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14 Oct 2008 : Column 1024W—continued

Drugs: Misuse

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to review the law relating to the responsibility of a supplier of a toxic substance to a person when that person voluntarily takes the substance themselves with consequent harm in the light of the House of Lords judgement R v. Kennedy. [226772]

Maria Eagle: The Ministry of Justice have no plans to review the law in this area. If a person of sound mind freely and voluntarily administers a drug to himself, it would not be appropriate for the law to hold the supplier of the drug responsible for that decision. In the case of R v. Kennedy (No 2) ["2007] UKHL 38 the defendant was found guilty of supplying a controlled drug. That is a serious offence reflecting the harm that controlled drugs can do. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment, or a fine, or both. The defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

In this particular case, the person supplied subsequently died as a result of taking the drug. But the conviction for manslaughter was not upheld on appeal, because administering the drug was the decision of the deceased and the appellant could not be said to have committed a criminal act which had been a significant cause of the deceased's death.

Elections: Greater London

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley of 4 June 2008, Official Report, column 1037W, on elections: Greater London, if he will assess the extent to which voters understood the conceptual differences between the second preference in the Supplementary Vote Election System for Mayor of London and the second vote in Additional Member System for the London Assembly, when casting their votes. [225564]

Mr. Wills: The Government have no plans to undertake an assessment of this issue. Under the terms of section 6 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 the Electoral Commission may submit reports on local government elections, including elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. In July 2008, the Electoral Commission published its report on the administration of the Greater London Authority elections on 1 May 2008. The report covers levels of rejected ballot papers, and public understanding of ballot papers, though does not directly assess the extent to which voters understood the differences between the voting systems in use for the Mayoral and London Assembly elections.

Evidence: CCTV

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many cases were opened and then not proceeded with in court because of a failure to comply with the Information Commissioner's code of practice for CCTV in each of the last seven years. [225821]

Mr. Wills: Procedural details about court cases in England and Wales are held in each individual court and are not collated centrally. The information requested can only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.

Family Courts

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to respond to the consultation, Confidence and Confidentiality: Openness in family courts. [226770]

Bridget Prentice: This is an important and complex area of policy about which people have strong views, and one that we are examining with care and consideration. That is why we have consulted twice on how we could improve transparency in family courts.

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While it is important that the family courts are open to scrutiny and have the confidence of the public; it is equally as important that the welfare of children is protected, and that includes their right to privacy and anonymity.

The response paper to the last consultation will be published soon and details of it will be announced to Parliament.

Prisoners: Mentally Ill

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what facilities are available in prisons to prisoners diagnosed with mental health problems. [225915]

Mr. Hanson: All prisoners are assessed at the point of reception into prison and those at risk of having a mental health problem, or vulnerable to suicide, are referred for a mental health assessment to the mental health in-reach team. Nearly £20 million a year is being invested recurrently in mental health in-reach. There are 102 mental health in-reach teams with all prisons having access to them: a total of 360 extra staff altogether.

There are new systems to monitor and support those at risk of harming themselves, and prison officers are being trained in mental health awareness. £600,000 has been invested over three years to 2009 to train frontline prison staff. Investment (£308 million in 2006-07 and £336 million in 2007-08) is also being made in four close supervision centres (CSC) at Whitemoor, Wakefield, Woodhill and Long Lartin prisons to deliver mental health care to those prisoners whose offending behaviour and history mean that containment in secure isolated accommodation is the only option.

Furthermore, in relation to the small number of people with a severe personality disorder who are dangerous, the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice are investing in special secure services. The programme has a capacity of over 300 places in two high security prisons (Frankland and Whitemoor), a female prison (Low Newton in Durham) and two high security hospitals (Broadmoor and Rampton). They provide essential clinical services for dangerous offenders whose offending is linked to severe personality disorder.

The Government have asked Lord Bradley to consider the diversion of offenders with mental health problems and learning disabilities away from prison and we look forward to considering his report which we expect will be available at the end of the year.

Prisoners: Pay

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what maximum amount a prisoner is able to earn per week, including any payments for education, work, good behaviour or any other duties. [226309]

Mr. Hanson: Prison Service Order 4460 (Prisoners’ Pay), a copy of which has been placed in the House Library, sets out minimum rates of prisoner pay for work (enabling them to obtain life skills) and education and other duties or activities. The order requires governors and directors of contracted prisons to devise local pay schemes that reflect regime priorities of their establishment.

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The information requested is not centrally available and could be collated only by manual checking with over 140 individual establishments, which would incur disproportionate cost.

Prisons: Crimes of Violence

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many serving prisoners received additional terms of imprisonment for assaulting prison staff in each of the last three years; [224950]

(2) how many serving prisoners were convicted of assaulting prison staff in each of the last three years; [224951]

(3) how many prison staff members were assaulted by prisoners while on duty in each of the last three years. [224952]

Mr. Straw: Information about action taken by the police, and the outcome of criminal proceedings, is not held by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

NOMS and the Prison Officers Association are jointly committed to ‘zero tolerance’ on assaults on staff. I have written to the Attorney-General and the Home Secretary, both of whom are committed to pursing a robust and consistent approach to the involvement of the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in prosecuting such assaults. Alongside working with the CPS and the police, enhanced guidance is also currently being developed by police advisers section in NOMS headquarters on a much wider agenda of crime reporting in prisons. This guidance will address the subject of the reporting and investigation of allegations of assault on prison staff and aims to provide national consistency in classifying and responding to crime committed in prisons. The guidance will be an important step in making sure that the most serious incidents are referred to the police.

The following table shows incidents of prisoner on staff assaults in each of the last three years for which figures are available. The number of prisoner on staff assaults has remained stable, despite a rise in the prison population.

The information is subject to important qualifications. The NOMS incident reporting system processes high volumes of data which are constantly being updated. The numbers provide a good indication of overall numbers but should not be interpreted as absolute.

Assault data are complex and the numbers need to be interpreted with caution. Information recorded as assault incidents may involve one or more victim.

The numbers supplied refer to the number of individual assault incidents. The numbers refer to all incidents recorded as assaults; these may also include threatening behaviour, projection of bodily fluids and other non-contact events and allegations.

2005 2006 2007

Prisoner on staff assaults




Mid Year Prison Population




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Prisons: Drugs

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance his Department has issued in writing to prison governors on (a) misuse of buprenorphine, (b) systems of administering methadone and (c) the risks associated with naltrexone in the last three years. [225480]

Mr. Hanson: Advice on reducing the supply of drugs—including illicit buprenorphine—into prisons has been issued to all prisons in England and Wales.

On 13 March 2008 governors were informed that as of 1 April 2008 buprenorphine would be included in the panel of drugs tested for under the Mandatory Drug Testing (MDT) programme.

In 2008 the Department of Health issued governors (in public prisons) and directors (in contracted prisons) with copies of the following documents:

Both of these documents feature detailed guidance on the safe and effective clinical use of methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.


David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to ensure consistency in the length of sentences handed down by judges for similar offences. [226529]

Maria Eagle: In 2003 the Government created the Sentencing Guidelines Council for England and Wales which must have regard to promoting consistency in sentencing when it frames its guidelines. This complements the responsibility of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division to promote a consistent approach to sentencing with the assistance of the Judicial Studies Board.

To facilitate a more informed approach to consistency, in December 2007 the Government published a report on geographic variations in custodial sentencing in England and Wales for 2003 to 2006, and possible causes.

In December 2008 the Government and the Lord Chief Justice set up a working group chaired by Lord Justice Gage into sentencing guidelines, which looked, amongst other things, into ways to improve consistency, and made recommendations. The Government are currently considering those proposals.

The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal delivers guideline judgments on sentencing in Northern Ireland. These sentencing guideline cases encourage consistency in sentencing throughout the courts of Northern Ireland and support sentencers in their decision making. In addition, the Judicial Studies Board of Northern Ireland provides training to the judiciary on a range of issues, including sentencing.

South East

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department spent on services, broken down by type in (a) Dartford Borough, (b) Kent
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Thameside, (c) the Thames Gateway, (d) Kent County Council area and (e) the South East region in each of the last five years. [222446]

Maria Eagle: The information is as follows:

HM Courts Service

South East (£000)







Spend for years prior to 2005-06 could be provided only at disproportionate cost as HM Courts Service was formed in April 2005.

Spend for other requested areas could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Tribunals Service

Greater London and the South East( 1) (£000)





(1) Administrative area and not necessarily geographic.

Spend for years prior to 2006-07 could be provided only at disproportionate cost as Tribunals Service was formed in April 2006.

Spend for the South East region only and other requested areas could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

HM Prison Service


Thames Gateway Rest of Kent Rest of South East





















There are no prison establishments in Dartford borough or Kent Thameside.

National Probation Service


Kent South East region
















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