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Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many prisons operated a policy of five per cent. random mandatory drug testing in each financial year from 2002-03 to 2008-09; how many (a) random and (b) non-random tests were performed in such prisons in each such year; how many such tests were positive for (i) cannabis, (ii) opiates (excluding methadone), (iii) non-prescribed methadone and (iv) prescribed methadone; 
(2) how many (a) random and (b) non-random mandatory drug tests were performed in each prison in each financial year from 2002-03 to 2008-09; and how many such tests were positive for (i) cannabis, (ii) opiates (excluding methadone), (iii) non-prescribed methadone and (iv) prescribed methadone in each prison in each such year. 
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average ratio of offenders to Probation Service staff in the (a) Thames Valley and (b) Milton Keynes probation area was in each of the last five years. 
|(a) All Thames Valley probation area staff||(b) All Milton Keynes probation office staff|
|(a) All Thames Valley probation area offender managers||(b) All Milton Keynes probation office offender managers|
A new system for collecting probation workload data was introduced from 1 January 2002, making comparisons with earlier years unreliable (and so data prior to 2002 are not provided here).
The 2008 figures are provisional and were published on 30 April in the Ministry of Justice statistics bulletin Probation statistics quarterly brief October to December 2008, England and Wales. Copies can be found in the Libraries of the House. The final 2008 data will be published in Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2008 on 31 July.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many high-risk offenders committed further serious crimes in (a) the East of England and (b) Suffolk while under the supervision of the Probation Service in each of the last three years. 
Maria Eagle: The number of further serious crimes committed by high risk offenders in the East of England and more specifically in Suffolk, by offenders under the supervision of Probation areas in the region are as follows:
These figures relate to those offenders who were assessed as at high or very high risk of causing serious harm through the Offender Assessment System who were subsequently convicted of a serious further offence, committed while the offender was under probation supervision in the community. These figures include offences of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (section 18), although this offence was removed from the criteria of a serious further offence on 1 December 2008.
Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on levels of co-operation between the Probation Service and (a) the police, (b) HM Courts Service and (c) the Crown Prosecution Service in the Staffordshire Probation Area of the proposed merger between Staffordshire Probation Service and West Midlands Probation Service; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the level of management at which decisions relating to the operation of the Probation Service in Staffordshire are taken of the proposed merger between Staffordshire Probation Service and West Midlands Probation Service; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the likely change in (a) administrative and (b) staffing costs of the probation service in Staffordshire consequent on the proposed merger between Staffordshire Probation Service and West Midlands Probation Service. 
Maria Eagle: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice is aware of the proposed merger of the Staffordshire and West Midlands probation areas. A joint application is anticipated in July for trust status, although this may be delayed to later in the year.
Any merger will require the continuation of very strong links with other criminal justice agencies, including the police, HM Courts Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. This will include continued active participation in the Staffordshire Local Criminal Justice Board public protection arrangements. The present chief probation officer for Staffordshire has met all the relevant agencies and explained the importance of local delivery and co-working in any trust arrangement. The proposed merger was discussed at the Staffordshire Criminal Justice Board meeting on the 28 April 2009 chaired by the then chief constable of Staffordshire Chris Sims. In a subsequent letter he said that members understood the merger and indicated strong support for the proposal based on local delivery units with devolved responsibilities. The Secretary of State will continue to require coterminus arrangements to be maintained with Staffordshire criminal justice agencies, should a merger of Staffordshire and West Midlands probation areas be approved.
The Secretary of State in approving any trust application needs to be assured that management is properly devolved to the level of local delivery units. In the case of Staffordshire these units will be aligned will Staffordshire county and Stoke on Trent. The Secretary of State would expect to see a trust appoint to such management units staff at assistant chief officer level who are both experienced and competent to oversee performance and partnership working. In addition there will be a single chief executive and chair of joint Staffordshire and West Midlands Board who will be responsible for ensuring performance across the trust and effective local partnership in all the local delivery units and to ensure the efficient and effective stewardship of public funds, working under a contract to the director of offender management for the West Midlands region.
The Secretary of State has made it clear in statements and answers to previous questions that any proposals on probation trust arrangements should come from local areas and not be provided either regionally or nationally. Individual probation boards, including Staffordshire, would have to consider the merits of merger based on business cases that would address both administrative and staffing costs.
As the Secretary of State has yet to receive an application for the trust status by the combined area it is not possible to make a detailed estimate of changes to both administrative and staffing costs. However, any such proposal would have to demonstrate that front line delivery of probation service duties and responsibilities to protect the public and reduce re-offending will be maintained whilst overheads, administration and management costs would be reviewed. No budgets have been allocated to Staffordshire or West Midlands probation areas for the period beyond March 2010.
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to reduce the proportion of those receiving a custodial remand who are black boys; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: In addition to conducting two studies of its own to map the level of young people from an ethnic minority background within the youth justice system and their particular needs, the Youth Justice Board is supporting a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to consider evidence relating to the representation of young people from an ethnic minority background within the youth justice system. This research will inform the work the Youth Justice Board and partner organisations are engaged in to address the needs of black and other ethnic minority young people.
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of people under the age of 18 years who are remanded in custody; and if he will make a statement; 
Maria Eagle: Figures provided by the Youth Justice Board indicate that the number of young people under 18 remanded in custody or to local authority secure care has fallen significantly over the last few years. Since the peak year of 2003-04, court-ordered secure remands have fallen by 40 per cent. and remands in custody by 21 per cent.
In each particular case it is for the court to decide, in the light of all the circumstances, whether to grant bail, to remand the young person to the care of a local authority or, if the young person is aged 17, to remand him or her in custody. (Some boys aged 15 and 16 may also be remanded in custody.)
In the Youth Crime Action Plan, we indicated our intention to strengthen the response to youth crime at a local level, by supporting local authorities to provide earlier interventions and so reduce the need for custodial places. Youth Offending Teams have a range of non-secure remand options. These include remand fostering; bail support and curfew schemes; and the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme, which includes electronic monitoring.
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will commission research into the reasons for the reduction in the use of non-secure remand to local authority accommodation for those under the age of 18 years of age since 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Figures provided by the Youth Justice Board indicate that the peak year for remands of under-18s in the period in question was 2004-05. Between then
and 2007-08, the total figure for remands of all kinds-secure and non-secure-fell by 33 per cent. Non-secure remands to local authority care fell by 36 per cent. The Youth Justice Board is monitoring these trends and is exploring ways of further incentivising local authorities to provide alternatives to custody.
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