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|Payment rate (Percentage)|
Mr. Hanson: According to records held centrally by the National Offender Management Service, the numbers of public sector prison officers dismissed in connection with drug-related offences in each year since 2005, is contained in the following table:
|(1) This covers the period to 30 October 2008 and does not include any cases which are subject to internal appeal.|
Information on disciplinary cases before 2005 is not held centrally by the National Offender Management Service and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by contact each of the 138 prisons across the service.
There will have been occasions where drugs offences were referred immediately to the police (e.g. where staff were found in possession of items, which were believed to be drugs, during an entry or exit search) and no internal disciplinary action was taken, other than to dismiss the member of staff for receipt of a criminal conviction. These cases are not always reported centrally as drug offences and, as such, may not be included in the information provided. In addition, the central database does not include cases where staff have resigned before the conclusion of internal disciplinary proceedings.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners have escaped while under escort from prison in each year since 1997; and how many of those escapes were from (a) private taxis and (b) custom-built cellular vehicles. 
Mr. Hanson: Most prisoner transfers are made by secure cellular vehicle. On occasions it is necessary to use taxis for transporting prisoners, mainly to hospital. On these occasions a risk assessment is conducted to ensure that the use of a taxi is appropriate. Only one prisoner has escaped while being transported by taxi in this period.
Data in the following table show the number of prisoners in England and Wales who have escaped from escort between April 1997 and March 2008 broken down by (a) private taxi hire (b) custom built cellular vehicles.
|Total KPI escapes from escort||O f which: e scapes from taxis and cellular vehicles|
|Financial year||HMPS escort||Contractor escort||Private taxi hire||Contractor secure cellular vehicle||Prison secure cellular vehicle|
These figures have been drawn from administrative data 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.
Mr. Hanson: The information requested is not recorded centrally by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and could be obtained only by surveying 138 establishments, which could be done only at disproportionate cost. Drug treatment need is determined on a local basis. NOMS relies on epidemiological surveys to make central estimates of treatment need. These surveys suggest that on average 55 per cent. of prison entrants have a serious drug problem.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will meet representatives of the Howard League for Penal Reform to discuss the findings of the independent evaluation carried out by Professor Penny Green at King's College London into its social enterprise employing prisoners in HMP Coldingley. 
Mr. Hanson: I visited the Barbed design studio at HMP Coldingley and met Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, to discuss its social enterprise venture in July 2007. I am willing to meet the Howard League again to discuss Professor Green's evaluation report.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the possible benefits of meaningful employment for long term prisoners, including the impact of any taxation contributions; what consideration was made of the Howard League for Penal Reform's social enterprise in HMP Coldingley in forming that assessment; and what assessment he has made of the consequences of the closure of the social enterprise at HMP Coldingley. 
Mr. Hanson: The social benefits of providing employment in prisons, such as providing offenders with valuable skills to aid their resettlement back into the community and to reduce re-offending, have long been recognised.
Significant numbers of prisoners are meaningfully employed on a daily basis in a range of activities. This includes essential work producing a variety of goods for internal consumption and providing in-house services such as catering, cleaning and laundries. This reduces the cost of imprisonment and has an element of restitution while producing real work opportunities. Employment in prison also acts as an aid to good order and control and aids resettlement through skills and qualifications.
Increasingly, prisoners are employed to carry out work in partnership with other organisations and there are a number of employer partnerships with private industry that not only provide real employment and training but also employment on release. The Government are keen to grow these initiatives so that increasing number of prisoners and society can benefit. In addition to those working in individual prisons and probation areas there is also an existing corporate alliance with employers from the private, public and third sectors which informs strategy and delivery.
Ultimately it was the Howard League for Penal Reform that has taken the decision to close the small design studio workshop at HM Prison Coldingley. The Prison Service has been supportive of this project from the outset. Furthermore, the Service has been willing to give further consideration to any proposals to expand the same business model into other establishments. Despite widespread publicity, support from the Prison Service no other private or voluntary sector has shown interest in replicating all aspects of the Howard League work.
Although the Howard League closure is to be regretted the consequences on the number of prisoners employed is limited as the workshop currently employs some three prisoners and has never employed more than six prisoners at any one time. Workshop expansion at Coldingley is already planned and this will become operational early in 2009.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what hours were being worked each day by prisoners at the Howard League for Penal Reform social enterprise in HMP Coldingley in its (a) first month and (b) last month of operation; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction of working hours at the prison. 
Mr. Hanson: In October 2005, six prisoners were employed in the Barbed design studio workshop at HM Prison Coldingley, which was jointly established by the Howard League for Penal Reform and HM Prison Service. The working week was as follows:
8.15 am to 11:45 am
1.45 pm to 4.45 pm
8.15 am to 11.45 am
8.45 am to 11.45 am
1.45pm to 4.45 pm
8.30 am to 11.45 am
Mr. Hanson: The information is set out in the following table. It is subject to important qualifications. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) incident reporting system processes high volumes of data that are constantly being updated. The numbers provide an indication of overall numbers but should not be interpreted as absolute. Assault data are complex and the numbers need to be interpreted with caution.
The recorded incidents of assaults on prison officers are not completely exclusive to officers; prison recording sometimes includes assaults on other prison staff in this category. 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.
Ministers, NOMS and the Prison Officers Association are collectively committed to ensuring that violence in prisons is not tolerated in any form. Since 2004, a national strategy has directed every public sector prison to have in place a local violence reduction strategy. From mid 2007, this has also been applied to the contracted out (or private) estate. A whole prison approach is encouraged, engaging all staff, all disciplines and prisoners in challenging unacceptable behaviour, problem-solving and personal safety.
Due to re-rolling of prisons over the years and the fact that some prisons have both male and female prisoners we do not have precise figures in the form requested. The approximate numbers of prisoner on officer assaults are as follows.
|Prisoner on officer assault incidents( 1)|
|(1) Excludes a small proportion of assaults by others such as visitors.|
(2) There has been improved recording of assault incidents over the years particularly for fights. Figures reported for 1997, 1998 and 1999 are not directly comparable with those reported in later years.
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