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Prison Staff

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the full complement of each category of staff at (a) HMP Altcourse, (b) HMP Parc and (c) HMP Lowdham Grange; and how many staff are currently employed in each category. [50591]

Ms Quin: Each contractor categorises staff differently. Information for each prison is set out in the tables.

HMP Altcourse: staff complement

Job categoryComplement on 13 July 1998Numbers in post on 13 July 1998
Prisoner Custody Officers174171
Dog Handlers2727
Assistant Custody Officers3330
PT Assistant Custody Officers--23
Activity Officers119

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HMP Lowdham Grange: staff complement

Job categoryComplement(26)Number in post on 13 July 1998(26)
Operations Managers14.814
Prisoner Custody Officers125.3130
Operational Support23.923
Other Support and Programmes Staff23.923

(26) The decimal points are accounted for by relief calculations

HMP Parc: staff complement

Job title (category)Complement on 10 July 1998Number in post on 10 July 1998
Prisoner Custody Officer192160
Prisoner Custody Officer3338
Prisoner Custody Officer1411
Prisoner Custody Officer (non-permanent)--31
Prisoner Custody Officer (under training)--61
Non-operational staff, Senior managers, Administration and Support Staff7469

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the staff at (a) HMP Altcourse and (b) HMP Parc, (i) resigned and (ii) have been dismissed in each of the last six months; what is the average annual staff turnover rate in publicly managed prisons; and if he will make a statement. [50596]

Ms Quin: The information required is set out in the table. The wastage rate in 1997-98 for all staff in public sector prisons was 6.76 per cent.

Staff resignations and dismissals at HMP Altcourse and HMP Parc

HMP Altcourse HMP Parc
March 0.5402.60

Prisons (Health Services)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had in relation to the

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transfer of responsibility for health services in prisons to the National Health Service; and if he will make a statement. [50588]

Ms Quin: I receive regular reports about the progress of the Prison Service and National Health Service (NHS) joint working group on the future organisation of prison health care. This group is considering, among other options for improving prison health care, the transfer of responsibility to the NHS. The Government will announce their decision about whether or not this would be an appropriate way to proceed, once the working group has produced its report and we have had an opportunity to consider it.

Crimes (Motivation)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are for the Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate to investigate the number of crimes committed based on (a) homophobia and (b) religious hatred; and if he will make a statement. [50602]

Mr. Michael: The Directorate is in the process of commissioning a study of religious discrimination which is intended to clarify the extent of overlap between religious and racial discriminations. Furthermore, the Directorate plans to publish a report later this year on the police racial incident figures. This will cover the kind of incidents (including those between different religious groups) which the police may record as being racially motivated).

From the information collected centrally, it is not possible to determine the number of offences or incidents of homophobic crime. The Home Office collects statistics on the number of recorded offences by categories which include violence against the person, indecent assault on a male, indecency between males and rape of a male. However, there is no way of identifying which offences had a homophobic element.

In 1996, the Association of Chief Police Officers published a set of Good Practice Guidelines for Dealing with Homophobic Incidents. This included a definition of what should be regarded as a homophobic incident:

"Any incident which appears to either the victim, investigating officer or any other person to be motivated by homophobia, that is animosity towards lesbians and gay men".

The guidelines also recommended that police forces should record and monitor such incidents.

Such information that is available on homophobic crime is contained in surveys. For example, in a survey of gay men carried out in Lewisham as part of the Lewisham Safer Cities project in 1992, the vast majority reported experience of verbal abuse (81 per cent.) and approaching half reported being attacked physically. Property offences were less commonly reported.

Stonewall, as an organisation which campaigns for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, has carried out a nationwide survey and key findings included:

three quarters reported experiencing verbal abuse on at least one occasion;
over a third of men and a quarter of women reported experiencing violence in the last five years because of their sexuality;

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some groups, such as black, Asian, disabled and young respondents, had greater risk of victimisation.

Both studies found repeat victimisation was common. They provide useful information, although it must be acknowledged that they may not provide a representative sample.

With regard to crimes connected to religious hatred, most such crimes are likely also to have an element of racial hatred. As such, they will fall within the very wide definition of a racial incident first adopted by the police in 1985:

"Any incident in which it appears to the reporting or investigating officer that the complaint involves an element of racial motivation; or any incident which includes an allegation of racial motivation made by any person".

In prosecutions of crimes with a racial element under existing legislation, an element of racial motivation may be treated as an aggravating factor by the courts at the point of sentencing. The Crime and Disorder Bill [Lords] also makes provision for a set of new, specific racially aggravated offences, where the maximum sentence exceeds that for their non-racially motivated equivalent. In addition, my right hon. Friend, during the Report stage of the Bill, undertook to monitor charges and sentences in areas where there is intercommunal violence between religious and racial groups, to ensure that the provisions do not unduly favour one group.

Prisoners (Consultation Costs)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the cost of each public relations exercise and consultation process in relation to the opening of new prisons in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [50590]

Ms Quin: The information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the Prison Service's consultation costs in respect of its recent decision to build a new prison on the site of the former remand centre at Ashford, Middlesex, are estimated at £23,000. It would not be unreasonable to assume that other new prison projects involving the same amount of consultation would incur similar costs.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to speed up the process of payment by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. [50654]

Mr. Michael: The criminal injuries compensation system was speeded up by the introduction, with effect from 1 April 1996, of a tariff-based scheme operated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in place of the scheme based on common law damages administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB). Current indications are that the tariff approach enables some 85 per cent. of claims to be decided within 12 months of receipt, in comparison with 60 per cent. under the former scheme; and 80 per cent. of appeals are dealt with within six months instead of the indicative waiting time of two years applicable to most CICB hearings.

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