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Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances drug users who begin a custodial sentence (a) are required to go through a detoxification process and (b) are allowed to continue using drugs or drug substitutes; and if he will make a statement. (110180)

These decisions are made on the basis of clinical need.

On reception, all prisoners undergo a health screening triage process. Following this, those with possible substance misuse issues undergo an additional specialist clinical assessment.

In cases where drug dependency is identified, decisions on the further management is based on the clinical assessment and is a matter for local clinical judgment. For those with a heroin misuse problem, such treatment may include the effective management of the symptoms of withdrawal or maintenance prescribing with an opiate substitute. Methadone or buphrenorphine are two of the interventions used in both instances.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners were prosecuted for offences committed in prison of (a) violence, (b) drugs, (c) threatening or abusive behaviour and (d) two or more of the above categories in each year since 1997-98; (112899)

(2) how many (a) prosecutions and (b) convictions there were for offences committed by prisoners while in prison in each year since 1997-98.

Information on the numbers of offences committed by prisoners while in detention in prison establishments in England and Wales can be found in tables 9.1-9.3 in the recently published Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2005, a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library and which can be found at the following website:

Information on the numbers of prosecutions brought against prisoners detained in prison establishments is not collated in the form requested and would not be available without disproportionate cost.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system, and although shown to the last individual the figures may not be accurate to that level.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent guidance has been issued by the Prison Service on the adoption of common criteria for the distribution of condoms in prisons. (113311)

Prison doctors were advised in 1995 that they should make condoms available to individual prisoners, on application, if in their clinical judgment there is a risk of transmission of HIV and/or sexually transmitted illness (STIs) infection during sexual activity.

In July 2006, this guidance was reiterated in a letter to prison governors and prison health care managers to ensure greater compliance across the prison estate. There has been no shift in the principle of the policy, although health care workers as well as doctors may now be able to issue condoms.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are earning at or above the national minimum wage. (113660)

While detailed information on the number of prisoners earning at or above the national minimum wage is not held centrally, all prisoners working at stage two resettlement will be paid, in the same way as other employees working in community, at or above the minimum wage.

Within closed institutions, a number of small projects such as the Howard League ‘Barbed’ initiative are designed to provide prisoners with employment skills. These prisoners will receive payment rates comparable to outside employees.