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5 Mar 2007 : Column 1708Wcontinued
In relation to the provision of training and support for PSNI officers dealing with such cases there are currently two PSNI general orders giving instruction to police officers in responding to missing persons' investigations. One relates to the actual investigation and the other relates to the circulation of details on police computers. Condensed versions of the key points and student officer training notes have been compiled for officers and are available on the PSNI intranet site.
Student officers at the police college receive full lessons in dealing with missing persons including initial action with emphasis on crucial time factors, completing police procedures, risk assessments and vulnerable persons. The students individually complete a practical scenario about a missing 16-year-old boy. The students also receive inputs from community organisations such as the Simon Community, St Vincent de Paul, and the Salvation Army at a community fair evening. Detectives at all ranks in the PSNI receive training on dealing with missing persons and this training is built into their initial detective training course. Missing person scenarios are also included in critical incident training for senior officers.
Service instructions are currently being revised in light of recent guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on the recording, managing and investigation of missing persons. In addition the PSNI is examining the area of children and young persons absconding from residential care homes as separate guidance. A pilot project involving three residential care homes has recently been completed and the initial instructions are being revised in light of the outcome of the evaluation of this pilot. The PSNI is in liaison with Social Services in respect of this policy.
The PSNI also has a missing persons intranet site which provides information for the circulation of missing persons on the Missing Kids website and the missing persons pages on the PSNI internet site. The Missing Kids website is a partnership between police forces, the Police National Missing Persons Bureau (PNMPB), an international charitythe International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC)and a commercial sponsorComputer Associates plc (CA). The initiative has the support of ACPO. The Appeals/Missing Persons pages on the PSNI internet site provide pictures and details of those persons reported as missing to the PSNI as well as links to other support organisations.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to establish independent sector treatment centres in Northern Ireland; and what research has been undertaken by his Department in relation to the demand for such facilities in Northern Ireland. 
Paul Goggins: There are currently no plans to develop independent sector treatment centres in Northern Ireland. However, in the context of securing shorter waiting times for patients, I am committed to making appropriate use of the independent sector while at the same time developing additional hospital capacity and reforming hospital systems and processes. Considerable capacity analysis work is ongoing to identify any long term capacity shortfalls requiring investment, and also any short-term backlogs where the independent sector can assist by providing necessary additional capacity.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many breaches of the night time flying curfew were recorded at each Northern Ireland airport in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what penalties have been imposed on the occasion of each breach. 
David Cairns: There are no night time flying curfews at any of Northern Irelands airports. However, at George Best Belfast City airport, a planning agreement exists to control, among other matters, air traffic movements. Under this agreement, flights are prohibited between 21.30 and 06.30, however, an extended operating period (from 21.30 to 23.59) permits delayed flights to complete their journeys. In the past 12 months there were only two emergency medical flights, in June 2006, outside the planning agreement and therefore no action was taken.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on which occasions he has met the chief executives of each Northern Ireland health trust in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Hain: I have kept in close touch with my Health Minister who has met chief executives of the Northern Ireland health trusts since I took office as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of his Department's computer systems use open source software; what percentage of the systems planned to be installed use such software; and whether he plans to increase the use of open source software in his Department. 
Paul Goggins: Less than 1 per cent. of software used in the Department is open sourced. There are currently no plans for the NIO to increase the use of open source software. However, the Department will continue to consider open source solutions on an overall value for money basis in accordance with the Government's 2004 policy statement.
Percentage of computer systems which use open source software
Percentage of the systems planned to be installed which use such software
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent estimate he has made of the time taken to process planning applications in the Craigavon planning office. 
David Cairns: I am aware of the significant workload pressures in all six divisional planning offices, especially Craigavon, which have resulted in increased processing times for planning applications. This has been exacerbated by a recent and unprecedented loss of experienced planning staff. The situation is assessed on an on-going basis and various modernisation and reform measures, which continue to be implemented, are expected to help performance over the next year. In addition, an extensive programme of recruitment/promotion has just been completed to allow staff vacancies to be filled and this should also lead to an improvement in processing times.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police officers are serving within Northern Ireland constabularies. 
Paul Goggins: I am advised that as of February 2007 the number of police officers serving within Northern Ireland constabularies is as follows:
(1 )24 officers at present, but in the process of recruiting extra staff which will bring the number up to 27 officers in total.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Police Service of Northern Ireland officers have been involved in training Iraqi police personnel since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, broken down by grade. 
Paul Goggins: Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, four Police Service of Northern Ireland officers have been involved in training Iraqi police personnel.
All four officers were temporarily promoted from the rank of Inspector to the rank of Chief Inspector for the duration of their secondment to Iraq.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average Police Service of Northern Ireland response time was to (a) emergency and (b) non-emergency calls in each district command unit in each of the past five years for which figures are available. 
Paul Goggins: The PSNI does not record average response times for (a) emergency and (b) non-emergency calls for each DCU unit and therefore the information requested is not available.
Objective 1.2.1 within the Policing Plan for 2006-07 is to respond to 75 per cent. of emergency calls within 15 minutes. As of 27 February 2007 the number of response calls designated as emergency calls responded to within 15 minutes was 79.2 per cent.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library a copy of his letter of 28 December 2006 to the Policing and Justice sub-committee of the Transitional Assembly. 
Mr. Hain: I have today placed in the Library a copy of my letter of 28 December 2006 to the Policing and Justice sub-committee of the Transitional Assembly.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many incidences of unauthorised absence were recorded in each education and library board area in Northern Ireland in each of the last six years; and what advice was provided by his Department for schools on dealing with persistent cases. 
Information on unauthorised absence has only been collated since 2003-04. The figures for
2005-06 have not yet been compiled, but should be available within the next few weeks.
|Incidences( 1) of unauthorised absence by education and library board, 2003-042004-05|
|Board||Incidences of unauthorised absence||Incidences of unauthorised absence as a percentage of all possible attendance sessions||Incidences of unauthorised absence||Incidences of unauthorised absence as a percentage of all possible attendance sessions|
|(1) A pupils attendance status is recorded twice over the course of the day, by monitoring during the morning and afternoon session. Thus, a pupil who is absent for a full day is recorded as having two incidences of absence.|
Responsibility to ensure regular attendance at school rests primarily with parents. When a school has concerns about a pupils attendance, a referral can be made to the Education Welfare Service (EWS). This service provides advice for schools in dealing with persistent non-attenders.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many road traffic accidents attributed to the driver using a mobile phone while driving have occurred in Northern Ireland in the last three years. 
Paul Goggins: I have been informed by the PSNI that statistics are currently not collected from road traffic accidents attributed to the driver using a mobile phone while driving.
However the PSNI is in the process of revising these arrangements with the intention of data being collected from 1 April 2007.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what advice or guidance is provided to teachers in Northern Ireland by his Department in dealing with (a) pupil on pupil and (b) pupil on teacher violence. 
Maria Eagle: The Department has provided additional resources to the Education and Library Boards through its Discipline Strategy to support a range of initiatives aimed at improving pupil behaviour generally and supporting schools in dealing with more challenging pupils. The key features of the strategy include:
multi-disciplinary behaviour support teams in each Education and Library Board (ELB) to work with teachers and pupils on behaviour management;
external pupil referral units providing additional (short-stay) withdrawal places for pupils whose behaviour problems cannot be managed satisfactorily within the classroom; and
permanent education provision other than at school for the most disruptive 14 to 16-year-olds for whom mainstream education is considered unsuitable.
The Department issued a circular to schools in 1999 providing clarification and guidance on the use of reasonable force to restrain or control pupils. This was supplemented in 2003 by a document to help each school formulate its own policy on this matter. A further guidance document, distributed to schools during the 2003/04 school year, set out a structured framework for the development of a school policy on the use of reasonable force.
The Department is involved in the Knife Awareness Working Group established by the Chief Constable. Work has included development of an education package, which is offered to post-primary schools by crime prevention officers and partnership activities with schools and youth groups.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many cases of sexually transmitted disease were reported in each health trust area in Northern Ireland in each of the past 12 months for which figures are available, broken down by disease. 
Paul Goggins: The information requested is not held centrally and will take some time to collate. I will write to the hon. Lady with the relevant information as soon as it becomes available. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the operation of the South Eastern Education and Library Board since he appointed commissioners to run the board; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: My Department regularly monitors and reviews the position in the South Eastern Education and Library Board. The commissioners inherited a very difficult situation when they were appointed last July. I am pleased with the progress that they have made, in conjunction with board officers, in delivering progress against the targets set for 2006-07 and restoring financial stability within the organisation.
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