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Prisons: Electronic Surveillance

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the discussions held between the hon. Member for Thurrock and his constituent Michael John Smith at Full Sutton Prison, York on 1 September 1999 and 30 July 2001 were covertly (a) recorded, (b) transmitted and (c) monitored in some other way by or on behalf of any Government Department or agency; and if he will make a statement. (205648)

It is not our policy to confirm or deny surveillance operations in prisons. Since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) came into force, all forms of covert surveillance are subject to a strict and rigorous statutory regime for authorisations, and are conducted in accordance with the guidance set out in the statutory Codes of Practice. Independent oversight is provided, and is overseen by the Office of Surveillance Commissioner. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal was established to investigate and rule on any complaints.

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made clear in her statement on 21 February 2008, Official Report, column 536, Sir Christopher Rose's inquiry into the surveillance of visits at Woodhill prison found

“no trace in recent years in prison records or anywhere else of any person known to be a Member of Parliament having been monitored during a prison visit”.