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Mr. Straw: We have no plans to commission any such research. The legal position on euthanasia is clear. It is unlawful in this country and anyone alleged to have undertaken it would be open to a charge of murder or manslaughter.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2008, Official Report, column 1018W, on life imprisonment: prisoners release, what period each of the 304 prisoners served in custody before release. 
Mr. Hanson: To provide the information requested will require manual checking of two data bases to ensure a fully accurate reply. This information should be available within two weeks. When the information the Member has requested is available, I will write to him, and a copy will placed in the Library of both Houses.
|Indeterminate sentences for public protection|
Indeterminate sentence for public protection came into effect on 5 April 2005.
This information is taken from table 6.17 of the Offender Management Caseload Statistics, 2007, a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library and which can also be found at the following weblink:
Mr. Hanson: The average tariff, or specified part, for those prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection, as of 15 January 2009, is 2.97 years. This is based on a sample of 4,689 prisoners.
Since the introduction of indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for public protection, 47 such prisoners serving such sentences have been released during the period up to 15 January 2009. 45 of these have been released by the Parole Board. two were released early by the Secretary of State on compassionate grounds.
These figures are taken from the Public Protection Unit Database (PPUD) within the National Offender Management Service. As with any large scale recording system, it is subject to possible errors arising from either data entry or processing.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) pursuant to the answer to question 245155 on 12 January 2009, for what offences each of the prisoners listed as having escaped from escort since 1998 had originally been convicted; and how many of them remain unlawfully at large; 
(2) pursuant to the answer to question 245155, how many offences were committed by offenders who had escaped from custody while unlawfully at large in the last 10 years; and what the offence was in each case. 
Mr. Hanson: Data on the original offences committed by the 434 escapees from escort shown in the previous answer could be provided only by a detailed analysis of each prisoner record. This would incur disproportionate cost. Data available for the last four financial years, April 2004 to March 2008, show that 13 prisoners are still unlawfully at large following the 104 escort-related escapes over that period.
Data on numbers and types of offence that may have been committed by escapees over this period could be provided only by a detailed analysis of each prisoner record which would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hanson: At the end of November 2008, there were 83,423 prisoners detained in all prison establishments in England and Wales. This information is available from the following website, which is updated monthly:
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 15 December 2008, Official Report, column 481W, on prisoners, what assessment he has made of the consequences of the absence of a central record of prisoners maintaining innocence; and if he will make a statement. 
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) works with prisoners to address their offending behaviour and manage their risk of reoffending
on the basis that they have been correctly convicted by the courts. As such, a central record of those who maintain their innocence following conviction would serve no useful purpose.
It is also open to any person who believes that they have been wrongly convicted to challenge the safety of their convictions through either the Court of Appeal or the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what records his Department keeps on the appellant status of prisoners; how many prisoners are currently appealing against their sentence; and how many of them are beyond their original or adjusted tariff. 
Mr. Hanson: The Ministry of Justice does not maintain a central record of the appellant status of prisoners. Therefore, determining how many serving prisoners are currently appealing against their sentence and then of those how many are beyond their original or adjusted tariff would require a manual checking of records, which could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.
It is not possible to say how many prison places have been taken out of use since 1997 as the total number of prison places fluctuates depending on temporary schemes such as refurbishment and changes in use. Prison places may be permanently taken out of use as a result of prison closures or may be decommissioned due to the unsatisfactory state of the accommodation. Where decommissioned, and as part of our ongoing maintenance programme, many of these have been rebuilt and re-opened as new accommodation.
There are at present five wings/spurs across the estate that are not fit for purpose and are permanently out of use, with a total of around 350 places. This in is in addition to the total of 540 places taken out of use following the closure of the two prisons.
Despite the loss of these places, since 1997 we have overall increased prison capacity and improved the standard of prison accommodation available in both new and existing prisons. We have opened a total of 10 new prisons (see following table):
|Number of new prisons opened|
Mr. Hanson: The National Offender Management Service strategy to reduce supply and demand for drugs includes a comprehensive range of security measures and searching techniques to detect items of contraband including alcohol and prevent smuggling into establishments. There is also a treatment framework to address prisoners' alcohol-related problems, which provides a bench-mark against which prisons can formulate an appropriate local response.
In order to reduce alcohol usage, prisons deploy a robust and comprehensive range of security measures and searching techniques as part of their individual searching strategies in order to detect items of contraband and prevent their importation into establishments, as set out in the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) National Security Framework (NSF).
i. reducing supply, through security measures and drug testing programmes;
ii. reducing demand, through targeted interventions for low, moderate and severe drug-misusers; and
iii. establishing effective through-care links to ensure continuity of treatment post-release in order to safeguard the gains made in custody.
The success of the drug strategy is illustrated by the reduction of drug misuse in prisons, as measured by the random mandatory drug testing (rMDT) programme. The positive rate for MDT has dropped from 24.4 per cent. in 1996-97 to 9.1 per cent. in 2007-08a fall of 63 per cent.
The Government have established the Prison Drug Treatment Review Group, chaired by Professor Lord Kamlesh Patel, which will make recommendations for the continued development of prison drug treatment, informed by recommendations arising from a review of prison drug treatment funding conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2007.
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