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Prisons: Drugs

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what progress has been made in the review of Prison Rule 39 on privileged prisoner correspondence recommended by the Blakey Review on disrupting the supply of illicit drugs into prisons; and if he will make a statement. (303435)

While not making this a formal recommendation in his report David Blakey highlighted the potential for abuse of Rule 39 mail for smuggling drugs. The Government undertook that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) would review Rule 39 mail to maintain legal privilege while reducing misuse.

The National Offender Management Service takes very seriously the principle of confidential communications between prisoners and their legal representatives which is embodied in Prison Rule 39. Any interference in these communications needs to be against a background of reasonable cause to believe that the communication is being made with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose.

Legally privileged mail can already be opened and read in the presence of the prisoner, where there is specific intelligence to justify it.

Since the report NOMS is consulting with the operational field and its law enforcement partners to establish the threat posed by current Rule 39 procedures and will shortly engage the Law Society to investigate whether and if so how these can be improved.