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Approved Premises

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 21 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many bail hostels were opened in Eastbourne in each of the last five years; what the location is of each; and if he will make a statement; (248821)

(2) what criteria are employed in selecting which offenders to place in a bail hostel; what account is taken of potential risk to the public in those criteria; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what steps his Department takes to consult local authorities on the location of bail hostels; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what mechanisms are in place for his Department to oversee the operation of Clearsprings; and if he will make a statement;

(5) what steps his Department is taking to ensure that members of the public are made aware of the identity and location of bail hostels in their area; and if he will make a statement;

(6) how many bail hostels are planned to be opened in each constituency in the next five years.

I take all of the hon. Gentleman’s questions to relate to the accommodation and support service provided by ClearSprings. The service provides small houses and flats which are the private rented homes of those receiving the service. There are currently none in Eastbourne. If a property becomes available for this service in his constituency I will write and inform him.

Those who are sex offenders or who are charged with sex offences, and those who have committed arson of buildings in the past 10 years, are excluded from the service. Sentenced prisoners who are not eligible for home detention curfew are excluded. In addition, ClearSprings will not accept those whom they deem to pose an unacceptable risk to the public, to other service users or to ClearSprings’ staff.

That ClearSprings will accept a person does not guarantee that person's release. The courts decide whether a defendant can be bailed. In making its decision the court will consider the risk of offending and the extent to which the ClearSprings service would mitigate that risk. The court makes its decision in knowledge of any previous convictions and submissions by the prosecution and the defence. The court can impose other conditions, such as electronic monitoring. Decisions to release prisoners on home detention curfew are made by prison governors. All those applying for home detention curfew are risk assessed before release and probation assess the suitability of the proposed address for the individual offender.

ClearSprings is contractually obliged to consult local authorities, probation and the police, inviting them to comment on the suitability of the proposed location of a property to be leased for this service.

The service is managed regionally by NOMS Regional Offender Managers and Directors of Offender Management, who have monthly operational meetings and quarterly review meetings about regional performance. Additionally there are monthly contract meetings between a NOMS director and ClearSprings senior management.

We do not disclose the private addresses of defendants or offenders. Neighbours are provided with details to enable them to contact ClearSprings staff in the event of any concerns about behaviour.

Regional Offender Managers identify the requirement for this service by town, not constituency. A list of towns where properties were expected to be needed was published on 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1653W. A list of the constituencies with properties currently provided was published on 15 January 2009, Official Report, column 911W.