Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirty-First Report


Memorandum by the Home Office


The Committee have requested a memorandum in respect of the above instrument on the following points:

(1)  Rule 2 defines "compulsory school age" by reference to section 580 of the Education Act 1996 (which contains an index of expressions defined in the Act). Ought not this expression to be defined by reference to section 8 of that Act?

Section 580 of the Education Act 1996 provides:

  "The expressions listed in the left-hand column below are defined by, or (as the case may be) are to be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of this Act listed in the right-hand column in relation to those expressions."

In the case of the expression "compulsory school age" the right-hand column entry is "section 8 (or paragraph 1 of Schedule 40)". Schedule 40 contains transitional provisions which are no longer relevant. The expression could be defined, as the Committee suggest, by reference to section 8, or, as in the instrument, by reference to section 580, which is an all-embracing interpretation provision for the Education Act 1996. The approach adopted leads to a clear definition, and there can be no doubt as to the effect of the provision.

(2)  Rule 10(2) provides that, except as provided by statute or these Rules, a trainee shall not be permitted to communicate with any outside person, or that person with him, without the leave of the Secretary of State. Identify the statutory provisions contemplated and explain the need for an express saving for such provisions. Corresponding point in relation to rule 42(1) and (2).

These provisions, which are based on the Young Offender Rules (YOI) and Prison Rules, provide the Secretary of State with the power to stop communication between an offender and an outside person who might impede the rehabilitation of the offender. In prisons and YOIs this is rarely used in practice and we would envisage the same for secure training centres. This rule should be read in conjunction with rule 9 which stresses the importance of contact by a trainee with his family.

(3)  Rule 11(1)(b) entitles a trainee to receive a visit once a week. Rule 11(2) gives him an additional entitlement to "receive visits". Explain the purpose of the restriction in paragraph (1)(b) given the quoted words of paragraph (2).

The entitlement in rule 11(1)(b) is an absolute entitlement to receive a visit once a week. In addition, paragraph (2) of rule 11 entitles a trainee, subject to the provisions of the Rules, to receive further visits. The words "once a week" in paragraph (1)(b) are not intended to limit the entitlement to further visits under paragraph (2). The criteria for further visits are set out in the contract for the first secure training centre and may also be received either on compassionate grounds or under any incentives scheme under rule 6.

(4)  Rule 11(2) entitles a trainee "to receive any number of letters". Rule 14(6) defines an "illicit enclosure" (in correspondence coming to a trainee) which may be opened as including any correspondence from a person who is not the trainee's legal adviser or a court. Explain the nature of the right conferred by the words quoted from rule 11(2) in the light of rule 14(2) and (3).

Rule 14 is a specific provision about correspondence with legal advisers and courts. In general such correspondence is free from interference but by virtue of rule 14(2) where the governor has reasonable cause to believe it contains an illicit enclosure it may be opened. Illicit enclosure includes correspondence from a person other than a legal adviser or a court because such correspondence is not free from interference under rule 14(1). If such correspondence is found as an enclosure to correspondence with a legal adviser it will, by virtue of rule 14(2), be dealt with in accordance with the other provisions of the rule, that is, having been read, passed to the trainee, who is entitled, under rule 11, to receive it. Rule 11(2) provides that the entitlement to receive any number of letters is subject to the provisions of the Rules, including rule 14 and rule 10(3), which allows the governor to read all letters except legal correspondence.

(5)  Rule 21 provides that a library is to be provided in every centre and, subject to the directions of the Secretary of State, every trainee is to be allowed to have library books appropriate to his age. Was consideration given to making express provision for the needs of trainees, such as Welsh trainees, whose first language is not English?

It is not considered appropriate to make express provision for the needs of trainees whose first language is not English. This will be an administrative matter for the individual centre to deal with as and when the need arises. There is nothing in the Rules to prevent books in languages other than English from being obtained and made available to trainees. It would be invidious to mention any particular language in the Rules since trainees may come from ethnic minority backgrounds and a variety of languages may be in issue. The contract for the first secure training centre provides for text books in the main minority languages and for the library to be stocked with books appropriate to the age, gender and race of trainees.

(6)  Rule 39(7) prohibits an officer, without the knowledge of the governor, from communicating with any person who he knows to be a former trainee or a relative or friend of a trainee or former trainee. Explain the purpose of this rule and whether this provision is intended to prohibit, for example, a casual conversation with a friend of a former trainee which does not mention the former trainee or any matter relating to the centre.

This rule is designed to deter unprofessional conduct by officers for instance by forming a relationship with a former offender or a relative or friend of a former offender, which could jeopardise the security of the centre. The rule is not intended to prohibit a casual conversation which is not initiated by the officer. If such a casual encounter occurred, the officer would be required to report it to the governor.

31st March 1998

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