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27 Jan 2009 : Column 376W—continued

Life Imprisonment

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners whose minimum terms have been completed are serving automatic life sentences pursuant to section 109 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (a) in its original form and (b) as subsequently amended by the provisions of chapter 5 of Part 12 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003; and for what offences each such prisoner was convicted. [252081]

Mr. Straw: The provisions for automatic life sentences for a second serious offence were introduced under the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 and came into force on 1 October 1997. The provisions were consolidated in section 109 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. 615 prisoners sentenced under these provisions are recorded as having completed their minimum term.

The following table gives a breakdown of the offences committed.

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Unlawful Sexual Intercourse


Aggravated Burglary


Armed Robbery






Attempted Murder


Attempted Rape


Attempt to Pervert Justice


Attempted Burglary


Attempted Robbery






Conspiracy to Commit Robbery


Conspiracy to Commit Murder


Conspiracy to Supply Drugs


False Imprisonment


Other Sexual Offences


Other Offences








Possession of a Weapon


Possession of a Firearm






Sexual Assault


The automatic life sentence was repealed and replaced by the indeterminate sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection for offences committed on or after 4 April 2005.

This figure comes from the NOMS public protection unit database. As with any large scale recording system, it is subject to possible errors arising from either data entry or processing.

Magistrates: Standards

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to monitor the level of compliance of (a) magistrates, (b) HM Courts Service fines officers and (c) bailiff companies with the national standards for enforcement agents on vulnerable situations. [250926]

Bridget Prentice: The National Standards for Enforcement Agents are intended for use by enforcement agents rather than magistrates or Her Majesty's Courts Service fines officers. However both magistrates and Her Majesty's Courts Service fines officers routinely consider the circumstances of defendants and defaulters as part of their decision-making process. Where issues of vulnerability are made known to them, these will be taken into account.

Her Majesty's Court Service contracts place a specific obligation on its private enforcement agents in respect of vulnerable members of society. This requires them to adhere to and implement these standards while engaged on enforcement activities on behalf of Her Majesty's Courts Service. They are instructed not to take any action to levy distress without prior reference to the court where the individual falls into one of categories deemed as vulnerable. Complaints by members of the public about the conduct of the contractor must be reported to Her Majesty's Courts Service regional contract managers, together with details of how those complaints
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have been dealt with and resolved. These are reviewed as part of the contract management process.

The contract requires AEAs to provide a monthly management report to HMCS regional contractor managers on contractor performance. The report provides details on the execution rate of warrants, training undertaken by contractor staff and any complaints received by the contractor on action taken by their staff. Contractors must report any circumstances and situations where a complaint or issue is raised by defaulters who consider the enforcement of the warrant has been undertaken inappropriately or incorrectly. These will include any situations involving those in the vulnerable person categories., Any complaints or correspondence received by contractors must be investigated. In addition Her Majesty's Court Service regional management will investigate the complaint to determine that the bailiff took the correct action or if the situation requires further investigation.

Further reporting protocols in new proposed contracts will strengthen the control and monitoring arrangements available to HMCS on contractor performance. This includes quarterly and six-month assurance reporting. There is also a requirement for each contractor to make an annual operation report reviewing their management of the contract. Combined, these reports form the basis for the HMCS Director of Enforcement to make an annual report covering the operation of all regional contracts.

The reports received as the six month and yearly stages of the contract would be reviewed and reported on to the HMCS Compliance and Enforcement and main HMCS Management Boards as part of this report. It is expected that the contractor will detail its procedures and processes and the agreed authorisation methods with each HMCS region and area within these reporting requirements.

Members: Correspondence

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he will reply to the hon. Member for Edinburgh West's correspondence of 16 October and 4 December 2008 with regard to his constituent, Mr Terry Cooper. [251714]

Bridget Prentice: I will write to the hon. Member shortly. I apologise for the delay in responding.

Offenders: Learning Disability

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the merits of (a) community-based offender management programmes and (b) substance misuse programmes developed for use with offenders with (i) learning difficulties and (ii) learning disabilities; and if he will make a statement. [250940]

Mr. Hanson: Offending behaviour and substance misuse programmes can meet a broad range of offender needs and are successful in reducing reoffending. Reasonable adjustments are made to ensure programmes are accessible to all those who could potentially benefit. Participation will depend on the assessment and degree of capability. Further work may be possible to prepare an individual; however, there will be some offenders who are unable to
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participate due to the intensive nature and cognitive focus of the programmes. If a programme is not suitable then one to one work may be considered. If an individual is still unsuitable then other interventions or activities will be considered to meet their needs, including a range of less intensive drug treatment options.

Office for Criminal Justice Reform

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many members of his Department's staff are employed in the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. [247828]

Mr. Straw: The Office for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) has 265 full-time equivalent staff currently in post and a headcount of 312. OCJR reports trilaterally to the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Office and is hosted as an organisation by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Most of its staff are employed by the MOJ, with 11 staff seconded or on loan from other Government Departments or organisations, (including one from the Home Office), and 20 people from other organisations. This reflects the position as at 15 January 2009.

Official Cars

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what cars are (a) owned, (b) leased, (c) hired and (d) otherwise regularly used by his Department, broken down by cubic capacity of engine. [250140]

Mr. Malik: The information requested is shown in the following tables. They outline the number of owned and leased cars used by the Ministry of Justice, including the number of cars hired within the course of the last year.

Vehicles owned

1000 to 1400 cc 1401 to 1700 cc 1701 to2200 cc

Prison Service




MOJ/Access to Justice




Vehicles leased

1000 to 1400 cc 1401 to 1700 cc 1701 to2200 cc

Prison Service


MOJ/Access to Justice




Vehicles hired

1000 to 1400 cc 1401 to 1700 cc 1701 to2200 cc

Prison Service




MOJ/Access to Justice




The level of usage of hired cars is necessitated by the size and structure of the Ministry of Justice. The decision to hire cars is taken locally by operational managers when faced with finding the most cost-effective means of delivering the Department and its agencies business.

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Operational considerations within HMPS often require the movement of staff, equipment and prisoners over long distances. Vehicle specification has to take into account the need to accommodate both prisoners and escorts in the rear compartment, without discomfort. For this reason medium sized cars with diesel engines with a cubic capacity of 1701 to 2200 cc are frequently specified for pool and official use, including hire.

Parole Board: Referrals

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many referrals to the Parole Board took place after the due date in each of the last five years; and what proportion of referrals were such late referrals in each of those years. [250586]

Mr. Malik: There is no single data collection system which can provide this information at the present time. Using the different systems in place which does record this information, we are able to collect most of the data requested. Once this work is completed, I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of the letter in the Library of both Houses.

Political Impartiality

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 14 January 2008, Official Report, columns 948-9W, on Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2008, what the nature of the offence was that resulted in the individual being referred to a youth offender panel for a breach of the Act. [250545]

Mr. Straw: The data to which the hon. Member refers show that between 2000 and 2006 two people were referred to youth offender panels for offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

The information held centrally by the Department does not identify which specific offences under PPERA were involved.

Prisoners: Speech Therapy

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many speech and language therapists have been employed in each (a) prison and (b) young offender institution in each year since 2000. [251229]

Mr. Malik: There is no central information available on the number of language therapists engaged in the Prison Service. To gather the information would entail scrutinising a large number of individual records, which would incur disproportionate cost.

Prisons: Public Consultation

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what procedures he plans to adopt to ensure that public consultations on the location of proposed Titan prison facilities result in an accurate reflection of public views on the matter; and if he will make a statement. [250974]

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Mr. Hanson: Once sites have been identified, we intend to follow the normal planning route and will make an application for planning permission to the appropriate local planning authority.

Before we submit any planning application, Department officials will hold pre-application consultations with planning officers, local councillors and other interested parties on the detail of the proposed prison development in the usual way. This will include a public exhibition to explain the proposals and give local people the opportunity to comment.

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