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20 Jan 2003 : Column WA67

Written Answers

Monday, 20th January 2003.

UK Diplomatic Missions: Shared Facilities

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many United Kingdom diplomatic missions abroad now share facilities with missions of other states or international institutions. [HL940]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): At present there are 11 UK missions which share facilities with the missions of other states or international organisations.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan to extend the sharing of facilities in United Kingdom diplomatic missions abroad; and which facilities and which partners they consider most suitable for further potential co-operation or integration. [HL942]

Baroness Amos: Whenever the FCO needs to relocate our offices overseas or open new missions, we will investigate the possibilities of, and consider any practicable proposals for, sharing offices or staff amenities with suitable partners where there would be no compromise to our own efficiency or security. Such co-location may vary from the use of a single office by a partner on a part-time basis to the joint occupation of a complete building by several partners. Our current co-location projects are all with EU partners and the European Commission.


Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are proposing to reduce the number of burglaries in England and Wales. [HL947]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): We have already made significant progress in reducing domestic burglary.

The British Crime Survey gives the best available measure of the amount of crime actually affecting the public, regardless of changes in reporting or recording levels. According to the latest figures, published on 9 January, burglary is down 39 per cent compared to 1997 and has reduced slightly over the past 18 months (though the level of reduction is not statistically significant).

We have a comprehensive strategy to drive burglary down further. In addition to several programmes of work that will affect a range of crimes—including Narrowing the Justice Gap, reducing re-offending and

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our anti-drugs strategy—we have a number of initiatives targeted more specifically at domestic burglary.

Minimum sentences for third time burglary convictions were introduced in December 1999.

All police authorities have agreed targets for reducing domestic burglary by 2005. Performance against these targets will be assessed under the performance monitoring arrangements set out in the National Policing Plan. These arrangements will inform the work of our Police Standards Unit, which is working with police forces to help them meet these targets, through, for example, developing and sharing best practice.

Under the Reducing Burglary Initiative (part of our Crime Reduction Programme) which ran from 1999 to 2002, we funded 250 local anti-burglary projects. The overall impact of this initiative is still being evaluated, but some lessons about what worked most cost-effectively have already been learnt and are being disseminated to the crime and disorder reduction partnerships. These will inform plans for further local projects funded from other funding streams, including our Safer Communities Initiative, Communities Against Drugs, the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and New Deal for Communities (we estimate that around 20 per cent of the funding available under these last two schemes is used to tackle crime.

Over 80 per cent of the latest strategies developed by the crime and disorder reduction partnerships include burglary; and many of the local public service agreements being negotiated between central government and local authorities include a target for burglary reduction that stretches performance beyond what would be expected anyway.

We are pursuing a number of options for providing home security advice to the public, especially those at greatest risk of being victimised—for example, we will be launching later this month a website containing crime prevention advice tailored specifically for students.

Those living in rented accomodation and houses in multiple occupancy are also at high risk and we are discussing with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister what more can be done to improve security standards in such properties.

We are also considering with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) what can be done to ensure adequate standards of security in new homes and those formed by conversion of other buildings.

Metropolitan Police Recruits

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the physical fitness requirements demanded of new recruits to the Metropolitan Police.[HL969]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All police forces in England and Wales are issued with guidance, Home Office Circular 11/02 issued 17 May 2002 regarding

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fitness requirements for new recruits. Copies of the circular are available in the Library.


Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to combat shoplifting.[HL994]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and I recognise the detrimental impact that theft from shops has on the retail industry and the wider community.

The Home Office continues to support the development of retail crime partnerships, helping them build on the good work they have already done in combating shop theft. These partnerships share information on known offenders, are normally linked by communication systems and typically run schemes to exclude known shop thieves from their stores. The Home Office employed a consultant for a period of two years to work with the British Retail Consortium, helping it set up retail crime partnerships and providing a comprehensive guide about how to set up and run such a partnership. We are encouraging retail crime partnerships to work with local crime and disorder reduction partnerships and to involve other businesses in the locality so as to maximise their impact.

We are also aware that theft from shops can have a particularly detrimental impact on the communities and small retail businesses in our most deprived areas. That is why the Government have allocated £15 million over the financial years 2001–02 to 2003–04 to improve the security of small retail businesses in deprived areas. The funding can be used for a wide variety of security measures such as CCTV, locks and alarms for individual businesses; or to pay for measures which will improve the security of a group of shops, such as a radio link scheme; or to improve the immediate environment of a shopping area in order to reduce the opportunities for crime. Nearly 3,000 shops benefited from the first year's funding and a further 4,500 individual shops and businesses will benefit directly from the £6 million made available in this the second year of the scheme. A further £6 million will be available next year to enable more shopkeepers to benefit from extra security.

The Home Office has also produced a user friendly guide to help retailers combat theft and other crime problems they encounter. This guide was prepared in conjunction with the main retail trade organisations and has been widely circulated to retailers. The guide is available on the crime reduction website at and through police community safety officers.

Many of the Government's crime reduction initiatives, such as the CCTV initiative, focus on town centres and community shopping areas.The nearly 700 schemes approved under the CCTV initiative will have a beneficial impact on theft from shops in the areas they cover.

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Theft from shops is one important element of crime problems that affect the business community, and crimes against business contribute significantly to the crime problems which face society. That is why my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety launched a consultation process in December 2002 to seek the views of all business organisations, including those operating in the retail sector, on the best means of creating and maintaining effective partnerships to reduce the opportunities for crime against business and to enhance the contribution that business can make to crime reduction overall. A dedicated team is also being set up within the Home Office specifically to act as a focus for efforts to tackle business-related crime.

Prisoners: Training for Employment on Release

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will appoint an operational manager to oversee training for employment on release for prisoners aged 18 to 21 following the appointment of a similar manager for prisoners aged 15 to 18.[HL1019]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Prison Service has appointed heads of learning and skills in young offender institutions (YOI) holding juvenile prisoners with funding from the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. The heads are responsible for implementing the board's national specification for learning and skills and for planning and managing learning and skills provision for juveniles held in YOIs.

We are increasing investment in prison education and training, raising core funding to £85 million in 2003–04, £110 million in 2004–05 and £125 million in 2005–06. Prisoners aged 18 to 21 are an early priority for this additional investment which aims to deliver a programme of learning from their induction through to their resettlement. We are currently considering the potential for extending heads of learning and skills posts across the prison estate.

The Government are also investing an additional £14.5 million a year from April 2003 in the Prison Service Custody to Work initiative to increase the number of prisoners getting jobs or education or training places after release. This will enable establishments, including those holding prisoners aged 18 to 21, to strengthen their pre-release training and partnership work geared to improving employment outcomes for released prisoners.

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