§ Ms. Richardson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the main needs of women in the policy areas within the sphere of his Department's activities; what has been done to identify and quantify those needs and to monitor services delivery; what consultation is carried out with women to ensure their views are adequately represented; and what training is given to his staff to raise their appreciation of the needs of women.
§ Mr. John Patten
[pursuant to his reply, 6 July 1987, c. 48]: Areas of particular concern to women within the sphere of Home Office activities are dealt with at paragraphs 121 to 127, 152 to 165 of the review by the ministerial group on women's issues which I chair of the Government's response to the Nairobi forward-looking strategies for the advancement of women (FLS), copies of which are in the Library. I would also identify the following issues:
- (i) We seek to ensure that the criminal law in England and Wales is adequate to protect all members of society, women and men, and in addition to the measures referred to in the FLS Review we have included in the Criminal Justice Bill provisions providing anonymity for rape victims from the moment when an allegation of rape is made.
- (ii) The leaflet referred to in paragraph 154 of the FLS Review has now been issued. Half a million copies have been printed and distributed so far.
- (iii) We are aware of the problems women's organisations and groups experience in attracting financial support. The Voluntary Services Unit at the Home Office organised a seminar in January this year, which brought together funders from charitable trusts and Government, and representatives of women's organisations and groups. The Ministerial Group on Women's Issues have agreed that recommendations from the seminar should be pursued by an implementation group.
- (iv) Grant under section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966 is paid to a number of local authorities which make additional provision to meet the special needs, mainly in education and social services, of women of Asian origin. Responsibility for identifying need for this purpose lies with the local authority.
- (v) The special needs of female inmates of custodial establishments are recognised, as is made clear in paragraph 157 of the FLS Review. The Home Office division with general policy responsibility for women and girls in prison maintains close contact with female establishments to identify any policy issues which arise and the following areas are currently receiving attention:
- (a) Age-Mixing: the mixing of female offenders under 21 with adult female offenders;
- (b) Mothers and babies: the circumstances in which offenders should be eligible to have their babies with them in prison; and details of the regime that should apply in mother and baby units;
- (c) New psychiatric unit at Holloway: the feasibility of such a unit and what form it might take.
Home Office Ministers and officials maintain contacts with voluntary organisations and groups and we are always prepared to receive their views on policy issues.
Home Office staff receive management training which stresses the importance of equal opportunities.