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Prison Education Programmes

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offenders were moved during part of their NVQ course in 2003–04; and how many of those were able to continue their courses in their next prison. [198042]

Paul Goggins: The information requested is not collated centrally and could be collected from individual establishments only at a disproportionate cost.

Prison Population

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what contingency plans are in place if the expected reductions in the prison population outlined in Reducing Crime—Changing Lives are not realised. [163983]

Paul Goggins: The impact of population pressures is kept under careful review. The National Offender Management Service will continue to investigate options for further increases in capacity over the coming years.

In addition to the extra 2,400 places already planned, funding of around £100 million has now been provided for a new programme to create a further 1,300 prison places. This will increase the total operating capacity of the prison estate to around 80,800 places by 2006–07.

The National Offender Management Service also has options and plans in place for the development of new prison sites, if required.

Prison Service

John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what technical qualifications were held by the fire safety specialists who carried out the in-house review of the Prison Service fire safety advisers. [196707]

Paul Goggins: The review of fire safety in prisons was focused primarily on organisational efficiency. As such, technically qualified fire personnel were not required to take part. The fire safety work was reviewed in the light of the needs of the Prison Service and appropriate legal advice was received from Treasury solicitors.
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John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost in the Prison Service of staff sickness due to smoke inhalation caused by fires in Prison Service buildings in each of the past five years. [196709]

Paul Goggins: Information on levels of sickness by Prison Service staff due to smoke inhalation caused by fires is not available. Any staff that had suffered illness due to smoke inhalation are included within overall statistics of staff injured at work. The proportion of staff experiencing the effects of smoke inhalation is not known.

While staff may be affected during local incidents, Prison Service Health and Safety managers consider that the impact of smoke inhalation caused by fires on overall staff sickness rates is minimal.

John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the (a) policy on and (b) levels of automatic fire suppression systems in prisons in England and Wales. [196713]

Paul Goggins: Automatic fire suppression systems are in place in the high fire risk areas of prisons, such as parts of kitchens and workshops, and at HMP Weare.

The Prison Service has recently commissioned a team from the Building Research Establishment (Fire) to carry out an independent survey into all aspects of fire safety in both the public and private prisons.

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what basis a further Prison Service inquiry is taking place into the case of Gary Rowland, Malcolm Watkins and Shaun Kerry of Elmley prison. [193014]

Paul Goggins: Gary Rowland, Malcolm Watkins and Shaun Kerry have been subject to a Prison Service disciplinary investigation into a number of alleged breaches of the Prison Service Code of Conduct and Discipline. That investigation recommended that disciplinary charges should be laid against all three men and their cases have been referred to a disciplinary hearing.

The nature of the work of the Prison Service demands that all members of the service observe appropriate standards of conduct. Where it is believed they may have failed to do so, the disciplinary process may be invoked, as in this case.

The Code of Conduct and Discipline encompasses but is not exclusive to criminal offences, accordingly members of staff who are cleared of criminal offences may still find themselves subject to disciplinary investigation.

Prison Volunteers

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many hours of service were provided by volunteers from the community working in prisons in the last year. [182092]

Paul Goggins: Information on the number of hours of service provided by volunteers from the community working in prisons is not collected centrally. There are 1,800 volunteers who are members of Independent Monitoring Boards and 1,400 Prison Visitors. In
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addition nearly 3,600 volunteers offer a wide range of support to prisoners and their families including: helping to run Visitor Centres and play facilities in prisons; providing refreshments in visits halls; training and supporting Listeners; one to one basic skills support; individual counselling and group work; language and cultural support. In addition a recent survey carried out by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies has shown over 4,000 volunteers support the work of prison chaplaincies giving 11,450 hours per month.

Prisoner Rehabilitation

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on steps to encourage the rehabilitation of prisoners. [196620]

Paul Goggins: The Government set out its plans to reduce re-offending through more effective rehabilitation, in an action plan published on 19 July. Over 60 action points have been agreed across Government covering a number of key areas, including accommodation, employment, and drug treatment. The policy is set within the context of our plans to develop the National Offender Management Service and implement the new sentencing framework, both of which will radically improve the scope for rehabilitation of offenders. Copies of the Reducing Re-offending National Action Plan have been placed in the Library of the House.

Prisoner Visits

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the arrangements for long serving prisoners to receive escorted visits to terminally ill relatives; and what plans he has to review the criteria for such visits. [193688]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 4 November 2004]: Under the Temporary Release Policy, there are provisions for a governor to allow accompanied compassionate release for eligible prisoners to visit terminally ill relatives. The following are ineligible for compassionate release: prisoners who are in category A or on the escape list; unconvicted and convicted unsentenced prisoners; prisoners who are subject to extradition proceedings; sentenced prisoners who are remanded on further charges and those who are awaiting sentence following further convictions. The role of the member of staff accompanying the prisoner is to provide guidance and support to the prisoner, not to be a security escort. The prisoner has sole responsibility for compliance with the temporary release licence conditions and return to the establishment. Prisoners serving any length of sentence may apply for compassionate temporary release providing they are not listed in the excluded categories. Any temporary release may only be authorised following a successful risk assessment. A review of all temporary release policy is currently taking place. However, it is not proposed to change the arrangements for compassionate release.

In the case of prisoners who are ineligible for release on temporary compassionate licence, governors can authorise a visit to a terminally ill relative under security
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escort. In such instances the prisoner remains in legal custody and the escorting officer(s) have the power to physically detain them in the event of an escape attempt.


Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions a prisoner has failed to return when on temporary licence from prison during each of the last three years. [193144]

Paul Goggins: The number of temporary release failures reported by the Prison Service Incident Reporting System for the last three calendar years are set out in the following table. The incidents reported include breaches of other licence conditions such as committing an offence while on temporary release or returning to the prison under the influence of alcohol. Data relating specifically to failure to return are not collated. The number of failures represents 0.1 per cent. of the total number of licences issued each year.

Calendar year
Number or reported
temporary release failures

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reason is for the difference in the public and private sector targets for the percentage of prisoners held in accommodation units intended for fewer prisoners in 2004–05. [181493]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 29 June 2004]: The difference in these targets reflects a number of differences between publicly and privately operated prisons. Prisons operated by the private sector are generally of newer design and construction and have larger cells that can accommodate extra beds: many older public sector prisons have smaller cells that cannot accommodate extra beds. Some privately operated prisons were designed with scope to increase regime facilities in case of overcrowding while many public sector prisons have limited capacity to increase regime services. The private sector has, proportionately, more local prisons, which have traditionally been more overcrowded than other types of prison.

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