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Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms are in place to deal with national industrial action by prison officers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Prison Officers' Association (POA) have signed the Joint Industrial Relations Agreement, which provides an undertaking that neither, they, nor its members will induce industrial action. If the POA breach the JIRPA, the Home Secretary may seek injunctive relief against them. If the POA give notice to terminate the agreement with no alternative arrangements being in place, the Secretary of State would ask Parliament to reintroduce statutory constraints such as existed prior to disapplication of Section 127.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the last time was that a member of the Prison Service Management Board met representatives of the police to consider contingency plans to prepare for national industrial action by prison officers; and if he will publish the minutes of that meeting. 
Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 24 July 2006]: The Deputy Director General met police representatives on 25 May 2004 to discuss contingency planning. The Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has overall responsibility for contingency planning across the prison estate. Senior prison service officials take the operational lead on behalf of NOMS and regularly meet police representatives to consider contingency plans. These plans are restricted documents.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether sentences for terms of up to (a) eight, (b) 12, (c) 15 and (d) 18 years have continued to be imposed since the introduction of unlimited sentences. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Since the introduction of indeterminate sentences for public protection courts may still impose determinate sentences of any length within the statutory maximum for that offence.
The indeterminate sentence for public protection was introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and commenced on 4 April 2005. Statistics for the number of determinate sentences of eight, 12, 15 and 18 years imposed since then are not yet available.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether it is his policy that judges will continue to be required to halve the minimum term when setting the earliest release date for prisoners serving specific sentences; 
Mr. Sutcliffe: When judges announce unlimited sentences they explain the minimum term that an offender might serve. To calculate this they start from how long the sentence would be if they were setting a determinate sentence and then halve it because only half of a determinate sentence is spent in custody.
We announced last week, as part of the Criminal Justice Review, our intention to consult on how we can make sentencing clearer, and on ending the requirement that judges automatically halve the minimum term for those serving unlimited sentences, and on how they should set the first possible date for parole.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the impact of the prospect of (i) 50 per cent. and (ii) other sentence reductions on behaviour of offenders in custody; and if he will publish the conclusions of such work. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: No research has been carried out on the impact of (i) calculating minimum terms by halving the appropriate determinate sentence, or (ii) any other sentence reduction given by courts, on the behaviour of offenders in custody.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the review of the Prison Service Professional Standards and Code of Discipline to be completed; and if he will place a copy in the Library. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The review of PSO 8460, Staff Conduct and Discipline, which includes the Professional Standards statement, is ongoing. I expect a revised policy to be issued to staff later this year, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of discussions with trades unions. A copy of the revised policy will be placed in the Library when the review has been completed.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what total number of sick days was taken by Prison Service staff in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Information on the number of working days lost due to sickness absence in the Public Sector Prison Service is contained in the following table.
|Working days lost due to sickness absence|
|Working days lost( 1)|
Information derived from Personnel Corporate Database.
(2) The 2004 NAO report on sickness absence in the Prison
Service estimated that sickness absence was under-reported by up to 26
per cent. in 1997-98. Under-reporting fell to negligible levels by
2002-03, therefore data for 2001-02 will be
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which inmates are permitted to hold private cash in prison service accounts; what the maximum amount is that can be held by an inmate in such accounts; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Prison rules permit all prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons to hold private cash in prison service accounts. There is no limit on the amount of private cash that can be held by a prisoner. The amount a prisoner is allowed access to on a weekly basis is determined by their status under the incentives and earned privileges scheme.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are employed by (a) the Prison Service and (b) the immigration and nationality directorate; and how many were employed in each case in May 1997. 
Mr. Byrne: The number of people employed by the Prison Service and the immigration and nationality directorate, for the dates requested, is set out in the following table.
|IND( 1, 2)||Prison Service( 3)|
The headcount figure is the only figure available for 1997.
(2) The figure for 1997 for IND is for permanent employees
only and that for 2006 includes permanent employees and non-permanent
temporary agency staff. (3) Prison Service figures
are as published in civil service statistics for 1997 and as submitted
to National Statistics for 2006.1997 figures exclude staff on maternity
leave and on reduced or nil pay as a result of long-term sickness. Only
staff on nil pay have been excluded from the 2006 figures. Both figures
are on a full-time equivalent basis and do not include agency staff or
contractors. (4) Full-time equivalent figures have
been used, unless otherwise
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms exist to ensure that members of the Prison Service Standards Audit Unit are independent of other parts of the Prison Service; what steps have been taken by the Prison Services Director of Operations to ensure that standards audits in prison establishments are objective and free from bias; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Audit and Corporate Assurance does not report to the Director of Operations but, for day-to-day purposes, reports to the Director of Finance. On audit matters it reports to the Audit Committee and the Director General. The Audit Committee is chaired by Lord Rosser, non-executive Director, and comprises three further independent members and three executive members.
The work of Standards Audit Unit is subject to an internal peer review carried out by professionally qualified Internal Auditors. The system for carrying out standards audits in establishments is also audited by Internal Audit. The results of the internal peer review and Internal Audits of the standards audit are reported to the Audit Committee.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the role is of the Prison Service Area Professional Standards Managers in viewing information from (a) staff mobile telephones, (b) prisoner mobile telephones and (c) staff computers; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what level of authority is required to view information from unauthorised (a) prisoner and (b) prison staff mobile telephones that are seized during security searches; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) on how many occasions in the last 12 months the covert viewing of prison staff computers has been carried out; what the reasons were in each case; who was responsible for authorising the activity in each case; what disciplinary action was progressed in consequence of information discovered as a result of such viewing; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what level of authorisation is required for covert viewing of information from prison staff computers; what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the current practice in the Prison Service for the covert viewing of staff computers with the requirements of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 25 July 2006]: Computer use within the Prison Service is subject to routine scrutiny and monitoring. All staff are required to read and be aware of the information technology security policy. Monitoring is overt and not subject to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
level, Governors approve requests for information about the use of
computers by staff. At Area Offices requests are made by Area Managers
and at headquarters by Heads of Group. Requests are checked and
submitted for action by the Professional
Standards Unit, which will view any information produced to identify whether there has been inappropriate use.
There have been 191 occasions during the past 12 months when examination of potential inappropriate use of staff computers has taken place for a range of management or possible corruption issues. Proceedings will be taken against individuals where there is sufficient evidence to support this. It is not possible to provide the results of each examination, as results are not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mobile telephones are not allowed in prison establishments and their use is prohibited for both prisoners and staff, unless a member of staff has a specific exemption from the Governor. A member of staffs telephone would be subject to interrogation only if brought into the prison in breach of the rules. Statutory Instrument 1878 of 2006, The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) (Additional Functions and Amendment) Order 2006 which came into force on 26 July 2006, sets the level of authority for examining mobile telephones in prisons as senior operational manager.
Area Professional Standards Managers are able to view mobile phone information if during the course of intelligence gathering or investigations it is considered necessary and proportionate to do so and the requirements of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998 are fully met.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners escaped (a) while at court and (b) while in transit between court and prison in each of the last five years. 
John Reid: Details of the number of prisoners that escaped while at court and while in transit between court and prison are set out in the table: The total number of escapes in a year has reduced by 65 per cent. between 2001-02 and 2005-06.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of prisoners appearing at court arrived (a) operationally on time and (b) in time for the hearing in each of the last five years. 
John Reid: Details of the percentage of prisoners arriving at court operationally on time are set out in the following table.
Figures are not
available on the number of prisoners arriving in time for their
hearings. Current escort contracts require that contractors
report occasions when late arrival delays court business. Information
from the escort contractors show that between September 2004 and March 2005, 99.97 per cent. of prisoners were available for their court appearance as scheduled. The corresponding figure for 2005-06 is 99.92 per cent.
|Percentage of prisoners arriving on time|
)New escort contracts commenced on 29 August 2004, when the
criteria for determining the timely arrival of prisoners to courts
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of people convicted of further offences committed before the period of their prison sentence had expired were ordered to return to prison to serve the outstanding sentence in full in each of the last eight years. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: This information is not available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether each prisoner held by the prison department has a file; whether the filing system is computerised; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Core prisoner information is held electronically on the Inmate Information System. Prisoner paper files consist of a number of parts each serving a specific purpose, for example, a security file and an Inmate Medical Record.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are on licence from prisons in England and Wales. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: At 31 December 2005 there were 25,271 people being supervised on licence by the Probation Service following their release from prison.
These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system, and so is not necessarily accurate to the last whole number.
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