Mr. Hanson: The local probation boards and trusts budgets have not been settled for the period 2008-09 to 2010-11. Indicative budget planning figures for 2008-09 for the main grant, which forms the major part of Boards and Trusts budgets, show an average increase of 2.7 per cent.
Mr. Hanson: The Department does not keep specific records concerning the cost of IT problem resolution with probation. It does however have a support and operating contract from Steria, its key supply partner. Embedded within this support contract is the resolution of problems.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the likely effect on employees terms and conditions of budget reductions in the Northumbria probation area. 
Maria Eagle: There are no budget reductions in the Northumbria probation area. Terms and conditions of service are determined nationally through the National Negotiating Council of the National Probation Service and this national collective bargaining is retained as probation boards move to trust status from April 2008. A modernised pay and grading structure supported by a national job evaluation scheme was introduced in 2005. Local boards have the ability to negotiate some lesser terms and conditions such as essential car user allowance. These are a matter for the local employer in this case the Northumbria Probation Board through consultation and negotiation with their employees.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the likely effect on trainee probation officers of budget reductions in the Northumbria probation area. 
Maria Eagle: Northumbria was able to recruit 24 trainee probation officers during Cohort 10 (07/08), having not recruited for the previous two Cohorts. A new process for training will be introduced in October 2008 and because of this, the number of trainees each board will recruit is currently unknown.
Maria Eagle: There will be no budget reductions in 2008-09 in Northumbria probation area. Northumbrias budget will increase from £25,484 million to £25,995 million between 2007-08 and 2008-09 (2.01 per cent.). In addition, their 3 Year Corporate Plan includes a programme of cash savings of up to £1.3 million from their non staffing budget. They are however considering the option of some voluntary redundancies phased over Years 1 and 2 of the 3 year period.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps are being taken to ensure that the concerns of local government lawyers will be addressed by the Public Law Family Fees Consultation Paper. 
Bridget Prentice: All responses received to the consultation including any concerns expressed by local government lawyers will be considered carefully. The consultation will close on the 11 March 2008.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of (a) deaths by natural causes and (b) suicides at HM Prison Whitemoor in each year since 1992; what assessment he has made of any (i) trend or (ii) causality; what steps are being taken to reduce the incidence of suicide at the establishment; and if he will make a statement. 
|Type of death
(i) There is no discernable trend to the self-inflicted deaths at Whitemoor, though all four such deaths in 2007 were Category A Life Sentenced prisoner who are a traditionally high risk group.
(ii) Since 2004 the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been conducting investigations into all deaths in prison custody. All such deaths are also subject to a coroners inquest. The investigations into the four most recent self-inflicted deaths at Whitemoor are incomplete. Whitemoor, like much of the prison estate, contains a population with a high proportion of very vulnerable individuals, many of whom have experienced negative life events that we know increase the likelihood of them harming themselves. Issues that increase risk include drug/alcohol abuse, family background and relationship problems, social disadvantage or isolation, previous sexual or physical abuse, and mental health problems. Between July 2006 and July 2007 the proportion of prisoners at Whitemoor with a life/indeterminate sentence rose from 58 per cent. to 64 per cent. but this change appears insufficient to explain the recent self-inflicted deaths. At the request of the governor, the Prison Services Directorate of High Security Prisons has established a group to review the five self-inflicted deaths which occurred at Whitemoor prison between November 2006 and December 2007.
Every death in prison affects families, staff and other prisoners deeply. Ministers and the Prison Service are completely committed to reducing the number of such tragic incidents. The updated Prison Service suicide prevention strategy was published in October 2007 with implementation due to be completed in every prison, including Whitemoor, by end-April 2008. Building on several years of learning from the experience of prisoners, staff, investigators, inspectors and others, it incorporates developments such as improved cross-agency information
flows, the provision of safer cells, increasing prisoner peer support, and the introduction of ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork) the care-planning system for prisoners at-risk of suicide or self-harm, introduced across the prisons estate in partnership with the Department of Health during 2005-07.
At Whitemoor itself a Head of Decency to oversee the whole safer prisons strategy has been appointed, local safer custody policies have been re-visited, communication of prisoner safety information across the establishment improved, and there is an action plan which ensures that all actions identified following any death are implemented.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many staff at HM Prison Whitemoor have been dismissed in each of the last 24 months; what reason was given for each dismissal; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: Information on the number of staff dismissed from HMP Whitemoor by category of dismissal in each month of 2006 and 2007 is contained in the following table. The information relates to operational and non-operational staff. The average number of staff during this period was 763.
|Staff dismissed From HMP WhitemoorJanuary 2006 to December 2007
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what support is being made available to (a) governors and (b) prison officers at HM Prison Whitemoor to assist with (i) stress and (ii) mental health problems; and if he will make a statement.