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The most difficult thing for an identity fraudster to do is to create a history for a false identity. Therefore, the concept of PIP is to check information supplied by passport applicants against information held on private and public sector databases in order to help confirm that the identity claimed is a real person who is alive and, importantly, who has been active in society at the address given. This is known as a social or biographical ‘footprint’.

To automate the PIP checks, IPS has a contract with a credit reference agency, Equifax, which currently hosts the PIP decision engine. None of the applicant’s financial details are included within the PIP checks. The checks establish only that the applicant’s details are present on the databases..

Currently, PIP checks are made against the following commercially available databases:

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Personal Identity Process (PIP) biographic footprint checks are carried out by all passport application offices; and when the PIP was first used at each office. [122018]

John Reid: PIP checks are carried out in all IPS regional offices on all first-time adult (16 years and older) applications.

PIP was introduced into the IPS regional offices as follows:

Pentonville Prison

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made by the inquiry into staff conduct at HM Prison Pentonville. [123474]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given to him on 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 123W

Pentonville Prison: Accommodation

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes were made at Pentonville Prison to increase the certified normal accommodation capacity by 116 places. [122012]


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John Reid: There has been no change to the certified normal accommodation at Pentonville. Following the suspension of a number of staff in August 2006, the operational capacity was reduced by 116 places because there was not enough staff to ensure an appropriate level of supervision. A subsequent increase in staffing levels enabled the prison to reintroduce these places in January 2007.

Pentonville Prison: Standards

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps were taken by the Professional Standards Unit within the service in relation to staff conduct at HM Prison Pentonville. [123460]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Professional Standards Unit does not undertake investigations. A local internal investigation looking into the alleged staff wronging at HMP Pentonville is currently under way.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether issues of professional standards in relation to the conduct of staff at HM Prison Pentonville arising from the recent investigation have been brought to the attention of Ministers for decision; and if he will make a statement. [123463]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The investigations referred to by the hon. Member are currently an internal matter for the Prison Service. I expect to receive a report when the matter is concluded.

Police Cells

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners were housed in police cells on the most recent date for which figures are available. [112323]

John Reid: On Friday 16 2007, 14 prisoners were held in police cells.

Prison Sentences

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of those sentenced in criminal courts in England and Wales received immediate custodial sentences in each of the last five years for which records are available. [122077]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The information requested is published in ‘Sentencing Statistics 2005 England and Wales’ (Home Office Statistical Bulletin No. 03/07) (Table 2.3 on page 35). This publication is on the Home Office website at:

Prison Service: Absenteeism

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policy guidelines have been issued by his Department to the Prison Service on sickness and absence; and what the average number of
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days lost per Prison Service employee through sickness and absence was in the last year for which figures are available. [123275]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Home Office and HM Prison Service are working together, to share best practice in reducing sickness absence.

The average number of working days lost per person in the public sector Prison Service in 2006 was 11.6 days (provisional out-turn) compared with 14.72 days in 2002-03. Sickness absence has fallen by 21.2 per cent. in the public sector Prison Service since 2002-03.

Prison Service: Corruption

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Prison Service Management Board has taken to prevent prison staff corruption; and if he will make a statement. [123466]

Mr. Sutcliffe: A programme of work is currently being constructed to strengthen the Prison Service's approach to tackling staff corruption.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the recommendations of the joint study by HM Prison Service and the Metropolitan Police Service on preventing corruption in the Prison Service; and if he will make a statement. [123473]

Mr. Sutcliffe: There are no plans to publish the recommendations from this report but they form part of the work being taken forward to strengthen the Prison Service's approach to tackling staff corruption.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who is responsible within HM Prison Service for anti-corruption policy development and practice; and if he will make a statement. [123476]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Professional Standards Unit is responsible for anti-corruption policy, and governors and area managers, via their area and local professional standards managers, are responsible for its application.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what anti-corruption training is provided to employees of HM Prison Service; and if he will make a statement. [123477]

Mr. Sutcliffe: A training package focusing on the use of intelligence-gathering techniques is offered to all area professional standards managers, local professional standards managers and their deputies.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to encourage joint working between police and HM
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Prison Service to prevent corruption within prison establishments; and if he will make a statement. [123483]

Mr. Sutcliffe: At organisational level regular tasking meetings are held in establishments to discuss intelligence received about staff corruption. These meetings may involve the prison's police liaison officer. At a strategic level, the police continue to offer the Prison Service advice on how to tackle staff corruption.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms exist to ensure that resources available to HM Prison Service to address problems of staff corruption are allocated efficiently; and if he will make a statement. [123485]

Mr. Sutcliffe: This will be considered as part of the programme to strengthen the Prison Service's professional standards approach.

Prison Service: Manpower

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the director-general of the Prison Service to discuss the staffing of the Prison Service. [123280]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Home Secretary has met the director-general on a number of occasions, none of which were specifically or solely to discuss the staffing of the Prison Service.

Prison Service: Political Parties

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he holds on the political affiliations of prison staff; what regulations govern the membership of political and other organisations by prison staff; and if he will make a statement. [123468]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Prison Service does not hold information on the political affiliation of staff. The Prison Service has a policy that does not permit staff to be members of any group or organisation it considers to be promoting racist policy or philosophy.

Prison Service: Standards

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to the merits of the regulation of professional standards within HM Prison Service (a) centrally and (b) independently; and if he will make a statement. [123475]

Mr. Sutcliffe: A programme of work is currently being constructed to strengthen the Prison Service’s approach to tackling staff corruption. This issue will be considered as part of that programme.


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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) roles and (b) responsibilities are of HM Prison Service Professional Standards Unit intelligence section; and if he will make a statement. [123479]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The main functions include: maintaining a database of all information received; gathering and disseminating intelligence as required; providing analytical assistance; providing national analyses; and, acting as a conduit for the flow of intelligence from external sources. This role will be reviewed as part of the programme of work to strengthen the Prison Service’s approach to professional standards.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff are appointed within HM Prison Service with dedicated responsibility for professional standards issues; what training and resources were made available to those in this post for 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. [123480]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Each prison and area office is required to have a local professional standards manager. In addition, the central Professional Standards Unit has 12 staff.

A training package focusing on the legal use of intelligence-gathering techniques has been developed by the Professional Standards Unit. This training is offered to all area professional standards manager, local professional standards managers and their deputies.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms are in place to provide independent investigative quality control for investigations into professional standards amongst staff in HM Prison Service; and if he will make a statement. [123481]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Investigations are carried out through the operational line by the Prison Service or referred to the police for action. The commissioning officer of each investigation holds responsibility for the quality of each investigation.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the anti-corruption hotline within HM Prison Service in contributing to the tackling of professional standards issues. [123482]

Mr. Sutcliffe: No assessment has been made. This will be reviewed with as part of the programme to strengthen the Prison Service's professional standards approach.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what processes and procedures are employed by those conducting professional standards inquiries in HM Prison Service when interviewing witnesses and suspects; and if he will make a statement. [123484]


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Mr. Sutcliffe: The role of Prison Service staff focuses on intelligence gathering. If criminal activity is suspected the matter is handed over to the local police force who will interview any witnesses or suspects in accordance with police procedures.

Prisoners

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the main stages are in the process of prisoner categorisation; what changes were made to the process in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. [122188]

John Reid: Categorisation principles are set out in Prison Service Order 0900, a copy of which is in the House Library. There have been no changes in the last two years.

Prisoners: Deportation

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are subject to deportation proceedings. [122454]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 22 February 2007]: The Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, Lin Homer, wrote to the Home Affairs Committee on 19 February 2007 to provide an update on progress in the deportation of foreign national prisoners. A copy of this letter is available from the Library of the House.


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