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Departmental Security

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many breaches of security have been reported at (a) HM Courts Service, (b) the Land Registry, (c) the National Offender Management Service, (d) the National Archives, (e) the Office of the Public Guardian and (f) the Tribunals Service in the last five years; and what procedures each agency follows when a breach of security involves the disclosure of personal data. (276954)

Ministry of Justice (MOJ) records as incidents any breach of security rules or events that have resulted in or had the potential to result in the loss of, damage to or harm to assets. The total number of centrally recorded security breaches/incidents occurring within the last five reporting years for the agencies/offices requested are broken down as follows:

2008-09

2007-08

2006-07

2005-06

2004-05

HM Courts Service

744

940

1,010

641

295

Land Registry

77

82

76

92

77

National Offender Management Service

8,538

8,800

8,621

8,740

8,419

National Archives

0

0

1

1

1

Office of the Public Guardian

3

0

0

0

0

Tribunals Service

224

215

164

1

1

1 Agency not created.

98 per cent. of the incidents occurred in prisons and courts. This needs to be put into the context of the challenges faced with work in the high-risk prison environment.

The Ministry of Justice is applying the Government’s Security Policy Framework to effectively, efficiently and reliably control risks across its organisation.

This comprises the requirement for all areas to apply procedures for reporting security incidents robustly, including the identification and investigation of the departure, however minor, from all security procedures.

The outcome is an evidently effective security management regime which in 2008-09 saw the lowest number of escapes from prisons to date; abscond performance is good and improving.

Where incidents involve the inadvertent disclosure of personal data these include the requirement to involve managers and Senior Civil Servants within an hour of any potential disclosure being identified. The circumstances surrounding each potential incident are investigated and where appropriate disciplinary action is taken.

These figures differ from those provided by me in a written answer to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) on 29 April 2009, Official Report, columns 1327-28W. I will be writing to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield and will issue a corrected answer to be printed in the Official Report.

The figures in this answer include an additional 4,507 security incidents/breaches relating to operational breaches of security in prison establishments. These mostly relate to the smuggling of drugs into prisons.

Drugs misuse as measured by random mandatory drug testing has decreased by 63 per cent. since 1996-97, principally as a result of an effective offender management and prisoner support regime, combined with prison governors deploying a comprehensive range of robust security measures to detect contraband and prevent its importation into prisons.