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Prisons

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his Statement of 9th October, on prison capacity, what his assessment is of the reasons why (a) France, (b) Germany, (c) Austria, (d) Belgium, (e) the Netherlands, (f) Switzerland, (g) Denmark, (h) Finland, (i) Iceland, (j) Ireland, (k) Norway, (l) Sweden, (m) Greece and (n) Italy have lower prison populations than the UK. (93034)

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said on 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 42, valid international comparisons are difficult because of the variations in a range of factors, including how one measures offences detected and offences reported. Analysis published by the Council of Europe in the European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics: Key Findings 2000 concluded that the length of custodial sanctions was the most important factor in the size of the prison population.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether a prison governor subject to an escape attempt may be responsible for the subsequent investigation into that incident; and if he will make a statement. (97506)

Responsibility for the investigation of incidents, including attempted escapes, lies within the line management structure. Based upon an assessment of the nature, seriousness and particular circumstances of the incident the appropriate manager commissions the investigation and appoints a lead investigator. Normally the investigation will be carried out by a local team, unless the commissioning manager judges that a greater level of independence is needed.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what training has been provided to (a) members of the Prison Service Management Board and (b) Prison Service area managers on the requirements on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; and if he will make a statement; (89918)

(2) what action he has taken to ensure that the interrogation of private cash accounts of inmates by the Prison Service is consistent with the requirements of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 9 October 2006]: Members of the Prison Service Management Board have not received specific training on the requirements of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, but last discussed the issue on 17 July 2006. Prison Service area managers have not received specific training either but the issue has been discussed at both operational directorate and operational policy group meetings on a number of occasions.

Prisoners' private cash accounts are managed with the consent of prisoners. Any interrogation is overt and not undertaken under the legislative framework of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners escaped or absconded from (a) Category A, (b) Category B, (c) Category C and (d) Category D prisons in each of the last five years; (91510)

(2) how many prisoners absconded from (a) category A, (b) category B, (c) category C and (d) category D prisons in each of the last five years.

The following table details escapes from prisons by category of prison and absconds that occurred during the last five financial years.

Escapes only apply to closed establishments, absconds only apply to open, category D, prisons. Although a small number of absconds have been recorded from closed establishments category D prisoners have absconded when working outside the prison.

Escapes and absconds from prisons between 2001 to 2006

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Function

Escapes

Absconds

Escapes

Absconds

Escapes

Absconds

Escapes

Absconds

Escapes

Absconds

Category B

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Category C

6

11

2

18

3

5

10

6

3

2

Dispersal

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Male Local

3

8

3

9

3

10

1

9

0

2

Female Open

0

22

0

12

0

32

0

14

0

18

Male Juvenile

0

2

0

3

0

2

1

0

0

0

Male Closed YOI

1

4

0

3

4

3

0

0

0

0

Semi Open

0

36

0

8

0

33

0

11

0

3

Female Local

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Female Closed

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Male Open

0

562

0

742

0

1,086

0

739

0

579

Male Open YOI

0

135

0

152

0

130

0

90

0

105

Total

15

781

5

947

10

1,301

12

870

3

709

Data are based on the current set of establishment functions.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners were transferred from category (a) A and (b) B prisons to category D prisons in each of the last five years. (94289)

No prisoners held in category A conditions within establishments have been moved to category D conditions in the last five years.

The total number of prisoners moved from category B to D conditions is not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) foreign national prisoners and (b) non-foreign national prisoners are held at Ford Prison; and how many in each category were held there in each of the last five years. (94787)

The population of Her Majesty’s Prison Ford on 18 October 2006 was 482. None of these are considered to be foreign nationals.

Historical information on previous numbers of foreign national and non-foreign national prisoners is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The population at Her Majesty’s Prison Ford on 18 October in previous years is as follows:

Number

2002

536

2003

509

2004

535

2005

536

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 19 October 2006, Official Report, column 1349W, on prisons, when the contributions of the external agencies consulted during the development of PSO 6300 were received; whether any of those contributions commented on the maximum allowable time for release on temporary licence; and which prison establishments provided feedback during the development of PSO 6300. (97389)

The feedback received from the external agencies listed in my previous answer addressed a wide variety of issues concerning temporary release, including the extent to which temporary release was available under various circumstances. None of the responses referred to specific allowable time limits for temporary release.

Operational managers and staff from a number of prisons provided feedback during course of the review period. Specific details are not readily available and could be produced only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures are in place in (a) prisons and (b) other custodial institutions to prevent self harm and suicide being committed by inmates; when he last reviewed such provisions; and if he will make a statement. (97623)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: Prison Service Order 2700 (current version issued in November 2002) sets out the procedures for suicide prevention and self-harm management in the Prison Service in England and Wales. This is available on the internet at http://pso.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/PSO_2700_suicide_and_self_harm_prevention.doc. PSO 2700 is currently being revised to incorporate learning from the Safer Locals Programme (2001-05), learning from death in custody investigation reports, and recent safer custody initiatives, including the introduction of ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody & Teamwork—the new care-planning system for at-risk prisoners). The revised PSO is planned to be issued in 2007.

Detention Services within immigration have traditionally adopted similar suicide/self-harm prevention strategies to the Prison Service, and are currently implementing a version of the ACCT system.

Each facility within the secure psychiatric services estate has its own self-harm and suicide prevention policies, which are informed by guidance issued by the National Institute for Mental Health in 2003, “Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Mental Health Services.”

Youth Justice Board (YJB) contracts with Secure Children's Homes (SCHs) and Secure Training Centres (STCs) stipulate that risks of self-harm and suicide must be treated seriously and responded to. The YJB monitors Suicide and Self-Harm (SASH) plans and policies to ensure they are reviewed and updated. Custodial staff are expected to demonstrate an understanding of SASH policies and practices, that SASH review meetings are programmed and that risks of self-harm are considered during the initial assessment stage following admission and in every subsequent review and planning meeting. The Commission of Social Care Inspectorate (CSCI) carries out announced and unannounced inspections each year to monitor how SCHs and STCs are adhering to statutory regulations and national minimum standards issued by the Department of Health.

Guidance relating to the risk of self-harm and suicide posed by individuals detained in police custody is contained in the “Guidance on the Safer Detention and Handling of Persons,” which was published on 8 February 2006.