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20 Jan 2003 : Column 178W—continued

Criminal Records Bureau Checks

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will estimate how many persons caring for (a) children and (b) vulnerable adults will not have Criminal Records Bureau checks. [89989]

Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) on 4 November 2002, Official Report, column 99W, in the light of a review of the projected likely capacity of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) against projected demand for its service, it has been necessary to take temporary measures not to increase the level of demand by postponing certain requirements for mandatory checks.

In care homes for adults, only providers and managers were subject to checks prior to 1 April 2002. An estimated 100,000 new staff per year will continue to be subject to CRB checks, as will providers and managers. But an estimated 300,000 staff who were already in post on 1 April and who have not already applied for checks will not need to be checked for the time being. These checks will now be required during the course of 2004.

Both new and existing nurses supplied by nurses agencies, and staff supplied by domiciliary care agencies, will also not need to be checked for the time being. A requirement for all such personnel to be checked in the current financial year would have entailed up to an estimated 200,000 in each group.

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Thereafter, it is estimated that some 50,000 staff supplied by nurses agencies and 60,000 staff supplied by domiciliary care agencies would have needed to be checked each year. Nurses supplied as new staff to establishments where requirements for mandatory checks are in force (including adult care homes and children's homes) will continue to be subject to checks. So will providers and managers of nurses agencies and domiciliary care agencies.

Finally, school governors will also not be required to have CRB checks for the time being. Such checks would have generated an estimated 70,000—90,000 applications per year.

We remain firmly committed to introducing requirements for CRB checks, and to the implementation of the protection of vulnerable adults list, at the earliest opportunity.

The CRB issued guidance to all registered bodies detailing these changes on 4 November 2002; the guidance is available on the CRB's disclosure website at 222.disclosure.gov.uk. The Department for Education and Skills also issued guidance to Local Education Authorities on 29 November (available on www. teachernet.gov.uk).

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to ensure that prison service staff who come into contact with juvenile offenders in adult prisons have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check. [91203]

Hilary Benn: The Prison Service has arrangements in place instructing governors to undertake a check on all those who have regular contact with children under 18 years of age using the Criminal Records Bureau.

The arrangements apply to all staff, fee-paid, contractors, agency staff, researchers/research students, volunteers and project workers who will come into regular contact with children and those who supervise or manage such staff.

Drug Addicts

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the relative effectiveness of (a) community specialist services and (b) residential rehabilitation for drug addicts. [87840]

Ms Blears [holding answer 17 December 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

The diagnostic criteria for entry into different types of drug treatment are not directly comparable. The needs of individuals and the background to their substance misuse will have an effect on the type of treatment most appropriate for them. Comparisons between the relative effectiveness of the two types of treatment are therefore complex and potentially misleading. The National Treatment Outcome Research Study, funded by the Department, reported that around half, or 47 per cent., of drug users who have gone through residential programmes and more than a third, or 35 per cent., of those from methadone programmes are still abstinent from opiates at four to five years.

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Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Drug Treatment and Testing Orders have been made by the courts; how many have been breached; how many have been revoked; and how many revocations have resulted in a custodial sentence. [91010]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: 10,070 Drug Treatment and Testing Orders were made during the period 1 October 2000 to 30 November 2002. Of these, 4,330 were revoked, including 226 for good progress. Figures on breach are currently available only for the period 1 November 2001 to 30 April 2002. During this time, 2;175 breach proceedings were instigated; and in about 40 per cent. of these cases, the order was revoked. Information as to re-sentencing in respect of revoked orders is not available.

Female Prisoners

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the proportion of female prisoners who will be (a) offenders in respect of cannabis, (b) class A drug offenders and (c) housed in hospital wings in each of the next five years. [90269]

Hilary Benn: There are no estimates of the proportion of female prisoners who will be (a) offenders in respect of cannabis, (b) class A drug offenders and (c) housed in hospital wings in each of the next five years.

At the end of October 2002, the female sentenced population for drugs offences was 1,314 (39 per cent. of the total sentenced female population), and the female remand population for drugs offences was 179 (18 per cent. of the total remand female population).

The total number of women prisoners recorded by establishments as having been admitted to prison health care centres between June and September 2002, the last quarter for which statistics are available, was 1,225.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of female prisoners are mothers to children aged under 10 years. [90272]

Hilary Benn: There is no routinely collected data on the proportion of female prisoners who have dependent children, irrespective of age group. However, a Home Office study of a large sample of imprisoned women and mothers, published in 1997, found that 60 per cent. of female prisoners, sentenced and unsentenced, had dependent children under the age of 18. (There were no research findings relating specifically to children under 10). Another smaller, but more recent, study of women prisoners and their work in custody, published in 2000, found broadly similar results (out of a sample of 567 sentenced women, 66 per cent. had dependent children under the age of 18).

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mothers with responsibility for children were serving sentences in prisons in England and Wales for the period January 1992 to December 2002, broken down by prison and what estimate he has made of the numbers of mothers

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with children who will be serving sentences in prisons in England and Wales for the period January 2003 to December 2013. [90488]

Hilary Benn: There is no routinely collected data on the number or proportion of female prisoners who have dependent children (nor are there any projections of such numbers for future years). However, a Home Office study of a large sample of imprisoned women and mothers, published in 1997, found that 60 per cent. of female prisoners had dependent children under the age of 18. Another smaller but more recent study of women prisoners and their work in custody, published in 2000, found broadly similar results (out of a sample of 567 sentenced women, 66 per cent had dependent children under the age of 18).

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are being taken by his Department to ensure a decrease in the numbers of mothers with children serving sentences in prisons in England and Wales. [90489]

Hilary Benn: The increase in the female prison population, and the wider consequences of this in terms of disrupting families and the lives of children, supports the need to respond specifically to the particular needs and characteristics of women offenders if there is to be a reduction in offending by women and the numbers ending up in custody with child-care responsibilities.

We are taking forward the 'Women's Offending Reduction Programme' over the next three years to respond to the range of factors that have an impact on why women offend, and encourages joint working between departments, agencies and other organisations to tackle those factors. A primary focus will be on improving community-based interventions that are better tailored to the needs of women. Childcare facilities in the community, is one of the issues being looked at. Greater use of such interventions will be encouraged to ensure that custody is only used for women offenders who really need to be there.

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mothers in prisons in England and Wales have responsibility for babies (a) under nine months old and (b) under 18 months old. [90490]

Hilary Benn: On 6 January 2003, there were 34 mothers in Prison Service mother and baby units with babies under nine months old and 16 mothers with babies between nine and 18 months old.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women prisoners who were addicts of (a) heroin and (b) cocaine continued their habits after serving their sentences in each of the last five years; and what proportion died from drugs misuse in the 12 month period after leaving prison. [90266]

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Hilary Benn: There is no routinely collected data on the proportion of female prisoners who were addicts of heroin or cocaine and who continued their habit after their sentences. However, the Home Office has commissioned the Office for National Statistics to examine the extent and causes of drug-related mortality among prisoners recently released from prison in England and Wales. The findings, which are due to be published later this quarter, will examine mortality rates among a sample of the general ex-prisoner population (though mainly not differentiating between males and females).

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce reforms to assist women prisoners through (a) improved accommodation and (b) delaying sentencing orders. [90249]

Hilary Benn: Helping women leaving prison to find appropriate accommodation is one of the key factors in effective resettlement, and we are continuing to improve the range of housing advice available in women's prisons, including prisoner-led schemes. Alongside employment, improving accommodation outcomes for released prisoners forms part of the Prison Service's Custody to Work initiative, in which we are investing £14.5 million a year from April 2003. A proportion of this will be allocated shortly to the women's estate and will be available to support the further development of housing advice services. We have no plans to allow courts generally to defer commencement of sentences, but the new sentence of intermittent custody planned in the Criminal Justice Bill will enable offenders to maintain activities, such as child care, while serving their prison time during certain parts of the week. Additionally, although intermittent custody begins immediately it is imposed by the court, the court can defer the first custodial period. This would enable the offender to make child care arrangements.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the most recent per capita figures are for the use of neuroleptic drugs in each women's prison; and what percentage of prisoners in each women's prison are users, at least weekly, of (a) tranquillisers and (b) pain killers. [90271]

Hilary Benn: This information is not available in the form requested. A survey of mental ill health in the prison population of England and Wales, undertaken in 1997 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that 26 per cent. of women prisoners were taking painkillers, 16 per cent. hypnotic and anxiolytic medication and 10 per cent. anti-psychotic medication.


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