HC Deb 02 December 2002 vol 395 cc587-8W
Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the National Probation Directorate charges each probation area for the maintenance of each computer terminal under the STEPS contract; and how much is paid to STERIA by the National Probation Directorate for the maintenance of each computer terminal as part of the STEPS Contract. [84301]

Hilary Benn

The National Probation Directorate currently levies a £485 per desktop recharge on probation areas for the 2002/03 financial year. The recharge figure covers the provision of maintenance, support service charges including the provision. of the helpdesk during normal office hours, and support of the case management system.

Payments made to the company under the STEPS contract are covered by commercial confidentiality clauses that are normal in such contracts.

Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prepare a national strategy to promote awareness of and confidence in the work of the National Probation Service; what its terms of reference are; and when it will be published. [83231]

Hilary Benn

The promotion of community sentences to the public and the wider work of the National Probation Service are part of the national strategy to increase confidence in the criminal justice system. As part of the Government's 2002 Spending Review the Home Office shares a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target with the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Attorney-General's Office to improve the level of public confidence in the criminal justice system.

Since, April 2001 the National Probation Service has been developing its communications in particular with sentencers in order to build up confidence in and awareness of, probation work, including new developments in community sentencers that help reduce reoffending. Activities include a video on the Probation Service 'What Works' programme, and plans for publications to disseminate information, and for probation participation at events organised for magistrates and judges.

This work is co-ordinated and funded by the National Probation Directorate, but much of the communication at local level occurs between local probation areas and local benches and Crown courts.

An action plan, bringing together the media strategy, internal communications and communications with sentencers, will be published in spring 2003. Future work will be informed by recently commissioned public perception research, due for publication in December, which the National Probation Service intends to repeat annually.