Skip to main content

Prisoner Release (Risk Assessment)

Volume 514: debated on Tuesday 20 July 2010

1. What steps the Prison Service takes to communicate to police forces its assessment of the mental state of and threats posed to the public by prisoners immediately prior to release. (9411)

Police forces are notified of all prisoner releases. Procedures are in place in each prison under the national security policies to ensure that security information about offenders is analysed and shared with the police and other agencies if it is considered that it will help the police to protect the public from serious harm.

I referred to the mental health care and status of prisoners. The recent tragic events in Newcastle, on Tyneside and in Rothbury have highlighted how important the provision of good mental health care in prisons is. Will responsibility for that provision be given to local GPs in the reorganisation of the national health service, or will it be under the control of the prison?

First, I agree with the hon. Lady that it is important that we ensure adequate mental health care for prisoners, a very large number of whom suffer from mental health conditions. She will appreciate that I cannot comment specifically on the case to which she referred, which is the subject of an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation and a police investigation. We are now considering carefully how the Government’s health reforms should fit in with how we want to provide health services in prisons.

I thank the Minister for being careful not to speculate about matters that are the subject of inquiries and possible criminal proceedings. Is he aware that the people of Rothbury were extremely supportive of the police in the difficult task that they carried out, and that the police were very appreciative of that support at a time when the whole community felt seriously threatened?

I am sure that my right hon. Friend’s comments will have been noted. As he knows, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), visited Rothbury yesterday and met local police and residents to discuss those issues. However, my right hon. Friend will understand that the Government cannot comment further, given that two people have been charged with conspiracy to murder and that there is an IPCC investigation.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the importance of multi-agency risk assessment conferences in communicating between prisons, the police and others on any ongoing threats posed by specific perpetrators of domestic violence, and therefore in stopping that ongoing violent criminality in particular cases? Given that domestic violence accounts for 14% of all violent incidents, that almost 80% of victims are women, and that increasing focus on taking that crime seriously led to a 64% fall in its prevalence between 1995 and 2008, will he guarantee that MARACs will continue and even that they will be placed on to a statutory footing?

I am afraid that I cannot offer guarantees to the hon. Lady, but we can say in relation to that specific case that it is very important that all the lessons are learned about appropriate information sharing. The Government understand the significance of the domestic violence issues that she raises.