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Prisons: Manpower

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 11 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made as to the number of (a) former prison workers and (b) former prisoners who retained passes or keys to prison premises on leaving their employment or imprisonment in the last three years. (295762)

The issue of security keys in prisons is subject to careful monitoring with reconciliation and checks undertaken regularly. Stringent procedures are in place to ensure security keys are returned by all staff each time they leave prison establishments. Any failure to return security keys or taking them outside of the prison is considered a serious breach of security. This risk will be assessed and could result in a full or partial re-lock of the prison where it is felt that the key suite has been seriously compromised.

Measures for the reconciliation of security passes are described in Prison Service Order 1205. Staff are required to hand in their security passes to the identified pass co-ordinator on leaving the employment of the National Offender Management Service. The pass is then destroyed as security waste and the original pass application annotated accordingly. Data on the number of staff who failed to return their passes on leaving employment are not held centrally.

Prisoners are not issued with security keys or passes to prison premises. They may have access to courtesy locks on cells, but such keys do not form part of the security suite keys.