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Prisoners: Solitary Confinement

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners have been held in solitary confinement for over one year; and if he will make a statement. (268610)

Prisoners are never subject to solitary confinement. They are placed in segregation where they are provided with a regime which allows access to education, exercise, and where appropriate association. Information about the numbers of prisoners segregated for more than a year is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The segregation of prisoners is subject to specified safeguards. These include an assessment by medical staff of whether any mental health, other healthcare or self harm issues might advise against segregation. A prisoner at risk of self harm will be segregated only in exceptional circumstances and if possible, will be located in a safer cell. Prisoners in segregation are visited each day by medical staff and regularly by members of the Independent Monitoring Board. Continued segregation for three months or more is subject to regular assessment and monitoring by the Governor and area manager. The aim is always to return the prisoner to normal location as soon as possible.