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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Kosovo: Human Rights

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps (a) he and (b) the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

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plan to take in response to the recommendations addressed to the member states of the EU and to other contributing states in Resolution 1782 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, passed on 25 January 2011, on the investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo. [43794]

Mr Lidington: Council of Europe colleagues will each reach their own independent decisions as to what steps they might take in response to the recommendations set out in Resolution 1782.

The Government expect any allegations of the kind raised in Dick Marty's report to be treated seriously. We therefore fully support the decision of the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) to open a preliminary investigation and believe that EULEX has the mandate, authority and jurisdiction to conduct such an investigation.

We welcome the Government of Kosovo's public undertakings to cooperate with this investigation, as most recently underlined by Acting Foreign Minister Citaku at the United Nations Security Council last month.

The Government continue to call for all relevant individuals and organisations to respond to any requests from EULEX for information or evidence.

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment (a) he and (b) the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe have made of the allegations in Resolution 1782 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, passed on 25 January 2011, on the investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo. [43807]

Mr Lidington: Council of Europe colleagues will each reach their own independent assessments of the allegations set out in Resolution 1782 and what steps they might take in response.

These are serious allegations and the Government believe they must be investigated thoroughly. We therefore fully support the decision of the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) to open a preliminary investigation and believe that EULEX has the mandate, authority and jurisdiction to conduct such an investigation.

We welcome the Government of Kosovo's public undertakings to cooperate with this investigation, as most recently underlined by Acting Foreign Minister Citaku last month at the United Nations Security Council.

The Government continue to call for all relevant individuals and organisations to respond to any requests from EULEX for information or evidence.

North Africa and Middle East: Press Freedom

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the safety of journalists in (a) Libya, (b) Tunisia, (c) Yemen, (d) Morocco, (e) Bahrain, (f) Iran and (g) Algeria. [43909]

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Alistair Burt: The information requested is as follows.

Libya

We have serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the media in Libya which we continue to raise. The UK drove through a UN Security Council Resolution which demanded the lifting of restrictions on the internet and media and an end to the intimidation and detention of journalists. We are clear that the Libyan regime must heed the calls of the international community. We note that the Libyan Government have recently opened its borders to foreign journalists.

Tunisia

During the Ben Ali regime media was heavily restricted and there were regular reports of journalists imprisoned for negative coverage of the Government. Since Ben Ali left Tunisia on 14 January 2011 the press have experienced unprecedented freedom. With the country undergoing significant reform we will be monitoring this situation closely over the coming months.

Yemen

While legislation exists in Yemen to protect media freedoms, in practice self-censorship is widespread as independent media, especially if allegedly linked to those opposed to the Government of Yemen, face sustained Government harassment.

In September 2010, the EU issued a demarche criticising the treatment of journalists opposed to government policy. Recent reports from Yemen suggest increasing violence against journalists who are covering the internal protests. We have made clear to the Yemeni Government that this is unacceptable.

Bahrain

The Bahraini constitution guarantees freedom of the press. However, there is an element of self-censorship in independent media and internet censorship does occur. On 14 February 2011 the Bahraini Government pledged to enter into discussions with media organisations to expand the media freedoms in Bahrain. We have seen no changes to freedom of the media in Bahrain during the course of the recent unrest during which Bahrain continued to host a wide range of international and local journalists.

Morocco

We assess that it is safe for journalists to operate in Morocco.

Morocco recently introduced a press code to professionalise the operations of the media. We are not aware of any incidences of violence against journalists working in Morocco but there are some clear red lines; criticism of the King, Islam and questioning the territorial integrity of Western Sahara is not permitted.

Iran

In Iran, freedom of the media is tightly restricted by the Government and therefore the movements and activities of journalists are closely controlled and some foreign news agencies are denied entry into the country. The BBC is one such agency which has, together with other reputable international broadcasters, experienced a campaign of jamming by Iran of its Persian television service when seeking to broadcast news and current affairs programmes to the Iranian people.

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Foreign journalists seeking to cover events in Iran have been subject to arrest on serious criminal charges, including espionage.

Algeria

We are not aware of any recent violence against journalists in Algeria. The print media enjoys relative freedom, with commentators and journalists able to openly criticise the Algerian Government including criticism of the President. The Algerian Government have recently committed to lift limitations on the broadcast media. While Algerian journalists are generally able to operate without undue restrictions, access to Algeria by foreign journalists is not straightforward.

Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Stella Creasy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the UN Secretary-General on the human rights of people in Sri Lanka. [43013]

Alistair Burt: Neither I nor the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), have recently discussed Sri Lanka with the UN Secretary-General, but we maintain close contact with UN agencies on the ground. During my recent visit to Sri Lanka, I met with these agencies in Colombo and Jaffna to hear their assessment of the current situation.

We continue to have concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. We made clear in 2010 that we welcomed the establishment of the UN Secretary-General's Panel of Experts in June. The panel's work continues and we await its findings.

Defence

Armed Forces: Medals

Mr Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress has been made on the review of the rules governing the awarding of medals to armed forces personnel. [43434]

Mr Robathan: The Government have honoured the pledge to undertake a review of the rules governing the awarding of medals. The review recently reported its findings to Defence Ministers. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minster will now evaluate these proposals before any final conclusions are reached.

Departmental Information Officers

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2011, Official Report, columns 383-4W, on departmental information officers, what the estimated cost to his Department was of the employment of press and communications officers in 2009-10. [43411]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 2 March 2011]: Communicators are employed across Defence and the armed forces. They have an important task in explaining to the public, the media, our own people and other audiences—at the local regional, national and international levels—the role of Defence, Defence activities, capabilities and operations. The main effort for Defence communicators at present is explaining our mission in Afghanistan. They comprise military and civilian personnel deployed

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to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Head Office. The majority are located in the service commands and units outside London including people working on service recruitment. The total cost of Defence communicators—covering all the various communications functions—identified during a cross Government Cabinet Office led exercise in financial year 2009-10 was £32.5 million. Further reductions have been made during the last financial year and we expect to see further cost savings as part of the civilian reductions being made at the MOD.

Hawk Aircraft

Stephen Gilbert: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average annual operating cost of the (a) Hawk T1 and (b) Hawk T1A aircraft was in the latest period for which figures are available. [43465]

Peter Luff: Information is not held in the format requested. The Ministry of Defence calculates the operating cost of aircraft per flying hour based on historical data.

The current average costs per flying hour, for financial year 2010-11, are provided in the following table. The figures include forward and depth servicing, fuel, crew and training costs and the cost of capital charge, depreciation and amortisation.

Hawk TI/TIA Estimated cost per hour (figures rounded) (£)

Hawk (RAF Training on 100 Squadron, 19 (Reserve) and 208 (Reserve) Squadrons)

10,000

Hawk (Royal Navy)

7,000

Hawk (Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team)

6,000

The operating cost for RAF Hawk training aircraft on 100, 19 (Reserve) and 208 (Reserve) Squadrons includes elements for simulators and other training infrastructure.

HMS Cumberland

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what estimate he has made of the likely savings to the public purse arising from the decommissioning of HMS Cumberland over the comprehensive spending review period; [43944]

(2) what estimate he has made of the likely weekly cost to the public purse of maintaining HMS Cumberland once it is decommissioned; [43945]

(3) what estimate he has made of the operational costs of HMS Cumberland for 2010-11. [43946]

Peter Luff: In order to deal with the deficit in the defence budget and contribute to wider deficit reduction, a decision was taken as part of the strategic defence and security review to withdraw from service the remaining four Type 22 Frigates, including HMS Cumberland. The savings arising from this decision will include overheads and other costs relating to the operation of a class of ship. Therefore, the precise savings arising from the withdrawal of an individual ship are not separately identifiable. The total savings from withdrawing all four ships are estimated at some £240 million across the comprehensive spending review period.

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It is not possible at this stage to state the costs of maintaining HMS Cumberland following her decommissioning as work is ongoing to identify the optimum disposal route.

The projected operating cost for HMS Cumberland in financial year 2010-11, based on actual costs to February 2011 and those estimated for the remainder of the financial year is £16 million.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Mr Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of the Commando helicopter force; and if he will make a statement. [42764]

Nick Harvey: The Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed the continuing requirement for the Commando helicopter force, based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, particularly in relation to the helicopter lift requirements for littoral manoeuvre.

It remains our intention to transfer the Merlin Mk 3/3a helicopters to the Commando helicopter force to replace the Sea King Mk 4 helicopters which go out of service by 2016 on current plans. The force’s fleet of Lynx helicopters will be replaced by Wildcat attack helicopters.

Type 26 Frigates

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he expects the Type 26 frigates to be brought into service. [43947]

Peter Luff: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave on 26 October 2010, Official Report, column 202W, to the hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Mr Davidson).

Communities and Local Government

Homes and Communities Agency

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether an equality impact assessment was undertaken in respect of the new investment framework for the Homes and Communities Agency. [43789]

Grant Shapps: The Department will shortly be publishing an equality impact assessment for affordable rent, the principle element within the Affordable Homes Programme Framework published by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Homes and Communities Agency on 14 February 2011.

Council Tax

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which 10 local authorities collected the lowest proportion of council tax due in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the estimated monetary value of the uncollected tax was in each case. [43844]

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Robert Neill: A list of the 10 local authorities in England that collected the lowest proportion of council tax due in 2009-10, which is the latest period for which

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data are available, along with details of the estimated monetary value of the uncollected tax is shown in the following table.


Estimated net collectable debit in respect of 2009-10 council tax (£000) Total receipts of 2009-10 council tax in 2009-10 (£000) Receipts of 2009-10 council tax by 31 March 2010 as a percentage of net collectable debit Amount of 2009-10 council tax not collected by 31 March 2010 (£000)

Manchester

121,633

110,509

90.9

11,124

Salford

80,582

73,709

91.5

6,873

Lewisham

95,342

87,524

91.8

7,818

Southwark

94,027

86,325

91.8

7,702

Newham

64,939

59,748

92.0

5,191

Haringey

96,374

89,247

92.6

7,127

Hackney

68,370

63,466

92.8

4,904

Stoke-on-Trent

75,178

69,838

92.9

5,340

Barking and Dagenham

50,666

47,085

92.9

3,581

Bradford

150,253

140,561

93.6

9,692

This information is available in Table 5 of the Statistical Release ‘Collection rates for council tax and non-domestic rates in England 2009-10’ that is available on the Department for Communities and Local Government's website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/localregional/localgovernmentfinance/statistics/counciltax/collectionrates/

The in-year collection rate is the amount received by 31 March in respect of that financial year's council tax shown as a percentage of the net collectable debit in respect of that year's council tax, i.e. the income authorities would collect if everyone liable had paid. The figures exclude council tax benefit as this is paid directly to the local authority by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Collection of council taxes continues once the financial year to which they relate has ended. This means that the final collection rate achieved is somewhere between the figures shown here and 100%.

Woodlands: Biodiversity

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what his policy is on the inclusion of requirements relating to biodiversity for wildlife in woodland and forests in his Department's review of planning guidance; [43063]

(2) what his policy is on specifying in planning guidance his Department's issues to local authorities the degree of protection for ancient woodland. [43691]

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to retain the protection from development for ancient woods and trees contained in Planning Policy Statement 9 in the single National Planning Policy Framework; and if he will make a statement. [43352]

Robert Neill: Protection for ancient woodland in the existing guidance will be carried over to the National Planning Policy Framework for England. We will look at the inclusion of requirements relating to biodiversity for wildlife in woodland and forests as part of the process for preparing the National Planning Policy Framework.

Government Offices for the Regions

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of closing the Government Offices of the Regions; and what proportion of such costs arise from (a) redundancy, (b) premises and (c) other costs. [42036]

Greg Clark [holding answer 28 February 2011]: The closure of the Government offices on 31 March is part of the Government's policy of decentralisation and localism and will free local authorities and other public services from unnecessary bureaucracy. Closure will also make a contribution to reducing the public sector deficit while protecting front line services.

The cost of running the Government office network in the financial year 2010-11 is expected to be just under £100 million. As a result of closure, this annual cost will be saved. The estimated cost of the closure of the Government offices (spread across 2010-11 and 2011-12) is £59.1 million, well under the annual cost. This cost of closure is made up of:

(a) £53.6 million for redundancy and associated staff release costs;

(b) £1.1 million for premises costs; and

(c) £4.4 million for other costs (for the write off or impairment of existing assets).

Homelessness: Young People

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people aged 16 and 17 years were accepted as owed a main homelessness duty by local authorities in England in each quarter since Q1 of 2009. [43709]

Grant Shapps: Information about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is collected in respect of households rather than people. The number of households accepted by local authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty, is not collected by specific ages, but since June 2006 data have been provided by the age band into which the

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applicant falls. These age bands include 16 to 24-year-olds, 25 to 44-year-olds, 45 to 59-year-olds, 60 to 64-year-olds, 65 to 74-year-olds, and 75-year-olds and over. Data are provided in the quarterly Statistical Release on Statutory Homelessness, available both in the Library of the House and via the DCLG website:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/homelessnessstatistics/publicationshomelessness/

The latest release was published on 9 December 2010 and contains data from June 2006 up to September 2010. Table 11 of the release contains details of acceptances by age band in each quarter since 2006:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/1791620.xls

Housing Revenue Accounts

Mr Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) which local authorities his Department has consulted on the ring-fencing of housing revenue accounts receipts following the introduction of self-financing; and how many of those local authorities consulted supported the ring-fencing of such receipts; [42816]

(2) what proportion of receipts from council house sales local authorities will be able to retain from 2015 onwards. [42817]

Grant Shapps: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 28 February 2011, Official Report, columns 111-12W.

Mr Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Housing Revenue Account is treated as a landlord account; and whether rents paid by tenants may be used other than for the benefit of tenants. [42818]

Andrew Stunell: The housing revenue account is a ring-fenced landlord account operated by all councils in England with 50 or more council homes. The main source of income in the housing revenue account is from rents and service charges. Transfers across the ring-fence are not routinely allowed.

All expenditure within the housing revenue account must be accounted for under items 1-10 listed under part II, schedule IV of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 as amended.

Fuller details of the operation of the housing revenue account can be found in the housing revenue account manual, which can be found on my Department’s website

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/hramanual0607

Housing: Construction

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) of 23 June 2010, Official Report, column 100WH, what progress the Planning Inspectorate has made in developing a model condition to facilitate adoption of residential roads in new housing developments. [43912]

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Robert Neill: The Planning Inspectorate is currently discussing with the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government a model condition which local planning authorities can use where they need to require that any residential roads proposed as part of a housing development are built to adoptable standards. It is intended that the model condition should be published by the Planning Inspectorate once it has been agreed.

Roads cannot be adopted by using a planning condition—adoption has to be done by agreement with the highway authority but the local planning authority can resolve to grant permission subject to completion of an estate road planning agreement. If the proposed development includes improvement works to existing roads and these will be adopted, the developer should be required to enter into an agreement under section 278 of the Highways Act.

Leisure Facilities: Finance

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what plans his Department has to monitor the levels of funding by local authorities for sports and leisure facilities; [42187]

(2) what guidance he has provided to local authorities on the effects on local sports and leisure facilities of the reduction in his Department’s funding to fund such authorities. [42188]

Robert Neill: The Department provides unhypothecated formula grant to local authorities, which they use to meet locally identified priorities. This means there is no specific funding from the Department for sports and leisure facilities.

We have no plans to issue guidance to local authorities on how they should spend their formula grant allocations. Councils are most effective when they have freedom to innovate and respond to what local people want, and this Government are committed to reducing the burdens on local authorities.

The Department does collect revenue expenditure data from all local authorities in England, including information on recreation and sports services—available at

www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/localregional/localgovernmentfinance/statistics/revenueexpenditure/

These data can be used to see how much local authorities are spending on their sports and leisure facilities.

Transparency should underpin everything that councils do. All council business should be open to public scrutiny—whether it is expenditure, senior pay, council expenses or voluntary sector funding. The Government are consulting on a code of recommended practice to enshrine the principles of data transparency and to set out the minimum data that should be published.

Local Government: Pay

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department issued to local authorities on the work of remuneration committees in local authorities in determining pay packages for authority employees prior to May 2010. [43845]

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Robert Neill: No departmental guidance was issued to local authorities on the work of remuneration committees in determining pay packages for local authority employees prior to May 2010. Provisions in the Localism Bill will ensure that future decisions of elected members, in full council, will now be transparent and demonstrate a greater degree of local democratic accountability in such matters.

Public Expenditure

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have not yet published online details of expenditure of sums over £500. [43855]

Robert Neill: All local authorities in England, except Nottingham city council, have published details of their £500 spend online. It is disappointing that the council leadership are refusing to be open about their spending; such information would help the council cut waste and inefficiency and so help protect frontline services. We want transparency to underpin everything councils do. All council business should be open to public scrutiny whether it is expenditure, senior pay, councillor expenses or voluntary sector funding. We are currently consulting on a Code of Recommended Practice to enshrine the principles of data transparency and set out the minimum data that should be published.

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to the public purse of employer contributions to the Local Government Pension Scheme for local authority staff, including staff with pension arrangements covered under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, was in the latest year for which figures are available. [43937]

Robert Neill: In 2009-10, the latest year for which information is available, local authority employers in England contributed £5.8 billion to the Local Government Pension Scheme. This includes the cost for staff who are the subject of a transfer to which the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations apply.

This information is available in Table 2 of the Statistical Release ‘Local Government Pension Scheme funds England 2009-10’ that is available on the Department for Communities and Local Government's website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/localregional/localgovernmentfinance/statistics/pensionscheme/

Home Ownership

Mr Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he has considered the merits of extending the (a) Right to Buy and (b) Right to Acquire home ownership scheme to cover properties categorised as sheltered accommodation. [43179]

Grant Shapps: There are no plans to review the provisions which exclude certain types of property from the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire scheme. This is to ensure that social landlords are able to retain a stock

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of housing that is suitable for occupation by vulnerable people, in particular those who are elderly or disabled, or those who need a particular level of support.

Sewers

Andrea Leadsom: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what reporting requirements in relation to unadopted sewers there are for local authority searches. [43735]

Robert Neill: There are no reporting requirements for local authority searches in relation to unadopted sewers.

Social Rented Housing

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what his estimate is of the number of socially-rented properties of each number of bedrooms to be allocated by local authorities and registered social landlords to meet demand arising from social tenants of working age moving to properties warranted by their household size; [43838]

(2) what his estimate is of the number of socially-rented properties of each number of bedrooms in each region to be allocated by local authorities and registered social landlords to meet demand arising from social tenants of working age moving to properties warranted by their household size. [43839]

Andrew Stunell: The information requested is not available. This Department has allocated £13 million over the next four years to help local authorities support under-occupying social tenants who wish to move.

Third Sector

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the list of payments to charities and voluntary groups published in his Department's resource accounts for 2009-10, if he will publish a similar list of payments for 2010-11 to date, based on the unaudited records held by his Department. [43853]

Robert Neill: The Department's resource accounts will include a list of the payments made under section 70 of the Charities Act 2006 for the 2010-11 financial year in order to fulfil the reporting requirements included within the legislation.

Justice

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Public Expenditure

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what resources he plans to allocate to alternative dispute resolution and mediation over the comprehensive spending review period. [43563]

Mr Djanogly: Government are committed to encouraging the public to resolve their issues out of court without recourse to public funds, using simpler, more informal remedies where they are appropriate.

On 23 February I announced that we will be increasing awareness and understanding of family mediation through a new pre-application protocol for family mediation

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information and assessment meetings. This will harmonise the position between self-funding and publicly funded individuals.

In our recent legal aid consultation paper we proposed that most family private law proceedings—other than cases where domestic violence or forced marriage is involved and child abduction cases—be removed from the scope of legal aid. Crucially, however, as we believe that supporting families at their most difficult moments is vitally important, it is proposed that free mediation for the types of dispute that previously were in scope will continue to those who are eligible. This will mean that those vulnerable people who need support will be able to benefit from mediation.

In 2009-10, we spent £14.4 million on publicly funded family mediations. With the proposed legal aid reforms, it is anticipated that, subject to increased demand for publicly funded mediations, an additional £5 million will be spent annually.

We are considering how increased use of alternative dispute resolution could be further encouraged across the civil, family and administrative justice system.

Belmarsh Prison

Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps have been taken at HM Prison Belmarsh to ensure the prison complies with requirements under the Equality Act 2010 following the settlement of the disability discrimination claim of Abdullah Baybasin. [43364]

Mr Blunt: Following the settlement of the claim a full review of the living accommodation at Belmarsh has been undertaken, taking account of the location and the need of those with disabilities. Conversion of two cells into one, to ensure their compliance with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, is due to commence shortly in three areas of the prison, and is expected to be completed within 12 weeks of commencement.

Citizens Advice Bureaux: Wales

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) if he will assess the likely effects on citizens advice bureaux in North Wales of the planned reduction in the legal aid budget; [43154]

(2) what assessment he has made of the potential effects on the provision of face-to-face legal advice through the Welsh language in Wales of his proposals for legal aid reform. [43155]

Mr Djanogly: The Government are mindful of their responsibilities in relation to Wales and the Welsh language. Impact assessments will be published alongside the Government response to the legal aid consultation later this year.

Courts: Costs

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the costs to his Department of proposed weekend court openings in each year from 2011-12 to 2014-15. [43361]

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Mr Djanogly: The number of magistrates courts that open on a Saturday are determined by ongoing discussion between local magistrates courts, Justices’ Issues Groups and the relevant criminal justice agencies. The number of courts that open and the length of actual sittings may vary significantly depending on the number and nature of cases that are brought top court. HMCS is committed to ensuring that any weekend court openings are efficient and effective, and keeps the level of such sittings under close local scrutiny.

No estimate has been made of the cost of weekend court openings from 2011-15. The current cost of weekend court openings is not held centrally. To provide the information requested would require a manual retrieval of information/data from each court, to obtain which would incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Security

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons persons not employed by Government Departments or agencies are issued with passes entitling them to enter his Department’s premises. [43207]

Mr Djanogly: I refer the hon. Member to my previous answer to him on 10 February 2011, Official Report, column 402W.

Deposit Protection Service Regulations

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many successful cases were brought against landlords by tenants for (a) breach of Deposit Protection Service regulations and (b) not paying deposits into the deposit protection scheme in the latest period for which figures are available. [43143]

Mr Djanogly: The Ministry of Justice does not hold any statistical information about county court claims or orders relating specifically to a breach of Deposit Protection Service regulations or non payment of deposits into the deposit protection scheme.

While the administrative computer system used in the county courts of England and Wales contains the incidence of claims issued and orders made in such cases, the information held does not enable these cases to be separately identified. The requested information could only be obtained through the examination of individual case files held at courts which would incur disproportionate cost.

Divorce

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will discuss with the Minister for Women and Equalities the potential effects on the ability of people in abusive relationships to (a) complete divorce proceedings, (b) separate finances following divorce, (c) resolve property matters following relationship breakdown and (d) enable safe child contact of his proposed changes to eligibility for legal aid. [43432]

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Mr Djanogly: The Government’s consultation on its proposals for the reform of legal aid closed on 14 February. The proposals were cleared through the Home Affairs Committee in the usual way. The Ministry of Justice is currently considering responses to the consultation, and will hold discussions with interested parties across Government before publishing a response.

Employment Tribunals

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average cost to the public purse of a case heard at an employment and support allowance appeal tribunal was in the latest period for which figures are available. [43522]

Mr Djanogly: The average cost of processing a social security appeal is £282.

This figure is calculated by dividing the total expenditure (including overheads) in 2009-10 by the total number of cases disposed of in that year. Benefit-specific calculations are not provided because of the high degree of apportionment of costs which would be required.

Food

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he expects his Department to meet the Government’s commitment to source food that meets British or equivalent standards of production. [43315]

Mr Blunt: The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) (which includes the National Offender Management Service (NOMS)) supports the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in introducing Government Buying Standards (GBS) for food. This is intended to encourage the public sector to procure food in a manner that promotes sustainable development and does not discriminate against local and UK suppliers.

The MoJ and its contractors continue to look for opportunities to enable domestic producers to compete for supply contracts while seeking to achieve value for money for the taxpayer and for those using the services provided.

All products supplied to the MoJ must comply with all current and subsequent relevant UK and EU legislation, regulations and directives. The suppliers are required to provide products that are sourced in compliance with EC Regulations and from assured providers under animal welfare conditions that are compatible with the UK animal welfare regulations.

The MoJ is committed to ensuring that food procured meets British standards of production or their equivalent, wherever this can be achieved without increasing overall costs.

Home Detention Curfews

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many applications for early release under the home detention curfew scheme have been made in each of the last five years; how many such applications were approved; how many applications were made under exceptional circumstances; and how many of the applications made under exceptional circumstances were approved in each such year. [42923]

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Mr Blunt: The number of applications for early release on home detention curfew (HDC) is not collated centrally. Therefore, it is not possible to determine the total number of applications made in the last five years.

However, using the data that are held centrally, the following table shows the number of prisoners released on HDC during the period between 2005 and 2009:


Number

2005

17,296

2006

13,666

2007

11,428

2008

11,721

2009

11,534

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. They are published within Chapter 9 of the Ministry of Justice Statistics bulletin “Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2009” available from the Library of the House and also available free at the following website address:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/prisonandprobation.htm

The Department does not collate data on the number of applications citing exceptional circumstances but governors are asked to send details of presumed unsuitable releases, together with reasons why release was granted, to the departmental policy team. During the period between 2005 and 2009 the team received notifications in relation to 70 offenders who were granted early release on home detention curfew, having shown that there were exceptional circumstances in their cases.

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners convicted of each category of offence and who were released early under the home detention curfew scheme due to exceptional circumstances would not otherwise have been eligible for the scheme in each of the last five years. [42924]

Mr Blunt: Only prisoners who are eligible statutorily for release under the home detention curfew (HDC) scheme, and who passed the risk assessment, may be released under it. The requirement to show exceptional circumstances is a separate test for those who are presumed unsuitable for release by length of sentence or nature of offending. We do not hold data on the number of prisoners who satisfy the exceptional circumstances test but fail the risk assessment.

Legal Advice and Assistance

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what assessment he has made of the potential effects on access to legal advice in rural and remote areas of his proposals for legal aid reform; [43152]

(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on law firms specialising in family law of the planned reduction in the legal aid budget. [43153]

3 Mar 2011 : Column 575W

Mr Djanogly: The potential impacts of the reform proposals are detailed in the impact assessments that accompanied the publication of the consultation paper. These will be updated and published alongside the response to consultation.

Legal Services Commission

Pat Glass: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what functions previously undertaken by the Legal Services Commission are (a) being undertaken or (b) in the process of being undertaken by his Department as a consequence of the recommendations of the Magee Review on the delivery of legal aid. [43389]

Mr Djanogly: The Legal Services Commission (LSC) runs legal aid services in England and Wales in support of ministerial and departmental strategic and policy aims. It continues to undertake all activities necessary to manage the delivery of legal aid services. The Magee review made a number of recommendations to strengthen and improve the legal aid system. My Department has worked with the LSC to enable improvements to be made to existing processes, particularly in terms of governance and financial management and control. A revised framework document has been published, detailing roles and responsibilities and relationships between the two bodies. The Magee report also presented options for further investigation, including the restructuring of the LSC to an Executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The Government have stated their intention to abolish the LSC as a non-departmental public body and replace it with an Executive agency of the MoJ. Legislation to return statutory responsibilities, functions and powers to the Lord Chancellor will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Licence: Prosecutions

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people in West Yorkshire police force area were prosecuted for offences related to not having a television licence in each year since 2005. [43388]

Mr Blunt: The number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts for the offence of television licence evasion under the Communications Act 2003, in the West Yorkshire police force area from 2005 to 2009 (latest available) is given in the table.

Court proceedings data for 2010 are planned for publication in spring, 2011.

Please note that the reply given to PQ 16068, 11 October 2010, Official Report, column 153, overstated by 80 the number of persons proceeded against for television licence evasion in the West Yorkshire police force area for 2008. This will be noted in Hansard and a link provided to the correct figure of 6,572.

Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts for television licence evasion (1, 2) , West Yorkshire police force area, 2005 to 2009 (3, 4)

Number

2005

5,333

2006

5,293

2007

5,928

3 Mar 2011 : Column 576W

2008

6,572

2009

7,621

(1) For 2005 to 2007 as well as Television licence evasion, these data include proceedings for summary offences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 to 1967. (2) For 2008 to 2009 these figures relate to the offence Television Licence evasion—Communications Act 2003. (3) The figures given in the table relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. (4) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice.

National Offender Management Service

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the National Offender Management Service staff diversity review for 2009-10 will be published; and what the reason is for the time taken before publication. [43096]

Mr Blunt: The National Offender Management Service staff diversity review for 2009-10 will be published on 10 March 2011. Publication was initially delayed due to the need to divert resources to help support work on the spending review. It will now be published at the same time as the National Offender Management Service equalities annual report.

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent progress he has made on implementing his proposals for a competition strategy for all offender management services. [43564]

Mr Blunt: As set out in the Green Paper “Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders”, we will publish a comprehensive competition programme for offender management services later this year.

Prison Service: Uniforms

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been spent on uniforms for prison officers working in young offender institutions for persons aged between 15 and 17 in each year since 2006. [43222]

Mr Blunt: The following table details the amount spent on staff uniforms, clothing and personal protective equipment for all prison staff working in the young offender establishments listed. It is not possible to separately identify expenditure on staff uniforms for prison officers only. To do so would require each establishment to separately examine a high volume of local records and thus would incur disproportionate cost.

3 Mar 2011 : Column 577W

3 Mar 2011 : Column 578W

£
YOIs 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

Cookham Wood

21,710

31,552

32,525

34,766

18,870

Hindley

51,533

63,512

65,830

35,632

47,094

Warren Hill

23,064

43,553

19,168

18,332

13,579

Werrington

13,470

15,275

15,544

11,569

11,469

Wetherby

39,766

41,020

50,398

53,101

22,462

Stoke Heath(1)

10,217

10,789

12,237

6,153

5,940

Feltham(1)

8,960

28,768

19,604

13,480

15,183

Downview(1)

1,012

1,115

1,211

822

523

Eastwood Park(1)

812

1,115

1,503

911

797

New Hall(1)

3,729

2,132

2,391

2,100

1,775

Total

174,273

238,831

220,411

176,866

137,692

(1) Denotes a split site.

The figures have been obtained from the National Offender Management Service’s accounting system. With the exception of current year forecasts, the figures have been audited by the National Audit Office. The figures for split sites have been calculated on the basis of the number of beds currently designated to persons aged 15 to 17.

The table does not include sites that have been decommissioned since 2006.

Prisoners

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many projects in prisons there are in which prisoners receive remuneration from a private company for the work undertaken. [43221]

Mr Blunt: Prisoners undertaking work while in prison are not employed by the private company involved. This enables the governor/director to rightly retain primacy on prison control and prisoner management issues. Prisoner remuneration is the responsibility of the prison(1) and should as far as possible help them see the link between legitimate hard work and reward, and to enable them to make reparation to society and to victims of crime in particular.

There are a number of private companies that support work and training in prisons and the Government are currently consulting on how best to work with the private and voluntary sectors to provide further work and training opportunities for prisoners, including an increased number of employer led workshops in prisons.

(1) For prisons managed by the private sector it is the responsibility of the operating contractor to remunerate prisoners for the work they do.

Prisoners: Gender Recognition

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 24 June 2010, Official Report, column 281W, on prisoners: gender recognition, whether the final draft of the proposed Prison Service Instruction is complete; what the reason is for the time taken to submit it for Ministerial approval; and by what date he expects it to be (a) approved and (b) published. [43484]

Mr Blunt: Prison Service Instruction 07/2011 on the care and management of transsexual prisoners was issued by the National Offender Management Service on 2 March 2011.

Publication was preceded by a consultation with internal and external stakeholders and the taking of legal advice. Officials within the National Offender Management Service considered all the responses and advice before the Prison Service Instruction was issued.

Prisoners: Repatriation

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) with which countries the UK has a treaty for the repatriation of foreign national prisoners; [42702]

(2) with which countries he expects the UK to sign treaties on the repatriation of foreign national prisoners in the next three years; [42703]

(3) how many foreign nationals of each country of origin serving custodial sentences in England and Wales have been repatriated to their home country in the last six months. [42956]

Mr Blunt: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply given by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr Offord) on 1 March 2011, Official Report, 410W, where the Government's policy on the negotiation of prisoner transfer agreements was set out. Negotiations with Nigeria, Jamaica, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are at various stages of completion. Negotiations with other countries will be considered on a case by case basis in line with the announced policy.

The countries and territories with which the United Kingdom has prisoner transfer agreements are shown in the following lists 1 and 2. Table 1 gives the number of prisoners repatriated from England and Wales in each of the six months to 31 January 2011.

List 1: Countries which have prisoner transfer agreements with the UK

Albania

America

Andorra

Anguilla

Antigua and Barbuda

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Bahamas

Barbados

3 Mar 2011 : Column 579W

Belgium

Bermuda

Bolivia

Bosnia Herzegovina

Brazil

British Virgin Island

Bulgaria

Canada

Chile

Cook Islands

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cuba

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Ecuador

Egypt

Estonia

Finland

France

Georgia

Germany

Ghana

Greece

Grenada

Honduras

Hong Kong

Hungary

Iceland

India

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Japan

Korea

Laos

Latvia

Lesotho

Libya

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Macedonia

Malawi

Malta

Mauritius

Mexico

Moldova

Montenegro

Morocco

Netherlands

Nicaragua

Nigeria

Norway

Pakistan

Panama

Peru

Poland

3 Mar 2011 : Column 580W

Portugal

Romania

Russia

Rwanda

Samoa

San Marino

Serbia

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sri Lanka

St Lucia

Suriname

Sweden

Switzerland

Thailand

Tonga

Trinidad and Tobago

Turkey

Ukraine

Venezuela

Vietnam

Vietnam

List 2: Territories which have prisoner transfer agreements with the UK

Aruba

Bouvet Island

British Indian O.T.

Cayman Islands

Dutch Antilles

Falkland Islands

Faroe Islands

Gibraltar

Henderson, Ducie and Oeno

Montserrat

Peter I Island

Pitcairn

Queen Maud Land

St Helena and Dependencies

Sovereign Base Areas of Akratri and Dhekelia (Cyprus)

Table 1: Number of foreign national prisoners transferred from England and Wales August 2010 to January 2011.
Country Number of prisoners transferred

Belgium

2

Bermuda

1

Canada

1

Cyprus

1

Czech Republic

1

Netherlands

10

Pakistan

4

Portugal

1

Slovenia

1

Turkey

2

Working Prisons

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent progress he has made on implementing his plans for working prisons. [43562]

3 Mar 2011 : Column 581W

Mr Blunt: We set out our intention to make prisons places of work and industry in the Green Paper, “Breaking the cycle: Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders”, published on 7 December 2010. The consultation period ends on 4 March 2011, and the Ministry of Justice’s response will be published in May 2011.

Prisons: Birmingham

Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many inmates were held in HMP Birmingham in each of the last six months. [43114]

Mr Blunt: The following table shows the prison population at HMP Birmingham on the last day of each month from July to December 2010.


Number of prisoners

31 July 2010

1,428

31 August 2010

1,463

30 September 2010

1,450

31 October 2010

1,443

30 November 2010

1,442

31 December 2010

1,420

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Prisons: Closures

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what criteria are being used to determine which prison establishments will be closed; and what the decision-making process is; [43092]

(2) whether he has compiled a provisional list of prison establishments which are under consideration for closure; [43093]

(3) what the required notice period is for termination of the lease at HM Prison Lancaster Castle; [43094]

(4) what cost-benefit analysis has been carried out in respect of the proposed closure of HM Prisons Lancaster Castle and Ashwell. [43095]

Mr Blunt: Decisions on the future size of the prison estate will be driven by prison population demand. Prisons will only close when capacity allows. We will ensure that there are enough places for those offenders sentenced to custody by the courts, including a margin to manage fluctuations in the prison population. Decisions to reduce or make changes to prison capacity will only be taken if they do not put this ability at risk.

The prison population is under review following the announcements made earlier in the year about Lancaster Castle, Ashwell and Morton Hall prisons. No decisions have been taken about the need for further reductions in capacity. However any proposals for future closures will be based on the following primary factors:

an economic assessment which identifies prisons that are inefficient to operate or maintain; and

an operational assessment to consider whether the closures of prisons can be managed while continuing to maintain the safe and decent operation of the prison estate and to meet the needs of offenders.

3 Mar 2011 : Column 582W

The prison estate as a whole is kept under review and is subject to consideration through the assessment process described above.

Individual business cases were completed for each site which considered the cost of closure and the benefits that would be accrued.

Lancaster Castle will close as a prison by the end of March 2011. There is a three year notice period in the lease and the site will be returned to the Duchy of Lancaster in due course.

Probation Service

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what provision probation trusts in England and Wales make to issue staff with personal alarms. [43617]

Mr Blunt: Appropriate provision of personal assistance alarms to staff is the responsibility of the individual probation trusts. National health and safety guidance to the probation service prescribes that personal alarms are to be available where there is a risk of assault and violence in the workplace.

Squatting

Jack Lopresti: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation governing the removal of squatters from homes. [43664]

Mr Blunt: We are looking at the options for strengthening the law in relation to squatting in residential and non-residential properties and the way in which it is enforced, but we are yet to reach any firm conclusions.

Victim Surcharge

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the amounts to be committed from the Victim Surcharge to each recipient in 2010-11. [43362]

Mr Blunt: Proceeds from the Surcharge are ring-fenced to fund non-financial support services for victims and witnesses. Funds derived from the Surcharge will contribute to the following for 2010-11:

£0.84 million to fund Independent Domestic Violence Adviser Services

£2.6 million to the Crown Prosecution Service as a contribution to the cost of providing Witness Care Units

£7 million to the Victim Support National Centre to fund enhanced services to victims and witnesses

Additionally, £1.75 million has been allocated to the Victims Fund, which contributes to the funding of organisations who support victims of sexual violence, hate crime and homicide.

The total budget for services provided above is £12.19 million. It is estimated that the Victim Surcharge contribution will be approximately £10.4 million in 2010-11.

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the amount to be raised from the Victim Surcharge in 2010-11. [43363]

Mr Blunt: It is estimated that approximately £10.4 million will be raised from the Victim Surcharge in 2010-11.

3 Mar 2011 : Column 583W

This is based on recorded receipts from 1 April 2010 to 31 January 2011, extrapolated to the end of March 2011.

Violence: Probation Service

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) instances of and (b) threats of

3 Mar 2011 : Column 584W

violence were recorded in (i) unpaid work placements, (ii) probation offices and (iii) approved premises in each probation trust in 2009-10. [43615]

Mr Blunt: The information requested is given in the following tables.

Instances and threats of violence against probation staff in (i) unpaid work placements, (ii) probation offices and (iii) approved premises in each probation area, 2009-10
  Unpaid Work Placements Probation Offices
Area Threat with intent to kill Threatened with an offensive weapon Physically assaulted Intimidation Total Threat with intent to kill Threatened with an offensive weapon Physically assaulted Intimidation Total

Avon and Somerset

1

1

2

2

Bedfordshire

0

0

Cambridgeshire

0

0

Cheshire

1

3

4

0

Cumbria

1

1

0

Derbyshire

1

1

0

Devon and Cornwall

2

2

1

1

Dorset

0

1

1

Durham

1

1

0

Dyfed-Powys

0

0

Essex

2

2

1

1

Gloucestershire

0

0

Gwent

0

0

Hampshire

2

2

2

11

13

Hertfordshire

2

2

2

2

Humberside

0

3

3

Kent

1

1

0

Lancashire

0

0

Leicestershire

3

3

3

3

6

Lincolnshire

0

0

London

1

1

38

40

4

45

49

Greater Manchester

4

3

60

67

 

2

10

12

Merseyside

0

2

2

Norfolk

0

0

Northamptonshire

0

0

Northumbria

2

6

8

4

9

13

North Wales

0

4

4

North Yorkshire

0

1

1

Nottinghamshire

0

3

3

South Wales

0

4

4

South Yorkshire

0

6

6

Staffordshire

0

1

1

Suffolk

0

0

Surrey

0

5

5

Sussex(1)

0

0

Teesside

1

1

1

1

Thames Valley

1

1

0

Warwickshire

1

1

1

1

West Mercia

0

0

West Midlands

0

3

3

West Yorkshire

0

0

Wiltshire

0

1

1

Total

6

4

7

121

138

5

2

20

108

135

3 Mar 2011 : Column 585W

3 Mar 2011 : Column 586W

  Approved Premises
Area Threat with intent to kill Threatened with an offensive weapon Physically assaulted Intimidation Total

Avon and Somerset

0

Bedfordshire

4

4

Cambridgeshire

0

Cheshire

0

Cumbria

0

Derbyshire

0

Devon and Cornwall

0

Dorset

4

4

Durham

0

Dyfed-Powys

0

Essex

0

Gloucestershire

0

Gwent

0

Hampshire

2

6

8

Hertfordshire

0

Humberside

1

1

Kent

0

Lancashire

0

Leicestershire

1

8

9

Lincolnshire

0

London

2

2

Greater Manchester

1

1

5

7

Merseyside

1

1

Norfolk

0

Northamptonshire

0

Northumbria

1

3

1

5

North Wales

0

North Yorkshire

0

Nottinghamshire

0

South Wales

0

South Yorkshire

0

Staffordshire

0

Suffolk

0

Surrey

0

Sussex(1)

0

Teesside

2

2

Thames Valley

1

1

Warwickshire

0

West Mercia

0

West Midlands

0

West Yorkshire

0

Wiltshire

0

Total

3

1

9

31

44

(1) Sussex Probation Area was unable to submit health and safety data during 2009-10, owing to local difficulties. Figures for the Trust are therefore not included within the totals provided.