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Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice: Sunday Times Article

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have no information on the source of remarks allegedly made to the Sunday Times.

Northern Ireland Hospice

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): This year the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Eastern and Northern Health and Social Services Boards have provided a total of £1,448,208 in revenue funding to the Northern Ireland Hospice at Somerton Road, Belfast. This amounts to over 32 per cent of the hospice's anticipated revenue expenditure of £4.5 million in 2002–03.

In relation to capital costs, no requests for capital funding have been received from the Northern Ireland Hospice in the current year and no capital funding has been provided.

At this stage, it is too early for the department or boards to have reached agreement on the level of funding for 2003–04.

House of Lords Refreshment Department: Purchase of Fairtrade Products

Baroness Whitaker asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The House of Lords Refreshment Department purchases from a wide range of suppliers and, when appropriate, purchases fairtrade products. The department currently purchases fairtrade bananas and mangoes on an occasional basis. There is, however, no policy to favour the purchase of fairtrade products. Fairtrade coffee was supplied in the peers' guest room for a trial period in 1998 but was withdrawn from sale after poor take-up.

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Police Science and Technology Strategy

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan to launch a police science and technology strategy.[HL1123]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Today sees the launch of the first ever science and technology strategy for the police.

Science and technology have been important tools in the fight against crime for many years. However, as criminals become more technologically aware, so it becomes vital that the police service is not only properly equipped to combat this new strain of criminals but also that the tools they use are as effective and efficient as possible. From early on in the police reform process the major stakeholders in policing identified the need for an overarching strategy for the police use of science and technology—a commitment which was made in the police reform White Paper: Policing a New Century: A Blue Print for Reform. 1

We established the police science and technology strategy group to bring together the key stakeholders and commissioned them to identify and prioritise the police's requirements for science and technology. This work has formed the basis of the overarching strategy that we are launching today.

The purpose of the S&T strategy is to ensure the police service is equipped to exploit the opportunities in science and technology to deliver effective policing as part of a modern and respected criminal justice system. To achieve this, the strategy identifies three key aims: to establish priorities for current and future science and technology applications and research; to co-ordinate the development and implementation of technology between users and suppliers to ensure a coherent and effective process; and to implement processes for future scanning to ensure that the police service can exploit new technology at the earliest opportunity and is prepared for new technology-based threats.

These activities will support the delivery of national priorities for policing as identified in the national policing plan. This strategy will inform local planning as forces, police authorities and key providers draw up their individual plans for the use of science and technology. Hence, the role of this strategy is not to usurp or replace individual plans and strategies but to provide a framework for their successful development. This provides the opportunity for a more co-ordinated approach in those areas where that is appropriate.

An important first step in this new process was the identification of the capabilities which science and technology can enhance to deliver more effective policing. The most important of these have already been outlined in the national policing plan: the effective use of intelligence gathering technology, secure exchange of data and mobile data input and retrieval, effective management of investigation and

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case handling, and maximising the value of evidence including the use of DNA.

The process of prioritising, improving co-ordination and scanning for future threats and opportunities is not a static one but will be developed and improved upon over the coming year. This strategy sets out how this process will be carried out.

Despite being very different in their roles and status, the Forensic Science Service, Police Information Technology Organisation and Police Scientific Development Branch will all play important roles in delivering the strategy. The strategy, along with the priorities it has identified, will provide the framework for their individual plans for 2003–04 and beyond to ensure a more co-ordinated approach to meeting the science and technology needs of the police service.

This first overarching strategy, developed with both the key stakeholders and independent experts, marks a significant step but is not the culmination of our work. The next and perhaps most important step is that of implementation. This, with our partners in the police science and technology strategy group, will be our main focus for the year ahead.

    1 Home Office (2001), Policing a New Century: A Blueprint for Reform, CM5326, Stationery Office

Prisoners: DNA Samples

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan to take samples from prisoners whose DNA is not currently on the national DNA database.[HL1124]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The DNA expansion programme is a major government initiative that has been developed to enable the police to make maximum benefit of DNA in tackling crime. Home Office funding has been made available to enable the police to take DNA samples from all people cautioned or charged with a recordable offence and from as many crime scenes as possible. The database has already played a leading role in solving a large number of crimes.

A number of prisoners and mentally disordered offenders do not have DNA on the database as they were convicted before the DNA expansion programme enabled every offender to be DNA sampled. An exercise is now under way to identify those offenders without DNA on the database and to ensure that a sample is taken before they are released from prison or hospital. This prisoner DNA sampling programme is being run under the auspices of the existing DNA expansion programme.

A dedicated programme management team has been recruited and is developing plans to ensure that the majority of those without DNA profiles on the database do provide them by summer 2003. Centrally managed but regionally based teams of police officers working in close co-operation with prison and mental health establishments will ensure a speedy completion

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of the exercise with minimal impact on the estabishments involved.

The exercise will underpin the Home Office aims of reducing crime, increasing the efficiency of crime investigation and increasing successful prosecutions. If known offenders can be linked to their offences more often and more quickly, then we will be able to detect and deter more crime in the future and also improve victim reassurance and so contribute to reduction of the fear of crime.

The prisoner DNA sampling programme and the broader DNA expansion programme are clear examples of the use of science and technology to reduce crime and improve the effectiveness of the police. In the national policing plan, published recently, we state our commitment to ensure that the DNA database covers all known active offenders by 2004.

Olympic Games 2012

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What references have been made by them, or supported by any member of the Government, during or since 1997, advocating action by Her Majesty's Government to assist any application from the United Kingdom to stage a future Olympiad; and, in respect of any such reference, what action has been taken to further that objective.[HL956]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has worked actively with the British Olympic Association and other key stakeholders since the end of 1999 to consider the possibilities of a UK city bidding to host the 2012 Olympic Games. It was the decision of the BOA that a UK bid should be based on London as host city for Games. The key stakeholders, the GLA, the BOA and the Government jointly commissioned a cost benefit analysis on bidding for and staging the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A summary of this report was published on 1 November 2002. A thorough cross-government analysis of this report is being conducted. The Government will decide whether to support the bid for London hosting the Games within the next month.

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