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16 Oct 2007 : Column 951W—continued

Justice

Animal Welfare: Prosecutions

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prosecutions for animal cruelty were brought in (a) Lancashire and (b) England and Wales in each of the last five years. [158712]

Mr. Hanson: The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts for offences of animal cruelty in Lancashire, and England and Wales from 2001 to 2005 are shown in the following table. Data for 2006 will be available in November 2007. Charging statistics are not held by my Department.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates court for offences relating to cruelty to animals, in England and Wales and Lancashire police force area for the years 2001 to 2005( 1, 2, 3)
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Lancashire

46

51

39

32

43

England and Wales

1,121

1,145

1,106

1,117

1,227

(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.
(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
(3) Source: Court proceedings database—Office for Criminal Justice Reform.
Source:
RDS Office for Criminal Justice Reform—Ministry of Justice.

Dangerous Driving

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward proposals for legislation to provide for an offence of causing the death of an unborn baby by dangerous driving; what recent representations he has received on this issue; and if he will make a statement. [158376]

Mr. Hanson: There are no current plans to introduce a specific offence of causing death of an unborn child by dangerous driving. We do not believe such an offence is necessary. Dangerous driving is already an offence. If an unborn child is killed but the mother survives, the driver could be charged with causing the mother grievous bodily harm under section 20 of the
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Offences Against the Person Act 1861 if they acted recklessly. We have received one petition with 910 signatures about this issue.

Family Courts

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether there are plans to require parties in children's cases to attend a meeting with a mediator; [157507]

(2) whether there are plans to change family proceedings rules to require parties in children's cases to meet a mediator before proceeding; [157508]

(3) if he will require the parties in cases concerning residence of children and contact to attend a mediation assessment before commencing court proceedings. [157509]

Bridget Prentice: Parties applying for public funding under the Community Legal Service are already required to attend a meeting with a mediator to consider mediation. This requirement may be waived if there are special circumstances such as domestic violence or the case is very urgent.

The Government continue to encourage the greater use of family mediation but do not believe that it should be made compulsory or that all parties in disputes over child residence and contact should be required to attend a meeting with a mediator.

The Government will make changes to court rules and application forms to facilitate referrals to family mediation where the court considers this would be beneficial.

The Children and Adoption Act 2006 when fully implemented will enable the court to direct parties to attend a meeting to learn about mediation in cases where it considers this is appropriate.

Featherstone Prison: Prison Accommodation

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the usable operational life expectancy is of the rapid build residential units at HMP Featherstone. [158349]

Mr. Hanson: The Rapid Build Residential Unit (64 places), opened in July 2007, has a 40 year life expectancy.

Prison Accommodation

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison places created since 1997 are in accommodation with an operational life expectancy of less than 10 years. [158342]

Mr. Hanson: The modular temporary units providing 1,160 prison places, installed in the financial years 2002-03 and 2003-04, have an estimated life expectancy of less than 10 years.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison places created since 1997 have been created by putting more prisoners in existing cells. [158346]


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Mr. Hanson: Of the over 20,000 prison places provided since 1997, around 3,000 have been created by placing more prisoners in existing accommodation.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many spaces in modular temporary units built between 2002 and 2006 the Ministry expects to reach the end of their useful operational life in each of the next five years. [158347]

Mr. Hanson: Condition surveys are currently being undertaken to establish the condition of the modular temporary units provided in the years 2002-03 and 2003-04 and a forecast of each one’s remaining operational life.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison spaces are in modular temporary units; and how many of these have been in use for (a) more than five years, (b) between four and five years, (c) between three and four years and (d) less than three years. [158350]

Mr. Hanson: The 1,160 prison places provided in modular temporary units were delivered between August 2002 and August 2003 and all units are still in use.

Prison Service: Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many investigations are ongoing at HM Prison Service Investigation Support Unit; what proportion of these are staff disciplinary matters; and if he will make a statement. [157574]

Mr. Hanson: On 10 October HM Prison Service’s Investigation Support Section held on file details of 547 open investigations. All of these investigations are noted on this database as being conducted under the terms of PSO 8460 Conduct and Discipline.

Prisoners

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the evidential basis is upon which his Department projects the rate of expansion in the prison population to 2010-11. [158344]

Mr. Hanson: Prison population projections are calculated using a range of mathematical models. The evidential basis for these calculations is a mixture of observed prison population data, sentencing data (wherever this is possible) and stakeholder assumptions. The stakeholders are experts drawn from the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and across the Criminal Justice System. The latest projections were published in the Ministry of Justice Statistical Bulletin "Prison population projections 2007-2014, England and Wales" (August 2007).

This is available on the Ministry of Justice website (http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/prisonpopulation.htm). The models used in the calculations are described in Annex C and the stakeholder assumptions in Annex B of the Statistical Bulletin. Copies of the Statistical Bulletin will be sent to the Libraries of the House.


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Prisoners Release: Drugs

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners died of a drugs overdose or drugs related illness while on early release in each of the last three years. [157844]

Mr. Hanson: A comprehensive treatment framework is available in prisons to address the problems caused by substance misuse. This includes:

CARAT teams offer harm minimisation advice and work closely with the Drug Interventions Programme and Offender Managers in making the necessary throughcare arrangements to ensure continuity of drug treatment on release.

Drug users can experience a reduced tolerance to drugs from their time in custody, which can increase the risk of drug related overdose on release. The prison treatment framework is designed to reduce that risk.

Improved quality of clinical treatment is being introduced in 53 prisons through IDTS(1), which will see maintenance prescribing much more widely used according to need and will reduce considerably the risk of overdose on release.

The information requested is not directly available. The latest research shows that newly-released prisoners are at considerably increased risk of a drugs overdose compared to their peers in the community, particularly in the first two weeks after release.

However, the research relates to a period prior to the introduction of the treatment framework and does not reflect the most recent advances in prison treatment.

Prisoners: Females

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the Government will publish its response to the Corston review. [158351]

Mr. Hanson: The Government have given a broad welcome to the report. The 43 recommendations which it makes are wide-ranging and propose action by a number of different Government Departments and organisations. We are carefully exploring the best way of taking forward the recommendations with all the Departments and agencies concerned and will publish a detailed response by late autumn.

Prisoners: Transsexuality

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidelines are in place for dealing with transgender prisoners; and if he will make a statement. [157760]

Mr. Hanson: Prisoners are entitled to receive the full range of NHS services. In rare cases where a prisoner has or has had a gender dysphoria, a draft prison service order has been prepared. This contains
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guidance on the management, treatment and care of these prisoners—both pre and post-operative transsexual people.

This document is currently subject to a formal consultation exercise involving a wide range of stakeholders. The document will be reviewed in light of the comments received and issued at the beginning of next year. Copies will be placed in the Library.

Prisoners: Voting Rights

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the Government plans to legislate to give convicted prisoners the right to vote following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v. UK. [158397]

Bridget Prentice: The Government are currently considering how to take forward the implementation of the Hirst judgment in light of the first stage consultation on this issue.

Prisons: Education

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment his Department has made of the value of courses on enhanced thinking skills for convicted prisoners. [157711]

Mr. Hanson: In 2004 RDS commissioned a qualitative study to examine programme experience of prisoners completing cognitive skills training (Clarke et al. 2004). Both prisoners and staff reported short term benefits for prisoners such as improved prisoner behaviour; increased self-confidence; enhanced literacy skills and better interpersonal skills. Completion of cognitive skills also helped to prepared prisoners for other offending behaviour programmes.

A randomised control trial of ETS, commissioned by Research, Development and Statistics—National Offender Management Service (RDS NOMS) will be published in December 2007. This will robustly evaluate the immediate impact of ETS on interim measures of thinking and prison behaviour. The current RDS NOMS programme also includes further research on the effectiveness of other Offending Behaviour Programmes based on rigorous research designs.

Prisons: Information

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what categories of information not held centrally within HM Prison Service are collected across (a) HM Prison Service regions and (b) HM Prison establishments; by what means such information is collected; and if he will make a statement. [158454]

Mr. Hanson: Prison establishments hold detailed records and reports on individual prisoners and members of staff and local operational records in a variety of electronic and paper formats. While much of these data can be interrogated centrally, there are some questions that can only be answered by analysing paper files manually, and therefore at disproportionate cost.
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Information held in HM Prison Service area offices is normally accessible centrally for the purpose of answering parliamentary questions.

Public Defender Service

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Public Defender Service and the role it will play in the criminal justice system. [157414]

Maria Eagle: The Government commissioned an independent team of leading academics to undertake a full assessment of the Public Defender Service (PDS) pilot. The report concluded that the PDS has established a reputation amongst clients and other criminal justice professionals for the robust and independent defence of its clients. The final report entitled “Evaluation of the Public Defender Service in England and Wales” was published on 8 January 2007 and can be found on the Legal Services Commission’s website and in the Libraries of the House.

Repossession Orders: Mortgages

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) mortgage repossession claims and (b) mortgage repossession orders were made in (i) 1996-97 and (ii) the most recent year for which figures are available. [158272]

Bridget Prentice: The following table shows the number of mortgage repossession claims issued and mortgage repossession orders made in (i) 1996-97 and (ii) 2006-07.

Number of mortgage repossession claims issued and orders made in the county courts of England and Wales, 1996-97 and 2006-07( 1)
Claims issued Orders made( 2 ) (inc. suspended orders)

1996-97

72,169

65,555

2006-07

132,781

91,131

(1) Figures for 2007 Q2 are available online at
http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/mortgatelandlordpossession.htm
(2) The court, following a judicial hearing, may grant an order for possession immediately. This entitles the claimant to apply for a warrant to have the defendant evicted. However, even where a warrant for possession is issued, the parties can still negotiate a compromise to prevent eviction.

These figures do not indicate how many houses have been repossessed through the courts, since not all orders result in the properties actually being repossessed.


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