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Prisoners: Self-Mutilation

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners in open prisons have been judged as posing a (a) high and (b) very high risk of causing serious harm. (174905)

Only prisoners classified as category D, the lowest security category, and thus assessed as presenting a low risk, are eligible for open conditions.

In the case of offenders sentenced to indeterminate sentences, they may be placed in open conditions only on a recommendation of the Parole Board, which has been accepted by the Secretary of State.

In either case, offenders will only be placed in an open prison following an individual and rigorous risk assessment. In all cases, the protection of the public is paramount.

The National Offender Management Service now also uses the Offender Assessment System (OASys) to assess the risk of serious harm presented by offenders. Probation officers have been undertaking OASys assessments for relevant offenders already placed in open prisons, following the risk assessment processes that were in place at the time.

As at 9 January, there were no offenders in open prisons who were assessed on the OASys system as very high risk of serious harm and 280 who had been assessed as high risk of harm.

Prisoners such as those who are now being assessed as high or very high risk on OASys have been successfully managed in open conditions for many years and open prisons provide an ideal environment to prepare prisoners for the transition from custody to management in the community.

It should also be noted that, for those prisoners who are subject to Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements, release plans are in place to address risk to the public when the prisoner reaches their release date, and open prisons provide an ideal bridge between custody and management in the community.