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Electronic Commerce: Risk of Attack

Lord Bach asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government will be introducing a series of measures to minimise the risk of

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electronic attack. This will enhance the United Kingdom's reputation as a safe place to undertake electronic commerce. The present risk should not be exaggerated, but we must take action. The measures include ensuring that within government all critical systems are identified and that the protection of those systems is effectively managed and audited; working with the private sector to develop measures which keep pace with the levels of risk to ensure adequate standards of protection for the key systems falling within the critical national infrastructure; raising awareness and standards of information security more generally in the private sector by pursuing existing initiatives to promote best practice; and developing a dialogue on these issues with international partners.

In view of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary's responsibilities for crime prevention and public protection, he will be taking the lead responsibility within government for this new work. Government departments will ensure that the security of their systems are kept under review and in relevant cases existing initiatives are pursued with the private sector.

Ensuring that our electronic systems are properly protected from electronic attack is a long-term enterprise which will not be at the expense of the immediate challenge we are facing to deal with the millennium bug.

Drug Smuggling into Prisons

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out their proposals for deterring prisoners and their visitors from smuggling drugs into prison.[HL687]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Prison governors have a range of sanctions available to deal with visitors, prisoners and young offenders involved in such activity. But my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is keen to see a more consistent approach across the prison estate. To this end, he has asked the Director General of the Prison Service to introduce a more standardised response.

It is clear that most drugs coming into prison are brought in by visitors. My right honourable friend the

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Home Secretary intends to provide governors with a new power to ban a visitor for a specified time. The imposition of a ban, and its duration, will be determined by the quantity and type of drugs passed, the relationship between the visitor, prisoner or young offender and the circumstances of the offence. He would expect a typical ban to be at least three months. In cases where a ban is not justified, visitors may be subject to warnings, closed visits and increased security. Prison and young offender institution (YOI) staff will continue to report all attempts to smuggle drugs to the police.

Prisoners and young offenders believed to be involved in bringing in drugs will face the increased use of closed visits, regular targeted mandatory drug testing and disciplinary proceedings.

These measures will support one of the key elements in our overall prison drugs strategy, namely supply reduction. The Prison Service will also maintain its commitment to the provision of drug treatment and education within prisons. Last year's comprehensive spending review resulted in an additional £14 million for treatment, £6 million for throughcare and £2.5 million for voluntary testing.

A short implementation phase for the new measures will take place, enabling relevant parties to be briefed on the new arrangements before they are universally implemented on 1 April 1999.

Christopher Sherwood: Shooting Incident

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it is expected that a conclusion will be reached to the investigation into a shooting incident by Christopher Sherwood during a police raid on a suspected drugs gang in Sussex on 15 January 1998.[HL553]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The circumstances surrounding this incident have been the subject of investigations by the Kent County Constabulary and the Hampshire Constabulary under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority. Both investigations have now been completed and the responsibility for deciding what further action is taken now rests with the Crown Prosecution Service, Sussex Police Authority and the Police Complaints Authority.

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