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Prison Staff (Assaults)

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many assaults on prison staff were carried out in the latest year for which figures are available by prisoners in (a) PFI prisons and (b) non-PFI prisons; and if he will make a statement. [112497]

Mr. Boateng: Provisional information on the number of proven assaults adjudicated upon in prisons in England and Wales during 1999 is given in the table.

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Proven adjudications on assaults in prisons in England and Wales, 1999 (29)
Number/per 100 population

Assaults on staffAssaults on prisonersAssaults on othersAll assaults
Number
All establishments2,5563,3444186,318
of which:
PFI establishments(30)719910180
Other private sector establishments(31)11124628385
Public sector establishments2,3742,9993805,753
Number per 100 population
All establishments3.95.10.69.7
of which:
PFI establishments(30)3.24.40.48.0
Other private sector establishments(31)4.19.21.014.4
Public sector establishments4.05.00.69.6

(29) Provisional

(30) Private Finance Initiative establishments: Altcourse, Ashfield, Lowdham Grange and Parc

(31) Other privately managed establishments: Blakenhurst, Buckley Hall, Doncaster and The Wolds


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Prisoner Welfare

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the welfare of prisoners who are held in (a) PFI-prisons and (b) non- PFI-prisons; and if he will make a statement. [112476]

Mr. Boateng: The welfare of all prisoners, including those housed in the five Private Finance Initiative Design, Construct, Manage and Finance (DCMF) prisons now open, is assessed according to the same procedures and standards. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons conducted 21 full inspections in 1999 including three DCMF prisons, Parc, Altcourse and Lowdham Grange. Conditions for prisoners in directly managed prisons were reported to range from the unacceptable to the excellent. In his report on Parc, the Chief Inspector stated that Parc was a challenging place and that there was still much to do but that he was impressed with the potential and the obvious willingness of most staff to make the prison successful. The reports on Altcourse and Lowdham Grange prisons have not yet been published.

The Prison Service itself continuously monitors the performance of all prisons including the treatment of inmates through various procedures such as Key Performance Indicators and standards audits.

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Immigration and Asylum (Computer Systems)

Sir Nicholas Lyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the functioning of his Department's computer systems relating to control of immigration and asylum. [112479]

Mrs. Roche: The Home Office relies on a number of computer systems in the control of immigration and asylum. All systems are functioning effectively under appropriate management arrangements and contracts with suppliers to provide for day to day operation and development where required.

Mobile Telephones

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about his plans to monitor the use of mobile telephones for criminal purposes. [112501]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill was introduced to the House on 9 February. The Bill will ensure that the current regime for intercepting the communications of those involved in serious crime is updated, to deal with the technological changes which have taken place since the Interception of Communications Act was enacted in 1985. The strict criteria for the approval of interceptions will remain the same.

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Schengen Convention

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of the general principles governing the payment of informers as part of the Schengen process; and what guidelines have subsequently been passed to UK agencies. [112507]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The United Kingdom's application to participate in those parts of the Schengen acquis relating to police and judicial co-operation included a list of relevant Decisions of the Schengen Executive Committee. These include one relating to the payment of informers (SCH/Com-ex(99)8 rev 2). As the United Kingdom's application has yet to be approved, no action has yet been taken in relation to this Decision.

The United Kingdom's application has been subject to the Parliamentary scrutiny process. Accordingly those Decisions of the Schengen Executive Committee in which the United Kingdom is seeking to participate have been placed in the Library.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list those items of information to be shared by the UK on accession to elements of the Schengen system. [112512]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The United Kingdom is seeking to participate in the exchange of data under Article 95 and Articles 97 to 100 of the Schengen Convention. These Articles broadly cover areas of police and judicial co-operation. A copy of the Schengen Convention may be found in the Library.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place the Schengen Manual on Bogus Drug Deals in the Library. [112506]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I am unaware of any such Manual. If the hon. Member were able to provide more details we would be happy to explore the matter further.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff were employed in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate on 1 February. [112620]

Mrs. Roche: The current publicity surrounding the rise in asylum seekers and the backlogs of work in Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) has provided a flurry of Parliamentary Questions relating to the number of staff employed in IND at various times.

There is no particular significance to the date of 1 February 2000.

Immigration Documents

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has issued to immigration officers at ports regarding the issue of SAL1 and SAL2 documents; and if he will place a copy of the guidance in the Library. [112707]

Mrs. Roche: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has issued no guidance on these matters to Immigration Officers. These are administrative procedures covered by internal operational instructions.

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Safe Cells

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many safe cells there are in (a) prisons and (b) police stations; what plans he has for further ones to be installed; and if he will make a statement. [112975]

Mr. Boateng: By 31 March 2000, 185 improved standard cells (previously known as "safe" cells) will have been provided in 19 existing prisons. In addition, there are 1,088 cells in use at two new privately managed prisons (Forest Bank prison and Ashfield young offenders institution) which reflect the new design requirements. All future new prisons will similarly incorporate these requirements. No central record exists of the number of such cells in police stations in England and Wales and the information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the same safe cell specification applies to (a) prisons in HM Prison Service, (b) privately- run prisons and (c) prisons funded by the Private Finance Initiative; and if he will make a statement. [112976]

Mr. Boateng: Private sector consortiums seeking to build and manage new prisons are required to reflect the design requirements of the Prison Service's improved standard cell in all new prison cells. While such cells may not be identical to those built by the Prison Service, all cells will incorporate the key elements of the Service's design specification.

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners committed suicide in safe cells in the last year for which figures are available. [112974]

Mr. Boateng: None of the prisoners who committed suicide in 1999 were located in the improved cell design, formerly known as "safe" cells.

Prisoner Complaints

Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints of racist behaviour were made by prisoners against prison officers in 1997, 1998 and 1999. [113012]

Mr. Boateng: The number of alleged racist incidents recorded by establishments against staff on prisoners for the past three years are:



    92 (1997-98


    218 (1998-99).

An incident may have been reported by the prisoner or by anyone else witnessing it.

All incidents which are alleged to have a racist element are required to be reported to the race relations liaison officer (RRLO) for recording and investigation. The majority of alleged racist incidents are resolved informally. Race relations and the role of the RRLO were given added prominence following the setting up of the Director General's Race Relations Group in July 1998 and further guidance on the definition of a racist incident has been issued since the publication of the Macpherson report in February 1999.

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