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Asylum Seekers Detained In Prison: Language Facilities

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What language support and training are provided to prison officers in prisons that are used to detain asylum seekers; and what translating and interpreting services are provided to such asylum seekers. [HL529]

The Prison Service has recently re-negotiated its contract with Language Line, a 24-hour telephone interpreting service available to all prison establishments. A training day for staff on the use of the service was held at the Prison Service College in September 2000 and further sessions at the Race Relations Liaison Officers National Conference in November 2000. The Prisoners' Information Book, jointly produced with the Prison Reform Trust, is available in 21 languages.Establishments have access to an

Interpreters' Directory which gives details of interpreters registered to immigration ports in England and Wales. Immigration staff—who hold "surgeries" for immigration detainees—have access to a database of 3,000 interpreters in over 200 different languages.

The Prison Service will continue to work in partnership with the Immigration Service and other agencies to minimise any language or cultural difficulties experienced by foreign nationals, including asylum seekers, detained in prison.