HC Deb 24 February 1999 vol 326 cc311-2W
Mr. Maclean

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what systems he has in place to ensure that policies being developed by his Department are subject to a crime impact(a) assessment and (b) audit and are not likely to lead to enhanced criminal opportunities. [72669]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

Development of Government policy takes place with close co-operation between the Departments concerned. This can be through formal arrangements, such as those established between the Home Office, Lord Chancellor's Department and the Law Officers' Department, or via Ministerial or Official Groups or Working Parties. Less formally, they can be through close consultation with experts in the relevant areas and with those affected by the proposed measures, normally against a background of regular in-house or specially commissioned research. The Home Office works closely with the Cabinet Office or other Government Departments on the crime implications of policy developments.

Our determination is that the implications for crime and disorder of any new measures are properly taken into account. This commitment is reflected in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Section 17(1) requires local and police authorities to exercise their functions with due regard to the likely effect on preventing crime and disorder.

Greater emphasis is now being given to building up our knowledge of policies that work in tackling crime. The Crime Reduction Programme, supported by £250 million from the Comprehensive Spending Review, is based on systematic evidence of what is effective in reducing crime and tackling its causes, not just dealing with its effects. All the parts of the Crime Reduction Programme will be independently evaluated to assess their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in reducing crime and improving the operation of the criminal justice system. Those parts which are successful will form the basis of future mainstream programmes and those which are not will be dropped.