HL Deb 20 March 1997 vol 579 cc110-2WA
Baroness Anelay of St Johns

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent progress they have made in implementing their programme of criminal justice initiatives announced at the 1993 Conservative Party Conference.

Baroness Blatch

All 27 points have been taken forward. In the last three years recorded crime has fallen by 10 per cent.

The 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act:

reformed the right of silence (1). The number of suspects refusing to answer police questions has nearly halved;

introduced faster court procedures for evicting squatters (2);

introduced new powers for the police to stop trespassers disrupting lawful activities like country sports (3);

introduced tougher new powers for the police to stop and search people suspected of terrorist activity (4);

created a new offence of gathering information for terrorist purposes (5);

created a new offence of possessing anything that gives reasonable suspicion of being connected to terrorist activities (6);

gave the police the power to take DNA samples in connection with all recordable crimes (7). Our national DNA database, the first of its kind in the world, now has over 113,000 samples on it. To date 1,400 matches have been made;

created a new crime of witness intimidation (8). In 1995, 500 people were charged with committing that offence and significantly more in 1996;

abolished judges' warnings to juries in rape trials about the truthfulness of women (9);

gave the police the power to arrest for breach of police bail (10);

banned those on bail from serving on juries (11);

ended the presumption in favour of bail for anyone accused of offending while on bail (12);

gave the police the power to attach conditions to bail (13);

allows the courts to revoke bail if new information comes to light (14);

introduced automatic custody for anyone convicted of rape, manslaughter or murder who is subsequently accused of the same category of crime (15);

allowed new prisons to be designed, constructed, managed and financed by the private sector (16);

gave the Prison Service the power to test prisoners' urine for drugs compulsorily (17). Mandatory drug testing had been introduced throughout the Prison Service by March 1996;

doubled the maximum sentence in young offender institutions for 15–17 year-olds to 2 years (18);

gave the courts the power to order 12 to 14 year-old persistent offenders into secure training centres. These powers will be triggered once that accommodation is available (19). The first contract has just been signed.

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 allowed retrials where juries have been nobbled or witnesses intimidated (20); and gave the judges the power to prohibit the reporting of unsupported allegations made during a speech in mitigation (21).

The Criminal Appeal Act 1995 has enabled the Government to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission to look at miscarriages of justice (22).

There are now 1,900 Neighbourhood Constables (23).

The Attorney General's right of appeal for unduly lenient sentences was extended to all serious violent and sexual offences in March 1994 (24).

In March 1995 new National Standards were published to toughen up community sentences (25).

In March 1994 new guidelines on cautioning were issued (26).

In 1993 all 16 recommendations by an internal inquiry to cut police paperwork were accepted (27).