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Foreign Prisoners (Translation Services)

Volume 523: debated on Tuesday 15 February 2011

9. What assessment he has made of the adequacy of provision of language translation support for foreign national prisoners. (40460)

Translation and interpretation services are provided locally through central contracts. It is for the local prison authorities to determine the extent to which translation services are needed on a case-by-case basis.

Foreign national prisoners constitute about 15% of the total inmate population at HMP Winchester. A constituent of mine who is a member of the local monitoring board has raised concerns with me about the language translation support made available to foreign inmates there, particularly where deportation documents are issued. Does the Minister agree that putting in place efficient translation measures would help to improve the speed and efficiency with which inmates who have served their sentences and are awaiting deportation from our country are moved through the system?

I certainly would agree. We want to make it clear that we want absolutely no administrative hurdles put in the way of deporting foreign national prisoners back to where they belong.

Just for the purposes of planning for language services, will the Minister indicate what changes he expects in either the percentage or number of foreign national prisoners in this country over the next 12 months, so that we can judge his success in deportation?

All I know is that, having inherited the utterly dreadful position that we face—a position for which the right hon. Gentleman bears some responsibility, having held responsibilities in this area in the past—we are determined to make as much progress as possible. He understands, having presided over a doubling in the number of foreign national prisoners in our jails, just how difficult it is to get them sent home once they are here, but we will be making as much progress as we possibly can.