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Crown Courts: Prison Accommodation

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice whether all inmates detained in Crown court cells have been subject to the minimum standard of induction as required by Prison Service Order 0550; who was responsible for conducting the induction procedures; what level of training those responsible for the induction received; and if she will make a statement. (141668)

Prison Service Order 0550 provides instructions and guidance on the induction process for prisoners on arrival at a prison establishment. As such it is not applicable to the exceptional use of court cells, which are used only as a measure of last resort if accommodation in prison and police cells is exhausted.

Prisoners who have not yet been held in a prison will undergo full reception and induction procedures at the prison to which they are allocated.

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice whether all inmates detained in Crown court cells have been subject to the minimum standard of health screening as required in prison service orders; who was responsible for conducting the health screening; what the minimum level of training is for those responsible for conducting the screening; and if she will make a statement. (141669)

Arrangements are in place for prisoners held in court cells to be assessed by a qualified health care professional. Further health screening will take place on reception at the prison to which they are allocated.

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice whether each instance of accommodation provided for inmates in Crown court cells corresponds with the minimum standards as laid down in Prison Service Order 1900; and if she will make a statement. (141670)

Prison Service Order 1900 provides guidance for the certification and use of prison accommodation and is not applicable to the use of court cells, which are used only as a measure of last resort if accommodation in prison and police cells is exhausted. Appropriate staffing levels and procedures are in place in order to ensure prisoners are held in safe and decent conditions.

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what level of supervision is provided to prisoners detained overnight in Crown court cells; and if she will make a statement. (141671)

Staffing levels are determined on a site-by-site basis in order to ensure safety and decency, good order and control. In addition to an appropriate level of staff provided by the relevant prisoner escort contractor, there is prison service governor grade supervision.

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice who is responsible for the supervision of prisoners lodged overnight in Crown court cells; and if she will make a statement. (141672)

It is a legal requirement for prisoners to be held in the custody under the authority and direction of a ‘constable.’ When court cells are in use, this role is discharged by a prison service governor grade.

Additional staffing of court cells is provided by the relevant prisoner escort contractor, following established operating procedures.

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how many prisoners have been held overnight in Crown court cells since the beginning of 2007; and if she will make a statement. (141673)

Since the beginning of 2007 current data show that court cells have been used on 561 occasions (as at 19 June 2007). One occasion means one prisoner night in a court cell.