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18 July 2007 : Column 432W—continued


Revised prison population projections will be published in August 2007.

Young Offenders

7. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many young people were in young offender institutions in (a) 1997 and (b) 2007; and if he will make a statement. [150201]

Bridget Prentice: Young Offender Institutions accommodate sentenced prisoners aged from 15 to 21. At the end of June 1997 there were 7,949 sentenced young offenders including 1,673 aged under 18. At the end of May this year there were 9,137 sentenced young offenders including 1,894 aged under 18.


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Queen's Speech

8. Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will consult Parliament and the public on the contents of the Queen’s Speech. [150202]

Mr. Straw: Last Wednesday my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out the details of the content of the provisional list of Bills for the next parliamentary Session. His purpose was such that our Government’s initial thinking, previously private, could be the subject of widespread discussion and public debate. Full information is now available on the Cabinet Office website and in hard copy. We want to hear from all Parliamentarians, members of the public and individual groups their views on what was proposed.

Victims of Crime and Witnesses: Support

9. Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to make additional support available to victims of crime and witnesses in court proceedings. [150203]

Maria Eagle: The Government have already done much to support victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings. We have:

Prisoner Rehabilitation Programmes

10. Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the impact of prison overcrowding on prisoner rehabilitation programmes. [150204]

Mr. Hanson: The main risk entailed by overcrowding is that prisoners do not complete offending behaviour programmes because they are transferred to another establishment before the programme is completed.

The Prison Service monitors the delivery of all offending behaviour programmes closely. Less than 1 per cent. of those who started offending behaviour programmes in 2006-07 failed to complete because of transfer.

Probation Services

11. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment he has made of the impact of contestability on probation services; and if he will make a statement. [150205]

Mr. Straw: If we are to tackle re-offending effectively, we need a flexible approach which brings together all those with a contribution to make. We need to be able to commission services at national, regional and local level according to need. Contestability will
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enable specialist, low-volume, high-cost services to be commissioned at a national or regional level, where that makes sense.

But it also enables the local lead provider to continue to act as provider and commissioner. Lead providers will concentrate on delivering core offender management, while commissioning much of the interventions work from local providers. Provided their performance meets the requirements, the lead provider in a probation area will be the probation trust.

Early Release Scheme

12. Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he expects to end the scheme of early release of prisoners. [150206]

Mr. Hanson: The end of custody licence was introduced on 29 June as a temporary measure. It is too early to say how long the scheme will be in operation. We will keep under the review the length of time it will remain in use in the light of new prison capacity coming on stream and the review by Lord Carter.

Restraint Methods

13. Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what mechanisms are in place to ensure that methods of restraint used in secure training centres are safe. [150207]

Mr. Hanson: The methods used must be approved by the Secretary of State, who receives advice from the Youth Justice Board. The Board periodically appoints a panel of experts, including medical experts, to assess safety. A full review was conducted in 2004-05 and a further review is currently being established.

Magistrates Courts: Cheshire

14. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make a statement on the future provision of magistrates courts in Cheshire. [150208]

Maria Eagle: HMCS is committed to putting the public first in the delivery of justice. There are currently seven magistrates courts in Cheshire. HM Courts Service will continue to manage the court provision in Cheshire to maintain and improve the justice system for the public.

Governance of Britain Green Paper

15. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to his Department's Green Paper on the governance of Britain, if he will make a statement on his future plans for constitutional reform, further devolution and electoral reform. [150209]

Mr. Wills: The Prime Minister and I published the Green Paper, ‘The Governance of Britain’, on 3 July. A range of reforms have already been introduced, including:


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In the coming weeks, we intend to publish a consultation paper on the role of the Attorney-General, to launch the Goldsmith Review of Citizenship, to set up a Youth Citizenship Commission and to finalise arrangements for regional select committees. In the longer term, it is proposed to introduce a Constitutional Reform Bill to Parliament in the next Session, to complete the voting systems review and to begin work on engaging with the British people on a statement of values. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his statement to the House:

Finally, while we do not envisage further devolution of powers from the UK Parliament to national Assemblies, the Green Paper makes it clear that the Government remain committed to enhancing democracy by devolving more power directly to the people. In line with this we are to consult on a range of measures to fully engage local people in local decisions.

Approved Premises

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what percentage of people housed in approved premises are categorised as (a) high and (b) very high risk in each region; and if he will make a statement. [150138]

Mr. Hanson: As at 28 February 2007, the number of residents housed in Approved Premises in England and Wales categorised as (a) high risk of serious harm was 1,165, representing 63 per cent. of all residents. The number categorised as (b) very high risk of serious harm was 115, representing 6 per cent. of all residents. These figures do not include the Prospects Approved Premises, which are a specialist resource for offenders with substance misuse problems.

The regional profile of offenders, by risk of harm, was as follows:

High risk of harm (A) Very high risk of harm (B)
Region Number Percentage Number Percentage

East

60

49

6

5

East Midlands

102

65

16

10

London

184

74

14

6

North East

83

67

13

10

North West

232

75

16

5

South East

88

48

15

8

South West

82

60

8

6

Wales

68

77

8

9

West of Midlands

120

56

9

4

Yorkshire and Humberside

146

57

10

4

Totals

1,165

63

115

6


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Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make a statement on his future plans for approved premises. [150139]

Mr. Hanson: In September 2004, the Government published a strategy which directed Approved Premises in England and Wales to be used primarily to supervise certain high risk of serious harm offenders on release from custody into the community. That strategy was reviewed and reaffirmed in the context of the Child Sex Offender Review, the report of which was published in June this year.

Approved Premises provide for enhanced supervision of offenders and are, therefore, a valuable public protection resource. Such supervision would be much more difficult to provide if offenders were dispersed into less suitable accommodation in the community.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has recently initiated an Approved Premises Service Review, to make recommendations as to how the supervision of high risk of serious harm offenders in Approved Premises should be commissioned from April 2008.

Oakhill Secure Training Centre: Inspections

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he will place in the Library a copy of the inspection reports on Oakhill secure training centre by the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate. [150329]

Mr. Hanson: In accordance with the service level agreement between Ofsted, the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice, papers received following the unannounced inspections at Oakhill secure training centre in January and April 2007 will be included as appendices to the report of the next announced inspection of the centre. The inspection will be conducted by Ofsted and is due to take place in October. The report will be a publicly available document.

Prisons: Construction

Mr. Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what criteria his Department uses when evaluating the suitability of potential new sites for prisons. [150212]

Mr. Hanson: As part of the 8,000 capacity programme, the National Offender Management Service is looking to identify potential new prisons sites within areas of greatest need.

These sites should be close to or within large urban conurbations, enabling prisoners to be located close to home for family contact and to assist in finding employment on release; near or within reasonable travelling distance of courts; and to have good access to public transport and major roads.


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Treasury

Alcoholic Drinks: Young People

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many deaths of teenagers there were in which alcohol was cited as a cause or contributing factor in (a) 2007 and (b) the last five years. [150412]

Angela Eagle: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 18 July 2007:


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