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25 May 2000 : Column: 625W
Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 15 May 2000]: Parish Councils may provide grants to police authorities under section 92 of the Police Act 1996. They also have powers under Section 31 of the Local Government and Rating Act 1997 to install and maintain equipment for the detection or prevention of crime in their area.
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires local authorities and the police to work together at district level to develop and implement strategies for reducing crime and disorder in the area. In doing so, they must work in co-operation with a number of other key agencies including parish councils. These partnerships can assist the police in considering how best to deploy existing resources to target local needs.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will (a) investigate the immigration status of Sheikh Abu Hamza and Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed and (b) request the United States authorities to investigate the immigration status of Muhammed Jameel; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: The person referred to as Sheikh Abu Hamza was granted British nationality in 1986. Omar Bakri Mohammed was granted infinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom in 1993. The immigration status of any individual in the United States of America is a matter for the United States of America authorities.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place copies of the results of all market and opinion research carried out by his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies since May 1997, in the Library. 
Mr. Straw: I refer to the reply I gave the hon. Member on 19 July 1999, Official Report, columns 391-92W, giving details of market and opinion research undertaken by my Department. I propose to write to the hon. Member further as soon as my officials are able to update the available information and I will place a copy of the letter in the Library. I also refer to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) on 9 February 2000, Official Report, columns 164-65W, which covers publication of research commissioned by my Department.
The Department conducts or commissions market or opinion research only when it is justified by the specific needs of a particular policy or programme and this is the most economical, efficient and effective way to achieve the purpose. Consulting and involving the public helps inform both policy formulation and the delivery of better quality public services.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he will roll out a further version of the CRAMS, to be known as 4.6.1, for the Probation Service in England and Wales; 
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(3) when Bull Information Systems will set up a Helpdesk to deal with user problems with Probation Service IT; what is the cost of the contract providing this service; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) if he will list the errors and user difficulties which are currently identified in the Case Recording and Management System for the Probation Service in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement; 
(5) if the new version of CRAMS will be accompanied by release notes and acceptance certificates; 
(6) if Bull Information Systems have been given a new contract to maintain and correct faults contained in the Case Recording and Management System for the Probation Service in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement; 
(7) how many faults have been identified in the Case Recording and Management System version 4.6 for the Probation Service in England and Wales; how those faults are being prioritised; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Boateng: Bull provides support and maintenance of the Probation Service infrastructure. A replacement contract has recently consolidated a number of previously separate contracts. This does not extend the lifespan of the Bull contract and there is no new provision.
Within the overall support and maintenance arrangements, there is a process in place for users to bring problems to the attention of Bull and the Probation Unit via a Helpdesk. We keep the overall position, including priorities for action, under constant review. It would not be appropriate to list specific issues as these are commercial in confidence.
The existing version of CRAMS in use by Services is 4.6.1. There are no plans for further versions of CRAMS. However, outstanding user issues are considered for inclusion in planned maintenance releases of CRAMS. The next is being planned for late summer. This will be known as release 4.7.
The Copernicus system is being designed to meet the future needs of Probation Service staff. It will replace CRAMS and be designed specifically to support National Standards and performance management.
Mr. Boateng: The exact figure is not available, but it is estimated that there were approximately 16,000 day releases in connection with work and community placements. The available information is that there were
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15,118 releases on temporary licence between 1 April 1999 and 31 March 2000. However, this figure includes authorised absences for periods of less than a whole day and also for longer periods, while for prisoners involved in work or community placements, a single licence may cover a number of daily absences.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons a search was authorised by the Prison Service at HMP Blantyre House on 5 May; how many staff were used on 5 May to search and secure HMP Blantyre House; what was the outcome of the search and if he will list those items found; what were the results of the drug tests on prisoners taken following the search; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Boateng: The Director General of the Prison Service authorised the search in the light of intelligence suggesting that some prisoners on the working out scheme might be engaging in criminal activity.
Sixty-two officer grades (prison officers, senior officers and principal officers) from other establishments were involved in the operation. This included 28 officers in specialist control and restraint teams who were primarily on hand in case of any indiscipline on the part of prisoners. In the event, they were not required for this role and were redeployed to expedite the completion of the search.
The search made 98 finds of unauthorised articles, including cash to the value of £370, nine mobile telephones, 25 bank and credit cards and banks' books, a small quantity of illicit drugs, 12 cameras, two computers, two televisions, a set of building tools, seven examples of hard core pornography, tattooing equipment, computer disks, screwdrivers and blank visiting orders for Elmley prison.
Blantyre House carries out important resettlement work with long-term prisoners. I do not expect this operation to lead to any change in Blantyre House's ethos and role, but it was necessary to maintain the confidence in the establishment without which its valuable work could have been jeopardised.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the reconviction rate for prisoners discharged from HMP Blantyre House in the latest 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Boateng: The two-year reconviction rates for prisoners discharged from Her Majesty's Prison Blantyre House in 1995 was 20 per cent. The reconviction rate has been derived by analysing a stratified random sample of
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discharges from all prisons during the year; the sample contained just 12 offenders who were discharged from Blantyre House.
Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to publish the next HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Blantyre House; and if he will make statement. 
Under the protocol on the publication of inspection reports, the Prison Service is given the opportunity to check the report in draft for any factual inaccuracies. The Director General of the Prison Service is currently discussing a number of points from the draft with the Chief Inspector.
Mr. Boateng: The governing governor, Eoin McLennan-Murray, was transferred to the post of deputy governor at Swaleside prison on 5 May. Another governor grade was also moved on detached duty to fill an essential specialist post elsewhere.
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