Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

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Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Summary Offences
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of defendants sent summary offence notices under the single justice procedure fail to enter a plea; what is their assessment of the reasons for the level of such failures; and what steps they are taking to address that issue.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

Current response rates vary dependant on the individual prosecutors, with an average of 72% of defendants failing to enter a plea. Whilst an individual is at liberty to not enter a plea without reason, Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service is actively working with prosecution authorities and our partners in the Criminal Justice System to understand the reasons why defendents do not respond and to improve engagement rates.

Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Eastwood Park Prison
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take following the report of the Chief Inspector of Prison Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Eastwood Park; and what assessment they have made of the reasons for the failure to prevent the conditions disclosed in the report arising.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ recent report on HMP/YOI Eastwood Park was published on 28th August 2019. HMPPS take all recommendations made by the HM Chief Inspector seriously. A
detailed action plan has been produced to address the recommendations in the report. The action plan has been published on the prison finder website and has been provided for my noble Lord

We are aware of the deterioration of unit 2 due to leaking showers as highlighted in the report. Bids for funding have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice’s Projects Team to address the issues. In
the meantime, the Prison Governor continues to meet monthly with Gov Facility Services Limited and the Service Delivery Manager to assess conditions across the prison and ensure those areas
needing remedial works are addressed promptly.

Q
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Domestic Abuse: Sentencing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that victims of domestic violence, following the sentencing of an offender, receive (1) the precise sentence outcome, (2) accurate and relevant information about the possible impact of a sentence, and (3) the date of an offenders bail and prison release, to ensure that safeguarding mechanisms can be put in place; and what plans they have to enable victims of such violence to appeal sentencing decisions.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

Under the Code of Practice for Victim’s of Crime, all victims have the right to be notified of the offender’s sentence and receive a short explanation about the meaning and effect of the sentence. We committed in the Victims Strategy published last year to review the process for informing victims of offenders’ sentences and what they mean and we are currently consulting on proposals for revising the code, which will be followed by a consultation on a draft revised code.

The statutory National Probation Service Victim Contact Scheme is available to victims of violent and sexual offences, where the offender receives a sentence of 12 months or more. The Scheme provides victims with information and advice about the criminal justice process – including explaining the sentence to them and ensuring that they are informed of the offender’s release.

In such cases, victims also have the statutory right to request conditions that can be attached to the offender's release licence. These can include a no contact condition, and an exclusion zone covering areas where the victim lives, works, or travels too frequently. The offender risks being recalled to prison should they breach any of their licence conditions.

Offenders who have committed an eligible sexual or violent offence and sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment will be managed under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). Under MAPPA, the Prison, Probation and Police Services are required to work together to assess and manage the risks presented by such offenders. Thus, the MAPPA plan for managing the risk to such offenders must include measures to protect previous victims from further harm.

Additionally, Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) develop strategies to help and protect domestic abuse victims at high risk of murder or serious harm. Agencies including the Police, providers of probation services, health and child protection, as well as Independent Domestic Violence Advisers, share information and develop actions to protect the victim.

In respect of appealing sentencing decisions, the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme enables anyone, including victims, the ability to ask the Attorney General to consider referring sentences for certain offences which he believes to be unduly lenient, to the Court of Appeal. The offences covered by the scheme are indictable only offences that are heard in the Crown Court, and certain triable either way offences when heard in the Crown Court. The scheme has a statutory 28-day time limit for referrals to be made. The scheme ensures there is a route for victims, their families, and the public, to question sentences imposed by the court for certain cases.

If a case is referred, it will be a matter for the Court of Appeal to determine whether the sentence should remain as it is, be increased, or whether guidance should be issued for future cases.

Q
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Mental Capacity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to amend the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice to comply with the judgment in the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v. MM case so that there is no longer a presumption that welfare deputyship by relatives should be restricted to people with learning disabilities and autism.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

The statutory Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) Code of Practice provides practical guidance on the operation of the MCA, including on when the Court of Protection may appoint a deputy to make decisions on behalf of and in the best interests of someone who lacks capacity to make those decisions. The Code is currently under review, to establish the extent to which it should be revised to reflect changes in case law and lessons learned through practical use of the code since its publication in 2007. We sought input from a range of interested stakeholders through a call for evidence in spring 2019 and propose to consult on a revised Code in due course.

Q
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Solicitors: Assessments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the effectiveness of the Solicitors' Qualifying Examination in inculcating and testing legal writing skills.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

As the legal profession in England and Wales, and the bodies that regulate it, are independent from government, we have not made any assessment of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. As set out in the Legal Services Act 2007, it will be a matter for the Legal Services Board to determine whether to approve proposals for changes to the qualification arrangements for solicitors brought forward by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.

Grouped Questions: HL17612
Q
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Solicitors: Assessments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the effectiveness of exclusively multiple choice testing in the Solicitors' Qualifying Examination as a way of maintaining standards of legal service to consumers.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

As the legal profession in England and Wales, and the bodies that regulate it, are independent from government, we have not made any assessment of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. As set out in the Legal Services Act 2007, it will be a matter for the Legal Services Board to determine whether to approve proposals for changes to the qualification arrangements for solicitors brought forward by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.

Grouped Questions: HL17611
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Tommy Robinson
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Keen of Elie on 30 July (HL17224), which Department was responsible for reaching the decision that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon should be imprisoned in HMP Belmarsh; whether a Minister was involved in that decision; and if so, which.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

The Judiciary oversee the Courts and Tribunal Services (CTS) in England and Wales and it is their responsibility to hand down sentencing following a successful conviction. Mr Yaxley-Lennon appeared before the Central Criminal Court (CCC) on 12 July 2019, where he was sentenced to 19 week imprisonment for committing contempt of court. It is the responsibility of HMP Belmarsh to serve the CCC in its function as a Core Local Prison and therefore in line with Court Committal Directions Mr Yaxley-Lennon was allocated to HMP Belmarsh.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradley
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Pre-sentence Reports: Females
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women sentenced in (1) the magistrates courts, and (2) the Crown Courts, in England and Wales did not have a pre-sentence report prepared for them in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradley
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Compulsorily Detained Psychiatric Patients: Prisons
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times the courts in England and Wales used prison as a place of safety in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradley
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Females
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women currently in prison are aged (1) under 21, (2) 21–30, (3) 31–35, (4) 36–40, (5) 41–50, (6) 51–60, and (7) over 60, years old.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 03 September 2019
Attorney General
Prostitution: Prosecutions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Keen of Elie on 30 July (HL17215), whether it is their policy to prosecute brothel owners and managers when women are removed to detention centres from their premises, in view of the probability of offences of trafficking or slavery.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Personal Independence Payment: West Yorkshire
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many, and (2) what percentage of, Personal Independence Payment Appeals have been successful in West Yorkshire in the last 24 months.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 02 August 2019

The information requested is set out in the table below.

Number and percentage of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)1 appeals decided in favour of the appellant in West Yorkshire2 in the last 24 months for which data are available.

No of Decisions in Favour3

% Decision in Favour4

April 2017 to March 2019

4878

65%

1PIP (New Claim Appeals), which replaced Disability Living Allowance was introduced on 8 April 2013, also includes Disability Living Allowance Reassessed cases.

2Social Security and Child Support (SSCS) data are recorded by the office that dealt with the case, and if the case went to oral hearing, the location of the tribunal hearing, normally the hearing venue nearest to the appellant’s home address. Cases relating to West Yorkshire are attributed to the following SSCS venues: Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield and Wakefield.

3Decisions in favour - those cases where the original decision is revised in favour of the appellant.

4Percentage in favour calculated as the number in favour as a percentage of those cleared at a tribunal hearing. Cases cleared at hearing include some withdrawals.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing the data, the details are subject to inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale case management system and are the best data that are available. These data may differ slightly from those in the published statistics as these data were run on a different date.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Personal Independence Payment: West Yorkshire
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that people in West Yorkshire have waited over 100 weeks for their Personal Independence Payment appeal hearings; and, if there is such a backlog, why.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 02 August 2019

For the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 (the latest period for which data are available) there were a total of 571 appeals where people in West Yorkshire2 waited more than 100 weeks for their Personal Independence Payment (PIP)3 appeal hearing. This represents 1.5% of the total number of cases cleared at hearing.

1Data includes cases cleared at a Tribunal hearing. A Social Security and Child Support (SSCS) appeal may be captured more than once as a hearing should the original decision be overturned, set aside or an Upper Tribunal re-hearing is granted. The data are based on the time from receipt in HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to the last decision within the period.

2SSCS data are recorded by the office that dealt with the case, and if the case went to oral hearing, the location of the tribunal hearing, normally the hearing venue nearest to the appellant’s home address. Cases relating to the West Yorkshire region are attributed to the following SSCS venues: Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield and Wakefield

3 PIP (New Claim Appeals), which replaced Disability Living Allowance was introduced on 8 April 2013, also includes Disability Living Allowance Reassessed cases.

4Percentage exceeding 100 wks. is based on the number of cases cleared in over 100 weeks as a percentage of those cleared.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing the data, the details are subject to inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale case management system and are the best data that are available. These data may differ slightly from those in the published statistics as these data were run on a different date.

It is important that appeals are heard as quickly as possible. HMCTS recognises there are delays in the system and it is in the process of recruiting more judicial office holders in order to increase capacity and help to reduce waiting times for appellants. This includes 250 judges across the First-tier Tribunal, 125 disability qualified members and up to 230 medical members.

In addition, HMCTS has recently launched a new digital service with a view to enabling speedier processing of appeals. Information on the new digital service can be found at: www.gov.uk/appeal-benefit-decision/submit-appeal.

HMCTS is also working with the Department for Work and Pensions to understand what could be done to reduce the number of appeals being submitted to the Tribunal, through their focus on improving decision-making and the mandatory reconsideration process.

Q
Asked by Lord Dholakia
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Young Offenders
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many 10 and 11 year olds received a youth caution or criminal conviction in each of the past five years; and what proportion of those children were in care at the time of the caution or criminal conviction.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 02 August 2019
20142015201620172018
Cautions issued450359309218159
Convicted7686717037

The table above shows the total number of cautions and convictions issued to 10-11 year olds over the past five calendar years. Published figures do not allow us to distil the number of individuals but instead only the number of cautions/sentences. This is the latest annual data available from the ‘Criminal Justice Statistics quarterly: December 2018 – Outcomes by Offence data tool’: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2018

Data on looked after children is not held centrally by the Ministry of Justice. However, children supervised by the local Youth Offending Team or in custody will have their needs, including identifying whether they are looked after, assessed and appropriate measures will be put in place to ensure their individual needs are met.

Q
Asked by Lord Dholakia
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Youth Custody
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many children aged between 10 and 14 years old were held in youth custody in each month in the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 02 August 2019

Custody should always be a last resort for children. Statistics on the numbers of children aged between 10 and 14 held in Youth Custody are published regularly as part of the Youth Custody data series and can be found at the following link;

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/youth-custody-data

The table below shows the number children aged between 10 and 14 years old were held in youth custody in each month in the last five years. It should be noted that the data from 2018/19 onwards is currently provisional.

Year

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

2014/15

51

51

51

47

37

39

44

45

46

45

34

44

2015/16

50

49

47

42

34

40

46

43

33

31

26

33

2016/17

38

34

33

38

35

36

39

31

37

40

42

42

2017/18

39

36

39

45

43

43

52

50

43

36

43

47

2018/19

48

47

41

37

42

43

39

40

43

37

37

38

2019/20

38

36

Q
Asked by Lord Dholakia
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Youth Custody
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many 10 and 11 year olds received a custodial sentence in each of the past 10 years.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 02 August 2019

Custody should always be a last resort for children. The table below sets out the number of 10 and 11 year olds who have received a custodial sentence since 2009:

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Total Immediate Custody

1

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

This is the latest annual data available from the ‘Criminal Justice Statistics quarterly: December 2018 – Outcomes by Offence data tool’:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2018

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Special Educational Needs: Appeals
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on appellants of First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) hearings being cancelled; and what plans they have to mitigate this impact, including any plans to offer financial compensation.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 02 August 2019

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service has assessed the impact on all its customers of hearings being cancelled, and has listened to the views of users at recent user groups.

To mitigate this, the SEND Tribunal has increased the number of administrative staff, legal advisers and judges to reduce the number of cases which are postponed after they have been listed for hearing and is recruiting additional judges.

SEND Tribunals are free to access and use, but where appellants have incurred and can evidence financial loss as a consequence of the postponement of a hearing they may apply for a compensatory payment. Each application for an ex-gratia payment is treated on its own merits.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what data prisons are required to collect on the purposes for which prisoners are Released on Temporary Licence.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 01 August 2019

It is not possible, except at disproportionate cost, to establish the number of prisoners who have been released on ROTL to allow access to higher and further education in each of the last three years.

There are four categories of ROTL: Resettlement Day Release (RDR), Resettlement Overnight Release (ROR), Special Purpose Licence (SPL) and Childcare Resettlement Licence (CRL). Prisons are required to record the reasons for each release on temporary licence choosing from the following options. They are not required to specify the level of education:

(RDR) Education or Training

(RDR) Paid Work - Retail and Wholesale

(RDR) Paid Work – Manufacturing

(RDR) Paid Work - Catering and hospitality

(RDR) Paid Work - Transportation and storage

(RDR) Paid Work - Construction and recycling

(RDR) Paid Work - IT and communication

(RDR) Paid Work - Agriculture and horticulture

(RDR) Paid Work - Other

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Retail and Wholesale

(RDR) Unpaid Work – Manufacturing

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Catering and hospitality

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Transportation and storage

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Construction and recycling

(RDR) Unpaid Work - IT and communication

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Agriculture and horticulture

(RDR) Unpaid Work - Other

(RDR) Prisoner Apprenticeships Pathway

(RDR) Maintain Family Ties

(RDR) Outside Prison Activities

(RDR) Accommodation Related

(RDR) Other RDR Linked to Sentence/Resettlement Plan

(ROR) Resettlement Overnight Release

(SPL) Funeral

(SPL) Visit Dying Relative

(SPL) Medical/Dental Inpatient Appointment

(SPL) Medical/Dental Outpatient Appointment

(SPL) Other Compassionate Reason

(SPL) Court/Legal/Police/Prison Transfer

(CRL) Childcare Resettlement Licence

Asked on: 09 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Sexual Offences
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to (1) introduce tougher sentences for sex offenders, and (2) stop sex offenders being granted parole.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 31 July 2019

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides for a range of sexual offences which rightly carry robust penalties to deal with this serious offending – including some which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Since 2010, the average length of a custodial sentence for sex offenders has increased by more than 25 per cent. Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the independent judiciary, who take into account the full facts of each case. The courts are required to follow any guidelines produced by the independent Sentencing Council relevant to the case before them, including the definitive guideline on Sexual Offences.

For those who receive a life sentence, they must serve the minimum term in prison required by the sentencing court, following which they will only be released by the independent Parole Board if the Board is satisfied they no longer need to be detained for the protection of the public. Other sex offenders may receive an Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) if the court considers they could pose an ongoing risk. In those cases, the offender must serve at least two-thirds of the custodial term in prison and will only be released before the end of the full custodial term if the Parole Board is satisfied it would be safe to do so


The Government has no current plans to abolish the possibility of parole for offenders serving these types of sentences. Offenders should rightly be punished for their offences, but once they have served their punishment they should only continue to be held in prison if their risk remains too high for them to be released.

Q
Asked on: 10 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Offenders: Death
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in conducting a national review of deaths under post-release probation supervision, as stated in their response to the 12th report of the Health and Social Care Select Committee Prison Health (HC Paper 963).
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 31 July 2019

In our response to the Health and Social Care Select Committee the Government committed to undertake a review of deaths under post release supervision during 2019-20. Scoping work has been undertaken, and the full review is on track to be completed within this time period. This is in addition to the existing requirement on all probation providers to conduct an internal review following each death, and to share learning from these reviews.

The number of deaths of offenders under post-release supervision decreased from 401 in 2016/17 to 367 in 2017/18, a fall of 8%. The National Suicide Prevention Strategy identifies people in contact with the criminal justice system as a high-risk group, and we recognise that the time following release from prison can be a particularly high-risk period for suicide and for deaths from other causes. The primary role of probation is to protect the public and prevent re-offending, and people under supervision in the community are not in the care of HM Prison and Probation Service in the way that they are when in custody. While probation staff do everything they can to help offenders find access to vital services including healthcare, housing, and treatment for drug and alcohol problems, they do not have sole responsibility for caring for them. The national review aims to identify what further actions may be appropriate to prevent offenders’ deaths, while recognising that a range of other organisations share responsibility for their wellbeing.

We are also investing an extra £22m in ‘through-the-gate’ assistance for offenders, to help them find the support they need on issues such as housing, healthcare and employment, and they have the same access to these services as any other person in the community.

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