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Departmental Telephone Services

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many helplines his Department operates; and how much his Department has received from the operation of such helplines in each of the last three years. (294984)

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) operates two helplines:

1. Mentally disordered offenders victim information scheme; and

2. AccessNI—a criminal records disclosure and vetting service for statutory, community and voluntary bodies.

The NIO does not receive any payment from the operation of these helplines.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider the merits of securing accreditation of his Department's helplines to the Helplines Association's quality standard; and if he will make a statement. (295720)

The Northern Ireland Office aims to provide a high-quality service, which reflects best practice, through the current operating procedures used for its two helplines (Access NI and the mentally disordered offenders victim information scheme). While there may be benefits to be gained from securing accreditation to The Helplines Association’s quality standard I do not consider that, at current user levels, the resource implications involved in seeking accreditation would be justified on value-for-money grounds.