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Sex Offenders

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether prisoners who maintain their innocence and who refuse to attend a sex offenders treatment programme will be (a) denied parole and (b) have limited privileges. [49832]

Beverley Hughes: Refusal to participate in the sex offenders' treatment programme as a consequence of a prisoner maintaining his innocence is not of itself a bar to the release of prisoners on parole licence. An assessment of the prisoner's current level of risk is the pre-eminent factor in determining whether he/she may be granted parole. Offending behaviour programmes, such as the sex offender treatment programme, depend upon a prisoner being willing to discuss their offending. Therefore, such programmes are not open to prisoners who deny their guilt. Whilst the absence of reports on a prisoner's progress on such programmes makes it more difficult to make an assessment risk, it should still be possible to make one, taking into account, among other things, the prisoner's attitudes and behaviour during sentence.

The criteria for earning and retaining privileges will depend on a number of factors, including attitudes to and involvement in sentence planning and a willingness to make constructive use of their time in custody. Where a prisoner refuses, for any reason, to address their offending behaviour this may be relevant when assessing a prisoner's privilege level and may be sufficient to deny a prisoner enhanced status.


Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are being taken to reduce the number of prisoners in prison; and what precautions are being taken to ensure that prisoners do not commit further crimes under the electronic tagging programme. [49318]

Beverley Hughes: The Government believe that prison must be used as effectively as possible and targeted where it is most necessary. It should be used for incapacitating dangerous, violent and other serious offenders but prison sentences should be as long as necessary for punishment and public protection, and no longer.

The reform of the probation service, with its central focus on reducing re-offending means that rigorously enforced community sentences are a real and tough alternative to imprisonment. As part of the work taking forward the recommendations of the Halliday report on the sentencing framework we are looking at new forms of community penalties. We aim to encourage greater use of community penalties for some non-violent offenders such as those convicted of theft and handling or fraud.

We are addressing the recent increase in female prison population by taking forward the Government's strategy for female prisoners. A cross-Government women's offenders reduction plan is currently being developed by a multi-agency team drawn from across the criminal justice system, which is based in the Home Office.

Home Detention Curfew and a rigorous assessment process plays an important role by enabling some prisoners to be released from prison, whilst still subject to restrictions placed on their liberty. This facilitates a

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smoother and more effective integration back into the community and helps offenders to secure employment as soon as possible.

Prior to release under the Home detention Curfew arrangements, the Probation service undertakes a home circumstances assessment of every prisoner's release address to confirm that the proposed accommodation is suitable for the monitoring equipment, that other persons residing at the address understand the impact of the curfew and have been given the opportunity to raise any issues which they wish to be considered, and that there are no issues relating to victims which would give cause for concern if the prisoner were to be curfewed to that address. Following release, each curfew is offered an interview to discuss the curfew requirements and to offer advice on any resettlement arrangements, including providing contact or access to local support groups and a Probation Service 'helpline' contact.

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the Prison Service's policy is on the evaluation and accreditation of psychological interventions for prisoners; and under what circumstances unevaluated projects are allowed to continue. [49989]

Beverley Hughes: The Prison Service's policy in relation to psychological interventions with prisoners is that these should be carried out in line with the standards for applied psychologists set by the British Psychological Society. Individual assessment and intervention work should be carried out under the supervision of a Chartered Psychologist.

Group based interventions aimed at reducing the risk of re-offending are subject to scrutiny by a panel of Prison Service, Probation Service and external practitioners and academics with expertise in relevant areas of work. Members are drawn from a range of disciplines. Group based interventions involve an assessment of clinical impact and are also audited to assess the degree of compliance with agreed national standards.

Group based interventions that have not been evaluated may be supported where they meet specific needs not addressed by currently available groups. However, the prison and probation services are committed to an evidence based practice approach, for both individual and group based interventions.

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications were made by juvenile prisoners to see the board of visitors in 2001, broken down by institution. [49974]

Beverley Hughes: This information is not held centrally.

Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the public service agreement targets which have been revised and those which have been introduced since the publication of the 2001 departmental report. [43246]

Angela Eagle: The Home Office's public service agreement (PSA) targets are listed. These were set in the 2000 Spending Review. There have been no changes since the publication of the 2001 Home Office Departmental Report except those resulting from the Machinery of Government changes shown.

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PSA Target
1. Reduce the key recorded crime categories of:
Vehicle crime by 30 per cent. by 2004;
Domestic burglary by 25 per cent. with no local authority area having a rate more than three times the national average, by 2005; and
Robbery in our principal cities by 14 per cent. by 2005.
2. Ensure by 2004 that the levels of fear of crime in the key categories of violent crime, burglary and car crime, reported in the British Crime Survey (BCS), are lower than the levels reported in the 2001 BCS.
3. Reduce by 2004 the economic cost of crime, as measured by an indicator to be developed by March 2001.
4. Disrupt 10 per cent. more organised criminal enterprises by 2004.
5. Improve the level of public confidence in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) by 2004, including improving that of ethnic minority communities.
6. Increase the number and proportion of recorded crimes for which an offender is brought to justice.
7. Improve by 5 percentage points the satisfaction of victims and witnesses with their treatment by the CJS by 2002 and thereafter at least maintain that level of performance.
8. Reduce by 2004, the time from arrest to sentence of other outcome by:
Reducing the time from charge to disposal for all defendants, with a target to be specified by 31 March 2001;
Dealing with 80 per cent. of youth court cases within their time targets; and halving from 142 to 71 days by 2002 the time taken from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders and maintaining that level thereafter.
9. Reduce the rate of reconviction:
of all offenders punished by imprisonment or community supervision by 5 per cent. in 2004 compared with the predicted rate; and
of all young offenders by 5 per cent. in 2004 compared with the predicted rate.
10. Maintain the current low rates of prisoner escapes including no Category A escapes.
11. Reduce the proportion of people under the age of 25 reporting the use of Class A drugs by 25 per cent. by 2005 (and by 50 per cent. by 2008).
12. Reduce the levels of repeat offending among drug-misusing offenders by 25 per cent. by 2005 (and by 50 per cent. by 2008).
13. Ensure that by 2004, 75 per cent. of substantive asylum applications are decided within two months.
14. Enforce the immigration laws more effectively by removing a greater proportion of failed asylum seekers.
15. Make substantial progress by 2004 towards one million more people being actively involved in their communities.
16. Promote race equality, particularly in the provision of public services such as education, health, law and order, housing and local government, and measure progress by the annual publication of Race Equality in Public Services, a set of race equality performance indicators across the public sector; and achieve representative work forces in the Home Office and its police, probation and prison services.
17. Ensure annual efficiency gains by police forces are worth in total at least 2 per cent. of overall police spending in that year.
18. Reduce the incidence of accidental fire-related deaths in the home by 20 per cent. averaged over the five-year period to March 2004 compared with the average recorded in the five-year period of March 1999. 1
1 Following Machinery of Government changes, this target has been transferred from the Home Office to the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

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