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Volume 887: debated on Thursday 6 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will define the criteria currently applied by his Department for placing those prisoners whose families wish to visit them in prisons as close to the family home as can be arranged; and if he will make a statement.

A prisoner is allocated to the most suitable prison available after assessment of his offence and length of sentence, the needs of security, his history and background, his training needs and individual circumstances, and his home and domestic situation. The need to maintain family ties through regular visits is regarded as a major consideration, but it is not always practicable to locate a prisoner within easy visiting distance of his family.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the weekly cost of £41 of holding a person in prison compares with the costs in borstal and detention centres, respectively.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) on 24th February.—[Vol. 887, c. 3.]

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the amount of work that is currently being obtained for prisoners to do.

In the present economic circumstances there is inevitably some difficulty in ensuring the continuity of suitable work in a few prisons. In general the position is reasonably satisfactory.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in British prisons are serving their sentences in complete segregation under Rule 43 at the latest available date.

On 1st February 1975, the latest date for which the figures are available, 21 prisoners in England and Wales were withdrawn under the rule from all association with other prisoners. In each case the prisoner was in contact with prison staff and was visited daily by the governor and medical officer.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been paid in damages by his Department to prisoners wrongly sentenced.

During the period from 1st January 1965 to date ex gratia payments totalling £1,457 were made to four prisoners who had been detained on sentences subsequently found to have been imposed in excess of jurisdiction. During the same period ex gratia payments totalling £46,276 were made to 22 persons detained on court order and subsequently found to have been wrongly convicted or charged.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the 319 category A prisoners, noted in the answer given on 26th February, c. 165, to the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Watkinson), were placed in that category for each of the criteria noted.

This information is not recorded centrally and an analysis of the 319 individual cases would involve disproportionate cost. But it can be assumed that the majority are prisoners whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public rather than to the security of the State.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of prisoners on remand in custody in the last year to which figures are available; how many of these were found to be not guilty, had the case against them dismissed, or the charge dropped; and how many of those found guilty were subsequently given non-custodial sentences.

46,144; 2,207; 21,122. The figures relate to receptions into prison service establishments in England and Wales in 1973 and are given in Table 7 of the Report on the Work of the Prison Department 1973 (Statistical Tables) published as Cmnd. 5814.