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Prison Service: Information Technology

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 18 February 1999

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether it is still their intention ultimately to develop a common database of prisoners, ex-prisoners on parole or licence and former prisoners convicted of certain serious offences to be accessed by the Prison Service, the police and the probation service. [HL1015]

The Inmates Information System (IIS) currently in use in the Prison Service is some 10 years-old and is expected to be replaced in the business change process which will be facilitated by the Quantum project. It is intended that the new system will allow for much greater and more timely exchange of information between the agencies of the criminal justice system. Whether this can best be achieved through a joint database or other possible solutions will be a matter for later study. The Prison Service is working closely with other agencies to determine the most effective way ahead.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether it is now their intention to continue using the Local Inmates Database System (LIDS) for computer-based prisoner information in the Prison Service indefinitely; and whether they are satisfied that this system, and the others now to be retained beyond the year 2000, are Y2K compliant. [HL1016]

The Inmates Information System (IIS) which incorporates the Local Inmates Database System is expected to be replaced as part of the business change process which will be facilitated by the Quantum project. The nature of the prison population is such that IIS has had to deal with dates beyond 2000 from its inception in 1989 and it was designed with this in mind. In addition, it has been subjected to exhaustive further testing as part of the Prison Service year 2000 programme and appropriate changes were implemented by the end of 1998 to ensure year 2000 readiness. Other Prison Service systems covering areas such as finance and personnel were similarly upgraded.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they consider that the Prison Service has sufficient information technology expertise in-house to evaluate competently the proposals made to it by outside contractors [HL1017]

I believe that, in conjunction with the Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency, the Prison Service can call upon personnel with relevant knowledge, experience and skills to evaluate proposals from bidders. To a limited extent, this may involve the use of outside specialist assistance.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to develop a web site for the Prison Service; why a separate Board of Visitors web site has been inaugurated; and what was the cost of this project. [HL1018]

The Prison Service is currently undertaking the preliminary scoping work for setting up its own web site with a view to having a presence on the Internet by the spring of this year.The Board of Visitors web site was initially one page within the Home Office web site which became available in late 1996. The Board of Visitors site was redesigned and relaunched on 27 January 1999 at a cost of £7,000 to coincide with their new recruitment for volunteer board members.