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Female Prisoners

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of female prisoners have been prescribed mental health drugs in each of the last five years. [86642]

Hilary Benn: This information is not available in precisely the form requested. A survey of mental ill health in the prison population of England and Wales, undertaken in 1997 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that 22 per cent. of women prisoners were taking anti-depressant, 16 per cent. hypnotic and anxiolytic and 10 per cent. anti-psychotic medication.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many suicide attempts there have been among female prisoners in each of the last five years; and how many suicides there have been by female prisoners since July. [86640]

Hilary Benn: Since July 2002, there have been six self-inflicted deaths of female prisoners (all those deaths where it appears the person may have acted specifically to take her own life). The available data on 'self-harm' incidents includes both attempted suicides and self-harm (without suicidal intent, which is included as it is difficult to measure suicidal intent). The table covers the 4,933 recorded incidents of self-harm by female prisoners between 1998 and 30 September 2002.

Table showing the number of self-harm incidents for female prisoners in England and Wales between 1 January 1998 and 30 September 2002

Calendar YearNumber of self-harm incidents
2000 933
2001 2,034
2002 1,250

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The Prison Service has a duty of care to all prisoners in its custody, and recognises that self-harm is a particular problem among women offenders. The Prison Service is currently developing several interventions that may help female prisoners reduce and manage self-harm in prison. One such example is at Holloway prison, where all prisoners who have been identified as at risk of suicide/self-harm are offered individual crisis counselling. About 40 per cent of prisoners take up the offer, while others may be referred to alternative sources of help within the prison. Staff report that following counselling women have shown increases in self-esteem, decreases in depression and are less likely to see suicide or self-harm as the solution to their problems.


Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of the measures contained in the Queen's Speech on prison occupation in England and Wales. [83714]

Hilary Benn: The Queen's Speech outlined a commitment to reform the criminal justice system to deliver justice for all and to safeguard the interests of victims, witnesses and communities, and the Criminal Justice Bill which was laid before the House on 21 November.

I have already announced that the Review of Correctional Services is addressing a wide range of questions regarding the effectiveness and value for money delivered by the correctional services and developing a strategy for managing the prison population. The impact of the proposals contained in the Queen's Speech are being considered in the context of the Review.

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We have not made final decisions about the implementation of the sentencing reforms in the Criminal Justice Bill but, on the basis of the modelling which has been done of the impact of the sentencing reforms, we do not expect them to generate significant increases in the prison population. The sentencing reforms should result in a small reduction in places in 2004 and 2005 followed by a modest increase of up to 1,000 places thereafter.

Prisons (Children's Act)

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the introduction of the Children's Act 1989 into prisons following the High Court ruling on 29 November; and what extra resources his Department will make available to the Prison Service to ensure its implementation. [85994]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 9 December 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Mrs. Brooke) on 9 December 2002, Official Report, column 128W.


Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what follow-up is planned to the Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the HMCPS/IHMIC joint investigation into the investigation and prosecution of cases involving allegations of rape. [85313]

Mr. Denham: An inter-agency working group, led by the Home Office and with representation from the police, Crown Prosecution Service and Court Service, is monitoring progress against the agreed action points of the plan. Alongside this, the group is considering the issue of evaluation, in order to assess the impact of the action plan once completed, and to identify any necessary follow-up. The group is also looking at the issue of dissemination of this information. I will report further to Parliament in the New Year.


Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women were imprisoned for shoplifting offences in each of the last five years. [83679]

Hilary Benn: The number of men and women sentenced to immediate imprisonment in prisons in England and Wales for shoplifting is given in the table.

Number of persons sentenced to immediate custody at all courts for stealing from shops and stalls (shoplifting)—England and Wales 1996 to 2000(13)

Sentenced to immediate custody
Statue/Offence description19961997199819992000(14)
Theft Act 1968, section 1— Stealing from shops and stalls (Shoplifting)

(13) These data are on the principal offence basis.

(14) Staffordshire Police Force were only able to supply a sample of data for magistrates courts proceedings covering one full week in each quarter for 2000. Estimates based on this sample are included in the figures, as they are considered sufficiently robust at this high level of analysis.

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Young Offenders

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) 15-year-olds and (b) 16-year-olds were remanded in prison in each year since 1997. [85641]

Hilary Benn: Information on the number of 15 and 16-year-old males received into prison on remand from 1997–2001 is given in the table.

YearNumber of 15-year-oldsNumber of 16-year-olds
2001 (P)4771,001

15 and 16-year-old females cannot be received into prison on remand.

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been held in prisons outside the juvenile estate in each of the last twelve months; and in which prisons. [83836]

Hilary Benn: Information on the number of under-18s held in prisons outside the juvenile estate is given in the table.

The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales is responsible for the placement of under-18s remanded or sentenced to custody. It is sometimes necessary for them to be placed outside the juvenile estate, and this is particularly so where girls are concerned. The number of girls in Prison Service custody is too low for them to be accommodated in juvenile-only accommodation whilst at the same time maintaining proximity to home and providing an appropriate level of educational and recreational services. The Board nevertheless seeks to avoid mixing as far as possible and is supporting the development of under-18 wings within larger women-only establishments.

Occasionally, juveniles are held outside the juvenile estate for the duration of their trial if their case is being heard in a Crown Court without any conveniently located juvenile establishment. In such circumstances, they are held on young offender wings, ie with 18 to 20-year-olds rather than with adults as such. Even more exceptionally, a juvenile may be categorised as Category A and be accommodated in a high security establishment.

Under-18s held in prisons outside the juvenile estate

NumberPrisons held in
December8Chelmsford, Glen Parva, Northallerton, Reading, Holloway
January21Glen Parva, Norwich, Reading, Holloway, Styal
February19Chelmsford, Glen Parva, Reading, Holloway, Low Newton, Styal
March31Chelmsford, Glen Parva, Reading, Holloway, Styal
April17Chelmsford, Glen Parva, Reading, Holloway, Low Newton
May11Glen Parva, Holloway, Styal
June12Glen Parva, Reading, Holloway
July13Glen Parva, Reading, Holloway, Low Newton, Styal
August11Glen Parva, Holloway, Low Newton, Styal
September8Holloway, Low Newton, Styal
October15Holloway, Low Newton, Styal
November12Highdown, Holloway, Styal

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