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The findings, consistent with DASAs first report, show that the numbers of service personnel assessed with a mental disorder for the first time at one of our Departments of Community Mental Health in second quarter 2007 are lowround five per 1,000 strength, or 0.5 per cent. of the total armed forces population. The numbers of service personnel assessed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the first time during the same period are very lowaround 0.3 per 1,000 strength or 0.03 per cent. of the total armed forces population. They indicate that while service personnel who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to be assessed with PTSD than those who served in more benign environments, the actual numbers of individuals affected (26 among those who had deployed, seven among those not deployedand five cases where the deployment history could not be identified from centrally available patient records) are very low.
We take very seriously the risk of service personnel developing mental illness, and attach a high priority to ensuring that individuals have access to the appropriate advice and, if needed, treatment at the right time. We have measures in place to increase awareness at all levels, and to mitigate the development of operational stresses. We have mental health professionals available in theatre and are also increasingly using trauma risk management (TRiM)a model of peer group mentoringwithin the operational environment. Where further treatment is required, our mental health services back in the UK are configured to provide community-based mental health care within a military environment in line with national best practice.
For those who have left the armed forces, I made a joint announcement with the Department of Health in November, of the extension of priority treatment to all cases where an individuals doctor considers his condition may be due to service, and of the launch of the first of a number of pilots of a new community-based veterans mental health service. This service will provide assessment and, where appropriate, treatment from experts in veterans mental health. Veterans will be able to access the service directly or through their GP, ex-service organisations, the Veterans Welfare Service, or Social Service departments. The pilots at the Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Healthcare Trust and Camden and Islington are now open, Cardiff, Middlesbrough, St. Austell and Scotland are due to follow. If the pilots prove successful, the model will be rolled out more widely across the UK.
As an interim measure, and to assist those veterans not in the catchment areas of one of the new community mental health pilots, we have expanded our medical assessment programme (MAP) based at St. Thomas hospital, London, to include assessments of veterans with mental health symptoms with operational service from 1982 and whose GPs are concerned that they may not understand the military background of the condition or the appropriate treatment.
The MOD is the single biggest contributor to Combat Stress. Last year we gave them £2.5 million in fees for the care of individuals whose mental health conditions are accepted by the war pensions scheme as due to their military service. I recently announced a further increase of 45 per cent. in the rate of fees to be
met by the Department. In cash terms, this sees the daily fee paid by the MOD to Combat Stress for the treatment of each eligible war pensioner increase from around £180 to around £260 a day. This represents a significant boost to the charitys finances. This substantial increase demonstrates the Departments continuing commitment to help Combat Stress play an appropriate part in treating veterans with mental health problems and will help Combat Stress deliver an enhanced capability to treat war pensioners.
The publication of the second results of our new method of collecting and analysing the mental health data demonstrates our continuing commitment to understanding the true relationship between service on deployed operations and mental ill-health and to making the results available to inform Parliament and the public.
I am confident that the more comprehensive quarterly reports will offer an increased understanding of psychiatric morbidity in the UK armed forces as the dataset grows over the coming years. It is our intent to publish subsequent quarterly reports on the same DAS A website and to place a copy in the Library of the House as they become available.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): Earlier this month I set out the ten key changes to Britains border security and immigration system that we will deliver in 2008. As part of these reforms I said that it was important that we act more sensitively to the children in our care and to the victims of human trafficking. I would like therefore to update the House on measures being taken forward by the Border and Immigration Agency in relation to children.
First, I am pleased to announce to the House today the commencement of the public consultation exercise on the draft code of practice for keeping children safe from harm. The consultation will last for 12 weeks and copies of the consultation paper and the draft code of practice have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. As part of this consultation we will be talking to children to get their views.
The code will guide BIA in fulfilling its new legal duty to keep children safe from harm. In drafting it the Border and Immigration Agency has already consulted widely. During the period of the consultation Border and Immigration Agency officials will hold a series of conferences so that interest groups can express their concerns to us in detail and in their own words. These conferences will be devoted to the themes that have been put to us so far as important, such as children in detention, referrals to statutory agencies, and other key areas where children come into contact with our immigration system; as well as seeking to identify what can be learned from others. In particular there will be conferences on childrens issues in each of the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Secondly, I am also today publishing the responses to the public consultation exercise Planning Better Outcomes and Support for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children. We have considered carefully the responses
to this document and taken account of the clear consensus that central Government and local authorities need to work together to improve the way in which these children are referred to, cared for and supported by local authorities. Our main areas of reform in this area are:
Placing unaccompanied asylum seeking children a network of with specialist local authorities to ensure they receive the expert services they need.
Better procedures to assess age in order to ensure children and adults are not accommodated together. We will establish a working group with key stakeholders to gain consensus on how we move forward in this complex area of public policy.
Ensuring that we resolve a childs immigration status more quickly and therefore enable care planning to focus on integration or safe early return to the country of origin for unaccompanied young people.
Putting in place better procedures for identifying and supporting asylum seeking children who are the victims of trafficking paying particular attention to those who are at risk of going missing or at risk of further harm or exploitation. We will ensure that proposals around reform are developed in accordance with the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Thirdly, I announced a review of the UKs reservation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child on 14 January. I know this review has been widely welcomed. I am therefore launching a consultation today to run in parallel with that on the code of practice. I wish to take full account of the views of others in deciding whether the time is now right to withdraw the reservation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Crime Reduction (Mr. Vernon Coaker): Following the Home Secretarys statement of 13 December 2007, I would like to update the House on the latest position regarding the revocation of Security Industry Authority licences following immigration checks.
As the Home Secretary said in the statement on 13 December, the SIA contacted some 10,500 individuals to inform them they were minded to revoke their licences
as a consequence of checks which indicated no right to work or where the SIA was not satisfied that the individual had the right to work. Licence holders had up to 21 days to respond to the SIA with further information challenging the intention to revoke, and a further 21 days in which to appeal to the magistrates or sheriff courts. Both of the 21 day periods have now elapsed.
Information is today being made available on the SIAs register of licence holders on some 7,000 individuals who have had their licences revoked. SIA will update its advice to employers. Some 3,000 challenges to the minded to revoke letter are currently being processed.
As the Home Secretary informed the House on 13 December, the SIA has been carrying out targeted enforcement activity in relation to illegal working in the security industry, focusing on visits to employers and workplaces where SIA checks suggest there may be a repeated use or significant presence of illegal migrant workers.
The SIA is screening and prioritising cases for investigation where employers have blatantly failed to comply with the law on the prevention of illegal working, and where individuals have committed criminal offences, including where this includes the use of false identities or forged documents. Individuals with adverse immigration records or who may pose a risk to the public are being prioritised for removal.
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): The statistics for 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007 show that the number of police operations in which firearms were authorised was 18,053.
|Number of Operations in which Firearms were Authorised|
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