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Prison Service: Salaries

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Most Prison Service staff join at the pay minima of the respective grade, of which there are over 100. The pay rates of civilian staff recognise various forms of specialism e.g. accountancy, auditing, psychology, farm management and industrial craft trades. Specialist prison officers e.g. those working in healthcare, catering, physical education, libraries, works services trades, instructing and as dog handlers currently receive an annual specialist allowance. We are also in the process of introducing market supplements to recognise specialisms such as personnel, procurement, project management, engineering and health and safety.

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Prison Governors and Officers: Training

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What professional training is given to governors and prison officers.[HL644]

Lord Rooker: There is an extensive range of training available to all staff in the Prison Service, from the initial training for new prison officers, through to specific operational training courses and opportunities for staff development.

The initial training for new prison officers is an 11-week course that is partly residential and partly establishment based. This gives a thorough introduction to the Prison Service and equips officers to maintain security and contribute to prisoner resettlement.

Serving officers are offered further training to meet the needs of security and the prison regime.

Security training covers, for example, control and restraint techniques, security management, control room, searching, hostage incidents and use of X-ray equipment.

Training in prisoner management and care includes, for example, courses for staff who work with young offenders or women prisoners, for those involved in delivering offending behaviour programmes, and for physical education officers.

Officers are able to pursue a national vocational qualification in custodial care, based on newly-developed national occupational standards which were launched in January this year.

A new approach to leadership and management development is now being created. It will include a leadership programme and direct support and advice to establishments. This review will take account of the recommendations of Lord Laming of Tewin.

Details of all current training courses can be found in the latest edition of the Prison Service's Directory of Training, copies of which can be found in the Library.

Slopping Out in Prisons

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 11 July (WA 76), what are the operational reasons for continuing not to provide sanitation in a proportion of cells in segregation units and health care centres. [HL695]

Lord Rooker: Cells without integral sanitation in segregation units and health care centres are used to hold prisoners while their behaviour is disturbed, violent or destructive and where they are assessed as presenting a serious risk of harm to themselves or others.

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Policing of Cannabis

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker of 12 July (WA 85), whether they will introduce specific performance indicators relating to the policing of cannabis; and, if not, why not.[HL545]

Lord Rooker: We have no plans for introducing specific performance indicators relating to the policing of cannabis.

The Home Secretary sets the strategic direction for the police service through a small number of ministerial priorities, each measured by a set of performance indicators including the best value suite of performance indicators (BVPIs).

The priority on drugs, as reflected in the Government's 10-year drugs strategy, is to tackle the misuse of Class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, as these are the drugs that cause the greatest harm. A BVPI (No. 129) exists in respect of supply offences involving Class A drugs.

We do not propose to divert police attention and resources away from tackling Class A drug offences by introducing a specific performance indicator in respect of Class B drugs, such as cannabis.

Sexual Offences Review: Report

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to respond to Setting the Boundaries, the report of the sexual offences review, published on 4 April 2000; and[HL548]

    Whether they intend to implement the recommendations of Setting the Boundaries, the report of the sexual offences review, published on 4 April 2001.[HL549]

Lord Rooker: The recommendations to the Government of the sex offences review, contained in Setting the Boundaries: reforming the law on sex offences were published in July last year.

We are currently considering over 700 responses to that consultation paper and will announce our decisions about implementation once we have completed our consideration.

Firearms Database

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made with the establishment of a central register, as required under Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1977, which came into force on 1 October 1997, of persons who have applied for a shot gun or firearm certificate or to whom a firearm or shot gun certificate has been granted; and whether they still expect this database to be operational in February 2002, as indicated in the Written Answer by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 23 April.[HL450]

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Lord Rooker: I understand that work has begun on the project, which will create a central register on the police national computer of firearms certificate Holders, drawn from the register already held by local police force systems.

This development work will continue, but I regret to say that it will not be possible for the register to be implemented on the live operational PNC system until an upgrade of PNC software has been completed. This upgrade is essential for the continued daily operation of PNC, which might otherwise be prejudiced, and should be completed in March 2002 and advised that the firearms certificate holders register will go live as soon as possible after that; timing is dependent on rework necessary to ensure existing applications run on the upgraded software. I am asking the PITO board for a full report on this unwelcome slippage and will write to the noble Lord when this has been received.

Victoria Street: Rough Sleeping

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is the policy of the Metropolitan Police to prevent rough sleeping on the north side of Victoria Street around New Scotland Yard, but to permit it on the south side of Victoria Street and around the precinct of Westminster Cathedral.[HL564]

Lord Rooker: The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police tells me that it is not his policy to deal with rough sleepers in the area around New Scotland Yard any differently from rough sleepers elsewhere in Westminster. The perimeter of the New Scotland Yard complex is subject to 24-hour police security patrols and this may also have an effect in reducing the incidence of rough sleeping on the north side of Victoria Street in the immediate vicinity of New Scotland Yard.

Religious Organisations: Home Office Consultation

Lord Goodhart asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which faith-based organisations have had meetings with Home Office Ministers specifically to discuss policy in the last year.[HL623]

Lord Rooker: During the last year, Home Office Ministers have met representatives from the Afro-Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, Al Khoei Foundation, An-Nisa Society, Black Churches Civic Forum, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Breakfast Jewish Forum, Church of England, Hasidic community, Jewish Yemenite community, Muslim College, Muslim Council of Britain, Three Faiths Forum and Union of Muslim Organisations.

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National Substance Misuse Treatment Agency

Lord Chadlington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What role the new National Substance Misuse Treatment Agency has had in informing the draft residential care standards for younger adults in relation to people with substance misuse problems.[HL410]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government began their extensive consultation process on the proposed national minimum standards for care homes for younger adults before the inception of the national treatment agency. The agency's role in setting standards across the substance misuse treatment field will incorporate the new residential care standards once they are finalised, following further consultation with providers.

Nurses: Disclosure of Addresses

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In what circumstances they propose to allow the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visitors to disclose the home address of registered nurses without their consent.[HL437]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: It is for the council to decide how the register will be kept and the means of obtaining access to it. Our proposals for legislation to replace the council envisage that its successor should have a similar power, subject to a duty to consult those affected. They do not require the publication of home addresses of registrants on the register. The responses to consultation are now being carefully considered and a report will be published in due course.

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