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Life Signs Monitoring Systems

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the sensors in the life signs monitoring systems produced by Mandel UK Ltd. have been approved by (a) the Department of Trade and Industry and (b) the National Radiological Protection Board; and if he will make a statement. [131777]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 24 July 2000]: I understand that the life signs monitoring system has been approved by Department of Trade and Industry and the National Radiological Protection Board.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which locations life signs monitoring systems are to be installed in police cells by Wiltshire Constabulary; and at what cost. [131770]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 24 July 2000]: Wiltshire Constabulary are installing a life signs monitoring system in the new custody suite at Melksham. I understand the cost of equipping the 20 cells will be approximately £55,700 excluding cabling and enclosure costs.

Prisoner Rehabilitation

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training exists for prisoners to assist them with their rehabilitation. [132505]

Mr. Boateng: The Government's clearly stated aims for the Prison Service are to reduce re-offending and to protect the public. To achieve the objective of reducing re-offending the Prison Service seeks to provide constructive regimes which address offending behaviour, improve education and work skills and promote law abiding behaviour in custody and on release.

The Prison Service offers three general offending behaviour programmes, Enhanced Thinking Skills, Reasoning and Rehabilitation and Problem Solving, suited to prisoners convicted of offences related to sex, drugs and violence. There is also a family of specialist programmes for sex offenders. These programmes have been accredited by an independent panel of experts as being effective in reducing re-offending. Government funding has allowed the Prison Service to double the number of accredited programmes delivered over the period 1999-2002 and to develop new programmes to address a wider range of offending behaviour, including drug related crime.

Education in prison focuses on a core curriculum of basic educational skills, life and social skills and Information Technology skills. Together with opportunities to gain National Vocational Qualifications, these training opportunities enhance the prospects of a prisoner's employability.

As preparation for release, an Inmate Development and Pre-Release programme is offered at a number of establishments, while others run an eight week preparation for work course which provides the opportunity to acquire

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nationally recognised accredited skills. In addition, resettlement prisons and specialist resettlement units provide a range of training facilities to enable prisoners to return satisfactorily to the community.

Training Schemes (Prisons)

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which prisoners are eligible to follow training schemes provided within HM prisons. [132491]

Mr. Boateng: The purpose of education and training in prisons is to address the offending behaviour of prisoners by improving their employability and so reduce the likelihood of their re-offending on release. All prisoners, including those removed from association, in segregation units or in hospital units, should have the opportunity to participate in educational activities.

Prisoners under 18 years of age must spend on average at least 30 hours per week engaged in purposeful activity, including education, training, work, physical education and offending behaviour programmes.

All prisoners allocated to work undertake an induction programme which covers health and safety issues, first aid, and workshop practice.

Offending Behaviour Programmes seek to address the cognitive deficits (poor thinking skills) which cause prisoners to offend in order to prevent recidivism. To be successful, they must be targeted on those prisoners who have been assessed as having the kinds of cognitive deficits which the existing programmes are seeking to address. This inevitably means that some prisoners are excluded from participation.

Press Releases

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many press releases were issued this year to date; and what the total cost of production and issuing of these press releases was in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) 2000 to date each year. [132772]

Mr. Straw: The information for my Department is as follows:


(1) To date

The primary cost of issuing press releases relates to their electronic distribution which is carried out through the Central Office of Information, and postage. No central records of other costs which might be involved (eg faxing, e-mail) is available.

Electronic news distribution costs were:


(1) When the service included some hand delivery of press releases

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Postal costs varied according to the number of press releases issued in the year and were approximately £15,000 in 1997, £19,500 in 1998 and £12,000 in 1999.

Costs to date for 2000 are £11,374 for electronic distribution costs and for postage costs £6,750.

Violent Crime

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received from victims of crimes of violence in the last 12 months. [132703]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Department receives representations from victims of crime of violence on a wide range of issues. Details are not collated centrally.

Prison Service

Gillian Merron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in setting up a pay review body for prison governors, prison officers and related grades for the Prison Service in England and Wales, and in modernising the arrangements for industrial relations; and if this will extend to these grades in the Northern Ireland Prison Service. [133354]

Mr. Boateng: Agreement has been reached to set up a pay review body to make independent recommendations to the Government on the pay of prison governors, prison officers and related grades for the Prison Service in England and Wales. This review body would operate on the lines of the five existing review bodies which deal with 1.3 million public sector employees. Like the existing review bodies, it would have a secretariat from the independent Office of Manpower Economics.

This establishment of an independent pay determination mechanism would be under the provisions of Section 128 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 as part of a comprehensive programme of improvement in prison service management.

It is also my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's intention, when Parliamentary time allows, to replace Section 127 with a reserve statutory power and a voluntary industrial relations agreement. Section 127, as it stands, makes it unlawful for officers of a prison to take industrial action. The voluntary agreement which has been accepted by the Prison Governors' Association (PGA), the Prison Officers' Association (POA) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) will be put to a special POA delegates conference in August. This will mean that they have agreed not to induce, support or authorise industrial action. In recognition of this we will provide them with a new disputes procedure which will include independent arbitration. The voluntary agreement, which will be legally binding, will give my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary the power to seek injunctive relief.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary intends to use the provisions of the voluntary agreement instead of those in Section 127, while awaiting Parliamentary time to effect the changes in legislation. However, it is clear on all sides that Section 127 would be used in the event of a breakdown of the agreement.

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Together, I hope these measures will create a new climate for industrial relations in the Service. They clear the way for more constructive dialogue on a wide range of issues by modernising the way that this key group of public sector workers deal with their employer.

The remit of the pay review body would also have the scope to make an independent determination in relation to the pay of prison governors, prison officers, night patrol officers and prison auxiliaries in the Northern Ireland Prison Service based on submissions made to it by that Service.

The implementation of this agreement and the delivery of the intentions I have outlined are dependent on my being satisfied that the state of industrial relations within prisons is such as to enable the effective and efficient management of the Service.

Such a state cannot be said to have been attained in the light of the current withdrawal of good will by the POA, but I will keep the situation under constant review.

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