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Lewes Prison

Volume 611: debated on Tuesday 14 June 2016

Improving safety is a top priority and the governor at Her Majesty’s Prison Lewes has put plans in place to address safety issues, including the provision of additional training for staff to better support vulnerable prisoners. Nationally, a violence reduction taskforce has been created to support and challenge establishments with a high rate of violence. An additional £10 million has been allocated to those prisons facing the greatest safety challenges.

I am sure the Minister has seen the recent independent report which highlights significant security issues not just for inmates, but for prison officers. Will he give his assurance that he will look at the findings in that report and at its recommendations?

Yes, I can absolutely give my hon. Friend that assurance, and I believe that she is visiting the prison shortly. We will learn from every report. There is currently a police, coroner, and prisons and probation ombudsman report on a recent incident at HMP Lewes. We will learn from that, and we will continue to make improvements in this important area.

It is not just Lewes prison that has problems with violence. I have a constituent in Frankland prison whose mother is in daily fear that she will one day get a phone call to say that her son has been murdered in prison. What will the Minister do to help prisoners who live in daily fear for their lives because of prisoner-on-prisoner violence, with the consequent anguish caused to their families?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising this issue. The Secretary of State has said very clearly that reducing violence in our prisons is our top operational priority, and he has recently allocated an additional £10 million to this. She will know that a lot of the violence is caused by terrible new psychoactive substances such as Spice and Black Mamba coming into prisons. We have now made them illegal, thanks to the work of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims on the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, and that is a help. We will shortly be rolling out world-leading testing, which will also make a difference. I draw a very clear link between the drugs and the violence.