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12 Jan 2009 : Column 278W—continued

Crime: Victims

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government has taken to support victims of crime. [244561]

Maria Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have placed victims and witnesses at the heart of the criminal justice system and given support services to them a high priority.

Since 2004 the Government have introduced the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime which gives victims legal rights to support and information about their case. It has also supported the development of Victim Support into a strong national organisation able to help more victims more quickly. Victim Support is an independent charity and is the main provider of services to victims and witnesses across England and Wales. Over recent years funding has increased from £11.7 million to £30 million. Victim Support has recently introduced an improved business process, with an additional £12.6 million from Government, so that victims can be contacted quickly, have their needs assessed and, if needed, be offered a wider range of practical services than was previously available.

In addition the Government fund a number of other organisations offering specialist support services through the Victims Fund. £8.2 million has been invested so far funding for services to victims of sexual violence, childhood sexual abuse, hate crime and homicide. The Poppy project supports adult women who have been trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation and this includes provision for temporarily accommodating victims.

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) has provided £5.6 million since 2007 for Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) who provide a service to victims who are at high risk of harm. The money
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provides IDVAS to support victims as their cases progress through specialist domestic violence courts. The £5.6 million follows £2 million of Home Office funding in 2006-07.

The recently published Youth Crime Action Plan will be improving support services to young victims of crime. The plan has been developed jointly between the OCJR, Ministry of Justice, the Department for Children Schools and Families and the Home Office. The Action Plan will deliver results on youth justice, youth crime prevention and cross cutting themes on victimisation.

Support after Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) receives an annual grant of £140,000 to provide advice and support to those bereaved by homicide and presents training to police forces and other statutory agencies (e.g. the Health and Safety Executive) on bereavement awareness issues.

Victims and witnesses have a voice in shaping government policy and future support services through the Victims Advisory Panel and, shortly, the appointment of a commissioner for victims and witnesses will be able to promote the views of victims and witnesses at the highest levels.

Crime: Young People

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government have taken to reduce levels of youth crime. [244563]

Mr. Alan Campbell: The Government are committed to driving down youth crime and keeping the communities, including young people themselves, safer.

The vast majority of young people are well behaved and it is a minority we need to focus on, who are responsible for half of all youth crime.

As well as the Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP), the Government have published (15 July) the Youth Crime Action Plan. This is a joint initiative by the Home Office, Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The plan sets out a comprehensive cross-Government plan to tackle youth crime, with a triple track approach of enforcement and punishment where behaviour is unacceptable, non-negotiable support and challenge where it is most needed, and better and earlier prevention. It will deliver an extensive and comprehensive package of measures for children, young people and families that is backed by £100 million of funding to help prevent young people getting involved in crime.

The £100 million is being used for:

There is already a great deal of work going on across Government to tackle youth crime and anti social behaviour. Positive Futures programme is a national sports based
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social inclusion programme which is funded by the Home Office in partnership with the Football Foundation.

The programme aims to have a positive influence on young people's lives through widening their horizons and providing access to new opportunities by using sport, art and leisure activities as a catalyst to encourage project participation and steering young people towards education, training and employment.

Crimes of Violence

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many violent crimes have been reported in (a) England and Wales, (b) the North East, (c) Tees Valley district and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency, in each of the last five years. [245023]

Mr. Alan Campbell: A number of changes have been made to recorded crime in response to suggestions in the two reviews of crime statistics. One such change is that the term ‘violent crime’ is no longer used in connection with the recorded crime statistics and we now provide figures for violence against the person.

The available information is given in the following table. The Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency comes within the Middlesbrough Basic Command Unit. Data for Tees Valley are not available.

Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police, 2003-04 to 2007-08
Number of offences
Area 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

England and Wales(1)






North East Region












(1) Includes British Transport Police.

Criminal Records Bureau: Standards

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the effect on the career prospects of individuals of having unsubstantiated allegations on their Criminal Records Bureau disclosures. [246040]

Meg Hillier: The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) does not hold criminal records or records of allegations. Rather, in processing disclosure applications, the CRB obtains information held by the police service and from lists held by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department of Health (DoH).

Therefore, although the CRB does not know how many individuals are the subject of unsubstantiated allegations on their disclosures, the Bureau is aware of the impact such allegations can have on an applicant's career prospects.

It is for this reason that the CRB has issued a range of guidance, and a code of practice, to those who use the CRB service to ensure that, where conviction or non-conviction exists, it is discussed fairly and transparently.

The CRB operates a disputes procedure where disclosed data can be challenged by an applicant, although the retention or disposal of intelligence material held by the police is entirely a matter for the chief officer.

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Criminal Records: EU Action

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the European Criminal Record Information system will allow the vetting of prospective employees by (a) airport authorities and (b) other sensitive employers; and what estimate she has made of the speed with which a request for information on a prospective employee’s record could be answered. [243296]

Jacqui Smith: In October, the EU agreed a Council Decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Record Information System (ECRIS). This proposal is designed to provide a standardised format for the secure electronic exchange of criminal records information including the offence and the sentence.

Criminal record exchange in the EU is still currently governed by Council Decision 2005/876/JHA of 21 November 2005 on the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record. Under these arrangements, the UK Central Authority for Exchange of Criminal Records (UKCA-ECR) is automatically told by other member states of convictions of British nationals in other EU countries and can ask other member states for the previous criminal history of one of their citizens who is involved in criminal proceedings here. Responses to such requests should be provided within 10 days.

Where the UKCA-ECR receives this information, it is recorded on our police national computer. It will therefore be available to the Criminal Records Bureau and Disclosure Scotland.

When ECRIS is implemented, it will allow swifter exchange of criminal records information than is the case now.

Departmental Consultants

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 2226W, on departmental consultants, how many security passes her Department has issued to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months; and if she will put in place measures to record the number of external consultants contracted to provide services for her Department. [244836]

Mr. Woolas: The Department does employ consultants for specialist areas of activity. The Department has records of passes issued to external contractors, including consultants. However, the cost involved in confirming the number of passes issued to consultants over the 12 months would incur disproportionate costs in accordance with extant guidelines.

Departmental Correspondence

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) letters and (b) e-mails received by her Department had not been responded to as at 15 December 2008. [244707]

Mr. Woolas: The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. Information relating to 2008 will be published as soon as it has been collated. The report for 2007 was published
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on 20 March 2008, Official Report, columns 71-74WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.

In respect of other correspondence and emails from the public, only non-individually addressed correspondence is managed centrally. The information requested cannot be obtained save at disproportionate cost as to do so would require gathering information from every official in the Department.

Departmental Furniture

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent by her Department on furniture made by (a) British firms, (b) Remploy and (c) overseas firms in each year since 2000. [244348]

Mr. Woolas: The Department’s accounting system does not hold the information at the requested level of detail. The information could not be provided and verified without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff in her Department did not achieve an acceptable assessment grade in their annual report in the latest reporting year for which figures are available. [244189]

Mr. Woolas: In the 2007-08 reporting year, and from the data available, 146 members of staff across Home Office headquarters, the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) and the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) did not achieve an acceptable assessment marking in their annual reports.

The Criminal Records Bureau is able to provide this information only by reviewing individual paper records, and this would incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department spent on Ministerial hospitality in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08, expressed in current prices. [241242]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All spending on official entertainment is made in accordance with the principles set out in Managing Public Money.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent on (a) departmental Christmas parties and (b) staff entertainment in the last three years. [243747]

Mr. Woolas: No official funds were used for Christmas parties in the last three years: any parties attended are entirely at the cost of the individual member of staff. Expenditure on staff entertainment is tightly controlled, and is only incurred as part of the Home Office policy on staff reward and recognition, and where it is shown that alternative forms of recognition (such as saying
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thank you, providing vouchers, or a bonus) have been considered. The Department's accounting system shows that expenditure on reward and recognition has been:








All Home Office expenditure on rewards and recognition, including staff entertainment, conforms to the principles of regularity, propriety and value for money, and any other guidance as applicable contained within Managing Public Money.

The increase in expenditure is attributable to enhanced communication and senior management support of the reward and recognition policy, which in line with Central Government practice.

For the Department's agencies, the Criminal Records Bureau and the Identity and Passport Service's spend could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what bonuses were paid by her Department in 2007-08; to which members of staff; and for what purposes. [240794]

Mr. Woolas: In Home Office Headquarters and the UK Border Agency staff in all grades are eligible in certain circumstances to receive two kinds of bonus: special bonuses (of up to 5 per cent. of salary but not exceeding £1,947) and end-of-year appraisal bonuses (of up to 4 per cent. of their pay scale’s target rate). Special bonuses may be awarded at any time of the year for outstanding achievements by staff, including members of the senior civil service (SCS), in particularly demanding tasks or situations.

End-of-year appraisal bonuses are made to individuals in grades below the SCS who have made an exceptional contribution throughout the year. Members of the SCS can be awarded performance bonuses as set out in the Senior Salaries Review Body report number 62.

Staff in the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) receive end-of-year corporate Bonuses (up to £400), Change Agent bonuses (grades 6 and 7 only, up to 4 per cent. of salary) and special bonuses (upper limit normally £500).

Staff in the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) do not receive end-of-year bonuses, but can receive special bonuses (up to 5 per cent. of their grade's salary scale). For reasons of confidentiality, we are unable to release the names of individuals who received bonuses. Tables 1 and 2 give details of the distribution by grade of special bonuses and end-of-year appraisal bonuses respectively.

Table 1: Special bonus 2007-08


Total paid out (£)


Number of payments made


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