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2 Dec 2002 : Column 603W—continued


Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women reoffended after release from prison in 2001–02. [83672]

Hilary Benn: Self-reported reoffending rates are not currently measured. However reconviction rates for persons released from prison are published annually as National Statistics. Two year reconviction rates for persons released from prison in 2001–02 will not be available until 2004–05.

Resettlement Pathfinder Projects

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the interim results are from the evaluation, under the Crime Reduction Programme, of the resettlement pathfinder projects which run from January 2000 until April; and what plans he has for further investment in support for work with discharged prisoners. [82962]

Hilary Benn: An initial application for advice on the work piloted by resettlement pathfinders has already been submitted to the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel (formerly the Joint Accreditation Panel). The response from the panel was encouraging but indicated that further developmental work was required specifically in relation to young adult offenders, women and minority ethnic offenders. To allow for this further work to proceed the three current resettlement pathfinders (Parc, Hull and Lewes) have been extended and are scheduled to run to at least the autumn of 2003.

The core programme (For-A-Change) has now been piloted with a young adult offender group and plans are being developed to establish a new pathfinder project to be delivered to short-term female prisoners. The programme material is to be reviewed to ensure that it addresses the specific needs of minority ethnic offenders and those with low levels of literacy.

To ensure that this work adequately reflects recent national reports on resettlement published by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) and jointly by the probation and prisons inspectorates, a joint prison/probation service project board has been established. This board will focus on the needs of short-term prisoners (those serving less than 12 months).

The Criminal Justice Bill, published last week, includes proposed legislation for the introduction of 'custody plus'. The experience gained through the delivery of the current resettlement pathfinders will be used to inform planning undertaken by the National Probation Service and the prison services for the introduction of this new sentence.

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The report of the resettlement pathfinders evaluation, which will give interim findings, is currently being prepared for publication.

Sex Offenders

Mr. Hunter : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) sex offender orders, (b) disqualification orders and (c) restraining orders are in place, and what assessment his Department has made of their effectiveness. [82673]

Hilary Benn: There have been 173 sex offender orders made in England and Wales between 1 December 1998 and 31 March 2002.

Information on disqualification orders and restraining orders, introduced in 2001 are not yet available.

Paper 155 in the Police Research Series, published in the summer of 2002: XThe Police Perspective on Sex Offender Orders: A preliminary review of policy and practice" showed that the police found sex offender orders to be a useful tool and that orders were perceived to be a practical mechanism for a multi-agency approach to the management of high-risk sex offenders.

The Police Reform Act 2002 contained a number of changes to improve the effectiveness and flexibility of sex offender orders. This included the introduction of interim sex offender orders. Interim orders will enable arrangements to be put in place to protect the public before a decision on a full order has been taken by the Court. The changes will be implemented on 2 December and we have issued new guidance to the police and courts on using sex offender orders. Additionally, on 19 November we published our proposals for further legislation in this area in the Command Paper, XProtecting the Public." In relation to sex offenders, these proposals include:

Women Prisoners

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) main categories of offence for women prisoners and (b) re-offending rates for drug offences among women prisoners were in each of the last five years. [82864]

Hilary Benn: Information requested on main offence categories of women is shown in the table.

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Women first received into prisons in England and Wales in 2001, by offence type and type of first reception

Offence groupTotalUntriedConvicted unsentencedSentencedNon-criminal
Violence against the person4,3185611915579
Sexual offences2910415
Theft and handling4,5871,3501,7151,522
Fraud and forgery678162117399
Drugs offences1,452763234455
Other offences2,981671530980
Offences not recorded997241255501

Re-offending rates are not normally measured as they rely on the self-reporting of offending by offenders. Such an approach can lead to questions over the reliability of data based on individuals' recollection and willingness to impart their offending behaviour to an official source.

However two-year reconviction rates for females released from prison after serving a sentence for a standard list drug offence are available. The rates are shown in the table.

Two year reconviction rates for females discharged from prison after serving sentence for a standard list drugs offence.

Year of dischargeNumber of females discharged after serving a sentence for a standard list drugs offencePercentage reconvicted within two years for any standard list offence

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women are in prison; and of these, how many (a) are on remand, (b) are from black and ethnic minority groups and (c) have no previous convictions. [82876]

Hilary Benn: At 31 October 2002, there were 4,427 females in prison. Of these, 984 were on remand and 1,316 were from ethnic minority groups.

Information on the sentenced prison population held on 30 June 2000 has been analysed by the number of standard list offences for which a prisoner had received a conviction. On that date, 32 per cent. of females held in prison in England and Wales were known to have no previous convictions prior to the sentence which resulted in imprisonment. In addition, criminal histories for a further 11 per cent. of females could not be located on the Home Office Offenders Index.

Young Offenders

36. Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the Lord Chancellor about his plans for the bailing of persistent young offenders. [82338]

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Hilary Benn: Home Office Ministers frequently discuss criminal justice matters with the Lord Chancellor and other Government colleagues. We decided this year to implement extended secure remand powers in respect of 12–16 year olds who repeatedly commit imprisonable offences while on bail or remand, together with bail tagging for juveniles. We have also funded an expansion of the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme. Together these changes give the courts much more choice where persistent young offenders are facing trial.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many incidents of self-harm there were in young offender institutions in each year since 1997; [82748]

Hilary Benn: The information requested is in the tables. Table 1 covers the 79 self-inflicted juvenile and young offender deaths between 1997 and 20 November 2002. Table 2 covers the number of recorded incidents of self-harm by juveniles and young offenders between 1998 and 30 June 2002, data on self-harm in this format not having been available before 1998.

Table 1. Showing the number of self-inflicted deaths of juveniles and young offenders in custody between 01.01.1997 and 20.11.2002

Juveniles (15–17 years)Young Offenders (18–20 years)Total under 21 years (juveniles and young offenders)

The Prison Service employs the term Xself-inflicted death" which includes all those deaths where it appears the person may have acted specifically to take his/her own life.

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Table 2. Recorded incidents of self-harm among juveniles and young offenders in custody, 1 January1998 to 30 June 2002

Juveniles (15–17 years)Young offenders (18–20 years)Total under-21 years (juveniles and young Offenders)
2001 4021,3431,745

The Prison Service, with the support of the Youth Justice Board, is currently developing a suicide and self-harm prevention strategy. This is being taken forward progressively through a three year programme, which commenced in April 2001. Efforts are being targeted where the risks are highest within a broad preventative approach. The prisoners most at risk—in local prisons, on remand, in the early weeks and months of custody—will be better identified and cared for by better trained and supported staff. We aim to encourage a supportive culture in prisons based on good staff-prisoner relationships, a constructive regime and a physically safe environment. Six pilot prisons will act as the test bed for the full range of new safer custody policies and standards, and will be independently evaluated to determine which elements should subsequently be rolled out to the wider prison estate.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of young people are young offenders (a) in Staffordshire and (b) on average in England. [82975]

Hilary Benn: 4.2 per cent. of all young people (aged 10–17 inclusive) in Staffordshire were convicted or dealt with by police reprimand or warning in 2001. The proportion for England as a whole was 3.2 per cent.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research has been evaluated by his Department on the most appropriate method of deterrent to prevent young offenders from re-offending. [83976]

Hilary Benn: The Home Office and the Youth Justice Board (YJB) are currently evaluating the overall impact of the justice youth reforms and their component programmes.

Statistics published in June this year for offenders dealt with in July 2000, showed a 14.6 per cent. reduction in reconviction rates compared with 1997. Independent evaluation reports have been published: on Youth Offending Teams, the introduction of the Referral Order, reconvictions after Final Warnings, and Parenting programmes. The YJB expects shortly to publish further evaluation reports on cognitive behaviour, mentoring, drugs and alcohol, education, training and employment, prevention, and interventions in support of final warnings.

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