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Animal Procedures Committee: Annual Report

Lord Clinton-Davis asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Mr O'Brien, has today placed a copy of the committee's annual report for 1999 in the Library. He welcomes the progress the committee has made on its extensive programme of work.

Firearms Act 1968 Contravention, Lincolnshire Police HQ

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I understand from the Lincolnshire Police that there used to be an approved rifle and pistol club located at force headquarters. Certain visitors who were given tours of the headquarters facilities were also shown the firing range and allowed to fire weapons used by the force as guests of the club.

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The implications of recent changes to firearms legislation and the closure of the club were not recognised by the force in relation to visitors to the force headquarters. As soon as the implications of the changes were realised, the firing of weapons under these circumstances was stopped immediately.

The Chief Constable accepts that errors have been made but wishes to stress that visitors' backgrounds were checked in advance and they were under the strictest supervision at all times.

I understand that a report has been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Breach of Community Orders: Prison Sentence Numbers

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their revised estimate of the number of additional persons likely to be imprisoned annually if the provisions contained in Clause 48 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill are enacted unamended, taking into account the findings of the research on the effects of deterrence commissioned by the Home Office from the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University.[HL3204]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have no plans to revise our estimates on the basis of this research.

Anti-social Behaviour Orders

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many anti-social behaviour orders have been made by the courts since the authorising legislation came into force.[HL3205]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We understand that over 90 orders have been made in England and Wales since the relevant provisions came into force in April last year.

Prisoner Discharge Grants

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prisoners received discharge grant in each of the last three years at the standard and higher rates; and what was the total amount paid in each of those years.[HL3237]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Total recorded spend on discharge grants in those years was £3,747,714 (1997-98), £4,147,070 (1998-99) and £4,044,256 (1999-2000).

We do not have complete figures on the numbers and level of grant paid for those years, but the figures we do have for 1999-2000 show that, of 77,574 grants paid, 14,010 were paid at the higher level with the balance being paid at the standard level.

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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that ths system of discharge grants payable to prisoners provides ex-prisoners with sufficient means of support until benefit becomes payable; whether they will replace grants by an interest-free loan equivalent to two weeks' benefit repayable from benefit over several weeks; and whether they accept that this would reduce the temptation to commit further offences.[HL3238]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We recognise that there are a number of issues surrounding the adequacy of support to prisoners on their release from custody and the barriers that may hinder their successful reintegration to society. The Prison Service and other departments are looking at the level and method of payment of discharge grants among other matters as ways of addressing these questions.

Foreign Migrant Workers: Ill Treatment

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that ill treatment of foreign migrant workers should be dealt with as a manifestation of racism by the United Nations World Conference against Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in September 2001; and, if so, what analysis of this phenomenon they will assist or promote.[HL3283]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It would be for the Preparatory Committee, in which all member states of the United Nations, observer international organisations and numerous non-governmental organisations are participating, to decide whether this is an issue which they would wish the World Conference to address, in which case the United Kingdom, in association with other member states of the Western European and Other Grouping, would of course undertake any subsequent analysis which the Preparatory Committee requested it to conduct.

Crime Reduction Measures: Spending Impact

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimate they have made (in the Comprehensive Spending Review) of the amount and type of crime which could be prevented by each additional £1 million invested in:

    (a) building and running more prisons;

    (b) recruiting more police officers;

    (c) installing closed circuit televisions;

    (d) drug treatment programmes; or

    (e) programmes of social and educational support for young people at risk, especially those leaving care or excluded from school.[HL3188]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: In the course of the Spending Review, the Government have had close regard to the relative costs and effectiveness of a range of measures for reducing or preventing crime. A wide range of solutions is needed satisfactorily to tackle crime reduction, and in practice many of these are interdependent. For example, re-offending is reduced not solely as a result of imprisonment but also requires that offenders are apprehended through effective policing and that prisoners complete programmes designed to prevent re-offending.

Different measures also have varying impacts over time and between locations, and according to the group of offenders targeted. The Government's evidence-led approach to crime reduction is based on establishing a full understanding of these inter-linkages and not on a simple correlation between spending and crime for individual measures in isolation.

With these qualifications, our central estimates on the available evidence suggest that the impact of spending on individual measures in isolation are as follows:

    £1 million invested in building and running more prisons would result in approximately 180 recorded offences being prevented annually; and

    £1 million invested in running drug treatment programmes within prison would result in approximately 500 recorded offences being prevented annually.

However, these estimates are uncertain and subject to error margins. Research is currently being undertaken by the Home Office to improve them and to expand their coverage as new evidence becomes available.

The impact of recruiting more police officers, installing closed circuit television systems, and early interventions with children at risk, is highly dependent upon the circumstances and on the mix of approaches and tactics chosen. They cannot therefore be meaningfully reduced to a single impact per-spend measure.

Trafficking in Women

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When (a) Home and Interior Ministers and (b) senior police officers within the European Union last discussed the trafficking of women for prostitution; and whether fully co-ordinated action will be taken, in conjunction with the countries of eastern Europe, against this growing abuse.[HL3185]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have been engaged for some time in negotiating a Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised

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Crime on "Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children". The United Kingdom contributes to this discussion both in its own right and as a member state of the European Union. My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office, Mrs Roche, spoke to a conference of senior police officers on this subject on 20 June and at a seminar on 6 July. We took a full part in drafting the European Union Action Plan on Trafficking and we have actively supported the action plan since its implementation in 1998. The action plan promotes such activities as information campaigns on training in Poland and the Ukraine.

Prisoners: In-cell Television

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What data are available to compare the average number of hours per day for which convicted prisoners are unlocked from their cells (a) before the introduction of in-cell television in prisons; and (b) after its introduction.[HL3306]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The average number of hours per day for which convicted prisoners are unlocked from their cells is as follows:

Before the introduction of in-cell TV

April/Oct 1998 11.41 hours.

After the introduction of in-cell TV

Oct 1998/Mar 1999 11.96 hours

1999-2000 10.89 hours.

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