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Prison Safety and Security

Volume 622: debated on Tuesday 7 March 2017

We are taking urgent action to improve prison safety and security, alongside reforms to overhaul the system to focus on the rehabilitation of offenders. This includes tackling the supply and demand of drugs, drones and phones, which drive prison violence and undermine safety, and redoubling our efforts to address the record levels of suicide and self-harm.

I am the rapporteur to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which is conducting an inquiry into mental health and deaths in prisons. Last week, we took evidence from four serving prisoners, including on the issue of safety. One young man told us that he had received only two days’ advance notice of when he was due to be released, causing him great anxiety about accommodation and having a sufficient support network. Will the Minister undertake to look at the resettlement problem?

I would be surprised if the gentleman my hon. Friend mentions was informed of his release only two days in advance, but I would of course be happy to look into the situation in more detail.

When the Minister replied to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South (Mr Shuker) about safety in prisons, he forgot to supply my hon. Friend with the number. What is the number?

The answer is very straightforward: mutual assistance exists for prisons to support each other in both the private and public sectors.

Staff morale is very important to safety and security in prisons, so I wish to ask the Minister again about the flexibilities that I understand governors will have on pay increases from 1 April. Will that mean that we could end up with prison officers in Hull being paid less than prison officers down the road in Leeds? How will that affect morale?

No. As I said in my answer to a previous question, the matter of Prison Service pay will be decided nationally. The independent pay review body will also submit evidence throughout this year. That will still be the case where we have governor freedoms, but, in giving governors their budgets, they will be able to decide on the mix of staff and how to deploy them.