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3 Dec 2002 : Column WA89

Written Answers

Tuesday, 3rd December 2002.

Chief Surveillance Commissioner: Annual Report

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the annual report for 2001–02 of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner appointed under section 91(1)(a) of the Police Act 1997.[HL399]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Prime Minister has today laid before Parliament the annual report for 2001–02 of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner on the discharge of his functions under Part III of the Police Act 1997 and Part II of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. As required, under Section 107(3A) of the Police Act 1997, after consultation with the Chief Surveillance Commissioner the Prime Minister can confirm that no matter has been excluded from the enclosed report.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister is most grateful to Sir Andrew Leggatt and his colleagues for the work which has gone into preparing it.

Criminal Records Bureau

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Written Answers by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 6 November (WA111), whether:


    (a) no Minister or official from the Home Office formally agreed the specification for the contract with Capita to process criminal record checks, or


    (b) no Minister or official from the Home Office was responsible for the actual procurement of the contract with Capita to process criminal record checks.[HL211]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the Criminal Records Bureau, (CRB) was the senior Home Office official responsible for the specification and for the actual award of the contract to Capita to process criminal record checks. Mr Herdan was, and remains, the senior accountable officer for the CRB.

The Minister approved the user requirement for the CRB and the business case for public private partnerships outsourcing and agreed that a contract should be awarded on this basis.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who is authorised to see personal bank and building society details which appear on an application form for a criminal record check; and what guarantee there is for the applicant that such information cannot be used or abused.[HL213]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) staff are authorised to see applicants' personal information supplied on the disclosure application form. All civil servants and Capita staff must be cleared to government security standards, undertaken by the Home Office Security Unit. In addition all civil servant CRB staff who are responsible for seeing and handling sensitive disclosure information are checked to the same level as enhanced disclosures. Only civil servants have access to the sensitive information held by the police and other data sources. The CRB carries out security checks on the employees of the data processing companies contracted to it. Contractors are also under a legal requirement to ensure their staff respect the confidential nature of the information released to them by an applicant.

The scope of personal information available within and to the CRB is limited, precisely to prevent information being used inappropriately. All information on applicants is held confidentially in secure computer files, and we have taken steps to ensure that our systems and procedures prevent authorised access and unlawful disclosure. The CRB has taken advice from the Information Commissioner during the time when the disclosure application forms and our procedures were being drafted, and all personal information applications provide with their disclosure application will be protected under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any penalty clauses were built into the contract with Capita to process criminal record checks; whether any such clauses have been invoked; and to what effect.[HL216]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The contract contains a series of "Milestones" schedule dates, which, in turn have liquidated damage (financial remedies) regimes attached to them. The contract also defines contracted service levels, failure to achieve these results in financial remedies being applied by the agency. Both categories of financial remedy have been applied.

Updated Drug Strategy

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish their Updated Drug Strategy.[HL400]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All controlled drugs are harmful and will remain illegal. Drug misuse is the biggest challenge society faces. It damages the health and life chances of individuals. It undermines family life, turns law-abiding citizens into thieves and erodes communities. It is essential that we educate the young about the dangers of drugs, prevent drug misuse, tackle the dealers to reduce the prevalence of drugs on the streets and reduce the harm drugs cause.

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To address this, the Government have published their Updated Drug Strategy developed to take account of new evidence of what works and to focus on delivery.

In 1998 the first cross-cutting strategy was introduced to tackle drug trafficking, supply and misuse. This update builds on the foundations laid and the lessons learnt. We must concentrate on the most dangerous drugs, the most damaged communities and the individuals whose addiction and chaotic lifestyles are the most harmful, both to themselves and others. Education, prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm minimisation are our most powerful tools.

Setting out a range of policies and interventions, the Updated Drug Strategy provides:


    A tougher focus on Class A drugs;


    A stronger focus on education, enforcement and treatment to prevent and tackle problematic drug use;


    More resources—direct annual expenditure for tackling drugs will rise from £1,026 million in this financial year to £1,244 million in the next financial year, £1,344 million in the year starting April 2004 to a total annual spend of nearly £1.5 billion in the year starting April 2005—an increase of 44 per cent;


    A major new education campaign to be launched in Spring 2003 to drive home the risks of drug misuse. More support for parents, carers and families so they can easily access advice, help, counselling and mutual support;


    More help for the young people most at risk of developing drug problems through increased outreach and community treatment and an extension of drug testing and referrals to treatment and care via the youth justice system so that by 2006, we are able to support 40,000 to 50,000 vulnerable young people a year;


    Strengthened enforcement—including new cross-regional police teams to tackle middle markets and targeted policing to crack down on crack;


    A major expansion of services to refer people into treatment via the criminal justice system. We will use every opportunity from arrest, to court and sentence to identify drug-misusing offenders and engage them in treatment. Starting from next year in the highest crime areas with the worst drug problems we will roll out a comprehensive end-to- end approach. This will ensure that every drug-addicted offender is identified through drug testing at the point of arrest and charge and given the choice at their bail hearing of entering treatment rather than entering custody. All this is backed up by extra resources for arrest referral, drug treatment and testing orders, treatment in prison and youth offending institutes and for post-release treatment and support for those leaving custody;

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    An expansion of treatment services to ensure access is available when needed and is tailored to individual need, including residential treatment. Improved treatment for crack and cocaine users and heroin prescribing properly supervised for all those who would clinically benefit from it. By 2008, we will have developed the capacity to treat 200,000 problematic drug users each year. Funding for treatment services, including prisons, will increase by £45 million in the next financial year, £54 million for the year starting from April 2004 and £115 million from April 2005. This will be boosted by treatment funding associated with drug treatment and testing orders of nearly £10 million in the next financial year, £12 million in the year starting from April 2004 and £16 million from April 2005—bringing the total direct annual spend on treatment up to £589 million by 2005;


    New aftercare and throughcare services to help those leaving prison or treatment remain free from drugs;


    Strengthened capacity to deliver first in the areas with the greatest problems and improved services in those areas most affected by crack use; and


    Revised targets which are challenging but achievable.

Copies of Updated Drug Strategy 2002 have been placed in the Library. It is also available on the web at http://www.drugs.gov.uk

Iraq

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the human rights situation in Iraq.[HL363]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): On 2 December 2002, Her Majesty's Government published a report on human rights abuses in Iraq. It is based on intelligence material, first-hand accounts of Iraqi victims of torture and oppression, and reports amassed by NGOs over the past decade. The report examines Iraq's record on torture, the treatment of women, prison conditions, arbitrary and summary killings, the persecution of the Kurds and Shia, the harassment of opposition figures outside Iraq and the occupation of Kuwait.

The Iraqi regime's contempt for international law and its attachment to weapons of mass destruction were documented in the Government's dossier published on 24 September. Its dreadful human rights record is widely known. Her Majesty's Government consider it important that Parliament and the public should have accurate information about the awful reality of Saddam Hussein's policy of regime terror, which sustains his rule inside Iraq.

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