|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
A statutory duty to report deaths to coroners, to be introduced through the Coroners and Death Certification Bill, will be placed on registered medical practitioners only, although it will not prevent anyone else from being able to report a death, including family members if they have concerns. The Bill will give the Lord Chancellor the power, in consultation with the Secretary of State for Health, to make regulations which set out the circumstances in which deaths must be referred to the coroner.
The response paper indicates what we are doing ahead of legislation to take this policy forward. We will work across Government and with those who work in the coroners service to produce national guidance for England and Wales to clarify which deaths should be reported to the coroner. This national guidance will form the basis of the list of reportable deaths, and will be framed in secondary legislation and associated guidance under the Coroners and Death Certification Bill when it is implemented.
The Cremation Regulations 1930 have been amended on a number of occasions and are now seen as old-fashioned and confusing. It is intended they will be modernised and consolidated. There will also be two major policy changes. First, bereaved families will have the right to inspect the medical forms before the cremation takes place. This is an important Shipman-related reform. The families of Shipmans victims believed that if they had had seen the cremation forms Shipman had completed about their relatives, they would have recognised that the information was wrong and Shipman would have been exposed much sooner. The Government believe that this is likely to have been the case, Secondly, the regulation on the handling of contagious diseases will be replaced by a simpler procedure permitting the rapid throughput of cases. In the light of the responses we have received, we intend to introduce the new regulations together with accompanying guidance for stakeholders before the end of the year.
The new statutory duty and the changes to the cremation regulations complement the Governments proposals for improving the process of death certification. A summary of responses to the public consultation on these important reforms is being published today by the Department of Health.
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins): I have placed copies of the Youth Justice Agencys Corporate Plan for 2008-11 and Business Plan for 2008-09 in the Libraries of both Houses.
1. Some 95 per cent. of all children subject to a Juvenile Justice Centre Order will have are integration plan.
2. Achieve an 85 per cent. compliance rate within the statutory timeframe for all children who are subject to a community disposal supervised by the agency.
3. Achieve an increase in public confidence in how the agency deals with young people accused of crime from 41 per cent. to at least 45 per cent. as measured by the Northern Ireland omnibus survey.
4. Some 85 per cent. of youth conference reports to be returned to court within statutory timescales.
5. At least 80 per cent. of referrals to result in a youth conference and of those, at least 70 per cent. of young offenders to be satisfied with the outcome.
6. Maintain a victim attendance rate of at least 60 per cent. for youth conferences and of those, at least 75 per cent. of victims to be satisfied with the outcome.
7. Following the introduction of a common risk assessment system, all young people referred to the agency under a court order to have an assessment of risk and strengths completed within four weeks of the commencement of the order.
8. All new admissions to custody to have a risk assessment conducted within 24 hours.
9. No escapes from the Juvenile Justice Centre.
10. At least 90 per cent. of young people remanded by the courts to have a bail assessment commenced within five working days.
11. Reduce the levels of physical restraint by 5 per cent. compared with 2007.
12. Maintain expenditure within approved budgetary limits.
13. Publish and lay the agencys audited 2007-08 annual report and accounts before Parliament prior to its summer recess.
14. At least 75 per cent. of staff to confirm that their learning and development needs are being met.
I am today publishing a report from Peter Lewis, the Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), of his inquiry into the CPS handling of a disk containing 2,159 Dutch DNA serious crime scene profiles that had been sent to the CPS by the Dutch authorities in January 2007.
The series of events beginning in May 2005 leading up to the provision to the CPS of the Dutch DNA disk in January 2007. This identified the nature of the arrangements made between the UK and Dutch authorities for the exchange of DNA profiles for comparison with their respective national databasesreferred to as Operation Threadand how these arrangements were carried out.
The series of events and the actions of CPS personnel between receipt of the Dutch DNA disk in January 2007 and passing it on to the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) in January 2008. This included consideration as to whether action of any kind should be taken against any CPS employee.
The progress made since January 2008: to pursue the analysis of the Dutch DNA profiles; to exchange information arising from this with the Dutch authorities; and to identify, trace and prosecute those suspected of criminal offences both in the UK and in the Netherlands.
The Solicitor-General and I are very grateful to Peter Lewis for his thorough inquiry and for this comprehensive report. On the basis of this, we are in no doubt that there is potentially immense value in these exchanges of data and in the investment the UK Government have made in establishing a DNA database. The exchange of information may lead to the prosecution of criminals who would not otherwise be brought to justice.
However, the report reveals significant shortcomings in the way in which this process was planned and implemented. The report sets out that at no time had it been agreed that the Dutch DNA disk should be sent to the CPS, and that it should rather have been sent to the UK central authority. But there was a highly regrettable delay to the process while the disk was in the possession of the CPS.
The report identifies actions taken by the CPS to address internal performance issues. It also makes a number of recommendations for managing the mutual exchange of DNA data more effectively in the future.
Any bilateral discussions for the exchange of DNA data between the UK and foreign jurisdictions should include representatives from the CPS and the equivalent prosecuting authority from that foreign jurisdiction.
Such discussions should result in the production of a written agreement or protocol, and Ministers should be informed before the mutual exchange arrangements are implemented.
Any such agreement or protocol should outline the key steps to be taken, attribute responsibility for each step, preferably to a named individual, identify a senior point of contact in each organisation and set an agreed timescale for completion of
each stage of the process, and establish a mechanism for the recorded agreement of any revisions to that timescale where necessary.
Every such agreement or protocol should comply with the pre-existing legal and procedural requirements of the jurisdictions/states involved, including any data protection regimes.
Plans for addressing any real or perceived public protection issues that may arise from the results of the DNA comparisons should be in place prior to implementation of any mutual exchange arrangements.
An agreed media handling plan should be in place prior to implementation of any mutual exchange arrangements.
These recommendations have been accepted and the National Policing Improvement Agency will lead on ensuring that they are followed. In addition, the UK agreed to the EU Council decision on PRUM in June 2007 which will provide member states law enforcement authorities with access to DNA and fingerprint data on a hit or no hit basis, and direct access to vehicle registration. This will allow for much quicker and improved tools to share data for the detection, investigation and prevention of serious crime whilst maintaining appropriate data protection safeguards. It is due to be implemented three years from adoption by the European Union Council of Ministers, which is expected shortly.
The report indicates that action has been taken since January 2008 to analyse the Dutch data and compare it to the UK DNA database. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made a commitment that Ministers will report to Parliament once the outcome of the police investigation following liaison with the Dutch authorities is complete.