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Police: Reorganisation

Baroness Harris of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We are aware that police authorities may approach the Home Office to meet the additional costs they have incurred in preparing for mergers and we will consider any such approaches.

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Between September 2005 and July 2006, the Home Office spent approximately £400,000 on staff costs—representing a team of permanent, temporary and seconded staff averaging 10 people during this period—and approximately £20,000 on legal costs. Expenditure on consultancy for assessing and refining police structures business cases is expected to be up to approximately £800,000. Other work has been undertaken as part of routine business, and the costs could not be identified separately.

Prisoners: Deportation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The department does not currently collate information in the format requested and it could be produced in the format requested only at disproportionate cost. I have updated the House today on the progress which has been made on the eight priority action areas to improve our effectiveness in deporting foreign national prisoners, which the Secretary of State for the Home Department launched in his Statement of 23 May.

Prisoners: Foreign Nationals

Baroness Sharples asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The director general of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate made a commitment to provide an update to the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) before the end of June with the best available information on the foreign national prisoners released without due consideration for deportation. It would not have been correct to pre-empt this update before the director general had fulfilled her commitment which was given to the HASC as early as was practically possible on29 June. The Home Secretary ensured that a copy of the director general's letter was placed in the Library of the House on the same day.

Prisoners: Gender Balance

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Government continue to monitor and publish criminal justice statistics by gender. Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 2003 found that women are more likely than men to be discharged or given community sentences for indictable offences, and that women sentenced to custody receive shorter sentences than men. However, the women’s prison population has more than doubled over the past 10 years, with one study suggesting that this is because the sentencing of women has become more severe (Hedderman, Why are women being sentenced to custody?, 2004).

The Government have commissioned further work, which will provide better information on women and the judicial system, including the Courts Survey, which will examine key drivers behind sentencing decisions. The research will include analysis of how courts deal with female offenders, drawing any significant differences across groups. Preliminary findings are expected in summer 2007. The Government have also commissioned Baroness Jean Corston to look at the issues affecting women with particular vulnerabilities who are dealt with by the criminal justice system. Baroness Corston’s report and recommendations are due in December 2006.

Prisoners: InnerChange Initiative

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The InnerChange programme was introduced as a pilot only. Under Prison Service Order 4350 (Effective Regimes Interventions), the Prison Service is required to review all programmes to ensure that they are of the appropriate quality and effectiveness and offer value for money. A multidisciplinary panel, which included the National Offender Management Service Chaplaincy, reviewed the programme and identified a range of concerns. The most significant were the poor quality of the manuals, which did not demonstrate a structured and coherent programme, a lack of consistency and clarity about the primary aims of the programme, a lack of understanding and appropriate sensitivity to the diversity agenda of the Prison Service, and an absence of protocols for the management of the mentor system, making it unsafe. The area manager considered the recommendation from the panel and decided to discontinue the programme. Forty-two prisoners have undertaken the course. No formal evaluation on the impact on behaviour has been possible given the small numbers involved.

Prisoners: Recidivism

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Information on reoffending among offenders serving custodial sentences is not provided by type of custodial institution. The most recent information on reoffending among adult offenders serving custodial sentences is available in Table A5 of Re-offending of adults: evidence from the 2002 cohort which is available online at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hosb2505.pdf.

Prisoners: Release on Licence

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Probation circular 16/2005, issued in March 2005, sets out the guidance that the National Probation Directorate has issued in respect of the arrangements for release of offenders on licence. A copy of the circular is available from the Library. An offender manager (probation officer) is required to supervise every offender released from prison on licence, in accordance with standard and additional licence conditions prescribed in a statutory instrument and in accordance with national standards.

The circular also sets out the process to be followed when offenders are in breach of their licence conditions under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. All prisoners serving a custodial sentence are released on licence and subject to supervision of the probation service. Such prisoners are subject to six standard licence conditions which require him to place himself under the supervision of his supervising officer; keep in touch as instructed; if required receive visits where he is living; reside only where approved; not travel outside the United Kingdom without prior permission; and behave well and not do anything which would undermine the purpose of supervision on licence, which is to protect the public and to secure his successful reintegration into the community.

In the event that any such licence conditions are breached, the offender is liable to be recalled to prison on the recommendation of the probation officer, to protect the public and prevent any further reoffending. In April 2005, revised national standards were issued, setting out the minimum requirements for offender managers supervising offenders released on licence from prison. The requirements cover the timing of the initial contact with offenders and of the production of sentence plans, together with the frequency of contact with offenders and the time limit for enforcement action for any breach of licence conditions, according to offenders' assessed risk of harm. Offenders assessed as high or very high risk of harm will be seen more frequently.

Prisoners: Voting Rights

Lord Ramsbotham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): A specific date for publication of the paper has not yet been set. However, the Government are hopeful that the paper will be published shortly after the end of the Summer Recess.

There are a number of potential options that could be pursued as a result of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of Hirst. The Government have been considering these carefully and will outline them in the consultation paper.

Prisons: Chief Inspector

Lord Ramsbotham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: In relation to the functions currently discharged by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, the ability of the new Inspectorate of Justice and Community Safety and Custody and the powers of the person charged with fulfilling the statutory function of custodial inspection to undertake prisons inspections will be strengthened because Part 4 of the Police and Justice Bill provides:

an explicit statutory power to enter premises and obtain information without restriction as to time; a remit to inspect the treatment and conditions of those in custody which has been widened to include custody areas at courts and police stations, and escort arrangements; the ability, as part of an inspectorate that will inspect the entire criminal justice system, to look beyond issues of treatment and conditions in custody at the offender management process as a whole, including in particular the interfaces between the different agencies involved.

Prisons: Concerted Indiscipline

Baroness Stern asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): A concerted indiscipline incident involves two or more prisoners acting together to cause disruption to the prison regime. The following table contains the number of incidents of concerted indiscipline in prisons in England and Wales in the last six months up to 18 July 2006.

DateConcerted Indiscipline

January

14

February

6

March

7

April

7

May

8

June

12

Total

54

Prisons: Condoms

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Sexual activity by prisoners is neither condoned nor encouraged by prisons as this would be inconsistent with the facts and purposes of custody, including the need to protect the vulnerable and to maintain good order and discipline. However, it is recognised that sex in prisons is a reality. Where condoms are provided it is to preserve individuals' health rather than to encourage sexual relationships.

Prisons: Deaths in Custody

Lord Ramsbotham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The chief executive of the National Offender Management Service is responsible for ensuring that the recommendations made by Lord Justice Keith are pursued in accordance with the Government’s response, which was published on 29 August. The National Offender Management Service board will oversee and monitor implementation.

Prisons: Dietary Requirements

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): All public sector prison menus include daily choices suitable for prisoners who wish to follow a vegan diet. Vegan products are available in all public sector prison shops and later in 2006 the range will be expanded. Information on behalf of contracted establishments is not routinely collected.

Prisons: Foreign Nationals

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The information requested is not currently available. In my right honourable friend the Home Secretary's Written Ministerial Statement of 23 May 2006 (col. WS41), he explained that historically there have never been systematic arrangements in place for collecting information on the nationality of mentally disordered offenders, referring them to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and considering them for deportation. He has tasked officials to construct arrangements for considering deportation where appropriate for people in this group, taking account of their very specific circumstances. In a Written Ministerial Statement of 19 July 2006 (col. WS98), my honourable friend the Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Liam Byrne) provided an update on the progress which has been made in dealing with the issue of mentally disordered offenders along with the other seven priority action areas in improving our overall effectiveness in deporting foreign national prisoners.

Prisons: Population

Lord Steinberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The table gives the total prison population in England and Wales at 30 June in each year since 2004. These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system, and so is not necessarily accurate to the last whole number.

Prison Population in England and Wales, 30 June 2004-2006

2004

74,448

2005

76,190

2006

77,982


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