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Written Statements

Monday 29 October 2007

Community Justice

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Maria Eagle) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I have published the evaluation reports of the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre and the Salford Community Justice Initiative. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The reports are also available on the Ministry of Justice website atwww.justice.gov.uk/publications/research.htm.

Three evaluations were undertaken by independent contractors. The qualitative evaluations were undertaken at a relatively early stage in the life of the projects, and the full impact of community justice may take years to assess, in particular in relation to the impact on reoffending and local people’s attitudes and perceptions. The key findings include:

strong judicial case management and close multi-agency working has improved efficient court operation;both projects developed a range of methods to improve public awareness of the work of the court, and increase the visibility of the judiciary and criminal justice agencies, as well as directly to involve local people in identifying priority offences and identifying local areas or facilities to be improved by offenders on unpaid work;both projects focused on tackling the underlying issues which drive or perpetuate offending. The reports also found that increased direct engagement with defendants, as well as the strong judicial leadership evident in north Liverpool, has ensured a more tailored and responsive approach to offenders’ needs; and in both north Liverpool and Salford the judiciary, court staff and other professional stakeholders perceived that bringing offenders back to court for reviews of their community orders under Section 178 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 is effective in helping to motivate offenders successfully to complete their orders.

The Government wish to develop the community justice model further. As the then Lord Chancellor, my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton, announced in November 2006, it is developing 11 new community justice projects in mainstream magistrates’ courts in different communities around the country. Learning derived from these projects, as well as future lessons from North Liverpool and Salford, will be used to formulate ways of delivering community justice to meet the varying needs of communities across England and Wales.



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I believe that excellent work is being undertaken by all the community justice initiatives to engage with their communities and to join the other criminal justice agencies, local authorities and the voluntary sector to tackle reoffending. I should like to pay particular tribute to His Honour Judge Fletcher, the magistrates in Salford and the judiciary, magistrates, criminal justice staff and volunteers involved in all the community justice projects for the hard work they continue to do to make these projects a success.

Legalisation Office

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Meg Munn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Legalisation is the official confirmation that a signature, seal or stamp appearing on a document is genuine. The Legalisation Office provides this service to members of the public wishing to use British documents overseas for a variety of reasons. For example, a couple wishing to marry in the Dominican Republic will need a number of documents legalised—birth certificates, decrees absolute from previous marriages etc. Similarly, many British companies need to avail themselves of the service to conduct their business in overseas markets.

The demand for this service can no longer be accommodated in the Old Admiralty Building. We have therefore taken the opportunity for a detailed look at cost-effective options for relocating. A study of the options available to the FCO was conducted earlier this year at the end of which there was a consultation exercise with our customers including the notaries, scriveners and the CBI.

Following these discussions and after further study, we have decided to divide the Legalisation Office into two operations. The bulk of the Legalisation Office will move to central Milton Keynes, where it will provide an improved, fast and efficient, same-day service to callers, and a 48-hour turn-around on the postal service. In addition, to service the specific needs of major business clients, we propose to retain a smaller satellite (drop-box only) office in central London, offering a more focused, fast service.

The moves to the new locations will take place in the spring of 2008.

Prisons

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My right honourable friend the Minister of State (David Hanson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The National Offender Management Service is closely monitoring the prison population and capacity in the system. Updated figures on the prison population, and the useable capacity, are published every Friday. The useable capacity allows for an

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operating margin, which is a measure of the “headroom” needed to manage the prison estate. It reflects the fact that the estate cannot operate at 100 per cent capacity because of constraints on where different types of prisoner can be held and on movement into, out of, and within the estate.

We have reviewed the operating margin and revised it from a figure of 1,700 to 2,000 places. As a result, the useable capacity has been revised downwards by 300. This will be reflected in the published figures as from 2 November 2007. We will continue to keep the operating margin under review, and we will make any necessary further adjustments based on fresh analysis or operational experience as we continue to rebalance the prison estate.

Railways: Freight

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Tom Harris) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Transport Innovation Fund was announced in the Future of Transport White Paper (July 2004). The productivity strand of this funding stream supports packages and schemes which are expected to make a major contribution to the UK's economy.

The Department for Transport has today announced a contribution of £132.5 million from this fund to enhance routes that will improve access to a number of our major ports. The improvements will deliver a number of benefits:

they will enable rail to carry more goods from the important and growing ports at Southampton, Felixstowe, Liverpool and on Humberside to other parts of the country including major conurbations and power stations; and

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the Peterborough to Nuneaton scheme will facilitate sustainable inland transport of international trade flows moving via the major ports of Felixstowe by providing a crucial alternative to the increasingly busy rail routes via London.

The DfT welcomes the contributions made to the scheme by other partners including the port operators and owners, the regional development agencies and Merseytravel.

Roads: Roadside Facilities

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Tom Harris) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today launched a six-week public consultation on a proposed new policy for roadside facilities on England’s strategic road network.

The draft policy has been prepared in light of responses to a previous 12-week call for evidence and is aimed at improving service to road users. Views are sought on the entirety of the policy which covers various issues, including:

the location of motorway service areas (MSAs)—determining the need for such sites and the spacing interval between them;facilities at MSAs—the type of facilities, how they are signed and their standards;service areas on trunk roads;motorway rest areas; lorry parking; andthe provision and use of lay-bys.

Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


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