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Prisons: Housing

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison residential quarters are occupied by prison officers; and if he will make a statement. (201810)

The remaining Prison Service quarters are occupied by Prison Service staff, including prison officers, chaplains and agricultural workers or in a small number of cases, by former prison staff or relatives on compassionate grounds. Of the 480 or so remaining quarters some 285 are occupied by serving prison officers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison residential quarters occupied by prison officers are planned to be let to avoid the costs that would be incurred in upgrading properties to meet the 2010 Decent Housing Standard; and if he will make a statement. (201818)

Since 1987 the policy has been not to provide prison quarters and to dispose of the existing quarters under the then discount sales scheme or on the open market. Since that time some 12,000 quarters have been sold and some 480 remain. Once these remaining quarters are declared surplus to requirements and become vacant they are sold on the open market. In the financial year 2008-09 some 50 quarters are anticipated to be sold in this manner.

There are four quarters at HMP Wandsworth however that are not to be sold, on account of their strategic location on the front of the prison wall, and these are due to be transferred on a short to medium-term basis to a housing association or similar body who will source funding, possibly from a housing corporation to undertake the necessary works and then let the properties to local families who are deemed most in need of affordable social housing. A similar arrangement has been in place for some years for residential flats adjacent to Wormwood Scrubs.