are of necessity subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system. Consequently, although figures are shown to the last digit in order to provide a comprehensive record of the information collected, they are not necessarily accurate to the last digit shown.
Source:
RDS-NOMS, Home Office.

Criminal Justice Act

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what average period elapsed between sentencing and tariff setting in each year since 1997. [111146]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 25 January 2007]: The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Hunting Act

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the police in upholding the Hunting Act 2004 since its introduction; and if he will make a statement. [114321]

Mr. McNulty: Enforcement of the Act is an operational matter for chief constables. The police have made it clear that they will enforce the act where there is evidence of the law being broken. The Association of Chief Police Officers has issued guidance for police forces on the practical aspects of enforcing this legislation.

Iris Scans

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether iris scans are to be included in passport chips; and if he will make a statement. [111276]

Joan Ryan: The e-Passport, which was introduced in 2006, contains an embedded chip which holds data on the bearer in line with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) recommendations. At present this data is limited to biographical data such as name,
31 Jan 2007 : Column 361W
date of birth etc. and a digital photograph of the passport holder. In the future, in line with other European countries, we plan to include images of two of the passport holder’s fingerprints but we have no plans to store images of the passport holder’s irises on the passport chip.

Ministerial Correspondence

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the cost of producing and sending his recent letter to magistrates on the use of incarceration. [112359]

John Reid: The Home Secretary did not send a letter to sentencers. A statement by the three criminal justice Ministers—the Home Secretary, the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney-General—was issued to members of the National Criminal Justice Board and sent in electronic format to the Chairmen of Local Criminal Justice Boards. It was also placed on the judicial intranet by the Judicial Office.

Neighbourhood Policing

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Government are on target to meet their commitment that every area in England will have its own neighbourhood policing team by 2008. [111860]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 26 January 2007]: We remain committed to our target of a neighbourhood policing team in every area in England and Wales by April 2008. The police service has already made excellent progress with neighbourhood policing now extended to more than 6,700 neighbourhoods in England and Wales.

Non-violent Offenders

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the re-offending rate was of non-violent offenders who received (a) a non-custodial sentence and (b) a custodial sentence of less than three months in each of the last five years. [116143]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 22 January 2007]: The most recent re-offending information for adults in England and Wales was published in November 2006 as; ‘Re-offending of Adults: results from the 2003 cohort’ Home Office Statistical Bulletin 20/06. The report is available on line at:

The report shows two year re-offending rates broken down by offence type (Table A4). It also includes re-offending rates by sentence type and length of custodial sentence (Page 9).


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