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Prisons

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison officers were incapacitated suffering from post traumatic stress related illness in each of the last five years. [116953]

Sickness absence is recorded in terms of the reason for absence although there is no specific category for post traumatic stress disorder. The following table provides the number of cases recorded among officer grade staff for stress related conditions in each year since April 1999. Reliable sickness absence information is not available prior to 1999.

New cases of absence due to stress

related conditions among officers
1999–200011,894
2000–011,964
2001–021,990
2002–032,164
1Includes cases which began prior to 1 April 1999.

Note:

Figures relate to prison officer, senior officer and principal officer grades.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the impact on the prison population of the Criminal Justice Bill; and what consequential changes he plans to make to the level of provision in the prison estate; [115141](2) if he will publish a prison population impact assessment for each part of the Criminal Justice Bill. [115142]

The provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill which reform the sentencing framework will make it possible to ensure that the most serious violent, sexual and persistent offenders spend longer in prison while allowing other offenders to be dealt with by means of tougher and more effective community sentences. In addition, custody plus and custody minus will provide an option for those offenders whose offences are serious enough to justify custody, but where the concentration of rehabilitative work occurs in the community. The projected net effect on the prison population of the implementation of the provisions to reform the sentencing framework, is an increase of about 1,000 in the prison population by 2009. The impact is estimated to be about 500 once all the changes have been implemented and sufficient time has passed for their full effects to be seen.The firearms offences provisions in the Bill will provide for a mandatory minimum custodial sentence for unauthorised possession of a prohibited firearm. The estimated effect on the prison population of the implementation of these provisions, and the implementation of the provision providing for increase in penalties for certain driving-related offences causing death, is an increase of about 500 in the prison population.The effect of life sentence provisions in the Bill will provide for the determination of minimum term in relation to mandatory life sentence. It is assumed that the effect of these provisions on the prison population will not be felt for a decade. In around 20 years time, the projected effect on the prison population is estimated to be an increase of about 1,000 in the prison population. In around 30 to 60 years time, once all the changes have been implemented and when sufficient time has passed for the full effect to be seen, the impact is estimated to be in the order of 1,200.The restriction on bail for drug users provision will be piloted in selected court areas. The provision aims to reduce re-offending by encouraging drug-misusing offenders into effective drug treatment programmes where appropriate. Part of the pilot evaluation will focus on the likely impacts of the provision on prison population if it were to be extended more widely. A study is planned to assess the likely effect on the prison population of the provisions introducing a presumption against the grant of bail to defendants who have failed to surrender. The measure is intended to deter offenders from abusing bail.The Government is providing additional capacity. Spending Review 2000 and the 2003 budget provided funds for 2,820 additional prison places to be built at existing prisons. Two new prisons will also be opened at Ashford and Peterborough. Together with building programmes in progress, these two additional programmes will increase the total useable capacity of the prison service estate from 74,030 to around 78,700 by 2006.The prison service continues to investigate options for providing further increases in capacity over the coming years, as part of the Government's prison modernisation strategy. This is based on a combination of expanding capacity in existing prisons that we want to keep in the long term and a programme to build new large multi-function prisons.