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Mr. Straw: Since the publication of the Social Exclusion Units report Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners in 2002 we have had significant success in reducing the reoffending by offenders released from custody. Between 2000 and 2006 there was a 22.9 per cent. fall in the frequency rate from 189.4 to 146.1 offences per 100 offenders. Additionally the rate of serious re-offending decreased by 11.1 per cent. over the same period.
The Governments social exclusion agenda is now led by the Social Exclusion Task Force (SETF), which has a strategic role in delivering better working across Departments on social exclusion issues. This includes the Socially Excluded Adults Public Service Agreement (PSA), which aims to increase the proportion of socially excluded adults in employment and accommodation. The Ministry of Justice is working closely with the SETF and other delivery departments to take forward this PSA and to tackle other factors linked to reducing reoffending. With this aim in mind a Reducing Reoffending Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) chaired by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Justice (Mr. Hanson) and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Mr. Simon), and including Ministers from 13 Government Departments, is responsible for ensuring the alignment of departmental targets and PSAs to support crime reduction and the reduction of reoffending, and ensure delivery of agreed cross government plans.
Work is also in hand to collect data associated with the costs of reoffending. The Ministry of Justice is currently developing a segmentation approach better to understand different offender groups, including their behaviour and criminal careers. This will include an assessment of which offenders are likely to cost society the most through their reoffending, and therefore where there are likely to be higher benefits to the public
through reducing further reoffending. Additionally, the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is undertaking a Specification, Benchmarking and Costing Programme, which aims to create a robust framework of costed service specifications thereby exposing choices for the business about what services should be delivered, to which offenders, at what level of quality. Both of these work-streams will help us to understand how to best target resources and intervene more effectively in the future to minimise the cost of reoffending.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will assess the effectiveness of electronic tagging of (a) young offenders aged between (i) 10 and 15 and (ii) 12 and 16 years old, (b) prisoners released on end of custody licence and (c) those on bail resident in (A) Essex and (B) Castle Point. 
Mr. Hanson: No research on the effectiveness of tagging in Essex, or Castle Point in particular, has been carried out or is planned. The current research programme within the Ministry of Justice includes further research on the effectiveness of a wide range of interventions aimed at reducing re-offending including a feasibility study into reoffending by prisoners released on home detention curfew but not on electronic monitoring in general.
Current evidence suggests that electronic monitoring has a neutral effect on re-offending. However, international research does suggest that it can be effective in helping to ensure compliance with other, more rehabilitative, community penalties.
Electronic monitoring provides the courts with a credible alternative to custody. Curfews introduce regularity into what are often chaotic lifestyles, and enhance supervision and can disrupt the pattern of offending behaviour. A Joint Criminal Justice Inspectorates Report on the effectiveness of electronically monitored curfews was published in October 2008, and its recommendations are being considered by the Ministry of Justice.
The site at Basford East and, West was one of a number of sites brought to the attention of the National Offender Management Service as part of the site search exercise for Titan prisons to hold 2,500 prisoners. It was assessed, but not considered suitable for development as a Titan and no estimates of costs were made. There are no current plans for prisons on any of the sites listed other than those named by me in Parliament on 27 April.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions have taken place on (a) extending existing prison capacity and (b) providing new prison facilities in Essex; and if he will make a statement. 
I explained then that we were working to secure sites for the first two of these prisons, including one at Runwell in Wickford, Essex. We commenced negotiations with the owners of the site, the Homes and Communities Agency following my announcement and wrote to Chelmsford borough council on 27 April 2009 to inform them that we intend to start negotiations to buy this site.
The other site is Beam Park West in Dagenham in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham and is on land that was formerly part of the Ford motor car company. There are no plans for extending existing prison sites in Essex.
Mr. Hanson: Prisons are asked to send mobile phones and SIM cards they find to a central unit for analysis. The numbers analysed are set out in the following table for each of the last three years. There are no figures available for the years prior to 2006, because this information was not collated centrally.
The figures include items discovered within the prison perimeter and on entry to establishments. However, we believe that these figures may understate the actual number of finds, because they do not include items retained by the police for evidential purposes, and because in some instances prisons have not sent items for analysis. NOMS is putting in place new procedures to ensure that we have a more comprehensive picture in future. While the numbers of phones found indicates the scale
of the challenge in tackling illicit mobile phones, it is also a reflection of prisons' increasing success in finding them and better reporting.
NOMS is implementing a strategy to minimise the number of phones entering prisons, and to find or disrupt those that do enter. As part of the strategy, prisons are being provided with technologies to strengthen local security and searching strategies, in line with the recommendations in the Blakey report, Disrupting the Supply of Illicit Drugs into Prisons, published in July 2008. This includes the roll out of BOSS chairs to all prisons, and the deployment of other detection and disruption technologies, including mobile phone signal blockers.
We have also strengthened the law, through the Offender Management Act 2007 (implemented in April 2008), which makes it a criminal offence with a punishment of up to two years' imprisonment to bring an unauthorised mobile phone or component part into a prison.
|Mobile phones/SIM cards|
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